Monday, April 29, 2013

Decisions that may Make or Break You

One time when I was window-shopping, I happened to spread out a T-shirt with print that says, "Don't grow up; It's a trap!" I managed a simple guffaw. Precisely because I knew it personally to be always true.

My Professional Record

I believed I am a very responsible person, notwithstanding some irresponsible undertakings I have had in my whole life by far. When I am given the chance to prove myself, I hold on and see to it that I am very much responsible for everything that comes with it. I am not a university graduate but I can compete with any of them. At work, I perform my job beyond what is expected of me. But historically, of my 15 professional years, I have recorded an average of two years in working with an organization. Check my professional record in italicized fonts below:

  • As a College Instructor with Saint Paul University Surigao = 3 years full time; 2 years parttime
  • As the Municipal Accountant of Municipal government of Anao-aon, Surigao del Norte = 2 years
  • As a Financial Analyst with Department of Finance (DOF)'s Community-Based Resource Management Project (CBRMP) = 10 months
  • As the MDF Accountant with Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR)'s Agraria Reform Communities Project (ARCP) = 4 years and 8 months
  • As the Senior Finance Officer with Department of Agriculture (DA)'s Infrastructure for Rural Enhancement Sector (InfRES) Project = 1 year
  • As an Accounting and Financial Analyst of Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI) with US Agency for International Development (USAID)'s Philippine Water Resource Fund-Support Program (PWRF-SP) = 2 years
  • As a Community Financial Analyst with Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)'s Kalahi-CIDSS Project = almost 2 years now
See that last bold, italic words above? I am once again close to my "deadline" and confronted with doubt, confusion, or a crossroad - the decision time whether to stay or move out. I really need to diversify, find some spices in my work, look for an outlet to rid of the monotony in my present professional life. What made me last more than 2 years with DAR's ARCP was because I went to nursing school at weeknights and did hospital works at weekends. My undergraduate-once-again studies kept me busy and focused; the boredom with my work's routine was kept in abeyance.
It is not only monotony that challenged me every time the second year of working in one office comes near. It is also the pouring of blessings altogether at almost the same time. This is my present dilemma. Thus I offered a personal prayer at my Facebook page for a week to invite my friends to say it with me.
Lord, thank you for the many blessing you showered upon me. Thank you for giving me work and workmates who accepted my professional personality, seen the potential in me, and trusted me much works to do. Thank you for giving me enough choices in life, about work, even accounting fields to specialize. July 2013 is too close for me to make up my mind and so I beseech you. Give me your grace of enlightenment to weigh stuffs and come up with a better choice. You have given me too much gift, primarily the love of work, and I cannot thank you enough. This all I ask in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, through the intercession of Mother Mary. Amen.

When it rains, it pours!
When I joined the consultancy service, I have established a name of my own. Having worked religiously and which work has exceeded my bosses' and my colleagues' expectations, I have left an indelible mark in their hearts and minds. My mentors along with my already friends (former bosses and colleagues) have been referring me to more consultancy works since we parted ways after working together for an average of two years (as described above). Those indelible marks and personal referrals had me enlisted as consultant with some consulting firms.

One of them is my former company, the DAI with submitted bid for the upcoming USAID project in water sector. I was asked to submit my updated curriculum vitae for a slot as STTA or short-term technical assistance consultant. Another consulting firm headed by my Senior Expert that I worked with in Department of Budget and Management for a month's contract also listed my name as part of their roster of consultants; this time I was given a long-term position. This firm also bids for the same upcoming USAID project. As per information given to me, the said project will hopefully be awarded anytime soon and shall start in August 2013. The companies are giving me P2,600 rate per day.

Early this year, I got a call from somebody named Patrick. He told me that I was referred to their Irish consulting firm as somebody with ample experience in local/public financial management. He offered me a slot in their bid for a contract with the DepEd project, primarily on Unified Account Coding System, Treasury Single Account, and Asset Management. He informed me that I will be working with a group of international consultants to design a Financial Management Information System. The initial offer was Aus$1700 per month which I bargained for Aus$2,000, but he only agreed at Aus$1,850 monthly, gross of application taxes. The contract of service will be good for 12 months and is expected to commence as early as May 2013 or as late as July 2013.

Currently, I am connected with Kalahi-CIDSS (KC) Project of DSWD, funded by Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), as a Community Financial Analyst (CFA) paid at P50,000 a month. Then the original Kalahi-CIDSS is being scaled up and soon to be called NCDDP or National Community-Driven Development Program which shall start in July 2013. I was actively involved in the preparation workshops for the program and only lately that I learned I will be given a post in the new staffing structure. In short, I will be moved from MCC-funded project with a promise (hopefully!) of a higher rate, which rate I don't know yet how much. This new program will run until year 2019.

Weighing Scale

Within these few days, I kept checking myself and referring my case to some friends and family. I first checked with Ms. Lee, my counterpart CFA who's salary is charged under World Bank - the funder of the original Kalahi-CIDSS Project. I asked her how much would be the monthly rate of the position, which she is presently occupying, that I will be taking in when I work with NCDDP. She told me she doesn't know but definitely higher than my current rate. She is given another position higher than our position today, that is the National Financial Analyst (NFA). Then later she shared me her second thoughts of confirming the new position, which will definitely involve administrative matters. This move will definitely affect my decision.

