A Friendly Welcome at FGF: An Interview With Doris Bal-Isen

From the Philippines to Canada, and from caregiver to reception, Doris Bal-Isen’s career has taken many twists and turns. Now in her 9th year (and counting) at FGF, Doris sat down to tell us how her search for a better life led her to Canada, and how she became FGF’s warm, welcoming face to guests and team member’s alike.

What’s your name, and what do you do with FGF?

I’m Doris Bal-Isen, and I work reception and the front desk at FGF.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m one of five sisters raised in the village of Bila in the Philippines. After completing my Bachelors of Elementary Education, I applied to work in Hong Kong as an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) in 2001. I worked there for nearly four and a half years before immigrating to Canada. I’d heard a lot of good things about Canada – work, academics, and many more opportunities – that made it a great country for me and my family to begin a better life. Thankfully, one of the contacts I made in Hong Kong helped connect me with a Chinese employer who would be big part in helping bring me to Canada as a caregiver. I came alone and had to adapt to a brand-new way of life, but today I’m so thankful. I’d eventually gain the permanent residency and citizenship of myself and my family. And my daughter was born a Canadian citizen in 2015!

How did you start at FGF?

I was settled in Canada, working as a caregiver, but found myself looking for a change. So, I applied to an agency who asked me what kind of job I was looking for. I was open to anything. When I interviewed for the role of an office cleaner at FGF on March 10, 2010, they hired me immediately and I started the following week.

What has the journey been like since joining FGF?

When I joined in 2010, there were three team members in Marketing, two in Procurement, five in Accounting and one in Talent & Development – it made for remembering their extension numbers really easy. The growth since then has been incredible. But before I was memorizing my colleagues’ contact numbers, I was coming to work at FGF in the mid-afternoon cleaning the office spaces.

The founders, Ojus and Tejus, as well as my other colleagues, were always saying hello, asking questions about my life – they’re some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. Not too long after a conversation I had with the owners, the Talent & Development leader asked to have a chat with me. They really surprised me when they asked if I’d be interested in managing the front desk at FGF. And the rest is history!

How did this promotion come about?

I suppose they really trusted my work ethic and ability to connect with others after my ten months working as an office cleaner. As someone who was relatively new to Canada – still learning English – it was a really amazing feeling to be asked to be promoted into a different position within FGF – a place I already loved coming into work every day.

What do you think is so special about working at FGF?

Not only are the people here all wonderful, there’s such a diverse mix of people, cultures, and nationalities! It’s a very vibrant office with a lot of people who are excited to see each other and learn more about one another. It all starts with the leadership – the owners really have worked hard to create a supportive environment where everyone feels respected and happy to come to work.

Any surprises working at FGF?

To this day, I’m still shocked that they asked me if I’d be willing to work the front desk and reception for FGF. As someone who, at the time, didn’t speak fluent English or had many computer skills, I was surprised when they asked if I wanted to learn and grow into the role. I remember I didn’t sleep that night – I was so excited and happy to have said yes!

Any advice for anyone starting a job at FGF?

FGF is a fantastic place to work. There’s a lovely saying I live by, “opportunities don’t come along often, so when they do, you have to grab them”. Learning to make the most out of opportunities that come your way, and not being afraid to take risks is the FGF way.

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