Adrian Pantonial is now a successful events host, writer, teacher, voice-over talent with 12 years of experience working in the BPO sector. In this episode Adrian shares the impact of his 12-year BPO career on his lifestyle.
- Among other things, is a Tagalog teacher to internationals doing business or working in the Philippines. Derek is one of his Tagalog language students.
- Adrian owes his English-speaking skills to his 12-year career in the BPO sector, First as a technical support for a local account with ABS-CBN. After that he got a job with an international account, as a technical support for Sony, his doorway to the world market.
- The engagement boosts his confidence and the way he relates with other people specially with English speaking clients. Most of all his take home pay is so much higher than his locally employed peers.
- Despite the rewards of higher compensation, Adrian mentioned the stressful night shift schedule as being the downside to his call center career, add to that the more upfront and candid attitude of the Western people.
- Adrian reveals that bad leadership and backstabbing colleagues finally prompted him to move on. His 12-year BPO career impacted his lifestyle to become what he is today, a confident event host, a freelance writer and voice-over talent with unlimited global market.
- An incredible English language skill is a talent with a demand in English speaking countries in the globe.
- To be successful in the BPO sector there is a need to understand and know how to deal with culture differences.
- Despite stressful conditions as in the case of Adrian, the BPO sector offers a rewarding career with much better compensation package and opens the doorway to greater opportunities in the world market.
Derek: Hi, and welcome to another episode of the Outsource Accelerator Podcast. My name is Derek Gallimore, and this is episode number 171. So today, I am speaking to Adrian Pantonial, who is my Tagalog teacher, no less. So, Adrian, amongst other things and certainly beyond being my Tagalog teacher, had an illustrious 12-year career in the BPO sector and has done many a thing since then. So, it’s good getting the perspective of people within the BPO sector. He shares the good experiences and the bad experiences of all of that. So, there’s interesting insight in there and we also spend a bit of time just exploring Adrian’s life after outsourcing. So, it’s a good episode, and I really enjoyed speaking to Adrian.
Enjoy. And if you want any of the show notes, then, of course, go to outsourceaccelerator.com/171.
Okay. So welcome back, everybody. Today, I’m joined by Adrian Pantonial. Hi, Adrian. How are you?
Adrian: Hey, Derek. I’m good.
Derek: Good. And amongst many other things, Adrian is actually my Tagalog teacher.
Derek: Which is super exciting. So, I’m really excited to have him here. And we’ve just actually finished a grueling, grueling Tagalog lesson. And I actually got up at 5:00 this morning. I’ve been working at 5:00. It’s now 8:00, and I can tell you a two-hour lesson in Tagalog is not the easiest thing after a 13-hour workday. But I’m super glad you’re here. And thank you so much for joining us. And I have invited you in because through our teaching of language, we have connected together, obviously, but you do have a shared background in that you have spent considerable amount of your career within the BPO sector.
Adrian: That’s right.
Derek: And I want to hear a little bit about your lifestyle and the impact that outsourcing has had on you. And then maybe in this episode so we just hear a little bit more about the progression of your career because now, amongst other things, as I mentioned, you have event ceremony hosting, but you also do some BPO education and teaching.
Adrian: That’s right.
Derek: So yes, really interested to dig into that. And just get people out there, like the business owners in the West, a sort of greater depth of perspective on what outsourcing is in the community here in the Philippines basically. So, thank you so much for joining us, Adrian.
Adrian: Thank you for the wonderful opportunity to be part of your podcast, Derek.
Derek: Pleasure. Pleasure. And so, I suppose, initially, do you want to just introduce yourself?
