Host Derek is again joined by Adrian Pantonial for the third time.
Adrian is a seasoned host, voiceover talent, proofreader, Tagalog tutor, call center Trainor and most of all, a solid 12-years career in the BPO industry. To know more of Adrian and his stories, you may visit Episodes 171 and 175.
- Adrian claims his 12-year career in the call center or BPO industry made him a better English speaker, which has opened a lot of wonderful opportunities for him.
- He corrected a misconception that many call center employees are undergraduates or not formally educated. Although the industry employs undergraduates, there are a lot of career shifters; former teachers, nurses, engineers and other professions. Most graduates and professionals are being attracted to the industry because of the higher pay rates, and career growth opportunities. Adrian himself is a college degree holder.
- The boom of the BPO industry contributes to the Philippine economy. Adrian noticed an increased in 24/7 convenience stores and fast food chains, and many other commercial establishments operating in places where there are BPO offices. These shops are teeming with BPO employees at unusual business hours.
- Adrian advises call center employees to continue dreaming and to work harder to realize their dreams while they are gainfully employed. Even if call centers employ undergraduates with the right talents and skill set, the best talent and personality with a back-up college degree wins the promotion.
- Call center people support each other with new vacancies and hiring, tips sharing through Facebook. But much more is needed to support the unsung heroes of the BPO industry through an aggregate body or organized community.
- A lot of professionals or graduates are being lured into the BPO industry for the attractive salary and work benefits.
- The BPO industry contributes to the growth of the Philippine economy and the increasing number of 24/7 shops, fast-food chains, and other commercial locators in places where there are BPO offices is a testament to this fact.
- There is a need to create an organized community to lend support of the unsung heroes of the BPO industry.
Hi, and welcome to another episode of the Outsource Accelerator Podcast. This is episode number 179. So today, we are joined again by Adrian Pantonial. He is, amongst other things, my Tagalog teacher. Yes. I’ve been learning Tagalog for about seven months now. I’m not very good, but I’m making an effort. And that’s about me, all I can credit myself with. But we had Adrian on to previous episodes, which was 171 and 175. So, go back and listen to those episodes. You’ll hear his back story. Today, we’re talking more broadly about outsourcing, about the opportunities it affords people, and the community surrounding outsourcing here in the Philippines. So, it’s an interesting episode. I certainly enjoyed creating this with Adrian. So, if you want any of the show notes and if you want to get in touch with Adrian, then just go to outsourceaccelerator.com/179. Enjoy.
Derek: Okay. So, I’m excited to be joined again by Adrian Pantonial. Hi, Adrian. How are you?
Adrian: Hey, Derek. Thank you for murdering my last name.
Derek: No, that’s terrible. And Adrian has been my Tagalog teacher for the last six or seven months, and I still can’t say his last name. I do apologize for that. So, Adrian, as I mentioned, has been my Tagalog teacher for the last seven months. We were actually connected through a mutual friend, who is Mike Grogan, who has been on this podcast, which is really exciting. And I have been here four years in Manila. I first started coming here in 2011. And it’s probably part of the attachment to my apathy but also attachment to the incredible English that is here in certainly Manila and also the Philippines that in sort of four years, there’s not actually really the need to learn other than an appreciation for the language and a respect for the culture. So, it’s probably belated, but I’m really excited and enjoying the process of learning Tagalog, becoming more aligned with the…
Derek: …culture. And I don’t really enjoy it as I’m doing it, to be honest, but from a helicopter perspective, I’m certainly enjoying the connection. So that was a long preamble, but welcome, Adrian.
Adrian: Thanks, Derek.
Derek: And I suppose initially, do you want to just introduce yourself to the audience?
Adrian: Yes, sure. So, I’m a seasoned events host, hosting events since the year 2000. I’m also a voiceover talent. And I proofread and edit books for both local and foreign authors. And I also am a prolific Tagalog tutor, self-proclaimed prolific Tagalog tutor…
Derek: [Inaudible 00:03:22].
Adrian: …to foreigners.
