For Rowena Aggabao, an entrepreneur based in Dubai, the key to success is to dream big, work hard, and stay focused. Aggabao, who has been leading an overseas life for more than a decade now, has adapted this formula until she became the co-owner and managing partner of A&R Partners Ltd.
Through her company, she is able to work on something that she is completely passionate about which is helping people and assisting them in building their dreams. She admitted that it has always been a dream to be her own boss, and independent, and doing what she loves to do.
“Sitting down, talking to budding entrepreneurs, understanding what they want to do, and being able to advise them to the suitable structure for them to achieve their desired activity is rewarding,” she said, noting that now that she is the boss of her own, she gets to have more time and for her family.
Aggabao, who is also a mentor and author, has recently published her first e-book, ‘The 15 Lights Unto My Path’ via Kindle Publishing. Available now on Amazon globally, the book tackles life, love, family, death, joy, resilience, failure, success, and faith. “It is also my way of saying thank you to all the people who have helped me to be who I am today,” she said.
“It was not easy, it was a tough start actually but because of prayer, hard work, perseverance, and patience, the business is now good. There were so many challenges that we had to go through from the beginning and we were also hot by the pandemic but resilience kept us going. We are slowly reaping the fruits of our labor and we are looking into expansion as well this coming year,” she added.
Before finally taking the courage to set up her own company along with her husband, she has first worked as a trademark and intellectual property advisor in one of the intellectual property firms in Dubai. Aggabao recalled arriving in UAE in 2008, a time when there was an economic crisis, and looking for a decent job was a challenge. She said that she will be forever grateful to her first overseas employer for allowing her to spread her wings, and meeting her boss and mentor who until this day she looks up to with so much respect for his guidance and support. Working in the same company for almost three years, she handled the high-end luxury portfolios and gained knowledge and experience in the field of IP.
As a person who has always been particularly fond of corporate law, when she was given a chance, she grabbed the opportunity to join a firm that provides trust and corporate services in the UAE and the MENA region. Rising through the ranks, Aggabao initially worked as an administrator, handling a particular portfolio before she was eventually promoted as the supervisor, and then became the manager of the international department handling company formation outside the country. “A rewarding part of the job is we have philanthropic programs if yearly targets are achieved wherein we visit deserving organizations and help a particular community,” she said, noting that the recipient countries since its inception were Philippines and Cambodia.
As a long-time Dubai resident, she said that the best thing about the emirate its cultural diversity with equal opportunity for everyone. “I admire how each and every person have the liberty to explore all possibilities to excel and be who they dreamed to be. Personally, Dubai fulfilled many of my dams in life and I will always be beyond grateful for this beautiful city and the UAE as a country,” she added.
Struggles in the beginning
Like many overseas Filipino workers, Aggabao has also faced multiple struggles when she was only starting. She came to Dubai with no family, no friends, just her husband, and her brother-in-law. At that time, she recalled sharing the room with other fellow Filipinos, which was not something she was prepared to face, however, they had to endure it as they had to live with a tight budget.
“I had to take the bus while I was pregnant and I was alone in the delivery room when I gave birth. No one was there to welcome me and my daughter except my husband,” she said. As a young couple and young family, they were only guided by their instincts with the absence of an adult to help and assist them. She silently endured a terrible post-partum depression because of the absence of maternal support.
As a working mom and wife, Aggabao said building a career and raising a child at the same time was difficult. “What kept me going was my husband who did his very best to make sure that we do and plan things together. We worked as a team to overcome all difficult situations better,” she further added.
When asked about her advice for fellow Filipinos abroad, Aggabao said that nothing happens overnight and it’s a series of long and painful struggles ‘so don’t let go of your dreams no matter how difficult the situation is because life is a journey.’
This story has been featured on the 11th issue of The Global Filipino Magazine. To get a copy, you may contact Mr Orli Gayeta at +971503196856. If you have an inspiring story or know someone with one, please send an email at email@example.com.