With 14 years of experience in Administration and 11 years of experience in Financial field, Andrea Pereira Garcia, is currently working for the President of Uruguay and decided to share with us her experience at State University of New York – New Paltz.
Showing her human and social viewpoint regarding Finances, Andrea talks about what she expects for the future in her field and country, offering details about her professional and personal journey. Determination, education and resiliency made the countryside girl (Nueva Helvecia, Colonia), that had to cross 120 km to study and be an outstanding student to reach the point she is at now. Do you want to know how? Check below to find the interview:
You attended Corporate Financial Management program at SUNY – New Paltz. Which part of this course has been most influential in your career?
The “mental breakdown” of my perspectives of how to do things and how to communicate, professionally saying was the biggest thing I took away. My viewpoints were narrowed down to only what I had learned in Uruguay. I had never left the country, so when I went to the U.S, the necessity of having to open my mind and try to communicate in another language served as an incredible breakthrough for me. After I crossed this barrier, I realized that the professional level there is a rich country, with challenges beyond the ones I knew in my home country.
It was a fast course, mentally speaking. I received intensive training about the bank sector and the stock market as a whole. I put my knowledge into practice in Manhattan, where we visited local companies, and this showed me something that I never had the opportunity to see, it was beyond what I used to working with in Uruguay. At this point, I was thinking about how I was doing things in Uruguay and how I could apply this new knowledge in my day to day work.
What was your biggest gain in your personal life at SUNY?
The student/professor relationship was the best part for me, the professors were very warm and engaging. I am still in contact with Professor Edward Lane and I am redirecting my professional career with him as a mentor. Professor Philip Chang helped me develop my English, he was always available and ready to ensure that my course was as beneficial as possible. I am still in contact with them and they are always there for students that want to grow. There was a knowledge exchange, and this added to both my human and professional aspects.
When you think about your professional journey, which attitude was essential to be where you are today?
My personal life was never easy. Education in Uruguay is easy to access, but I was born in a countryside city, and universities are centralized in the capital. So, when you do not have access, the effort that you must put forth to go to the capital and experience these studies is very important. Determination and resiliency were essential.
Determination because leaving a city with 14.000 habitants (working in a bakery that time) and going to live in the capital, far away from my family, to work in a textile industry, and have to support myself was difficult. Resiliency to adapt to adverse situations that came when I left to live in a city that was different than mine. Now, I have been working for the Government in Financial and Account fields, I can see that both qualities helped me to reach my position.
What is the biggest difficulty that you had to face in your career?
There are two things that were important to me: a test to enter the Government Office, which I competed against 350 candidates. It was a difficult process, because the test was about international financial subjects, something that universities do not talk about as much as they should. Reality is different. The second one was to leave my country for the first time with IBS Americas, facing my fear. If you do not face your fears, you end up creating a barrier in your life that you cannot overcome.
Have you always liked to study?
Yes, I always liked to read! Academically speaking, I was always an outstanding student at school. The only inconvenience was to travel 120 km from my city to the capital, but I do not regret it, because I reached my goal.
Do you have someone that inspires you? Or that helped you in this process to proceed and do not give up?
I had important authors, like Miguel Alonso Puig, Tony Robbins, Warren Buffet, Robert Kiyosaki and more that helped me change my way of thinking and continue to persist in the next steps of my life.
We have talked about difficult times, what was your best achievement?
This is a good question. I believe that apart from receiving a title, increasing my contacts – what we call “Networking”, to have people around to help me grow and, in some way, grow with me was the best achievement. This has more value than any other subject learned in a book.
With this international experience, what is your point of view about the future of Administration and Finances in micro-companies? When you think about 50 years from now, how will it be?
This is a question that I asked myself since I was at a university; micro funding is funding micro-companies. It seems to me that there should be more emphasis on this than there is right now. I believe that before going to a university, students should learn the fundamental principles of financial education and know that organizational skills and tools are important subjects to start a business. Since many students are forced to have a job while studying, effective management of their incomes determines their financial freedom. That is why I believe there should be personal Finance and Administration as a subject in public schools and high schools for those who do not enter university and want to develop a venture.
Today, I am at AJE (Young Entrepreneurs Association – Uruguay) and when they first arrive, everyone asks the same question: “How can I have access to financing to carry out my project?”. Although there are some organizations, the entrepreneur is still a bit “lost” in the universe of the institutions. I think there should be more access to such information. If business ventures or ideas, which represent a part of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), do not have good access to information, an educational structure to develop micro-enterprises, we are not giving importance to it. There is a traditional economy and today, with technology and with the increase of generators of new business ideas, young people want to do something more. I believe that microfinance must have a place of importance in the educational field.
I have an environmental project and that is why I am at AJE. At the university I carried out a research project about what common characteristics entrepreneurs have in Uruguay. With this, we try to know what common qualities an entrepreneur has and what others do not own or do not develop. In addition, personally, in my concern for the environment, I am starting a business idea, but it is in the stage of feasibility, that is, whether it is possible to be profitable and work for our country. So when I ask myself this question, I respond from my own experience: that microfinance should have a greater focus of study within universities; and before reaching it, more training and greater encouragement from state agencies and private agencies is needed.
What would you say to the student who is just getting started in this business?
Always be in the habit of seeking more information than they provide you, you have to be make it a point to teach yourself, using technology as a tool, an ally. Today there are free online professional courses and access to learn another language is also increased. Be curious, make sure you’re curious and use technology.
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