Executive Director of Amcham Haiti
What is your occupation and academic background and how did you come to work in this field?
I am the Executive Director of Amcham Haiti, a local chamber in Haiti linked with the US Chamber of Commerce. It has been in existence since 1980 and I have been in Haiti working with Amcham for 2 years after 20 plus years in the US.
I wanted to come back to Haiti after getting my MBA but did not know how to make the transition. I met some recruiters and a couple of companies while in Haiti and through conversations with people, I met someone that felt I could help based on my background and within 2 weeks I moved back to Haiti.
What is the biggest challenge of your work?
The challenge is getting things done in an organized fashion since many people here are late in responding to emails, calls, so it gets hard to organize several meetings or events when many people wait for the last minute.
Aside from that, the regular challenges of living in a third world country such as traffic, internet, electricity issues, and HR related issues. But these problems can be overcome with planning ahead of time, and being persistent.
Last but not least, our challenge at Amcham is to change the perception of Haiti and that is hard with journalists focusing on the social issues of Haiti, which are important, but there are positive outcomes here from the private sector that newspapers and Haitian Americans are not aware of.
Identify one or two of your proudest achievements?
That is an interesting question. I would say graduating from graduate school at Fordham was one since I put a lot of time and effort in going to school full time after 10 years of working in the US. I was taking the train to Manhattan from Queens and studying for 100 hours a week, and was very involved with the student community. It was a great learning experience for me.
The other is moving back after such a long time and being able to contribute towards Haiti with Amcham’s Board and support of the Members. We work in coordination with the US Embassy, CFI, Haitian government officials, etc… on helping US investors establishing themselves here. This was a dream of mine and I am doing it now. It is fun to come to work every day and play a part in such an important task.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
This is difficult to say. It is hard to me to say where I will be in 2 years given how Haiti is.
Hopefully I will continue to play a role in helping attracting investments in Haiti, assisting in creating jobs and encouraging other Haitians from the US to move back to Haiti.
What would be your advice to young people who want their careers and lives to have impact?
You have to do what you love and you can make wrong decision during that time but always keep at it because success will not come in the short-term. You will have to make the investment in education, getting the right jobs, or the jobs that take you in the right direction.
It is very important to network and understand what network means. I recall going to networking events and people were carrying resumes or asking for jobs outright. That is not networking. You have to build relationships for the long haul. You have to think what you can do for them first, even for free. Establish some type of friendship that can help you learn and meeting other people.
Last but not least, reading or educating yourself on subjects that pertain to your career or interest is very important. You should rely on a school or teacher to explain to you everything about your career or job prospects. You will have to do the homework.