LSE Careers and the Latin America and Caribbean Centre (LACC) hosted a panel of brilliant alumni from or working in Latin America to hear their advice for students thinking of working in the region. Whether returning or migrating, each panel had unique advice from their personal experience of moving back or going to Latin America after studying at LSE. The panel was chaired by Mariann Sarquis-Sepulveda, Centre Manager of LACC.
Meet the panel:
- Hugo Rodriguez Nicolat – Head of Public Policy for LatAm at Twitter in Mexico. Prior to joining Twitter, he worked as Public Policy Manager for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean at Uber, Director of Public Relations of Escalera Foundation and at the Permanent Mission of Mexico to the United Nations in Geneva specializing in trade and economic issues. Hugo holds a joint Masters degree from Columbia University and LSE and specializes in project management, migration and public affairs.
- Lorena Guarnizo Bonilla – Corporate Affairs Manager at the Council of American Enterprises in Colombia. This association advocates US investment in Colombia, and it currently represents 111 US multinationals in the country. Before CEA, during her tenure at the Ministry of Trade, Lorena advised and facilitated foreign investors in their entry strategy to the country. Also, from the Ministry of Information and Communications Technologies, she led a public policy program that supported more than 10.000 SMEs in their digital transformation. She graduated with an MSc in Public Management and Governance from LSE in 2015. In 2021, she was elected President of the LSE Alumni Association Colombia. She is the first female elected in this position, and she is delighted to be helping strengthen the bonds between LSE alumni in her country.
- Patricia Pella – International infrastructure specialist with 18 years of experience building strategic alliances between the private and public sectors to tackle structural issues that prevent the flow of private investment. With a particular focus on public-private partnerships-PPP in emerging markets. Currently, Patricia is a lecturer on the “CAF Diploma in Public-Private Partnerships for Public Officials in Latin America” run by CAF- Development Bank of Latin America. She was also a PPP consultant at the Inter-American Development Bank, in that capacity, she assisted the countries of the Pacific Alliance (Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru) in the adoption of principles and recommendations of the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment. A Peruvian national, Ms Pella holds an MSc in Social Policy and Development from LSE and a bachelor’s degree in Law from Universidad de Lima.
- Romina Savini – Corporate Communications Consultant in Argentina. She used to lead a team of professionals distributed in different countries across the Americas: United States [Shreveport], Mexico [Monterrey], Guatemala, Colombia, and Argentina. After becoming a mother, she works as a communication consultant in the Argentine region of Patagonia. Her last corporate role was for the Canadian company Thomson Reuters managing internal communications in Spanish and Portuguese. She is also working as part of a communications and advertising consulting company to provide advice and expertise for a variety of industries. She holds an MSc in Development Management from LSE and a bachelor’s degree in Institutional Communications from the La Plata National University, as well as a postgraduate degree in business.
- Victoria Marquez-Mees – Chief Accountability Officer of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in London. She holds seats on the supervisory board of the World Benchmarking Alliance and the International Association for Impact Assessment. Victoria was recently appointed as Visiting Professor in Practice for the Latin America and Caribbean Centre of the London School of Economics. A Mexican national, Ms Márquez-Mees graduated with honours in Economics from the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico, has a master’s degree in the same field from the University of Essex, UK, and conducted research at LSE as a Chevening Scholar. She was recently recognised by the Líderes Mexicanos magazine as a global leader in their 101 Global Mexicans list for 2022.
Advice for non-Latin Americans
A common theme of this portion of the Q&A among the panellists was that non-Latinos thinking of moving to the region should be respectful of the culture. Recognise the vast differences between countries in the region. Learn Spanish or Portuguese. As Hugo advised, “be a local, not an ex-pat.” Panellists advised to engage in cultural activities outside of work and get in touch with the local LSE Alumni network to help you meet people.
The panel also noted that in many places in Latin America, work hours often do not fall into the rigid 9-5 that is commonly seen in the UK and US. Be aware that the work culture is very different, so research what a workday might look like at the company you are thinking of working at. Do your research before deciding which country in Latin America you want to work in.
Advice for returning Latin Americans
Patricia urged returning Latin Americans to remain humble. The region is one of massive inequalities and not everybody would have had the opportunities you have. Victoria added that returners should consider building a strong regional network, not just one within their home countries – many organisations work within the region, so the more knowledge and engagement you are able to demonstrate with wider regional issues the better.
The post-COVID job market
Plan. The post-COVID market is very narrow – everybody is looking for work. If you know where you want to be, what you want to do and where you want to do it, you can display the dedication and direction that employers look for. Market yourself on social media and, depending on your sector, start building a portfolio of your work to show employers.
Networking is particularly important in the region, and Lorena recommended LinkedIn as the strongest ally. Add people you meet through networking or the alumni association and interact with them. Many institutions or companies in the region look to LinkedIn when hiring rather than wider job boards, so remain engaged and vigilant.
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