- Hi, I am Wandalyn Tan-Calupig, a CPA from the Philippines turned Career Coach, Consultant, and Trainer in the UAE.
- My ability to ask the right questions has opened many doors in my career.
- Here’s how I went from being an Audit Manager at Emirates Airlines to starting my own in the UAE.
From the Philippines to the UAE
Growing up in the Philippines, my childhood was quite full of struggles.
My dad died when I was nine so my mom took care of me.
I actually wanted to be either a nun or a nurse but my mom couldn’t afford my educational fees as a nurse. She suggested, “Why don’t you opt for Accountancy?” Hence, I had no other option but to take up Accountancy.
Everything went well, and I graduated with Cum Laude for Bachelor of Science (BS) in Accountancy in 2000. I also became a Certified Public Accountant from the Philippines Professional Regulation Commission in the same year.
Post qualification, I received a handful of job offers from big companies and accounting firms in the Philippines.
I opted to go with Punongbayan & Araullo (a former member of Ernst and Young Manila and now a member firm of Grant Thornton International), as they provide a higher salary, and my values aligned with their work culture.
However, after a year and a half, I started to get tired of writing reports. I got an offer to join Intel (one of our clients) as a Senior Tax Analyst, managing individual and corporate taxation for 5 companies of Intel Philippines.
I loved working there, but it also had some downsides. Due to a huge workload, and a long distance to work, there were days when the only break I got was for eating and sleeping. I wondered, “How could I sustain that kind of life in the long run?”
I caught up with my friend living in Dubai, UAE, and asked her if there was a job opening. She asked for my CV and it worked out.
One day I got a call for an interview at Emirates, the Airline and Aviation giant.
I never thought that I would get the job as I was up against some senior professionals. I had no experience in the airline industry or with internal audits, but they chose me because of my enthusiasm and optimism.
I joined Emirates in 2006, as an Internal Audit Officer.
How asking for a promotion at Emirates transformed my career
Over the next six years, while working with Emirates, many of my colleagues were getting promoted to Manager, Vice President.
I was waiting for my turn but it never came. My career progression seemed stagnant.
Knowing that I was deserving of the promotion, I politely asked our VP, “What do I need to do to be the next manager?”
What he said was shocking; “I didn’t think you would want a promotion because you have kids.”
Thankfully I got the promotion in six months. This made me realize that “We are just one question away from great things.”
How burnout led to my career reinvention
Over the years my responsibilities increased as a Regional Audit Manager.
I loved my job but at one point I was constantly sick and stressed, and my children too. I felt an inexplicable emptiness and unhappiness, despite having my dream career, dream family, and dream life in Dubai. I was burned out.
In my quest to find the best path to heal myself and my children, I discovered Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), a study about how the mind works.
NLP changed my life and I became happier and more fulfilled. I started teaching NLP to the local Filipino community and witnessed success.
Every one of my students, that were studying to become Certified Management Accountants (CMAs), Certified Fraud Examiners (CFEs), and Chartered Financial Analysts (CFA) passed their examinations. One of my students also ranked 2nd out of 4,967 in the CMA English exam.
I realized how my auditing skills and NLP expertise can lead to positive career and life transformation, through training and coaching.
This made me very happy and gave me a sense of satisfaction. I told my husband, “I found something that I really want to do in my life and that’s training and coaching.”
In 2016 my husband had to relocate to Malaysia for his job, hence we moved with him. This made my housewife dream become a reality.
No matter how much I enjoyed being a housewife, I missed my old self. To find myself again I decided to join Emirates as a consultant in 2017. And eventually in 2018 started my company, Caltan Training and Consultancy, and started working as a Freelance Business Coach & Trainer.
However, we returned to Dubai from Malaysia.
Emirates was not hiring at that point. Luckily a friend informed me about an open position at flydubai, which is another top Airline and Aviation company in UAE. I joined them in 2019.
In March 2020, during the lockdown, people were burning out. So I decided to share my burnout story on LinkedIn, to give people hope.
In November 2022, I took the ultimate leap of faith and resigned from Flydubai. I went on to continue the training and consulting business that I started in 2018.
Today I am an independent consultant and run my career coaching, consulting, and training business simultaneously.
The big question is – how did I get clients for my coaching?
Over the past 20 years of working and 14 years in Dubai, I have built a lot of connections and made friends.
With my experience and expertise, I decided to offer my coaching services.
I reached out to some of my connections to see if their companies would be interested in my services. While some expressed interest and some declined, I realized that those who truly valued my skills and experience would reach out to me.
Initially, I was uncertain about whether to pursue coaching, consulting, or training. However, I came up with the idea of “talent stacking”. This allowed me to combine my diverse skills and experiences to create a unique approach to helping companies and individuals.
I created a program called Coachsulting, which is focused on aligning a company’s goals with the needs of its employees.
Through Coachsulting, I consult with companies to assess their well-being strategy and develop a customized plan that aligns with the goals of the company.
Additionally, I provide coaching support to help employees thrive and achieve their potential.
Lastly, I also help companies leverage the power of LinkedIn to build their brand and connect with potential clients.
I strongly believe that building relationships and helping others are key to success.
I am constantly on the lookout for people who may be facing similar challenges to those I have overcome, and I reach out to friends and family to see if there are any opportunities where I can offer my expertise.
When I left my job at Emirates, many people told me that I was crazy to leave a stable job.
Quitting my job as a Senior Internal Auditor to become a Career Coach in an expensive country like the UAE was daunting.
But I wanted to make an impact, and it wouldn’t have been possible sitting behind a desk.
I left everything in God’s hands and tried my best to make my dreams come true. Thankfully it worked out and I have never been happier about my decisions.
Asking the right questions can be a powerful tool for success, both in your career and in other areas of life. This is something that I’ve learned the hard way and highly recommend it to anyone who is facing similar challenges.
Fear can often hold us back from asking those questions, but by reframing them in a positive way, we can unlock new opportunities and make progress toward our goals.
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