It’s What I do: Gladys Mae Villa

Gladys Mae Villa

Architect – Design Consultancy Firm Abu Dhabi


Gladys Mae Villa


My Job

Residing in the UAE’s capital since 2008, I am blessed to have been practicing my profession as a design professional in varied contractor and consulting capacities to clients from all over the Emirates. To put words to what I do, I am involved in designing and executing architectural plans in building construction. Or in a more simplified way, I work with creativity and numbers to make a place for people to call a home, office or merely a place to gather.

More than using both the left and right sides of my brain at work, I am opportune to be social. I lead a design team and met with people including their Excellencies (Sheikhs), the government and the private sector. In places no less than what the UAE offers to the world -luxury and comfort, I feel favored to say that ‘I love my job’ not only due to its perks but also because of the experience of working in a multicultural environment.

Once there was a time that my understanding of the local norms (as applied to building interiors) had been put to a test. I had met a VVIP client in a prominent building in Downtown Dubai. In between consultations, it is inevitable that someone goes to the washroom for a bladder break which I, for one, took. In a search to do this, I had found a sign that looks like what we Filipinos or non-Arabs would associate as feminine (i.e. a face silhouette similar to a woman with a long hair as seen in the side view). Little to my knowledge, I entered the men’s toilet where I surprised a local guy clothed in the traditional kandura. All the while, the sign that I saw earlier was referring to the head of an Arab man wearing a keffiyeh. This short encounter had me thinking that every day is an opportunity to learn about a new culture.


Gladys Mae Villa


It’s What I do: Gladys Mae Villa

My Typical Day

The body of my career was mostly built here in Abu Dhabi. It is, however, in no way different to others from across the globe. I check my emails first thing in the morning, do the bulk of my task to finish deadlines, occasionally go out of the office for site visits (even when I was pregnant) and drink lots of caffeine in between.


My Message to Filipinos

To all aspiring Filipinos hoping to start anew abroad, it isn’t all the comfort and luxury you see that makes the life of an OFW. Rather, it’s a mixture of hard work, resilience and openness. Hard work will bring you to what you need, resilience will keep you where you want to stay, and openness will lead you to what you dream of.


Design your work and build your design!

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Author: Illustrado

From the Middle East to the rest of the world, IllustradoLife shares the stories of Filipinos expats from around the world, providing a global venue championing the world class Filipino. IllustradoLife features articles on fashion and beauty, travel, lifestyle, business, events and other topics of interest to the international Filipino community from its mother publication, Illustrado Magazine.

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