Derek: You do have a very good voice on the radio, don’t you?
Adrian: Thank you.
Derek: You should certainly host some radio shows. And we have actually spoken too in two previous episodes. Now, we’ve covered your 12 years career history in outsourcing and BPO and call centers pretty much at the sort of nascent, early stages of the industry. And we’ve covered your teaching of BPO within the government programs, which is aimed at helping the sort of less advantaged youth get into the outsourcing world.
Derek: Outsourcing has opened doors for you, but I just want to really connect with you and get insight into your career now and what your ambitions are for the future going forward.
Adrian: Okay. Well, because becoming a better English speaker has opened a lot of wonderful opportunities for me, I really want to pursue that further, like related work. I’m not yet 100% sure about this, if this will work out, but I really wanted to become an English teacher abroad. It’s my goal to actually be an English teacher in Europe, but if that does not open, maybe at least in Asia or possibly… I mean, if God wills it, then just work here in the Philippines but still utilizing my English skills.
Derek: Yes. You’ve got big ambitions of traveling abroad still. Yes?
Derek: And congratulations. You’ve actually just graduated.
Adrian: That’s right.
Derek: What did you graduate from?
Adrian: Oh, thank you for asking that question. I forgot to mention that when I started my call center career in early 2003, I just finished a two-year course. And because I really wanted to be promoted in the corporate industry back then, I have been aspiring to have a bachelor’s degree. So, it took me 17 years of trying to come back to have a college degree, but I was able to only do that in 2015 after both of my parents have passed on and my siblings already have their own families. And I’m just by myself, so I was able to support myself through college. And it took me 20 years in the making to finish a bachelor’s degree which I have graduated from in May 19.
Derek: And congratulations because it does take great stamina, doesn’t it?
Adrian: Thank you. Yes.
Derek: Commitment and dedication.
Derek: So well-done. It’s not uncommon for people to have a yearning and such a strong drive to relocate overseas. Where does that come from? What is your motivator there? Do you see more opportunity overseas? Do you see just a different field to play in? What’s the driver?
Adrian: Yes. Well, although there are already great opportunities here in the Philippines, I just feel like, because of a lot of negative stuff that happened to me in my career and also in a personal level, I felt like moving overseas will help me move on and maybe start afresh. Yes. But of course, like I said, if that doesn’t work out, I’m open to still working here in the Philippines. Well, let me also say that in relation to the BPO industry, because it’s also a misconception for many Filipinos that if you’re working in the call center, you’re either an undergraduate or not very formally educated. That’s not true. Although the call center welcomes people who are not graduate of certain studies, it also has a lot of graduate students. For example, career shifters, if I could say that, like former teachers, nurses, and maybe even engineers who found a better career option working in the call center industry.
Derek: Yes, because, I mean, commonly, call center jobs, we call them call center, but BPO jobs and outsourcing jobs, they can really quite commonly be about double the salary you’d get for the equivalent professional job domestically. Yes.
Adrian: That’s true. Yes, I’ll go ahead. It’s also amazing how so many other businesses have opened up because of the call center, the BPO businesses that have been built in the Philippines. For example, I’ve noticed an increase in convenience stores that are open 24 hours a day, like Mini stops, 7-Eleven, and many other convenience stores. And not only convenience stores but even fast-food chains that are open 24 hours a day because of the BPO industry.
Derek: Yes. It’s quite a spooky place wherein you can walk around some of the centers are 4:000 in the morning, and it’s like a rush hour, isn’t it, because people are finishing one of the very common shift finishers…
Derek: …if they’re covering, like, the US or something. And it’s really, really a busy place. Normally, if you saw anyone at 4AM, they’d be drunk, but all of these people, they’re sober. They’ve just finished a shift or about to start a shift. All of the shops are sort of teeming with people. It’s quite an unusual sight but so normalized here because it’s such a 24/7 society, isn’t it?
Adrian: That’s right. Yes. And a lot of people are yearning actually to be part of the industry now, I guess because of its prominence in the social media. A lot of Facebook groups revolve around call center jobs and BPO industry, so it has provided so many employments to many Filipinos, and that’s a big help.
