Current affairs

Interview with Juanita Acevedo

Monday, 31 de July, 2017

Juanita Acevedo took EAE’s MBA at the School over a decade ago. She has a Bachelor Degree in Business Administration from the Universidad del Rosario in her native country, Colombia. The University has nominated her for a Colombian Businessperson Award in the Halcón Dorado category, which is given in recognition of the impact of the best and most cutting-edge business people in their particular field of business. 

The award is given to a graduate of the Universidad del Rosario whose professional activities have been characterized by commitment and working with society, as a clear reflection of the humanist sentiment that is fostered among the students of the University. 

After her time at EAE eleven years ago, Juanita has built her own career in our country within the world of marketing and communication. She is an Executive Director, Business Trainer, Personal Coach and International Conference Speaker at Advantage Service, already having more than fourteen international conferences under her belt, speaking on issues related to Social Media, Personal Branding and Customer Service.

She is so passionate about marketing that, in 2013, the expert published a book entitled “Coaching for Action: Marketing tools required to succeed”, which strives to encourage all professional who want to make a living from coaching.

 “Attitude and action”, more than simply being Juanita’s motto, has become her personal brand, which is discussed throughout the following interview, which we hope you enjoy.

In 2006, you took the MBA at EAE. What made you decide to take an MBA at our School?

What made me decide to study at EAE was the content of the program of the MBA in Family Company Entrepreneurship and Management, which matched exactly what I was looking for, as I had just resigned from the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce, the company I had been working for several years, to set up on my own in the field that was my true passion: Training.

Moreover, the program included a compulsory company internship which, in my case, opened the door for gaining residence in Spain, thanks to a company that took a chance on me. Since then, the internship agreement with EAE has continued to grow and remain in force.

You have a Bachelor Degree in Business Administration from the prestigious Universidad del Rosario in Colombia, your native country. What encouraged you to continue studying and why did you come to Spain, so far from home?

Lifelong learning and constant update have been constant features of my life and so, after having taken the specialization in Marketing at the time, the next step was to take the MBA. I decided to come to Spain because, when I first visited Barcelona in 2003, I fell in love with the city. Some time later, when I was back in Colombia and decided to continue my professional studies, I looked for programs in the city at a well-respected business school that provided high-quality training, with a program aligned with my entrepreneurial spirit. I applied for a scholarship and, after two attempts, I was successful.

Tell us about your personal and professional development over the last eleven years.

Constant challenges, continuous growth, non-stop evolution and magical moments. Starting from scratch, I have had to adapt to a new culture that, despite being similar, is quite different, where I have settled in nicely. I have had to negotiate many situations in the midst of a recession and everything that goes along with that, in order to give free rein to my passion for working for myself as a foreigner.

I have had the chance to travel and discover beautiful places and wonderful people. Most importantly, I have built a lovely family that I am very proud of and which is the driving force behind my life.

Time has flown and it has been as long as eleven years since your time at EAE. What memories have you got of your experience at the School?

I have the best memories from my time at EAE! New knowledge, new experiences, new friends, new ways of thinking and doing things. A unique learning experience. The perfect blend of theory and practice, an opportunity to grow as a person and the first step towards building a dream.

Best of all, I met a great group of people that I am still in touch with and whom I admire and love with all my heart.

If you had to pick just one of the experiences or memories you had in relation to the School, which would it be?

As well as the hours of studying, the group projects, the parties and the trips, one thing that I always remember fondly was a class that made a real impression on me, when the teacher made us close our eyes and listen to the song “Color esperanza”, which I had always liked but never really thought about. In that moment, he made us reflect in the lyrics and I focused on a phrase that stays with me to this day, because it encourages us to chase our dreams: “It is better to shine that just to try to see the sun”.

What advice would you give to our School’s current and future students?

My main tip would be to have an open mind in terms of all of the possibilities that may arise. Take full advantage of every second because time goes by so quickly. Remember that you can find the theory in books, but you can’t read experiences, you have to live them.

You have been building your career in Spain for eleven years, a path that goes all the way back to your time at EAE. How do you think your time at the School helped to pave the way for the career that you have built?

My time at EAE was a turning point. I came here with the firm belief that I would go back to my country after completing the Master but, 7 months into the program, personal reasons and having my mind open to new possibilities made me decide to stay here and start over again.

The company internship that I took thanks to EAE was the starting point in the business world, as well as enabling me to make new contacts and get a job offer. A couple of years afterwards, I qualified as a coach and the thesis that I did at EAE, which I had always had in mind, began to take shape.

I am proud to say that my Bachelor’s Thesis went from theory to practice and it is the foundation of how I have been making a living for the last 9 years.

Turning to your current position, you are the Executive Director at Advantage Service, as well as a Business Trainer, Personal Coach and International Conference Speaker. How did that opportunity come up?

My work is what I am passionate about. Nine years ago, I decided to be self-employed under the trademark Advantage Service®, offering Business Training and Personal Coaching services, specializing in Personal Branding, Social Media and Customer Service. I am my own boss, which involves doing a bit of everything in each of the departments that every company has.

