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MBA, Masters, Bilingual, Latin America

January 3, 2013

Upon graduating with an MBA, and a solid foundation of theoretical understanding in international business, I aim to work for a large-scale transnational technology company, utilizing my unique background, bilingual abilities and decade of experience in the field, to enhance or establish an international business department, focusing our energies on transferring technologies to Latin American companies. 

This in effect is my own career objective, but the meaning and contribution I will be making to the development of emerging Latin American countries cannot be underscored enough.  Moreover, I will be aiding in breaking down the ingrained fear most American companies have of open markets with Latin America.  There is a certain measure of prejudice against Latin American products, which are incorrectly viewed as being substandard.  There is an unsubstantiated belief that in order to reciprocate through open market business, American markets would be flooded with poorly manufactured or designed technologies.

For almost a decade, I maintained a conceptual continuity in my own industrial equipment business, buying auto-body shop tools and equipment from US manufacturers to sell to Venezuelan companies, basically an import/export business, but also have acted as a training suppler, serving small and mid size companies in the industry.  Because of my experiences, I am well versed in directing, planning, organizing and stock and quality control issues.  I never learned such interpersonal skills as being persuasive and convincing in my work, I learned it through doing.  Before I knew the meaning of the word “brainstorm”, I was conducting brainstorming sessions with groups of employees.  Through practice, I gained command over many fundamentals that simply can only be introduced, but never practiced in the lecture hall. 

In the most practical terms, through my own company, I have traveled many times to the US to attend training courses as well as several Latin American countries, attending trade shows and seminars.  Having been born in Bogota, Colombia and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, and was being educated in South America, I am able to connect easily with other Latinos and Hispanics.  Building trust and representation on both sides of the border, through authorized distributions from American companies, I have sold products and given training to industries across Venezuela.

Once I have established my contacts and deepened my understanding of the practical concerns surrounding international trade, and technology transference, particularly between developed and emerging nations, I anticipate establishing my own company.  The ideal would be to work in partnership with mid-size US technology manufacturers and service providers, exporting technology to mid to large-scale Latin American companies almost exclusively, and on a larger scale than I have before.

My company will establish an information network that connects mid-size US manufacturing firms with mid to large-scale Latin American companies.  Through this exchange, technical knowledge can be shared, and increased sustainable, viable and practical solutions can be more easily discovered, and implemented, leading to a more fluid transition from concept to market.  Costs of production can therefore be lowered and the savings passed on to the consumer, making companies more competitive, particularly for Latin American manufacturers.  More importantly, there will be a dispelling of prejudices born of ignorance between the people who run or work for these firms, a greater understanding, respect and partnership through cooperative efforts.

Coming from South America, I have a worldview that is quite different from my academic peers.  I do not mention this simply to increase the diversity of the student body.  Focusing my career on connecting Latin America with the US, completing my education, living and working in both places, I developed an ability to interact effectively with not only my fellow colleagues, but clients as well.  Moreover, since having experienced life as, basically, an immigrant, I feel particularly sensitive to the needs of many minorities; combined with this is my ability to speak two languages fluently.  As a result, I am able to speak confidently in front of groups of people, and am very comfortable in my own skin while celebrating the differences that make us all truly unique.

 There is a need to reach out to our diverse clients, to understand and appreciate our differences, be it cultural or socioeconomic, an appreciation of the rich tapestry of life that we are all a part of on earth.  A future CEO needs to be able to interact effectively with people of differing cultures, ethnicities, nationalities and creeds.  This is critically important given the vast influx of person with varied backgrounds into business world.  Given my cultural competency, I feel I will be completely adept at reaching out to my diverse clients, no matter their country of origin.  This is what I bring to the student body, as well, one in which I anticipate many opportunities for group assignments, teamwork and projects.

I see myself contributing to the learning environment in three ways: my cultural competency, that is, my ability to communicate effectively with people of differing backgrounds.  This is a skill I have developed from having been immersed in the cultures of many countries, educated in South America and the US, traveling to many “foreign” countries, with a well-rounded worldview that has been permanently altered by these experiences.  Secondly, with my academic foundation, as well as international business experiences, I feel that my ability to apply practical analysis to business situations will shed light on many other students’ own methodologies, as I learn from theirs’.  Thirdly, through my own set of business experiences, leading projects, largely autonomously from concept to fruition, I bring with me practical experience and exposure in the field, and the sets of lessons learned through doing, and not just classroom theory.

 More importantly, I bring humility.  Emigrating to the States changed my lifestyle and my career tenfold.  From managing my own business with five employees, to becoming a restaurant employee in the US, delivering Chinese food and washing dishes taught me humility, and an appreciation for the immigrant and acculturation experience.  I bring with me inner strength and confidence in my abilities.  Leaving my wife and two children behind while I spent two years in a foreign land, studying and preparing for the GMAT and TOEFL, was an emotional, psychological and physical marathon.  Building a better life for my family, a life they deserve, taught me to keep my eyes firmly on my dreams.  Now when I look into the eyes of the immigrant, I see that same intensity, that absolute need to succeed at all costs.

 In my spare time, I volunteer at public schools, teaching teenagers math, physics and science classes.  This is a reflection of my desire to do a number of things.  Firstly, in order to maintain the future of the industries I work for and with, there is a need to inspire children to develop and utilize their aptitudes for the sciences and math.  I bring with me my genuine love and enthusiasm for math and statistics.  As a Latino, I am able to reach out to teens, my own teenage daughters included, showing them as a role model and living proof that hard work, perseverance and a goal-oriented mindset can lead to a very successful life, one that will in turn allow them to make valuable contributions to their communities through volunteerism, activism, and advocacy.  Moreover, I believe that quantitative sciences help social sciences be more effective.

 Teaching these children has made me aware of the fact that the issues I faced as a child and young adult persist, such as acculturation, poverty, childcare inadequacies, racism, discrimination, and language issues.  Learning to love yourself is the first step, and looking in the mirror, making sense of what you see is critical to this.  Through my example, I hope I inspire these children to go forth to make something of themselves, to not fall into the trap of gangs or negativity, rather becoming active in their own communities.  I never learned these things flying on planes to different countries, I learned how I truly felt about these issues through living and being comfortable with who I am. 

I have learned a great deal about teens in the US and Venezuela through my volunteerism.  The common impression I have gotten about teens in both countries is that they believe that they are born into a world where everything has already been invented, and in turn, there is a general malaise, a belief that they can do little to alter realities in the world.  My  self-chosen mission is to prove them wrong, to show them the other side of the arguments, and get them motivated to go out there an be advocates for change.

Lastly, emphasizing education to these children, especially in today’s economic climate, is the crux of determining the length or shortness of our recovery.  In a recent edition of the Washington Post, I read an interesting quote from Peter Zamora, a regional counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund that underlines the urgency of need among Latinos: “When Latino students were a small percentage of the population, [their needs] didn’t need to be a significant concern of policymakers.  But when one out of five students is Hispanic, this isn’t a Latino issues, this is an American issue.”  An “American issue”.  These few words have stuck in my mind, giving fuel to my desire to help more than ever, in the face of social stigmas, discrimination and misperception, education has never been more critical.  Reducing the number of Latinos/Hispanics that drop out at all levels of schooling is imperative.  By reducing this statistic, we will see a betterment of under-represented communities by reducing gang formation by encouraging community involvement, and sharpening our overall educational performance state and countrywide.

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