OFW Interview with Clarisse, Product Development Technologist in Dubai

For today’s OFW interview, we interviewed Ms. Clarisse, who is currently working as a New Product Development Technologist. She has been living in Dubai for about five and a half years now. It is also here where she met her husband; together, they have started their journey as a married couple!

Notably, Clarisse holds a Bachelors degree in Biology, major in Microbiology. Ever since she graduated from the University of the Philippines, her jobs have always been related to food safety, quality, and microbiology. She has worked for some of the most reputable companies, both in the Philippines and here in the UAE. Through hard work, passion, and determination — her career has flourished, and she has been recognized as among the best in her field!

Like other OFWs, Clarisse has had her share of challenges as a foreigner working abroad. Nevertheless, she has remained focused, keeping her eyes on the goal and persevering — inspired to learn, to grow, and of course — to help support her family. Let us get to know more about Clarisse and her unique OFW story!

ofw interview product development technologist

OFW Feature: Clarisse, Filipina Product Development Technologist

Nicknames: Clarisse, Claire
Age: 32 years old
Current Profession: New Product Development Technologist
Education: Bachelor of Science in Biology, Major in Microbiology (University of the Philippines, Los Banos)
Years in Dubai: 5.5 years
Notable Achievements in Dubai: Najm Awardee, Emirates Flight Catering; Spark Nominee, Majid Al Futtaim Hypermarkets LLC

1. Tell us about yourself.

Hi! My name is Clarisse, or simply “Claire,” for short. I am 32 years old, currently working as a New Product Development Technologist. I’ve been based here in Dubai for about five and a half years now.

2. Why did you come to Dubai?

One of the reasons for working abroad is for greener pastures. But on top of that, I am a person who always challenges myself to take risks and to try new experiences and adventures. I strongly believe that by being able to fly away from my nest — from my comfort zone — I will be able to learn a lot more and I will be more independent.

By working abroad, I know that I can be stronger, and I will be more aware of the real things happening around me. I know I will be more equipped with first-hand experiences that will allow me to grow personally and professionally, knowing that I will also be exposed to a lot of people with different cultures, and from all walks of life.

ofw interview product development technologist
Say hello to Clarisse, a Filipina based in Dubai.

3. What were your previous jobs?

Back in our home country, I used to work as a Laboratory Analyst and Microbiologist for Baxter Healthcare Philippines. Previously, I was also a Senior Quality and Food Safety Officer for MacroAsia Catering Services, and a Food Safety, Quality, and Regulatory Supervisor for Cargill (CJoy Meats and Poultry).

Meanwhile, here in the UAE, my previous jobs include being a Food Safety Officer as well as a Food Safety and Hygiene Services Coordinator cum AVP Secretary for Emirates Flight Catering. I have also worked as a Cluster Food Safety and Hygiene Supervisor for IHG Hotels.

4. How do you find your current job/business? Are you happy/satisfied with it?

I graduated with a Bachelors degree in Biology, Major in Microbiology, from the University of the Philippines. I have extensive experience in quality, food safety, and microbiology as I have worked for reputable companies even when I was in the Philippines.

Ever since I graduated from university, my jobs have been related to the degree that I finished… from being a Quality Assurance – Microbiologist in a pharmaceutical company, to being a Quality and Food Safety Professional in various companies in the Philippines, and here in the UAE.

My career in quality and food safety has given me the opportunity to leave a mark not only in the companies where I worked for, but in the world, which makes it very satisfying to work in this field. Food safety professionals play a very vital role and impact the health and well-being of millions of people across the globe by preventing potentially deadly pathogens from contaminating the food supply.

I became more passionate about this profession because the working environment of a quality and food safety professional is very dynamic. It is constantly changing and it surprises you each and every working day. No two days are exactly the same, and I enjoy the challenge of synthesizing these complex, interconnected and ever-changing regulations. Along with the changes, the need for quality and food safety professionals in each level of the supply chain has given flexibility in my career path, from In-flight Catering, Manufacturing, to Hospitality and now in New Product Development.

I was able to meet a lot of people from different walks of life, and from them I gained a lot. I have made a good network and engaging with them made me realize that the world out there has more to offer. I learned how to believe in myself more and the nationality or culture doesn’t really matter on how one can be successful abroad. You just have to stay focus on your goals, on your dreams, and for sure you will be where you want to be in God’s perfect time.

ofw interview product development technologist
She is currently working as a New Product Development Technologist.

