The story of Ryan and Joanna, an inspiring OFW story

By Randell Tiongson on July 15th, 2022

About 5 or so years ago, a guy named Ryan sent me a message asking if he can meet me while I was in Dubai for a series of speaking engagements. Always eager to meet OFWs, I agreed to meet him over coffee. Ryan wanted to get some financial advice because he wanted to make sure that all his years working (and sacrificing) will not go to waste and that he and his family can have a secured financial future.

Our initial meeting was not out of the ordinary, we discussed the usual financial planning concepts such as a healthy cash flow, investing properly and the like. Since he wanted more guidance from me, he asked if I can be engaged as his financial planner and despite my busy schedule and us living 7,000 kms apart, we agreed on the engagement. Again, the interactions were your usual financial planner and client discussions but we also started to build a friendship. I made my recommendations which Ryan was able to execute well as he was a disciplined individual.

Since I visit Dubai 2 to 3 times a year back then, we made a point to meet to grab coffee and lunch and also an opportunity for some updating. In one of those meetings, Ryan shared to me a burning desire to venture on his own and start a business. Ryan held a high position with good pay as a GM of British company doing business in the UAE. Ryan’s wife Joanna was also working in administration from another Dubai company. Ryan and Joanna both held secured jobs in Dubai and can continue to live a life of comfort for the many years to come. However, Ryan’s desire was becoming greater and greater as he was sharing them with me. As his financial planner and now a trusted friend, I was pondering on how to respond – should I advise him that his desire can open him and Joanna to risk and threaten the stability they are enjoying? What about the security of their family? Do I recommend that he keeps his status quo and just continue investing in investment instruments and real estate like most people? Or do I encourage him to pursue his now burning desire to pursue entrepreneurship and open himself to the possibility of an even better financial future but albeit a risky one?

What did I advise my client and my friend? Desire is something you cannot easily quell. Being pragmatic is not always the answer to life’s burning questions. However, risk is something that cannot also be ignored. I have always believed that one can achieve a healthy balance in life. My discussions with Ryan began to evolve – Ryan’s desire to put up his own business was becoming stronger and stronger and he is beginning to put his plan into action. I just reminded Ryan that as he puts his entrepreneurial plans into action, he should continue to manage his risks by having liquidity, ample savings, insurance and so forth. As Ryan started sharing his plans, I was awed by how he is making his dreams come true one step at a time — this guy was not only smart, this guy was disciplined, consistent and persistent. I encouraged and supported Ryan to pursue his dreams, not that he need to hear that from me but it felt right for me to do so.

As Ryan established his business and as I kept coming back to Dubai, Ryan and I will meet and he will show me the progress of his pursuits. I witnessed how his entrepreneurial skills grew and got polished. He showed me his very first investment on a warehouse, his projects for some posh residences and the like while my admiration for the hard work and discipline of Ryan grew more and more.

Don’t get me wrong, Ryan’s pursuit of his dreams were not without challenges and struggles. Like any start-up business, it is full of problems and uncertainties but Ryan endured all of them. Since Ryan did not jump into business blindly and foolishly, the challenges although troubling were not enough to deter him.

Ryan and Joanna’s 3 Companies

Fast forward today, Ryan and his wife Joanna now own and operate 3 business in Dubai. Cultivate, Craft Creatives and Craft Autocare and their businesses are growing and flourishing.  After many years as an employee, Joanna left her company to join Ryan and now manages Craft Autocare. Their business is now a leading company focused on designing and building landscaping for many buildings, hotels and posh residence. Ryan’s clients are not just in the UAE, he now has international projects. They have also embarked in manufacturing those huge plant pots you see in many places like the Dubai Mall. Craft Autocare is a garage that is different from other garages as they are women and family friendly and gives very good value to their customers.


Ryan and Joanna fully understands that innovation, good service, proper pricing, relationship building, etc. are fundamental to the success of endeavors. Ryan now employs a lot of people, many are OFWs and give them stability and make sure that they are treated fairly. Joanna established a women’s group called Thriving Filipina Circle and works on the empowerment and growth of her fellow Filipina OFWs.

I no longer give much financial advice to Ryan and Joanna now, my services are no longer needed but my friendship with them continues. While I no longer need to act as their financial planner, I am now a friend who supports, encourages and pray for them.

Couples dinner in Dubai

I felt the need to write this as an encouragement not only to the OFWs here in Dubai, but to many others too. Do not easily give up on your dreams, do not dismiss your desires and do not always look at the practical. However, pursue those dreams and desires the way Ryan and Joanna did – deliberate, disciplined, patient and secured.

Ryan driving us around Dubai in his Tesla Model X

Go and live your dreams and start now.


3 thoughts on “The story of Ryan and Joanna, an inspiring OFW story”

  • Hi Mr. Randell,

    I am ecstatic while I am writing this comment to you.

    Let me tell you why.

    I am an OFW working here in the UAE. I have worked in different industries but I mostly quit because I feel there is something missing. Something, I want to do and something I want to learn.

    One day I stumbled upon a company that is doing financial services and management consultancy. And I feel like my calling was answered. I have longed to learn more about this industry, fund management, and such, but there was no one to teach me or guide me at least. I was just studying on my own. plus I am your silent follower. I have learned a lot from you.

    Now, as I was doing my usual prospecting via Linked In, I have spoken to such a nice person, Mr. Ryan, he is very accommodating to my messages, and he told me -currently have a financial planner ‘Randell Tiongson’ who guides us.

    When I read your name, I was so surprised and happy coz I have been watching your videos! And then when I read your blog, you were blogging about the same person I was talking to. It is a crazy small world.

    And I am sad, that I missed the chance to meet you, that you were in the UAE a couple of weeks ago. I was not updated so much on social media nowadays. But I will definitely check your status from time to time when you will be here again so I can meet you and at least shake your hand. You are such an inspiration. 🙂

  • Ryan and Joanna’s inspiring journey from secure jobs to successful entrepreneurs highlights the power of disciplined financial planning and relentless pursuit of dreams. Their story showcases how balancing risk with careful planning can lead to flourishing businesses and a fulfilling future.

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The story of Ryan and Joanna, an inspiring OFW story