Thou Kimseng, 34, currently works in the Network Subsystem Telecommunication section of Asia Cell, located in Sulaymaniyah, supposedly the safest city in Iraq. He has been working for this phone company for eight years.
“Having been there for years, I have only twice seen bomb explosions, happening far away from where I live, and there was only one person killed,” said Kimseng.
Instead of believing he should be fearful, Kimseng believes working in Iraq has been a golden opportunity, after gaining knowledge and experience there for many years.
Kimseng graduated with a major in electrical and energy engineering from the Institute of Technology of Cambodia in 2002 and then worked as a telecoms engineer for a Chinese telecoms provider company. Moreover, he also received an online degree, a global MBA, from Southern New Hampshire University in the United States in 2011.
“Leaving my home country for a job in Iraq has been a rare opportunity because I can work using my skills for a very high salary, which I believe I could never earn if I chose to work in Cambodia,” said Kimseng.
Kimseng explained, “There were other job applicants of different nationalities who have similar qualifications but they couldn’t resist their fear and family objections.”
Upon learning Kimseng had been selected to work in Iraq, Kimseng’s family disapproved him of risking his life by working there.
But, after serious discussions with family and reassurances from friends working in Iraq, Kimseng convinced his family and gained their permission to move there in 2005.
Kimseng recalled his first day in Iraq: “It was totally different from what I thought when in Cambodia. There were many travellers and businesses along the way. They gave me warm and friendly smiles, making me feel like it was safe.”
“I arrived in Iraq in winter, when the temperature is at or below zero. And it reaches highs of 40 degrees in the summer. There were so few food choices yet I was not allowed to cook in my hotel at all,” he said.
While Kimseng’s work ran smoothly, he had problems with eating as Iraqi cuisine is far different to Cambodian food. Because of this problem, he decided to quit his job and returned to Cambodia. However, he later resumed his job with the same company as they promised him a new place where he could cook.
Talking about his work in Iraq, Kimseng clarifies that what he has done in Iraq and what he used to do in Cambodia are not that different. One difference he mentions is that work in Iraq is less pressured.
“My workload here [Iraq] is not so heavy as in Cambodia and I have two off days, Friday and Saturday,” he said.
So far Kimseng has received compliments from Asia Cell for his contributions to increasing the number of subscribers and assisting the company’s daily operations.
Kimseng is very confident to say that he has never regretted his decision to work in Iraq and that Iraq has become his second home. He added that he now doesn’t know when he will come back to Cambodia.
On a final note, Kimseng recommends: “All young people should try to study and gain experience. After having enough of the two ingredients, they should be able to grasp opportunities so that they can be successful in the future.”