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Thrive in an international career: Lessons from one of the Gulf’s most influential engineers

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Thrive in an international career: Lessons from one of the Gulf’s most influential engineers

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Establishing a career in a highly technical field like engineering can be challenging, especially if you’re working overseas. Although international assignments are often more lucrative than local employment, it takes competence, tenacity, professionalism, skills, and the proper credentials to thrive abroad. An excellent example of a successful Filipino professional abroad is Mark Abejar, a Mechanical Engineering graduate of Mapúa University and listed among the 100 Most Influential Filipino Engineers in the Gulf by the Gulf Cooperation Council, who became an industry leader overseas.

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Abejar began working in Kuwait in 2017 as an asset integrity coordinator for an onshore oil and gas company when he was just 27 years old. His post required him to ensure that their assets, rig, and operations remained functional and productive. Although it was a demanding job that was made even more difficult by linguistic and cultural barriers, he pressed on and persevered.

He admitted that the transition to working overseas wasn’t easy at first. The business environment was quite different from what he experienced in the Philippines, and the cultural disparities emphasized it even more.

“When I started working overseas, linguistic and cultural differences became more significant. Meeting and working with a variety of people from different backgrounds has been challenging, but it has also given me the chance to learn to adapt to new situations and broaden my knowledge by communicating with them. I always make sure that whatever difficulty I face, I learn something from it and keep moving forward,” Abejar said.

He saw every day on the job as a learning opportunity. Abejar leaned on the expertise he gained through the years, and the foundational knowledge and soft skills he acquired from his university days got him through tough times.

“My Mapúan education served as a strong foundation in my career. It provided me with the intellectual skills I need and the character strengths that are so important in the workplace. I gained skills in college that I currently employ at work, including intellectual ability, critical thinking and decision-making, and a strong work ethic,” he explained.

Abejar made good use of his time abroad by attending industry-related training and seminars. He took an active role in the Kuwait chapter of the Philippine Society of Mechanical Engineers (PSME), where he served as an officer. He organized, planned, and hosted PSME events that fostered collaboration, knowledge-sharing, and encouragement among Filipino engineers in the Gulf Region. He also joined non-profit groups that supported other Filipinos living in Kuwait.

His outstanding job performance and efforts in empowering fellow engineers led to the “100 Most Influential Filipino Engineers in the Gulf” award he received in 2019. The list recognized Filipinos who were the best in the field and dedicated to uplifting the Filipino community.

His recognition opened more doors for him to lead various talks where he encourages professionals to pursue workplace excellence and community involvement. It also motivated him to further enhance his skills by taking the rigorous National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH IGC) last November 2020, where he passed with flying colors.
To date, Abejar oversees the Health, Safety, and Environment Department of the Kuwait Drilling Company. The thirty-two-year-old may have come a long way, but he still recognizes his roots.

“It is because of Mapúa’s academic excellence, competence, and international accreditations such as ABET that we, Mapúans, are confident to have received a top-notch education that prepares us to be competent professionals,” Abejar said.

He advised those planning to work overseas to have an excellent work ethic on top of good head knowledge. “The professionalism in your workplace and the attitude you show demonstrate the passion for whatever work you do and are crucial. Working abroad could be challenging at first, but having a good Mapúan education and strong character will give you the confidence to adapt and work in a new environment,” he explained.

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