Derek: And to your point on the undergraduate, I mean, in my experience with outsourcing, there has been this standard minimum requirement of everyone having a degree. And I think it might be a lot of the Western or foreign bosses or captives that are actually trying to get rid of that,
Adrian: That’s right.
Derek: And really just assess people on their own merits, personality, conversation. It depends on the role, of course.
Adrian: That’s right.
Derek: I mean, there are sort of role requirements, but often, if it’s customer service, then I think the foreigners may be leaning more towards people that are just comfortable chatting and have those skills I suppose, and they’re certainly needing the people skills.
Adrian: I’m actually grateful that it is what it is because in the Philippines, so many jobs actually require for you to be able to finish a college degree. Sometimes, even becoming a salesclerk at a prominent department store will require you to have a college degree. But sometimes, it just doesn’t make sense. But even that being said, I will also say that so many people in the call center industry are yearning for promotion. And part of the reason why some people are not getting promoted is not primarily because of skills but because of the competition. What I meant by that is, for example, I have finished a four-year course, and another candidate is also as skillful as I am, but this guy did not finish a four-year course. Then, of course, the management will be in favor of the guy who has a backup college degree, along with the skills and the personality.
Derek: Yes. Yes. Yes.
Adrian: That’s just my view of it.
Derek: Yes, absolutely. Because you’re dealing with huge numbers and these big call centers, they have tens of thousands of people.
Derek: So, you’ve got to do as much as you can to help your promotional prospects.
Adrian: That’s right. So, you have to have dreams even while working in the BPO industry. Well, I have encountered some people, in fact, who are happy just becoming agents or in the rank and file employee, but of course, it varies. Different strokes for different folks, but for me, having ambition has kept me alive and has kept me going. All those difficult days and nights and even through the bad weather and the bad management, if you have goals and stick to it, I’m sure that you will go a long way.
Derek: Yes, it’s a tough career, huh?
And you were saying that there is a growing community now. People are yearning to get into outsourcing. Is there community building around outsourcing, around BPO workers? And how do they identify themselves?
Adrian: Good question. If you will just go to Facebook and type call center or BPO, I’m sure you will find so many Facebook groups. And in these Facebook groups, a lot of tips sharing, vacancies sharing, are happening. People are helping each other find opportunities that will help themselves because they get incentive and also will help other people find better opportunities than what they have right now.
Derek: Right. Part of what Outsource Accelerator is trying to do is actually unify the BPO workers and create a community, create a sense of pride, and create a sense of awareness that they are the economic warriors helping the future development of the Philippines. Do you think there is that aggregated body? Because the OFWs or overseas foreign workers, they are celebrating. They should be. But I sort of don’t get the sense that the outsourcing community is quite so kind of aggregated and celebratory.
Adrian: Right. Good point.
Derek: Is that a fair comment or…?
Adrian: Yes. That’s actually a good point. Yes. Well, now that you’ve brought that up, I actually just realized that there’s not much such organization that celebrates the heroes in the BPO industry. So, you made a really good point there.
Derek: Right. How exciting. Let’s do that, Adrian.
Derek: Great. So, thank you so much for joining us in. And so, I suppose you have lofty ambitions for your career. You’ve had an incredible career so far. And you’ve actually just recently graduated. So, congratulations for all that.
Adrian: Thank you.
Derek: And if anyone wants to get in touch with you for your services, how can they do that?
Adrian: Yes. Well, they can visit my website, adrianpantonial.com. For my events hosting, please visit and like facebook.com/hostforallseasons. And for my Tagalog tutoring, please visit facebook.com/tagalogtutorpro. Thank you so much.
Derek: Amazing. Thank you, Adrian. And of course, all of that will be in the show notes.
Okay. That was Adrian Pantonial. And if you want to get in touch with Adrian, then go to our show notes at outsourceaccelerator.com/179. And as always, if you want to ask us anything, ask us anything at all, just drop some email to [email protected].