I Built Businesses in DSM USA After Moving from Colombia
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.
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.