Posted by mariaa_petit on May 8, 2012
As I prepared to dust off my CV, I stumbled across my career profile published in the book International Business by T. Cavusgil, G. Knight & J. Riesenberger. Many things have changed since 2007, most notably the surname but a few things still remain the same and that is the passion for business & numbers, travel, languages and the understanding and exposure to different cultures. Here is an excerpt from the book:
Maria Keeley (“Maria”) was born in Venezuela in 19xx and primarily raised in the United States. She speaks Spanish as her first language and Portuguese and is bi-cultural, with a deep understanding of Latin America and the U.S. With her background, Maria is perfectly suited for a career in Spanish-speaking countries. During her college years she spent a year abroad in Spain, aspiring to extend her international skills to Europe. Active in other international activities as well, she served as the president of her university’s international business club.
Maria graduated from college in 1999 with bachelors degrees in Finance, International Business and Spanish. She immediately landed a position as a Credit Analyst with Motorola, a leading manufacturer of cell phones and other wireless handsets, with 2004 sales of $31 billion. In her first job, Maria used the analytical, problem solving and communication skills that she developed in college to serve Motorola clients and subsidiaries in Central and South America, and Mexico.
She conducted analyses to determine the risk levels of various customers and countries. She performed account maintenance and managed accounts receivables for the Latin America personal communications division. She conducted audits of Motorola subsidiaries for compliance with established controls and procedures. These duties required Maria to travel frequently to Latin America. Within her first year on the job, her duties expanded and she became the primary contact for financial analysis support to Northern Latin America, the Caribbean, and Central America. Increased duties included the analysis, tracking and reconciliation of Motorola’s funds for regional marketing activities.
Ever ambitious, Maria next got Motorola to transfer her to London, England where she became a Finance Manager in the firm’s $160 million mobile phone business for the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey. She is currently in the process of obtaining her CIMA Certification, the British equivalent of a Certified Public Accountant. Within two years she was transferred to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates as a strategic move to be closer to the business and Middle East head quarters. Within a year of her transfer to Dubai she was promoted as Financial Controller for a region, which by had now expanded to $800 million mobile phone business. In her new role, she coordinates the management of Motorola’s financial activities in the Islamic world. Maria recently reported on the challenges she faces:
One of the biggest challenges that I face is the increase of regulations, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation that requires stricter auditing of financial records in the wake of accounting scandals. It’s critical to ensure that all of Motorola’s legal entities are compliant worldwide. There are also local regulations that must be assimilated and integrated. As a result, the focus and time that I must allocate to compliance activities has substantially increased. Simultaneously, competition in the mobile devices industry is growing exponentially and the level of support that I must provide to the sales and marketing operations needs to increase as well.
Currently, I am based in England. However I support a big region with multiple time zones and work schedules. The work week in the Middle East varies from Saturday to Thursday or from Sunday to Friday. Due to time differences, the region starts the day at least three hours before the UK. In order to ensure that business decisions are not held up, I respond to requests quickly and make myself accessible. This means I am often on the phone with colleagues in the Middle East at 6 a.m. London time.
In the region that I supervise, the languages are French (North Africa), Arabic (Middle East), and Turkish (Turkey). While currently studying Arabic, I am still unable to carry a business conversation in that language, and only manage to use my Spanish while visiting a particular distributor in Morocco that is partially owned by Telefonica, Spain’s telecom provider. Luckily most of our business partners speak English.
There is definitely a disadvantage to not speaking the local language. In Turkey for instance, some of our business partners do not speak English and as a result I rely on the sales team to translate conversations. There is definitely a disadvantage to receiving important information secondhand. Even when colleagues speak fluent English, particularly in North Africa, there is a tendency to revert to their most comfortable language, in this case French. When I go to lunch with business associates in Morocco or Algeria, for instance, the parties will revert to their most comfortable language and it is almost never English…
…Most recently Maria was nominated by her peers and ultimately selected from a list of finalists around the world by the President of Mobile Devices as the 2007 Motorola Mobile Devices Global Brand Ambassador.
There’s a saying that states “Every detail of the full-grown tree exists within its seed.” and I certainty believe this.