Adrian: So first, I’ll start my introduction by saying that I am a seasoned events host. I started hosting in the year 2000. I host weddings, debuts, corporate events, and mall shows, also birthday parties and all sort of celebrations, for example, surprise birthday parties or wedding anniversaries. I do that too. But before I became an events host, before I was able to have confidence in my speaking skills, which was a result of working in the BPO industry for 12 years, I was first a freelance writer. So, I write for individuals and businesses. And now, I am writing on my website, on my blog, and also proofreading and editing books for both local and foreign authors. And as you may have heard or as you are hearing right now, I’m also a voice over talent.
Derek: You do have a very good voice.
Adrian: Thank you. And again, I credit this to having worked in the call center industry for 12 years. It has tremendously impacted my life in so many ways.
Derek: Right. So, what is the chronology of that? How did you get into the BPO sector? So that was many, many years ago.
Derek: How did you even come across BPO? How was it presented to you? How did it come into your world?
Adrian: This is a good question, to start with. I finished a two-year course in 1998. And during that time, I think the job I had before I worked in the call center industry was a data encoder before when the Philippine Census, the National Statistics Office had this database of birth certificates. I used to encode those stuff in the computer. I also worked as a salesclerk for Robinsons Metro East in Cainta.
Derek: Which is a big supermarket.
Adrian: Yes. Yes. And then when I heard about the big salary that the call center offers during that time, because I wasn’t that fluent in my English yet, I started with a local account. If you’ve heard of ABS-CBN.
Derek: Which is one of the TV stations.
Adrian: Yes, that’s right. They used to own this call center company in the biz. It used to be called Source One Asia. And then they sold it, and it became CQ Customer Contact Center. And now, it’s HGS, Hinduja Global Solutions.
Derek: Right. I see.
Adrian: That’s where I started. I started as a technical support for a local account for ABS-CBN. We called Filipinos in Metro Manila and in the provinces to find out how their reception of the TV channel is, whether it’s clear or if it needs more fixing.
Derek: So that’s referred to as outsourcing but really it’s kind of a shared services model because the clientele is still within the Philippines.
Adrian: That’s right. And then eventually, because I’m ambitious, until now, I still am ambitious, I applied for an international account. And I worked for Sony technical support, and I handled television, also home theater system. Back then, I didn’t know anything about cable, so I’m not a technical guy. But in the training, because it’s really comprehensive, and I also learned a lot of stuff on the operations floor itself. And because of that, I really learned a lot of, of course, new expressions and I became better in my English-speaking skills.
Derek: So, it was this first job in the BPO in the overseas account that gave you the doorway and the opportunity to refine your English and kind of hone your English skills.
Adrian: Yes. You know, one other interesting story about this is that during that time in HGS, I applied for several positions for promotion. I tried applying first as I think a trainer and then a team leader and then I think a quality analyst, but in all those three, I failed because their initial feedback about me is that I had broken English.
Adrian: This was around 2003 to, I think, 2005.
Derek: You’ve shown them now. Look at that.
Adrian: Yes. But I’ve grown a lot.
Adrian: And actually, that’s the reason why I moved on to the next company after that because I failed at those attempts for promotion.
Derek: Right. And you said then that it was the big salary that attracted you.
Derek: What was the salaries? I mean, we don’t have to talk about specifics, but what kind of proportionally were they compared to the other jobs and careers that you had options for?
Adrian: I think before, during that time, I think it’s more than double the minimum wage.
Adrian: If I’m not mistaken.
Adrian: That’s why although it was scary for me, because I didn’t have any background about the call center industry, it was a big leap. And it made a positive impact in my life and the way that I relate with people as well, with foreigners, and the way that I am assertive now.
Derek: Right. I mean, it’s an interesting point, and I want to sort of draw on that a little bit, because a lot of… well, there are some detractors in the West that feel that outsourcing is a bit of a slave labor thing, that people are not properly treated here, but you see it as that it was a good salary increase.
Derek: It was a good opportunity to push yourself forward in a career.
Adrian: That’s true.
Derek: Yes. Did you see any negative aspects to outsourcing and the downsides to it?
