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22 Apr 2021

Humans of Kent: Vivika DeLeon, Materials & Logistics Co-ordinator, Dubai

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Multicultural Minds

Having a multicultural identity is beautiful and enriching. It’s beautiful because it makes our identity multifaceted and unique. It’s enriching because it allows us to see the world from various perspectives, learn about the different cultures and grow.

I was blessed to be born and raised in a multicultural family in Philippines where we would celebrate festivities like Eid and Diwali in our homes. My father was born in Karachi, Pakistan, and my mother was born in Pune, India. Their four children were all born in Philippines and I was the youngest of the lot. There are huge communities of people with Indian origin and people who migrated from Pakistan in the Philippines. Growing up, I learned to navigate the different cultural norms and values connected with my multicultural identity because I had come to appreciate, accept, and understand many of the core values that drive my behaviour in each culture. I got married in my early 20s to my husband who is Catholic – part Indian, part Pakistani and part Filipino. We’re as multicultural as it gets.

The most challenging time of my life was being a new mum. During my first pregnancy, I wasn’t taking care of my wellbeing, I was extremely lazy, inactive, and consuming all kinds of junk foods. There was a point before the birth of my son when the doctor said my son had less chances of survival. When he was born, the doctor said my baby could pass away in the next five seconds and I’ve never heard more painful words in my life. But I’m grateful that my boy is the epitome of strength, and a survivor – he survived those five seconds, and he’s now thriving as an almost 21-year-old. When I was pregnant with my baby girl a year later, I did everything in my power to take care of myself and keep healthy. It was a time where I learned the true meaning of strength, gratitude, and prayer. My baby girl was born a year later, healthy and happy, because I took care of myself and was cautious f what I feed my body. My healthy kids are my true wealth.

Being a happy-go-lucky person with an attitude of gratitude, it has helped in cultivating a positive perspective in life from a young age. Whether I decide to pursue performing arts, work in a call centre in Philippines, real estate in Dubai, Materials and Logistics in ExxonMobil on rotation in Iraq or work at Kent, I believe every day marks another opportunity to learn something new and every person you interact with has the potential to teach you something, all you need to be is open to receiving it. I firmly believe it’s a person’s perspective that makes their life easier. If you look at every day as a school day where you never stop learning, you create an open space to fall, pick yourself up, brush yourself off and start again. You learn to become more comfortable stepping outside your comfort zone and are willing to take on new challenges. Everything I learn about myself has helped me become more authentic.

Within my role at Kent, I understand the power of culture in shaping individuals I interact with daily – my colleagues, suppliers, leaders. Through my personal experience of communicating with different people from various cultural backgrounds, I’ve learned to adapt to different communication styles. As a Materials and Logistics Coordinator, I need to be available 24/7 since I deal with people in Iraq, USA, UK, Qatar to name a few. This means being available at odd timings due to the time differences – early mornings or even late nights, if need be. I’m blessed to have a supportive team, a great manager, and their trust and space to do my thing instead of being micromanaged, all this combined makes me appreciate what I have at Kent. So, I make sure all calls, at any point of day, are received with a big smile and an open heart, no matter what.

To any new joiner, I’d say… Welcome to your second home. Just be yourself and don’t be afraid to ask questions, you’re in good hands.

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