I also talked to Ms. Nanette, one of my mentors and former chief in DAR-ARCP. She used to be one of my personal references in my curriculum vitae, the one I sent to the Irish consulting (AARC) firm who submitted bid to DepEd project. That firm, as she confirmed, also contacted Ms. Nanette for the same position they offered me. She even offered the Aus$2,000 monthly rate. We discussed many things related to this offer whether the firm will contract the both of us or either one of us. This definitely shook my decision in addition to the silence of this consultancy firm as to the Terms of Reference (TOR) we both have been asking since this Patrick called us.

I sought an advice from Ms. Chi, the Kalahi-CIDSS Deputy National Project Manager. I laid to her my story and she told me to stay with the project for there is only few consultants who have the experience in CDD, which is trending nowadays and will definitely shape the future in community development and national planning here and abroad. My length of stay would give me edge in the future. I believe she's right. Her counsel will have huge impact in my decision-making.

My premature decision before the exchange of emails below was this: No matter how attractive my resume would appear, to have IFMIS listed in my related experience, I would put to risk my regular income. Because such handsome pay will only last for 11 months while staying with Kalahi-CIDSS, whether under NCDDP or MCC, will last my monthly pay of P50,000 up until June 2016.

The person who has greatly affected my premature decision of staying with my present job came from the suggestion of my sister, En. She told me that I can no longer risk my long-term monthly income by jumping here and there because I have plenty of regular, as in monthly, obligations. Those are from utility bills to credit cards, and of course to my car loan amortization. She is definitely right. Had I not tied up with these monthly obligations with reasonable amount, I would easily change jobs any time, every time. That following holiday (May 1), we talked about it heart to heart, weighing things carefully, until we settled at one condition - that when the AARC firm grants me the Aus$2,000 monthly rate, I will take the offer.

Ah! I am so confused!

Just Asking, Not Basking

Immediately after talking things with my sister En, I emailed the AARC saying,
The work is interesting; I am really considering about being part of it. I only wonder which of the 3 slots for local accountants I will be accommodated? Hope my asking rate of 2,000 monthly rate be granted and I am willing to get on board. This small demand is primarily due to short period (12 months) of contract which I will exchange with another upcoming project which promised a 6-year term.

And the reply was a big YES! This further leads to another confusion, a consideration that requires major and hard decision. Now, I have to know the other offer, before I counter the big YES with my version of Yes. I have no other way of confirming but to write the KC Project's Financial Management Specialist, Madam Lalaine. My email goes like this:

I am sorry to write you very personal letter. I am better at writing down my thoughts and feelings than pronouncing them in an open and personal manner. Been thinking about asking you these following questions. Have asked Ms. Lee some of them but I believe you're the right person to ask about. 
1. Is it true that I will be given the CFA post in NCDDP? During the preparation of staffing plan, it was directed to put my name in the CFA slot and Lee's name in NFA's.  
2. How much is the monthly rate for the NCDDP's CFA? Considering the larger coverage, I believe the rate is a little higher than my present rate with MCC. But I want to know exact figures of how "little higher" it differs from my P50,000. 
3. When taking the post in January 2014, will the full rate applicable to the position be granted wholly to me? 
Well, Lee has second thoughts of vacating the position. But in case I will indeed take the position, which I believe would commence in January 2014, will I be eligible to also take the new monthly rate? Or I will still be subject to 5% increment as I step up in the organization?
I am sorry again if all I talked about is money. I am on my 2nd year already with the KC-MCC Project and though my asking rate (when I was hired) was not yet granted, I am still surviving and thankful for the opportunity. Now, I just want to also consider the compensation when transferring from MCC to NCDDP, because when the difference is insignificant, I guess I would rather stay with MCC. That unless I have other offers in-or outside (hopefully) the DSWD. 
Hard Decision

The answer came in the midday and it revealed several uncertainties. Ms. Lalaine said that there is no finality in all that have transpired in the workshops. I cannot tell which is not final, my move from MCC to NCDDP or the increase in my professional fee.

I felt it unfair that some consultants hired and charged under KC-MCC have granted salary increase while I expect to be given due even just now after spending 2 years with the organization. These consultants, I should say, cheated their increase by simply putting the new rate in the new contract without prior discussions with whoever must approve it. When I joined the organization I humbly accepted the P50,000 way low than my previous rate with non-government organization. My P55,000 asking rate was not even granted because it is the way it is when you're new. I am waiting a word that even P60,000 monthly rate will be accorded to me by January 2014 and I will stay with KC. Unfortunately, nothing is certain.

This and more (which better left unsaid) are instrumental to arriving at my conclusion and propelled me to finally decide what to me is easier job, bigger remuneration and bolder move. I plan to tender my resignation on or before June 3.

It is really hard to grow up. You will be alone in battling for living. You will be carrying the yoke of too much responsibility. Had I known it early in my childhood, I won't choose growing up. It is indeed a trap!

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