"In Manila's IT scene, the competition is high. You have to always be on your toes. You cannot be left behind in terms of training, in terms of implementation and in terms of the projects you do. It's always about raising the bar."
The UAE's IT scene might have its own levels of competition, but what we have in the Middle East is a far cry the Philippines capital. However, it is this high-octane approach to IT that has allowed Joseph Aninias, Manager of Information Technology and Telecommunications Services, University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD), to emerge as one of the most respected IT heads in the business.
It's funny how Aninias's career turned out, given that, when he first visited Dubai, he was simply working for an Internet service provider in Manila. He had come to the UAE for a holiday to visit his sister in 1999. However, he liked the environment so much that he figured he should extend his trip.
Having overspent his travel budget a little, Aninias began looking around for employment options in Dubai. After all, he liked the Emirates life, so saw no reason to stop living it. "I'd learnt at the early stage that I could make quick bucks with part-time jobs," he says.
Having adopted a freelance mentality to working, Aninias soon became involved with a local TV organisation. He helped to build up the channel's small local network.
"Back in those days, remuneration wasn't entirely clear, so I could price in my own way. To these guys, it made no difference — they just wanted me to fix something," he says.
Of course, there was a little bit of haggling, but because Aninias had that Manila mentality toward IT, he could justify his prices. Business heads would ask him why he charged what he did, and he'd respond by assuring that he would build them networks that last — because that's what's expected of IT managers in the Phillipines.
"I said to them, 'I will fix this stuff, and then you'll never need to get someone in again. And I won't need to come back again until it's due for replacement,'" Aninias explains. "And after more than a year, it never broke."
During this freelance phase, one of Ananias's clients offered him a full-time position, sensing that he could be a valuable asset to the IT department. Aninias accepted without hesitation, viewing the position as a stepping stone onto the regional IT scene, which he had decided he could thrive in.
"So I resigned from my old job, I stayed here in Dubai, and I worked at that company for almost three years," he says. "Life then was nice and easy."
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