Recently, we got in touch with Jeoffy Hipolito, an overseas Filipino worker in New Zealand, to talk to him about his experiences working and living abroad, the challenges he has faced, and how he continues to work toward achieving his goals. This will be part of a semi-regular series of articles where we feature the stories of OFWs who’ve made their careers with the help of RISE.
Mr. Hipolito is a web developer with 11 years of experience under his belt, and he has generously given us his time to share his story in order to inspire other Filipinos hoping to live and work abroad and encourage foreign employers to search for a hardworking labor force in the Philippines.
For starters, how about a short introduction? Please tell us a bit about you.
My name is Jeoffy Hipolito, and I am currently living and working in Dunedin, New Zealand. My hometown is in Davao City, and after I got married, we moved to Tanauan Batangas, Philippines.
How would you describe the kind of work that you do?
I am a Web Developer for about 11 years now, and I started my job here in New Zealand in November 2017 up to the present. Basically, my company here is a supplier of promotional products and business gifts in New Zealand and Australia. With modern technology, our distributors are using the website to view the product information, order, filter or search, calculate the pricing and shipping online. In general, I develop, maintain and manage our website with the direction of our Sales Manager and Chief Compliance Officer.
How would you describe working with your employer and with your colleagues?
At first, it feels awkward because, just imagine, you are working in an office full of kiwis (New Zealander) with different work habits compared to the Filipinos. But after a few weeks I find them very nice and friendly. You won’t recognize my employer as an owner of the company; here in New Zealand, they treat all the employees and employer as equals. Neither do they wear uniform or formal dress in the office or call them sir or boss. They don’t like it. Here in New Zealand, time is essential. You work and leave on time.
What are some habits that you have that you’d say has helped you both in living abroad and in your work specifically?
I think the flexibility and ability to adapt in foreign countries which most of us Filipinos have. It’s easy for us to learn their language, law, and culture. We Filipinos also love to work overtime and we are dedicated to our job. But most of all, our eagerness and dream to immigrate with our family for greener pastures.
What are some challenges you’ve faced as a Filipino working overseas?
Language barrier, I am not good in English so that’s the common issue I always encountered here. Another challenge is how to gain trust not only in your employer but also with your colleague. Kiwis aren’t easy to build trust overtime. You have to prove that you are capable in your job and you have the ability to solve the problems without their guidance and direction. They wanted you to share your ideas and explain why you came up with those plans. But they will appreciate you once they feel that you are owning your job and your role.
And what are some challenges you’ve faced in your work as a web developer specifically?
Every day for me is a challenge. Web development within our company is out of the box and my team leader always gives me projects that need to be customized, planned, and handled with team collaboration. With more than hundreds of distributors and 2,500 products, just imagine how I will handle the website alone when it comes to user friendliness and speed while working with its future modules and issues at the same time.
How have you dealt with those challenges in your time in New Zealand?
Through experiences and understanding the flow of the business. I might say that this helped me a lot dealing with those problems we encountered. Asking with sense from your ideas also contributes well and being committed to your job.
Please share with us some significant projects or achievements during your time there.
I remember the first trial project they had for me was the company’s Track and Trace for the DHL and StarTrack shipping details. The impression was excellent after I finished the project and helped the customers track their shipment online without calling our service centre. In 2018, I started the Content Management System of our website which is also very convenient for the admin and staff to update, edit, upload, and delete products.
Taking those into consideration, would you consider yourself successful so far in your time working there?
Yes, because of my hard work and prayers, I would consider it successful. I have my goal each year to take one step in progress here in New Zealand. First year, my family arrived, and the second year was to apply for a residency visa. Before my third year, my salary was raised, and we got approved in our residency application last month.
What qualities would you say Filipinos like you have that would make them attractive for foreign employers?
Filipinos multitask, learn fast, work quickly, and work under pressure. We also put pride in our work and always do our best to survive if we are outside of our country. In a cold country like New Zealand, most of us here will still go to work even if we are sick with the flu, especially in the winter season.
Well, thank you very much for your time. One last question, what message or tips would you give to fellow Filipinos considering working abroad, whether it’s in New Zealand or other countries in general?
I was 39 years old when I arrived here in New Zealand and now, I’m 40. I was rejected many times from my job applications abroad like Canada, Australia, Saipan, and New Zealand because they’re after the work visa or residency for them to continue my application. We know that most of us have no assurance in our job and security for our family in the Philippines. That is until I found Rise Manpower Agency which gave me the hope to continue my dream to work and live abroad.
It means I never gave up despite my age and it didn’t hinder me to continue what I was trying to do for my family’s future. I was aiming to work first then immigrate, so I can give the best for my children. Now, we can live and work indefinitely anywhere here in New Zealand, with free education for my children and health care access.