Updated: Mar 28, 2020
By: Arsie Gonzales
Most of the Filipinos who go abroad made their way as an employee to work hard for someone and provide for their families. It is quite rare to see someone who has the inclination to be his own boss in a foreign country. Meet our friend Paul Zuzon, he started from the very bottom and climbed his way up the ladder to become the Founder and Managing Director of Brylee Care Staffing Agency here in the UK.
“I arrived here in the UK 2009 on a Student Visa,” started Paul.” I had to pay this recruitment agency based in Davao four hundred thousand pesos (P400 000.00) just for me to come to the UK.” He was deployed as a Carer in Grimsby where his UK life journey all started. Unfortunately, he lost the support he needed from the agency. Paul then resorted into breaching his contract and took the courage to study Nursing in the City University London to earn his pin and be able to practise as a Registered Nurse in the UK.
Working as a UK RN was not the hardest part of his journey as he has nursing experience in the Philippines for almost four years. He transitioned from being a Respiratory Therapist for five years to a nurse working in a secondary hospital in General Santos for three years . He then became a Clinical Instructor for a year but then ended up catering his own business of buying and selling second-hand cars. It’s pretty quite odd, isn’t it? But I guess that’s just how his circumstances had turned around.
Little did he know, entrepreneurship has been in his heart all along. Paul came from a family of businessmen. His father, grandfather and his grandfather’s brothers are into selling and buying of second-hand cars which has been passed down to him eventually. He managed the business for five years which had given him a good profits from his earnings. Even though his business was doing well, he felt something was missing.
“My dad told me about studying extra year to do nursing and I was also inspired with my youngest brother who works as a ship captain and gets the liberty to travel around the world. It made me want to see the world too,” as he unfolds the reasons why he felt compelled to go to the UK.
When he finally arrived in the UK in 2009, he did not know that he was just about to face one of the biggest adversities in his life. The recruitment agency which he had contract with went bust and left him nowhere. Notwithstanding the fact that he was on his own now, he carried on working as a Carer in Grimsby until he became a Senior Carer. During these gruelling event in his life he was fervently telling himself, “I was way better than this, I want to be a Nurse here in the UK.”
As he imagined his future, he decided to indiscriminately breach the contract with the agency. And with all the money in his hand that he earned for two years as a Carer including the money from the business he had to sell back home, he pursued becoming a Nurse by self-funding his Overseas Nurses Programme in City University London.
“I got my pin first quarter of 2011,” Paul shared with a zing of victory in his tone. His Nursing career started 12th of June 2011 where he first worked in one of the biggest Nursing Care Homes in East London. He was then promoted just after a year as the Team Lead for the Senior Staff Nurses and eventually became the Clinical Lead. He rendered his service for six years in this company and then decided to take on a post as a Deputy Manager at another Care Home at Bush Hill Park.
Soon after a year of becoming a Deputy Manager, he has taken on the task of creating and managing a High Dependency Bed (HDB) in a community setting which had raised eyebrows amongst his other colleagues. He had to convince so many Band 8s or Clinical Managers in various different NHS trusts before establishing the community-based HDB. Due to his dedication, his proposal was approved and implemented the HDB project.
His hunger for achieving his goal to better himself became unstoppable. After making a mark on the field of Community Nursing, he started creating his own Staffing Agency. He had to leave his job to focus on his business, Brylee Staffing Agency. He said that “FOCUS” is the growth to success, “ Focus on One Career Until Success comes”. He became obsessed with this career and had to sacrifice a lot in order to attain his goal. All his hard work was paid off after receiving an invoice of fifty thousand pounds (£50,000.00) in just seven weeks from the moment he rendered his resignation and started focusing on his business. Pretty impressive!
His entrepreneurial calling directed him towards venturing in other business sector. He took a leap to be the first franchiser of a Filipino street food catering, Spoon and Rice, offering authentic Filipino food promising to suit every palate. Paul never cease to learn and vouched for the importance of having the right mentor on one’s entrepreneurship journey. He also emphasized this advice as a keynote speaker on the Non Clinical Conference for Health Professionals on Entrepreneurship in London aiming to motivate the audience and be better versions of themselves.
“Being obsessed to your obsessions isn’t always a bad thing,” he confidently said. Everytime he encounters setbacks, he would always go back to the why’s of the goal and the vision he had set in life.
”Why live an ordinary life if I can do something and better myself to live extraordinarily?"
Paul’s mantra gave him a direction to achieve his goals. His story serves an inspiration to every Filipino that whatever you’ve envisioned in your life, can happen as long as you set your goals and persevere to make it happen. It also entails enduring hardships, learning from your mistakes and realising that failures can build your resilience. And everytime you fail, just look back to where you have been it will give you an extra kick to just carry on and go for your dream.
Perhaps, we could learn something from Paul’s story. It is never too late to start on something. Set your goals straight , believe in yourself and work hard to make it happen.
About the author:
Arsie works as a theatre nurse in Kingston Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and a mother of a lovely pre-schooler. She is one of the administrators and also an active member of Filipino UK Nurses Community.