I run “Coaching for Action” sessions, I write entries for the Attitude and Action blog, I have taught at various institutions, universities and business schools, and I share the knowledge I have acquired in the conferences that I give. Although I set up my own office a few years ago, when I had my son, who is my new priority, I changed the way I work and went back to a home office model, which has really worked for me as it has enabled me to strike the optimal balance between my personal and professional lives. Now I am more selective, productive and effective with my time.

You have recently been informed that you have been nominated by the Universidad del Rosario (Colombia) for the Colombian Businessperson Award in the Halcón Dorado category. What does this mean to you?

It means that I am involved there without actually being there! I have always felt a great sense of duty to give back all of the opportunities that life has given me and I believe that I can do so through my mission to generate KANVYOS with a positive impact on people, companies and society, wearing the name of my company and university with pride wherever I go.

Receiving an award of this nature in this way must be a great source of pride. Tell us how they notified you of your nomination for the award and how you felt when you received the news.

When I got the notification, I remember that I read it several times and I was so happy. However, I felt even happier when I started to draft my CV, because they asked us to send a detailed account of our careers. I began drawing up a thorough account of everything that I had done and I remembered each stage of the journey to where I am today, all of the experiences that I have had, the lessons I have learned and the people I have met.

Being nominated and being named as one of the finalists fills me with pride but I feel even prouder of having carved out my own path in a way that I have chosen.

You say that training is your passion, you have years of experience in training and you have spoken at more than fourteen international conferences. What exactly is your goal in the conferences that you give? What concepts or values do you strive to convey?

Indeed, training is my vocation and, when you do something that you love, that you were born to do, you do it with a lot of passion and this generates a great deal of satisfaction. This is one of the ideas that I try to convey in each of my classes and conferences – the idea that we have to be true to who we are, what we feel, what we want and how we project ourselves.

My personal slogan has always been ATTITUDE and ACTION. As well as living by this philosophy, I strive to spread to all of the people that I have contact with and in everything I do: training, coaching, conferences, team building, etc. I have seen great results achieved and dreams come true for people who understand this philosophy, this way of life underpinned by #attitudeandaction.

In 2013, you published your book entitled “Coaching for Action: Marketing tools required to succeed”. How did the idea of writing this book come about? What aspects of this experience would you highlight?

I have always really enjoyed writing and it was one of my professional objectives in terms of sharing knowledge and reaching people that I would not come into contact with otherwise.

When I was hired to develop the content of a course on the Master in Coaching, I thought that what I created was really good and it could be the starting point. It was time to take action and adapt the contents into a format that could be used as a guide to provide practical tools for personal, commercial and digital marketing to people who want to work for themselves in order to make their dreams a reality.

The most satisfying aspect of this experience has been receiving lots of messages from people that know me saying that reading the book is like seeing me in person, while people that do not know me tell me that my book has encouraged them to take ACTION.

“Community Management – a passion that could become your profession” is a project that has been running for over five years. It has been nominated for the Halcón Dorado Award.  Tell us more about this project.

“Community Management - a passion that could become your profession” was a proposal submitted and accepted in 2012 at Foment Formació, and Employment Promotion Training Centre (Catalan Confederation of Business Organizations and Companies).

It was an innovative, attractive and profitable training initiative that managed to generated interest in the proper use if social media as effective and dynamic channels of communication, which must be managed with a professional attitude, primarily developing the 2.0 skills required to responsibly oversee the presence of a person, company or institution online with respect to their different stakeholders.

Five years on, I have run more than 30 editions of the course and it is highly rated for its dynamism, with many of the students who have taken part having found a job that they are passionate about, achieved success in the world of social media, set up their own companies, become renowned professionals in their sector or given their careers a real boost. A detailed overview of the initiative, along with its results, was presented to support the nomination for the Halcón Dorado Award and reach the final round.

You see yourself as a generator of positive ‘KANVYOS’ for people and business and cultural culture. Tell us more about this concept that defines you.

I have always believed that you have to pay back everything that life has given you. In my opinion, I do so through my words, my attitude and my actions. In the beginning, I wasn’t aware that I was doing it, even though I was. Through what I was saying in my classes or simply when having a coffee, I was able to change attitudes, generate interest, open minds and awaken dormant passions and interests.

When I went on to qualify as a coach, I realized that I was professionalizing an activity that I was already good at. When I started working in training and coaching full-time, I saw that I had the potential to go a step further, beyond generating superficial changes, to manage to shift the foundations of people’s attitudes in order to catapult them towards their dreams, thereby enabling them to make real KANVYOS.

Lastly, “Attitude and Action” has become your personal motto, the concepts that you live by. How did that philosophy come about? What are its goals?

Attitude and Action are two words that have always been part of my life. I remember them being important from when I was really young. They are a kind of personal mantra and, whatever I do, these concepts play a key role because, as far as I am concerned, they are all you need to achieve whatever you set your mind to in life.

Over the years, they have become part of my philosophy and they have become my motto. They form part of all of my classes. They took shape through my blog, Attitude and Action, which originated with the aim of leaving a legacy of contents that convey the importance of the ATTITUDE required in order to fully realize and believe in your capacities and potential, to know and believe that we deserve success, as well the essential ACTION needed to give our dreams a free rein, set objectives and design effective strategies.

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