Western Illinois University: Macomb Campus
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Alumni Profile: MBA Enrique Arce—An International Success
Featured in the Fall 2012 issue of Western News
What is your current title/position?
I have been managing the banking administration department of one of the largest real estate companies in Canada, based out of Vancouver, for the last year—Bentall Kennedy.
What positions did you have leading up to your current position?
I moved to Canada about 10 years ago. I worked for the Royal Bank of Canada for six years and taught at the business school of a university for about a year, before joining the company.
Before moving to Canada, I worked for different companies where I held senior management positions, including retail sales manager, business development manager and country manager. I also did some business consulting and corporate training.
What interested you in your field and how did you decide to pursue it?
I had finished my business administration and accounting degree at home in Paraguay and was working for a pharmaceutical company as controller and was also teaching part time at the largest private university.
Paraguay was just coming out of a long dictatorship and many changes were happening. I realized that, in order to stay ahead of the pack, I needed to upgrade my academic skills and get an M.B.A. I applied for a Fulbright Scholarship (a grant from the U.S. government for those engaged in academia) to study for an MBA and was lucky enough to be selected as my field of study matched their requirements.
What would you consider to be the highlights of your career up to this point?
I was able to work in different roles in different functional areas and in different industries that allowed me to have a good understanding of business and industry dynamics which I would have not had if I would have just worked in one area of business. I worked in sales, marketing, finance and general management. This allowed me to quickly understand how the different parts of the organization interrelate with each other.
Tell us about your responsibilities and some challenges in your position?
We manage the relationship with all the banks and also about 250 accounts with a total average monthly balance of roughly $40 million.
My team has five members and they are all from different parts of the world. Canada is a country that embraces multiculturalism strongly. So in dealing and motivating my team, I always have to be aware that people from different parts of world may react differently to a type of management style. It is not a cookie cutter operation.
To what do you attribute your success as a young professional?
I was never afraid to learn something new in the business world or to take different roles although I did not have previous experience. I was always looking for opportunities that would allow me to grow professionally. And, if I did not know what the functions or activities were or how they were done, I would consult books and other materials that would show me how to do something. A case in point, when I was named retail sales manager in an oil and gas company. I did not have retail sales experience, and I did not have a clue how a gas station worked, how car oil was manufactured, or even the engineering terminology used in the construction of gas stations. On top of that, my team was made up of engineers. In order to perform in the role, I even had to learn Engineering concepts and terminology in order to be able to communicate with them.
What advice would you give to students graduating from Western in the near future?
Never stop learning. I am still reading business books. And, never be afraid to assume new roles or take new challenges. You never know if you may need them in the future. It will also give you a better and well-rounded business foundation. You will be able to discuss issues with other professionals even though you may not be in the same role as them. And, if possible try to be part of the solution rather than the problem.
Don’t forget that the world is now a big village. You need to be cognisant of the fact that business happens everywhere now.
And, lastly, if a mistake happens, it is better if it happens out of commission and not omission. (i.e. you tried to do it and not avoid it)
How did your time at Western prepare you for where you are today?
The MBA program gave me the tools and problem solving skills that have been extremely useful.
Another thing I learned in the program was to interact with people from other parts of the world. This was huge for me because I was from a small country in South America with very little travel experience.
Also, being in a small class environment allowed me to build friendships and a better interact with the instructors (which to me equals a better quality of education).
I always keep in mind what one of my managers once told me, “having the tools and the skills are important but it is also important to perform. What happened yesterday no longer counts, it is what you are doing today and will do tomorrow what will continue to secure your position or employment.”
If someone plans to come for a visit to this beautiful part of the world, please feel free to email me at enjarce@ gmail.com or call me at (604) 271-5888.