Adrian: Okay. That’s funny because I remember. So, I got promoted from the local account to an international account, but on my sixth month, if I remember correctly, I was really ready to give up, because I’m on the night shift and the stress level was really high. I remember the first time an American guy said the “F” word to me on the phone. I was really speechless. So, the stress level is really that high.
Derek: Because people can be a lot more, culturally…
Derek: …you found the Americans to be a lot more terse. Yes.
Adrian: They’re more upfront and candid.
Adrian: Yes. And they’re very vocal. But they’re also very appreciative, unlike most Filipinos.
Adrian: We’re not that appreciative.
Derek: And what are the conditions like in these BPOs? And this was the call center back in the heyday of call centers. And as you mentioned, a lot of it was US based, so you would be working the night shift. There’s a lot of pressure in terms of call volume and call frequency. Is that how you remember the environment? Are they pressured environments?
Adrian: It is definitely high pressure, but the compensation is really good, so it’s worth the risk. And if I look back, I would think of it as a really my greatest growth period.
Derek: Is it a bit like going to, I mean, training…
Adrian: Sort of. Yes. Sort of. But it’s all worth it. The pain and the suffering, is all worth it.
Derek: Right. Right.
Adrian: Because I became a better version of myself because of that.
Derek: And how long was that career then? How long was your BPO chapter?
Adrian: That first gig was actually three years. And then the next one after that was four years for Shell customer service.
Derek: Right. Okay.
Adrian: For four years. And the others were just much shorter.
Derek: Right. And then how did you realize it was your time to move on? What was the catalyst?
Adrian: Two things. These two things are both related to people. One is that I felt like I was assigned to leaders with bad leadership skills. And the other one is with backstabbing colleagues.
Adrian: So those two things made me give up. And now, I’m doing full-time freelancing.
Derek: Right. Okay. So, it was that kind of corporate environment got a little bit too intense.
Derek: I mean, I don’t want to fill in your words, but did BPO really open your eyes to the world of commerce? It opened your eyes to the world out there whereas previously, if you were just dealing with domestic companies.
Derek: It would have very much been a lot more limited then.
Adrian: That’s true. Actually, working in the call center industry opened my eyes to having more interest in what’s happening in the world around me because I felt like before, I really had this narrowed view about my life and how my life affects other people within my country. But then, there are other people out there and they have other cultures. So that also enabled me to learn more about other people’s culture and the way people behave.
Derek: Fantastic. And if you were to suggest that people out there think about outsourcing and using a team over here, what was an example of a sort of personal connection or something that you really gained value from a connection with a foreign boss or client or anyone?
Adrian: Well, I can think of three things. First, Filipinos are very hospitable. So, because we are hospitable, we’re not people pleasers, but we do know how to put ourselves in other people’s shoes. And then number two, also, the culture in the Philippines are also I should say, Westernized as well. So, it’s not very difficult for us to converse with a neutral accent. And then number three is that we’re generally nice people. Yes. That makes us globally competitive, those three things.
Derek: Yes. That’s very succinct, but you are very nice. Filipinos, no, they really are. It’s a very personable culture, isn’t it?
Adrian: That’s right.
Derek: And incredible language skills. So, thank you so much, Adrian. And I’ve really appreciated you giving us insight into that world. If people, of course, want to get in touch with you for any of your services and if anyone out there wants to learn Tagalog that’s wherever you are, how can they get in touch with you?
Adrian: They can visit and like my Facebook page. It’s facebook.com/tagalogtutorpro. That’s facebook.com/tagalogtutorpro. Or my website, adrianpantonial.com.
Derek: Fantastic. And, of course, all of that will be in the show notes. Thank you, Adrian.
Adrian: Thank you so much, Derek.
Derek: Again, that was Adrian Pantonial.
And if you want to get in touch with Adrian or know any more about this podcast, then go to outsourceaccelerator.com/171.
And of course, as always, if you want to email us, then just drop some email to [email protected]. See you next time.