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From Collecting Coffee Beans to Advising the Government

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Note from the editor: Every Intel employee has a story behind their career path and how they got to where they are. Today we bring you Carlos's story which is not only about his Intel career, but how he went from collecting coffee beans in Costa Rica to advising the Costa Rican government.  

It is noon on Friday and we just finished one of four sessions to train seven people from Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry from the Costa Rican Government, aka MEIC. I feel a sense of pride and happiness, because this Intel volunteer activity (just one part of a larger project that a team has been working on for over a year) will not only benefit a community, it will benefit a whole country, my country.

The training included basic tools and knowledge in Project Management. By holding this training with this government team, they’ll be able to use what they learned to improve Business Process Management as a strategy, allowing my country to reduce its bureaucracy, be more competitive worldwide and make it more attractive for foreign investment.

But how did I get to this point of influence? That is a story that starts back in my hometown, Naranjo in the province of Alajuela, when I was a teenager.

When I was 12 years old, I was in my third year of high school and during a class break I asked myself,”What do I want to do with my life from this date to the future?” I set a few goals for myself at that point, the four most relevant for my professional development were: to get a technical degree as Electrician, the second to get a bachelor degree on electronics, the third one to work on a company that would allow me to grow professionally and the last one to live in another country with different culture and different language with my family, working there and being successful on that experience. I said, “If I can complete all of them (four professional and four personal goals) by the time I’m 60 years old, I’d consider myself a successful person.”

The first step: register in a technical high school to get the title of Electricity Technician. To do that, I had to leave the comfort zone of living under my parents´ protection. I had to move and live in another city.

The next two steps came together: working and save money to pay for part of the tuition fees to study Electronics Engineering at Technical Institute from Costa Rica (ITCR). This, in my opinion, is the best public university for the career in engineering I wanted to pursue and I was right--it opened many doors for me.

As an engineer, I was able to achieve another goal: to fly on an airplane and visitdifferent countries. As a child, this idea seemed impossible because I came from a poor family. My mother worked as a seamstress at home to help earning extra money to raise three boys, my two brothers and me. My father worked at a local gas station but his earnings were not enough for our family. That is why my brothers and I decided to work at a coffee plantation during our vacations around the sunny seasons, collecting ripe coffee beans to earn money to pay for our books, notebooks, uniforms and all the materials we’d need and use during the school year. All of that taught us the value of honest work, saving money and defining priorities for life.

100_0221-1024x768.jpgI achieved my last goal when I started working at Intel in 2004. More than just visiting, I wanted to live in another country, immerse myself in a different culture with a foreign language and to do this with my family and while being successful during that experience. This goal was accomplished in two steps. The first one allowed my family and me to live in Santa Clara, California for little longer than than 6 months. And what an amazing experience it was! My children went to public schools there and learned the basics and fundamentals of the English language. However this was just preparation for what I considered was the true achievement of my goal. Three months after returning from California, my manager asked me to move to Israel for a year with my family.

I still remember my kids’ faces when we arrived at the airport in Israel. Everything everywhere was written in Hebrew and we did not know even know how to say “hello” in Hebrew! If that was hard, just imagine the experience going to the supermarket and trying to buy groceries!

However with time, we learned. We were able to visit many places. We learned bits of Hebrew and were able to make basic requests at stores, pharmacies, etc. We even crossed the border during our time in Israel and went to Jordan to visit Petra, one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. My kids attended the unique English school available in Israel, but to do that I had to drive 160 Km a day to go to Intel´s site in Haifa from our house located close to Tel Aviv in a placed called Kfar Shmariahu. The technical knowledge I picked up during my time in Israel made me grow to a point where I could participate in several Intel conferences, allowing me to visit other continents and countries and earning significant awards at those conferences as well.

When we returned back from those assignments, I was just 33 years old and I had accomplished all my major goals. Wow. So there I was leaving my comfort zone, I sat to rethink my life, again.

That’s when, using the scholarship that Intel gave me, I was able pursue a master’s degree in Project Management from a private university. After getting my master’s degree, I joined the team in charge of understanding how to implement Business Process Management (BPM) in my department at the time, Quality and Reliability. Soon after, I took the leadership of that team and led my own managers and department to get BPM certification following a Project Management structure. Last year I moved to Technical Training Department, where I made significant changes in the courses we offer technician’s at Intel’s Costa Rica factory to empower them to increase their knowledge in different technical areas. In tandem, I started working as a professor a few years ago, teaching Project Management at the same university I got my Master’s degree.

Using the set of skills I developed from Project Management, Business Process Management, teaching experience and my desire to grow, I joined the volunteer team working with MEIC. Now I lead one of the sub teams, the one that teaches how by using PM and BPM, we can make a better country. That’s how I’ve gotten to where I am today—only time will tell what growth and opportunities the future will bring.