Anna Jamamil, Vice President, Advanced Analytics and Market Intelligence Manager at Nestle Philippines

The decision to relocate to the Philippines during the pandemic was a strong desire for her children to grow up with their grandparents.

“I really wanted my kids to have those young memories of being with their grandparents. You know, that really sweet, loving relationship grandparents have with their grandkids while they’re still physically able to carry, walk and babysit them,” says Anna Jumamil, Vice President, Advanced Analytics and Market Intelligence Manager at Nestle Philippines.

Born in America, Anna and her family moved to the Philippines when she was seven. She wanted to live and study abroad again and decided to pursue her masters in the States. After her studies, she worked for over four years in financial services.

Anna Jumamil with her colleagues at Navy Federal Credit Union in America

Anna Jumamil (second from left) with her colleagues from Navy Federal Credit Union. / Image by Anna Jumamil

When she and her husband decided to move back to the Philippines, she started to reach out to people on LinkedIn who used to work overseas and had moved back to the Philippines. One thing led to another, and she was connected to Rhiannon Guilford, Director at Michael Page Philippines, who found Anna a suitable role at Nestle.

While Anna and her husband missed their families in the Philippines, moving back was not easy, especially during the pandemic. At one point, Anna had to give up a role so that her children could continue to attend preschool in America.

“When the Philippines went on lockdown and announced that classes will be virtual, I realized I don’t think I’ll be able to survive another year of virtual schooling,” she adds.

Anna stayed connected to Rhiannon for over a year before moving in 2022. In the following Q&A, she shares her learnings from working in the States, how being patient, resilient, and open about your needs can help you cope and adapt in different situations, and that there is no timeline when it comes to adapting to a new place.

Q: What first attracted you to the world of marketing?

A: I found it interesting how you have to create an overall strategy to reach the customer. It was an interest that started in my high school days. In college, a friend shared some successful creative campaigns that clearly understood the customers’ needs. And I love how marketing connects me to creative people, to work together and translate an idea in a way that I probably wouldn’t have thought of on my own.

Q: How has your time in the States influenced and impacted you personally?

A: In the Philippines, you have help, and you have your extended family around, so there is a lot of support. But in America, I have to learn how to do everything by myself. For instance, I had to put gas into my car on my own for the very first time, and I did not have to do that in the Philippines, as there was always a station assistant to help me with that. Besides that, I had to learn how to make many home improvements; I learn to cook and bake and basically take care of the household.

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Q: How has that experience working in America changed or influenced you?

A: I learned to network. I learned that finding a job was incredibly hard. Everybody thinks that in America, it’s so easy to find a job and glamorous. But it’s tough; it’s a lot of networking.

I was trained at Georgetown University about, what is called, informational interviews, also known as coffee chats. It is where you meet with as many people as possible and ask questions to gain insights into the local job market and how to improve your resume and the company culture.

This is important because you want to know the impact of the kind of work you will be doing, know that the right people surround you, and have the right leaders. Networking is not easy; I did not hear back from most people I reached out to, but the ones that did, made a huge difference to my career.

I realized that people don’t want to take risks and like to stick to a particular formula that’s worked before. People like to always focus on big, shiny campaigns, which is what you would usually see with marketing in the Philippines. At the same time, they cost so much that you can’t fail. There is also a blame game.

In a culture of not wanting to make mistakes and not wanting to be a failure, I see an opportunity for a mindset change: to start getting people to talk in a more positive language that’s more inspiring verses in a very negative tone.

Related: How to be more confident at work according to Asia's female leaders

Anna Jumamil with her husband in America

Anna Jumamil with her husband. / Image by Anna Jumamil

Q: How can one successfully adapt when moving back to the Philippines after years of living in another country?

A: To be patient with the process. My aunt, who had experienced moving her family around four times around the world, helped set expectations for me. She said it’ll take me one year to feel settled after moving. It won’t be two months. It won’t be three months. It’ll be one year. And coming in knowing that, I try to be as patient as possible.

It is essential to surround yourself with people with similar views and situations. I made it a point to join expat groups to talk with people who understood what I’m going through. I have a very supportive group of family and friends, but they don’t necessarily understand. I can’t have that meaningful conversation as much as I’d like because they don’t really know what I’m going through.

A third thing I realized is being comfortable with having boundaries. I learned that I couldn’t please everyone. It was hard for me because, growing up, I didn’t want to disappoint anyone.

My biggest concern was that we had to change our way of living. I’ve set up my own life with my husband in the states, and we do things a certain way. I learned that we don’t have to change our routines or ourselves to fit into what our families are doing, and at the same time, I learned that it’s ok to say no. That is ok not to be in all of the events, and it’s ok for your kids to behave differently from other kids in the Philippines. 

Generally, in the Philippines, you always have to be quite sensitive and empathetic to your elder relatives. It was challenging not to feel guilty when you had to say no to them.

Now I’m at the point where I can show them that I love and appreciate them, but I don’t have to say yes every time, and I’m not trying to be unkind in any way. It’s just this is the direction we want to take. In terms of moving to the Philippines, it was more about emotional and mental preparation because what will significantly impact you is the cultural mindset shift.

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Read more:
How to make a successful career change
Bayanihan: Unexpected Opportunities In Uncertain Times
Bayanihan: Finding success as an entrepreneur and proud Filipina

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