photo credit: justjared.com
When people hear about the term business executive, we usually equate it with hotshots – probably driving an expensive car, wearing Blahniks and dangling an arm candy Prada. Who is probably living in a high-end condo and taking luxury trips here and there. Their travel plans might include business class seats or luxury ships, limousine for airport transfers, Mr. & Mrs. Smith hotels and dining in on exclusive Michelin-rated restaurants.
Well, guess what? I am not a hotshot and I don’t have a car. I don’t own any Prada or Blahniks. I don’t even have my own house and I’m still living with my parents. And though I have traveled with style several times before, it was only because my employers paid for it. In short, I’m a freeloader.
photo credit: lancastria.net
The first time I heard about backpacking, I was thinking of filthy and disturbed cheapskate trying to travel (pardon my prejudice fellow backpackers!). My idea was so skewed I am so embarrassed of myself. Until I met a backpacker who studied in Harvard and is working in multinational company in the US with 6-figure income. He could definitely afford to take a more comfortable vacation but he chose it in a backpacking way to immerse himself more in the local culture.
I was more aghast when I first heard of hostel. Who would want to sleep with bunch of strangers?! But then since I tried hosteling abroad last year, I realised that those strangers could be the friends you’re looking for your entire life. The different characters and backgrounds are interesting mix. I met students, bankers, businessmen, social workers, engineers, artists and military people and we were united because of love of one thing: travelling.
The Back Story
I’ve been working in senior management level from the last 7 years and though there were points of my life that I truly enjoyed the corporate life (yep I enjoyed the ass-licking, the money-making and the dog eats dog mentality), there came a point that I have been burned out. I worked in a call centre company for 5 years straight. I got promoted as an operations manager at the age of 22 – in less than 6 months being in the industry. And from then on, it was a constant struggle working with middle-aged businessmen from different countries, background and work ethics. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying the people I worked with are devils in coat and tie. It was simply because I was too young then and felt like I was thrown out of water even before I learned how to swim. You will probably agree with me that majority of the girls at that age have just graduated college and on the way to their first job. I’ve also known girls that time whose problems only involved what to wear and where to party next weekend. And there I was, managing hundred plus employees whose jobs (and probably their families) relied on me. It grew to multiple centres later on but that’s for my LinkedIn story. Heh.
While some of my friends were probably hanging out in Starbucks like forever, I was working my ass off. Dealing with KPIs, marketing techniques and trends and making money generally. My responsibilities didn’t stop at that when our biggest clients ‘absorbed’ me to work for their companies – handling their clients after clients and being an account analyst. So at the age of 23, I was an operations manager, account manager, client relations officer and account and data analyst. Fancy titles for baby sitter, moral booster, messenger, entertainer, a math geek who was obsessed with statistics and the most-hated- person by the Chief Technology Officer and his minions for being demanding.
You could say that despite everything I almost had it all. I called the shots for the most part, my employer (one of the best bosses out there) trusted me, our clients needed me, our staff looked up to me and I’ve got pretty good compensation packages. But as everyone knows, the corporate life has it’s dark sides. In fact too many dark sides. I’ve learned how to live with it though. I am usually positive thinker, grounded, practical and I don’t let anything influence and affect me. But to those who personally know me, they know I’m not someone who could easily be put aside. I simply don’t take shit from anyone. As my former boss puts it, I’m the type of person who can call her own boss an asshole – if he’s being an asshole.
For the record, I didn’t have any thunderbolt moment when I realised I wanted to quit my old job… from my old life. I wasn’t even ready. I heard a lot about people who quit their job after saving enough money, selling everything, getting signs from heaven or their horoscope, and being touched by a story they found accidentally on the internet, from a book or a movie. It was just a wrong moment (aka PMS effect) for some jealous employees by our clients to connive at my back. So after telling the “clients” that I don’t care if they own the company but as long as they are letting me handle the job, I have the right to know what’s happening in my backyard – I quit on their face. They all apologised but I had enough of their bullshits.
I walked out on the same day after I filed a 3-day leave to my boss -informing him in advance that I would just go back to render my resignation letter. Afterwards, I spent my vacation leave eating chocolates, watching TV till I dropped, reading books until my eyes hurt and spent it with my family. Those 3 days were crucial even though most of you would think I was being a brat and unprofessional. Those days that I spent on simple things were enough to make me realise how much I missed in my early 20’s. I was busy pleasing people who couldn’t even stand behind my back when I needed them and unintentionally neglecting those important people in my life who would even lay their lives for me. Okay, that’s kinda corny but you get the gist.
I think most of us are guilty of forgetting who we are in one point of our lives. During my ‘office-days’ I forgot what I really wanted to be. I forgot dreaming for myself because – well – I had to pay the bills and support my family. I also felt responsible for my former company and its staff. But ever since I was a kid, I have already wanted to become a world traveller; learning different cultures, meet people and touch lives, and become a writer; writing novels based on people’s stories I gathered on the road and be a messenger. And then the world needed me so I had to put those dreams aside and grow up. It’s a bit dramatic but I bet majority can relate.
But guess what? When you hit rock bottom, there’s no only way but up. When I decided to pursue my passions and promised myself I will live a well-balance life- it was then that offers started pouring in. Former clients and colleagues abroad asked me to join them but one company stood out. As of now, I am working remotely for an American BPO company and I’m managing their call centres in India, Philippines, US and Caribbean. I only work half of the time I spent in my previous company which gives me ample time to pursue personal stuff – including things I’m passionate about and earning more money on the side. They also doubled my salary and by working remotely, I can afford to travel every month – spending at least two weeks outside of the country. On top of that, I’m able to share meals with my family, play with my nieces and nephs and hang out with my friends anytime I want.
World peace and ending poverty. 🙂
Kidding aside, my only reason why I created this blog is to gain traffic to get advertisers. So I can monetize my travels and beat Facebook and Google with advertisements. Hah!
Seriously now, I wish my stories will serve as inspiration to people who want to pursue the same path as I am. Backpacking Executive is a narrative of my journey as a backpacker and as an executive at the same time. Majority of people think that you can’t be both. I wish to inspire people who want to have the best of both worlds. I do believe that with a right amount of handwork, drive and patience, it is possible to live the life you want without sacrificing “the realities” of life.
I am a traveller, career woman, photography enthusiast, learner, writer and a multi-tasker. Welcome to my site and if you’re interested to follow my adventures, please subscribe/ like/ follow me on the social media links below.