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I Built Businesses in DSM USA After Moving from Colombia

DSM Life of Clemen Wilcox

May 3, 2018

I never imagined leaving my friends and family in Colombia, becoming bilingual and being an entrepreneur, but that is where life has taken me. I now own my own businesses in Greater Des Moines (DSM) by providing marketing and consulting services for companies and organizations all throughout the United States.

My story begins in a city called Pereira, located in the coffee region of Eje Cafetero in Colombia. There, I had a modest life going to school, graduating from university and becoming an engineer. Upon working in the international trade sector for two years, the company I was working for offered me a promotion and the chance to move to Bogotá, the capital of Colombia. The only catch was that I had to be fluent in English, and at that point in my life I hadn’t learned English. I studied French in high school and never thought I would need a reason to learn English until this opportunity came along. This led to me to move to Minnesota and learn English for four months.

Moving to DSM

During this time, I realized I wanted to stay longer and really integrate myself to learn more English and about U.S. culture. After resigning from my job in Colombia, I moved to DSM where I lived with a host family and studied English at Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC). After I married my husband, who is American, we decided to stay in the U.S. where I later became a U.S. citizen.

I soon realized the huge differences between Colombian and American in culture. One major aspect was the way Americans spend their time. “Time is money” is a common saying among Americans, whereas in Colombia, life moved at a much slower pace. I noticed Americans were always in a hurry! They planned ahead and very carefully chose how to spend their time. I realized that work and family were the priority during the week, whereas time with friends was spent more on the weekends.

Giving back to the community

After getting more accustomed to this way of life, I was able to become a founder and owner of two companies, Everything-Spanish and Clemen Wilcox & Associates. I work as a marketing consultant for companies that want to increase their participation in the Hispanic marketing sector. I also stay busy outside of work by serving as Chairman of the Advisory Board of World Languages at Grandview University, a board member for The Greater Des Moines Botanical Gardens and am part of the Inclusion and Equity Committee of the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute. I also attend meetings with a bilingual group called “Los Oradores Toastmasters” to connect with other Spanish-speakers where I practice my English.

Through the Global DSM initiative, the Greater Des Moines Partnership works to establish Greater Des Moines (DSM) as a global community by bolstering global trade and foreign investments and leveraging international talent. Check out resources for foreign-born talent and more Global DSM stories.