5. Are you able to save in Dubai? Or do you have any investments you wish to share?

Honestly speaking, when I started working here in Dubai it was a bit tough to save because my salary is not that big. It was just enough to sustain my needs/wants and send money home to help and support my family. After my promotion, slowly I was able to save up. Then it continued. I guess the secret is to create a realistic monthly budget based on your lifestyle, spending habits, and of course, your monthly bills. Prioritize your monthly bills and keep track of your expenses to help you improve your finances.

Start building up your savings, no matter how small, and even if it takes time. Have an emergency fund and strategize an investment plan that will work best for you. Stay committed to your financial goals and change your own habits when necessary.

I have already invested in two properties, back in the Philippines, after several years of working hard abroad.

6. Is it difficult to live in Dubai? What are your struggles? What’s life like outside work?

When I started working abroad, I encountered a lot of racial discrimination but I didn’t allow it to get to me. I focused on my goal and I just worked as what is expected of me. I did not settle for less; I always persevered more and proved to everyone else that I can also do things that they can do, or even more. Aside from this, I guess what I cannot forget is dealing with our fellow kabayans who do not share the same perspective as mine. Those who were not happy for the little wins I had, those who believe and think that they are far better than you when the reality is that they aren’t, really. “Crab mentality” was for sure not only experienced by me!

And of course, it is very hard to be away from your family, your loved ones and friends. It really takes a lot of sacrifices because at the end of the day, you work to be able to help your family, to give them financial support and a comfortable life back home.

7. What do you like about Dubai?

Dubai is a very rich city and it is one of the most popular expat destinations in the world. It offers a lot of exciting career and business opportunities and currently has a zero-income tax policy. It also has exceptional healthcare/ medical services for its citizens and residents.

I also like staying in Dubai because of its low crime rate; you will always feel safe going around, enjoying different activities even if it is already in the wee hours.

ofw interview product development technologist
She loves to travel!

8. What do you NOT Like about Dubai?

While many people enjoy living in Dubai as expats, there are some who may find it challenging or less enjoyable. I guess for those who are new here, it will be “culture shock.” The laws, customs, and way of life in Dubai may be different from what some expats are used to, which can be challenging to adapt to.

As for me, I think it will be the extreme heat during the summer which makes it really uncomfortable when you are outside. Also, it is challenging to make friends and build a social life in Dubai. The country can be transient, with many expatriates coming and going, which makes it difficult to establish long-term friendships.

9. What are your plans for your career/family/future?

Honestly speaking, I do not see myself coming back to the Philippines for good. I have enjoyed staying in Dubai and all the things it has to offer. And not to forget, I met my husband here and we have started our journey as a married couple. We have plans of moving to another country in the future where we can get permanent residency and settle there.

My ultimate career goal is to become a Food Safety/ ISO standards auditor and eventually have a business of my own.

10. You have any tips for kabayans when working/finding work/living in Dubai?

I do have several tips for my fellow kababayans who wish to land a good job here in Dubai. Here’s what I’d like to share:

  • Be ready to try new things even if it is outside of your comfort zone. Prepare yourself for the next role even if it’s difficult; this will enable you to expand your skill set.
  • Always keep in mind that you do not know everything. Continue to learn no matter what stage you are in your career. Gain more skills to be more adaptable and flexible as we cannot say what the future can bring.
  • Persevere. Nobody starts on top and become the best employee right away. Persevere and stay focused on reaching your career goals and become a top performer.
  • Don’t be scared to speak up and do what is right.
  • Embrace failures and be willing to start over, or move on if something doesn’t work. Pick up all the learnings and continue to do better, don’t settle.
  • Be confident but humble. Ask for help when you need it.

BONUS: Would you like to share a special message?

There are moments in life when we realize just how fortunate we are to have people in our lives who remain our constant source of strength and encouragement. To my family and my small circle of friends (you know who you are ), your genuine belief in my abilities and potential has given me the confidence to chase my dreams and reach for the stars. Thank you for being my cheerleader, for inspiring me to never give up, and for reminding me of my strengths even when I couldn’t see them myself. Your words have been a source of motivation and empowerment, and I am truly grateful for your unwavering support.

ofw interview product development technologist
Clarisse considers Dubai as her second home.

Connect with Clarisse Online

Get to know more about Clarisse by following her Instagram handle, @clarecertified. You can also contact her through her LinkedIn profile.


* Photos provided by Clarisse

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