Having finished a degree in BS Physical Therapy at the State University, she thought she would be happy being a board-certified “PT,” go abroad and bring home some good money.
But, alas, as soon as she passed the Board and became a licensed physical therapist, the doors to her future in the Unites States immediately closed. Call it bad timing but she finished the course at about the same time the USA stopped hiring Filipino professionals like her.
During her training, however, she started to feel depressed whenever a patient passed away, or when she had to give therapy to children with special conditions like Down Syndrome and the like. Deep inside, she knew this was not her happy place. She
would cry over conditions of patients who were not even related to her.
Still determined to make use of her degree, she ventured into going abroad where she found a job in Dubai at a fitness company, this time as a marketing and sales rep selling gym memberships. But at least the people were happy, and wanted to be fit and happier.
After three years at that sales job, she took a short course on Entrepreneurship which, was provided by the government and she also heard of the course for Marketing executives. She liked what she was learning and soon, studied after her work shift to earn a degree in the Chartered Institute for Marketing. She found herself in a much happier place, and developed her natural gift for selling and doing strategic marketing. And got a diploma as well!
Iman, as she is called, soon moved to a buying job for a high-end luxury goods retailer. This brought her back and forth between Europe and Dubai where she quickly learned about the many facets of the luxury market. And she told herself that someday she would be the importer and seller of many Filipino and Asian products which could be sold to luxury hotels.
Four years ago, starting in her home office, Iman took the plunge. She anticipated the need, identified the market and delivered the products and service to Dubai’s luxury hotels. Small details like folders, trays, amenities became her specialties. Her Physical
Therapy degree serves her well, because her science helps her artistic side become more realistic and sustainable. So she connected the dots. From studying the body’s anatomy and progressing to the study of a luxury market, she balanced her brain’s two sides and as she says she now “loves selling everything beautiful and what makes people happy”.
She exudes confidence when you engage her in discussions about Marketing, Branding and even Public Speaking. She confided to us that she is a Toastmaster, and is therefore a natural when it comes to sales and product pitches.
She lamented, however, that OFWs like her do sacrifice a lot and are always physically separated from their loved ones back home. And she relates to me how at every homecoming, you realize your parents get older while you never spent many good years in their company. She also raised concerns about how being an OFW means raising dysfunctional families back home, with children growing up without their mothers as normal children do.
But Iman is a picture of hope and empowerment for the many women who seek fortunes in other lands. She set her sights on being a successful entrepreneur and learned her lessons formally and informally, by taking up new courses or learnings and enlarging her networks.
She is a picture of how a woman can be in her happy place, loving what she does and earning some money in the process. This Christmas, many of our OFWs will come home to have reunions with their families. It would be nice to meet people like Iman, who can inspire our women, not to think of just short range “get rich quick” jobs, but to learn, improve and be a better person than when they started.
I can tell she is a nice person even if we met only briefly. I cannot forget how she shared the story of her assistant who hails from Pakistan. He does not go to the malls, does not seek to have a new iPhone 5, and is happy just saving his salary to send home to his parents. He finds pleasure in relaxing in some patch of green in the park and coming back to work refreshed. “He is blessed,” she says. “He has a simple life and an honest job.”
These are the people who are blessed not to fall victim to our materialistic society. And Iman recognizes such blessings. Truly, I know she is a nice person. And she, too, is blessed.
Merry Christmas to all!
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Chit Juan is a founder and owner of ECHOStore sustainable lifestyle, ECHOmarket sustainable farms and ECHOcafe in Serendra , Podium and Centris QC malls. She also is President of the Women’s Business Council of the Philippines and President of the Philippine Coffee Board Inc., two non-profits close to her heart. She often speaks to corporates and NGOs on social entrepreneurship, women empowerment, and coffee.
You can follow her on twitter.com/chitjuan or find her on facebook:Pacita “Chit” Juan. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.