Christine Joy Agonos Albaniel decided to work abroad when she was only 22 years old as she believed there are not many opportunities for young individuals in the Philippines. She believes that some companies back home tend to favor those with years of experience and those who had their Master’s degree over what an employee can actually do.
Albaniel arrived in the UAE in 2013 as a tourist with borrowed pocket money from her parents, including airfare tickets, among others. In the same month, she secured a job at one of the biggest British financial consultancy firms in the world in their Abu Dhabi office. There, she started as a team administrator, handling two teams with around eight financial consultants per team. She said that the work environment and work culture were very different from when she was working in a bank in the Philippines as she had to work hard and learn the job and just cope as they didn’t provide proper training.
After a year, one of the consultants she was working for got promoted to area manager. She was asked if she would like to work for him as his personal assistant. Albaniel believed in him as he considers him the most hardworking person. Her immediate supervisor’s team continuously grows and was once promoted again to run their office in Qatar.
Despite the job opportunities that were knocking before her, she decided to come to Qatar with her boss. They arrived in Qatar with an office full of consultants but no admins. She had to handle all the consultants in their remote office all by herself while working for her boss. Albaniel played the role of the senior administrator and became responsible for training every back-office staff in their Qatar office.
Albaniel decided to go back to Abu Dhabi in 2018 when his boss started his own financial consultancy company. “It was a big gamble as the company we were working for is already well established. In fact, it was one of the biggest with a global presence in 28 countries. I still decided to stick with him as he is the best. It was tough at first because there were only two of us. We were working at his dining room table at home,” she recalled.
She was involved in all internal forms and reports for the company. She also set up all workflows and internal processes of the company, trained the administration staff, played a part in the development of their internal software, and became the HR and accountant of the company. Fast forward to 2021, the company that she helped from scratch has now almost 300 employees and has offices in Dubai, UK, the USA, and Australia.
Today, Albaniel is the company’s general manager and head administrator of Hoxton Capital Management.
“It is a very humbling and awesome experience to be very involved in this journey. Hard work, persistence, and loyalty indeed pay off,” she said, thanking her boss for trusting her.
“I enjoy being able to be part of the company’s management team. My opinion and thoughts are very much valued. I am trusted with everything. However, it is also very challenging. With great power comes great responsibility. I have never imagined we will grow this fast. We only set this up in 2018,” she added.
The struggles of a Filipina fighter
Albaniel recalled working odd jobs to sustain her college education. She purchased garments in Divisoria and sold them online. Some of her classmates would tease her for bringing a plastic bag full of stuff she’d sell on Facebook. “I didn’t care at all. At least, I have my own money and I buy the things I want using my hard-earned money. Through this, I was able to pay for my last semester’s tuition fees,” she proudly said.
In the Philippines, she worked as an ATM assistant, bank reconciliation employee, and bank teller.
Working overseas, away from loved ones, gets tough from time to time. Despite working nonstop, she still feels the angst of homesickness. “Being in a country where you don’t know anyone, it’s crazy. I overcome it because I am working for my family. I always make sure I send some money to my parents,” she said.
This story has been featured in the 15th 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 to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.