Success is being able to lead by example and to leave a positive mark
I came to England in the cold winter of 1999, arriving at Heathrow airport with two pieces of luggage, which I had packed my entire life in. When I landed in London I was really tired after a 16 hours flight from Bogota but at the same time I was excited to be able to explore the streets of the ” Queens’ land”, ready to embrace the British culture and learn their language. It didn’t take me much to realise that my Colombian Pesos were worth nothing when compared to British Pounds. I had a huge shock when after taking my first taxi to central London from the airport the cost was equivalent to the minimum monthly salary of my hometown! I had my visa approved, my return ticket, a letter from the English school confirming my course and a few hundred pounds in my pocket. That’s all I had. I was 19 years old when I plunged out from my comfort zone into the unknown.
Back home and throughout the nineties my country was under several violent attacks from Las FARC and the lack of security forced most of my friends and family to leave the country in search of a better future. I knew I was miles away from everyone I loved, I was alone and there was no doubt inside my mind that my life was now writing a brand new chapter. I still remember my first time walking around the city, looking around the magnificent huge buildings, getting lost in the underground and feeling completely invisible in font of everyone’s eyes…. I could feel the speed of a city that never stops. London was extremely scary but fascinating at the same time. I moved into a flat in the south east and started taking an English course the very same week I arrived.
I was desperate to find a part-time job to support myself; I can’t honestly remember how many pubs and restaurants I visited and how many doors I knocked on looking for an opportunity to work, with my poor level of English. Until one day in a crowded Irish pub I pulled myself together and directly asked the manager if I could help at the bar. To my surprise he replied, asking if I knew how to serve pints. I had no clue about what a “pint” was… but I said YES! And I got my first job. That job taught me to be humble. Back home I was living in a bubble where I was fortunate enough to have everything I wanted and more, but this was the first time I had to run to serve customers, clean tables and learn how hard I had to work for every penny. I felt really proud of myself for the first time in my life. I learnt that no matter how many privileges I had back in Colombia, here in England I was like everybody else and I had to work hard to get where I wanted to be.
My days back home where I could eat sirloin steak everyday (I’m really a meat eater!) soon became a memory from the past. My student life and my part-time job could only afford me a “cheese and ham sandwich” from Tesco’s. Despite all of this I was really excited and curious about everything. After all I was in Europe and I wanted to save money to travel to its main big cities: Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, Rome, Berlin. It look me a long time but once I had managed to save enough money for my trips I soon realised that I actually had a bigger problem to deal with: my Colombian Passport. For every country I wanted to visit I had to queue in their respective embassy from 5am in order to have access to a personal interview that would be used to either approve or decline me a visa to visit a country only for a weekend. I had to show hundreds of documents including bank statements or recommendation letters that confirmed that that I was not a drug dealer or a terrorist, just a genuine Colombian girl studying English.
I will never forget the day when I travelled to Madrid and on the way back had to spend 48 hours at Madrid Barajas airport. Officials at the airport stopped me just for being a Colombian woman travelling alone. They made me lose my flight to London and I had to spend hours replying questions while trained dogs smelled my bags to see if I was carrying any drugs or bombs. That day I wished I had been born somewhere else. Don’t get me wrong, I was always proud of my nationality but being Colombian out of my country meant that I was going to be stigmatised by many people that did not know anything about me. One year later I finished my English course and managed to extend my visa. I also applied for a five year International Business and Finance degree that I finished in due course. After that I got involved on several Latin American projects cooperating with different embassies and organisations helping kids in need from Colombia, Peru and Ecuador. Almost at the same time I developed a great passion for endurance sports and I started to participate in different events in order to race money for charities.
I was always proud of my nationality but being Colombian out of my country meant that I was going to be stigmatised by many people that did not know anything about me.
When I was 17 I was involved in a horrific car accident and the doctors told me that due to the fact that I have had two vertebras broken I would never be able to participate in endurance sports. But I can say that after participating in 3 ironman triathlons and completed several marathons I honestly believe that limits are only in your mind. I believe that everything is possible if you are focused and if you work hard to achieve your dreams. My back problem never stood in my way to do the things that I loved.
Working on different projects as a volunteer helped me to get my first job and over the past 12 years I explored different industries such as hospitality, retail, construction, education, technology, finance and recruitment. This last working experience, working as a recruiter made me realise that I truly wanted to make a difference. I wanted to help women like me getting better jobs in industries where it is still hard for women to be presented with good opportunities. Becruit was funded with that objective, as a recruitment platform to help women getting new job opportunities in the financial and technology market. Nevertheless we are working hard to also cover other industries to be able to help as many women as possible to get to senior level positions.
Nevertheless we are working hard to also cover other industries to be able to help as many women as possible to get to senior level positions.
The idea of creating Becruit was with me for a very long time but it was only last year 2015, that I decided to make it real. So far it has been a great and challenging journey. But I have my own personal experience to back me up. I have worked in different fields and I am well familiar with the obstacles that we find when trying to get the right job, especially if you are a foreigner. Many of us get to this country with the right skills, education and work experience but we don’t get the right opportunities. So that became my goal, to connect professionals with the right carrier opportunities. So far Becruit is going from strength to strength developing new markets and clients around the globe. I feel grateful and lucky to have the unconditional support of my family, my loving boyfriend Alex, and my close friends, they have always believed in me and pushed me the extra mile to make my dreams a reality. In my life there will always be time and space to develop new projects and ideas to keep growing professionally and spiritually. I will never stop wanting to learn and achieve more and more.
“Being an entrepreneur isn’t someone who owns a business, it’s someone who makes things happen” and hopefully also inspires others to do the same.
My real drive comes from helping and inspiring other people. My biggest motivation has always been through seeing what other people have achieved because I have contributed somehow to their progression and development, not only professionally but also personally. For me, success is being able to lead by example and to leave a positive mark in everything you do and everyone you share with. “Being an entrepreneur isn’t someone who owns a business, it’s someone who makes things happen” and hopefully also inspires others to do the same.