From the Philippines to Tauranga | Vic Petilla of Cucumber Shares His Story
Vic Petilla had a good life and a successful IT career in the Philippines, his home country. But in recent years he realized he was ready for a challenge. He wanted to break out of his comfort zone and experience life in a new country – one where he and his partner, Francis, could enjoy the same rights as their straight friends.
New Zealand came up top of their wish list and the beauty of the Mount Maunganui beachline captured Vic’s heart and imagination. One of his work colleagues used to live in Tauranga. He connected Vic with the Bay of Plenty’s economic development agency, Priority One who can help to make connections between job seekers and the local business community. Vic sent his CV through and that very same day received an email back from Jodie Tipping, CEO of Cucumber, who was interested in his skills and experience.
Everything fell into place and in May 2018, Vic and Francis began their new life together in Tauranga.
Vic, where did you grow up?
I was born in Manila but grew up in the province of Leyte. Growing up in a provincial setting in the ’90s, I had limited knowledge about computers, which made me curious to know more. While I was in high school, my father enrolled me in a summer school computer class where I learned software like WordStar. I thought it was cool and decided I wanted to pursue a college education in this area. I got a degree in Computer Science and then completed a Masters in Business Administration.
How did you get into programming?
After graduating, I had several customers and technical support roles. My first break as a software engineer/programmer came when I was hired at Mapua University as part of the Research and Innovation Team. I loved the innovation, developing integration with smart cards and mobile phones. From there, I moved to different IT companies and did different roles. The last role I had was Product Owner Associate Manager at Accenture.
The IT industry inspires me to learn new things because of ever-changing technology. It gives me an opportunity to try different roles and improve my skills while at the same time contributing valuable things to others.
Why did you decide to move to New Zealand?
Although I had a good job and decent living, I wanted to experience a new life outside of my comfort zone. Being a part of LGBT community, I wanted to live in a country where my partner and I have equal rights in society. We are not getting younger and that’s why we decided to make that plan into reality as soon as possible.
How did Tauranga end up on your radar?
My friend and former colleague from Accenture, who used to live here in Tauranga, connected me to Priority One, saying they could help connect job seekers with businesses in Tauranga. When I first saw the beauty of Mount Maunganui and the beaches online, I felt excited. So I sent my CV to Annie and surprisingly, Jodie Tipping of Cucumber, e-mailed me on the same day. I went to a series of interviews and luckily I got the job!
What is your role with Cucumber?
Cucumber offers strategy, design, and technology services to develop future business. My role is as an Experience Analyst which involves doing business analysis, product ownership, project coordination, and customer support to different digital and non-digital projects. I am working with great minds, happy people and we treat each other as family. I am blessed to be there.
What do you love about living in Tauranga?
Tauranga is a beautiful and very peaceful city. You can walk in the street in the middle of the night without any fear. We are currently living on Fourth Avenue, just two blocks away from the office. Everything we need is already here in Tauranga, even Filipino/Asian stores and it is easy for us to travel to different places like beaches, tourist spots, and nearby cities.
What have you found challenging?
Coming from a tropical country, the challenging part for us is adjusting to the cold weather. Aside from that, I’m still learning to understand the New Zealand accent and the culture.
Have there been any people or groups who are helping you to settle in?
It’s easy to settle here in Tauranga. We’re able to easily find our place through social media. There were adjustments but we’re loving it here because of nice people and easy access to establishments. I am blessed that my partner is always there for me. We’re encouraging each other on our journey. New Zealand is very helpful to people like us, new migrants. The Migrant Action Centre provides seminars on how to adjust in living here. Cucumber has been very supportive, especially with our application for residency. We’ve also met new friends, especially Filipinos, who give us advice about life in New Zealand.
What has moving to Tauranga meant:
For your career? Working with great people who help me to grow professionally.
For your wellbeing? Living in a clean and peaceful city with people that encourage you to live a healthy lifestyle.
For your relationships? Building a better future for me, my partner and our family.