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Q&A with Rafael Lontoc

Exclusive Trusted Magazine Q&A with Rafael Lontoc

How could you describe your career path in a few words?

I have come a long way, starting from being an Equipment Engineer in a Hard Disk Drive manufacturing facility in the Philippines to becoming the Regional Service Manager for Cyviz AS, a multinational AV/IT company with a branch based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Through the years, I developed and built a solid foundation of electronics engineering experience, leading to the position I am in now. Worries, regrets, and even failures driven by tough competition, financial burdens, and pressures from my boss and peers had somewhat affected me then. Still, they did not stop me from pursuing a career abroad. Despite these many obstacles, taking the risk of moving away from my comfort zone has opened even more opportunities beyond what I expect from being an engineer. Aside from that, giving importance to self-worth, continuous learning, being with mentors and friends who motivate me, and a determination to achieve my goals have led me a long way. My career path isn’t that straightforward, but taking it was worthwhile.

Now, after knowing what I am capable of and am passionate about, aside from having my job as a Regional Service Manager, I am doing volunteering work here in the UAE and the Philippines by giving back to the profession that has been an instrument in my success through technical speakerships and organization leadership.

What was your most challenging experience, and has it changed your mindset?

I can say that there were two instances in my life when I got challenged and changed my mindset. In 2015, I was tasked and got promoted to Service Manager in Cyviz, taking charge of the service operations of the company in the Middle East Region. It was a significant leap from being a Systems Engineer to taking care of client service accounts and managing service engineers. I realized that I shouldn’t focus anymore on enhancing my technical skills but more on developing my interpersonal and management skills as the job requires more customers centric. I ventured into training and certifications in Service, Project Management, and Digital Business Transformation, aside from the continuous technical training offered by my company. With this experience, I learned that building a solid relationship with the client is always a challenge. Aside from ensuring that I am achieving my KPIs for them, I need to make them happy and satisfied with our services by keeping their systems up and running. I also need to be aware of and take care of their needs and requirements from time to time. So, I feel fulfillment in my job as a Service Manager when clients renew their service contracts with us or opt to upgrade their system with our technology.

The second instance was in 2018, when I decided to study again and take my MBA at the University of West London Campus in Ras al Khaimah, UAE. It was a tough challenge for me to go to the university on weekends while working on weekdays. Coming from an engineering background was a hurdle, but as I put in a lot of passion, determination, and hard work, my studies went well, and I even graduated Topper in the MBA program. I was out of my known boundaries but stayed focused on achieving my goal of finishing it on time. The experience has opened many opportunities for me beyond what I have expected.

What’s the most important key success factor for you based on your experience?

For me, it would be giving value to yourself as a human being. It was one of the essential factors often neglected by most people, giving importance to oneself. I believe when a person prioritizes his wellness, other characteristics follow, like focus, self-confidence, and resilience, to name a few. Enjoy the things you do at work and in life, relax and pamper yourself when you have time, and maintain a work-life balance. Knowing oneself is a must before establishing relationships with others. That, for me, is a foundation of a successful life.

Continuously learn, study, upskill and develop into a well-rounded person. Learning should not stop once you step out of the university. There is always a chance to learn new knowledge and essential skills you have not yet known or mastered. Learnings could come from everyday interaction at work or can be realized when you pursue a new degree or undergo training. In my personal experience, I value these learnings have assured me that I can still be relevant in my career despite the competition from the younger generations.

Aside from that, learn to accept failures and strive to be better the next time you encounter the situation. Failures do not define you as a person and degrade you at all. Life is a learning process, and to be successful in life is to experience these failures again and again until you learn to overcome them.

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