Buying and Merchandising Manager – MEA Region


 EDUARDO VIRAY - Filipino Dubai, UAE



I am the Buying and Merchandise Manager of C & J Clark International for Middle East and Africa including their Turkish Subsidiary. Clarks is a British, international shoe manufacturer. Our company has over 1,000 branded stores and franchises around the world and also sells through third-party distribution. 





I am responsible for driving commercial business goals through product and merchandising strategy across the MEA region. I am also responsible for all regional product selection for our franchise partners which entails setting up their product portfolio selections every season according to market requirements and needs.  Part of my job is also analyzing market and competition and providing recommendations and insights crucial for business decision making. I also conduct regular trainings on seasonal product strategies and focuses.


I was originally a Project Development Officer for the Planning Division of NEDA in Bulacan. But fate brought me to merchandise planning job in retail for which I am very thankful for. I had found my passion in fashion and worked with some of the best retail companies and brands in the Middle East, including Mikyajy where I got my foundation on merchandise planning. Thereafter I moved to Majid Al Futtaim Fashion and where I worked for 5 years – starting out as Wholesale Sales Support Manager, and then Senior Buyer for brands Juicy Couture, Jane Norman, Fat Face, Mexx and Lucky Brand Jeans. I then joined Burberry Middle East as Regional Merchant in 2012. I then briefly joined Al Tayer Group handling planning for the Men’s Department of Harvey Nichols and Bloomingdales before joining Clarks. 


Apart from meeting a lot of cool people, one of the perks of my job is traveling. For the last 10 years in Dubai, the only thing that kept me sane is the fact that I get to travel to different countries almost every other month. It’s great but it’s also exhausting. But hey, no complaints, I get to travel all expenses paid! 



My work day starts while I am behind-the-wheel. Driving gives me clarity. That’s when I start thinking about what has to be done during the day. I am quite an organized person, so as soon as I sit at my desk I do my priority list. I typically have meetings throughout the week, either with my general manager, our franchise partners, UK counterparts, or my assistant. 

EDUARDO VIRAY – Filipino Dubai, UAE


As a planner, I am well organized. Any deviation in the plans will be a huge headache for me. I am very keen on details. Hence, I review and analyze all reports. I manage and control pricing architecture, sales and forecasting for Clarks Shoes in the region and hence numerical data analysis and reporting is very crucial to my day to day routine. 


However busy my day is, I also make sure that I have time for small chats with colleagues and friends. That provides me a boost whenever I feel drained at work. During the weekends, whenever I get the chance, I visit my friends and brunch or dine out with them. I also love to watch movies and go to the beach.




Be yourself. Be proud of being a Filipino. Acknowledge that you are a talented individual and that you can do needs to be done. Filipinos are very diligent and have an unbelievable resilience. Our work ethics are the best in the world; we have the best minds there is.   Our attitude and our positive outlook in life define the culture that we have and we must embrace that.  Living in the Middle East for 10 years has taught me many valuable things but one thing stands out – equality! In Dubai, equal opportunities are there regardless of nationality. We just have to believe that we can do it, and do it better! 





Division Manager –Merchandise & Planning


BETTY GUEVARRA – Filipino Dubai, UAE



I am associated with one of the largest groups of company in the Middle East. My core experience is in Merchandise Planning and Buying.  As the head of a division, I have a team who supports me in achieving our division goals & KPIs.  What is really good about working in this region is that you get to work with different kinds of people from different parts of the world.  My team is quite diversified – composed of Irish, French, Moroccan, African, Egyptian, Lebanese, Sri Lankan, Indians, British, Belarusian and of course Filipinos.


Apart from leading a team, I get to travel to meet the principals and top executives at the luxury beauty brands. I’m exposed to reading/reviewing legal contracts, store designs and concepts, as well as brand management.  It is my responsibility to ensure we have the right assortment of brands in the stores and we create an atmosphere where our customers feel delighted leaving our store feeling beautiful.



The first thing I usually do in the morning is check my calendar then read specific folders (emails from the management) in my inbox plus go through the daily sales report. Then, I have a quick catch up with my team – we call this daily huddle.  In here we briefly share news, concerns and our priorities for the day.  In a lot of cases, my day is packed with back-to-back meetings.  After meetings, I pass on the information to my team for action.  I also have my TO DO list – often these are quite strategic so until, and when these are finalized they remain in my list.  As the division head, it is typical for me to be approached by someone either seeking help, solution or a decision, every single day.


I joined this company as Administration Assistant where my role is to do what I was told to do.  With the grace of God, I reached a level that a lot of Filipinos would probably aspire for.  Currently I rank the highest amongst the Filipinos in the company.  I take the pride in representing Filipinos at the office, especially when I discuss business strategies on a quarterly basis with the top management like to CEOs, Senior Vice Presidents, Vice Presidents, and General Managers.  To be part of the Executive Team, can get very challenging. The expectations are huge and you have to be ready and prepared all the time.


One of the best and most interesting tasks I do is coaching.  I realized I can motivate people and this is something that comes naturally to me.  I had a colleague who was very challenged with his previous manager, and was about to resign.  Due to restructuring, he was moved under my leadership.  I saw great potential in him – coached him regularly to ensure he achieved key milestones.  It has been 4 years since then. He has been promoted 3 times and is now one of my Seniors, confident enough to lead the division in my absence.    


The best fulfillment I get is when I see someone from my team grow and be promoted – to me this is success.



Believe in yourself, stay hungry and don’t settle for less. Get acquainted with the kind of person you ought to be.  Don’t give up on your dreams, they are worth fighting for. It has always been my mantra to keep striving for more and often I ask myself ‘how could I have done this better?’  This will help you improve yourself.