Feature Interview: Marita Vasquez

Juan Mejia bacaI am currently living in Chiclayo, Peru, and working at some local schools in the area. I’ve been learning so much about the culture, the people, the food (the food is so good!), and I’ve been able to talk with some amazing individuals.

I have been extremely impressed by the number of women working in education here. The majority of primary school teachers are women, and there are a good percentage working at the university level as well. I sat down with Martia Vasquez, the Director of the School of Education at the private university of Juan Mejia Baca, to talk about her path as well as the state of women in business. She is an amazing person and I was so impressed by what she has accomplished in her life and the example she leads for everyone around her:

Tell me a little about yourself and what you do:

Well, I am a professional woman, and a fighter. I am continually preparing and forming myself in all areas of my life.

Where did you study and what did you study?

I studied at the National University Pedro Ruiz Gallo and I have also studied at Heart. I have two professions, I teach chemistry methodology, it was my first profession. Then I studied nursing. Apart from that I have a master’s degree in teaching and research and a doctorate in science education and a doctorate in health sciences.

What occupations have you had in your life?

Apart from all that I have studied, the first profession that I had was a secretary, a cooperative when I was 17. Then I was a professor of secondary education for 7 years. Then I worked one year as a staff nurse in a small town called Llanca Lambayeque.

Since then I have taught in a university since 1994 and in a nursing faculty and I have nearly 20 years of service. I worked there for almost six years. As a university teacher one of  the most satisfying projects I had was being a research head at a central office. I’ve had plenty of opportunities to get training, and opportunities to learn for research.

And now I’m here at Juan Mejia Baca, where they have opened doors for me to apply to all who believe. I am a teacher in the area of ​​scientific research and director of education careers. I am also in charge of the psychology department and president of the self-evaluation condition quality here at the university.

Have you always wanted to work in education?

In the beginning no, it was almost incidental. I studied nursing and really wanted to work with the health sciences. But because of education, I have had many personal and professional rewards. It has served me as a person and as a professional. It’s made me happy.

I try to be an example as a teacher. I also worry a lot about the training of future teachers.

Do the majority of women in Peru have careers? If so, what types of careers do they have?

No most don’t really have one. If we talk about the town and the coast, a large percentage of women have formal training in professions. But if we talk about the jungle, the women there have discriminate opportunities. The rural area also.

The woman is the center of home and she is who will raise the children and all that they know. Most women end up in professions that have to do with service, like education and health. Here in Peru, a large percentage of teachers are women. In preschool, primary, and secondary. Then there are psychologists, nurses, but generally the lot of women have service professions.

What has been a struggle in getting to where you are today?

I think all things in life are a challenge. The fact that I’m a woman, although I’ve had luck and I myself made strides, I’m still finding myself. But, I’ve always know I could do whatever I wanted. I’m a very lucky person, my mentors that I had were amazing. They trusted me and believed in the qualities I had.

What is your favorite part of your job now?

It gives me such satisfaction when someone comes to check in with me and have a consultation and they come out stronger. They don’t always have to be professional consultations but also personal consultations. When it comes to talking I like to listen and help people make decisions that will impact their lives.

What is one piece of advice you can give to women wanting to have a career here in Peru?

First they have to be on top of things that are happening in the world. Also, you don’t stop learning at a certain age, life is constantly learning. Know what’s going on in the world to see what new aspects in our careers we can strengthen. I have had the luck to find work faster and with with no offer from the place where I work, but that’s because I’m ready with a few changes and ready for what’s coming.

Virtual tutorials are a great way to teach yourself new skills. I look up things that don’t necessarily have to do with my area, but they are things that I am interested in. We have a lot of resources here for eco tourism so I’m learning about that industry.

This isn’t something that just women can do, everyone can. But if there’s a woman who is having difficulty, just make sure and be preparing yourself for when opportunities come along.





Feature Interview: Kris Rudarmel

Earlier this week I sat down with Kris Rudarmel, the Woman Business Owner of the Year NAWBO winner for 2011. Kris co-runs Anchor Water Damage & Restoration with her husband, Frank. I had met Kris a few weeks prior at a conference in Salt Lake and I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go and learn more about her and the business. Not surprisingly, my interview with her was inspiring. She has turned a carpet cleaning business into an experience for her customers. Through gift bags, personalized art, and rewards, Kris has surpassed customer service expectations. On top of that, her personal story is beautiful.

Tell me about your background

School wise I’m just high school, which is why I think it was hard to start from the ground up. Over the last 18 years I’ve started and done different businesses and then we had a flood years ago and it was just crappy and they did a terrible job. When Frank and I owned our first company we had a commercial cleaning franchise but it was a franchise with systems and we knew we wanted to get out of that. We were the third largest franchise in Utah after 2 years, so we built it fast and then Frank said let’s go into flood repair since we had that horrible experience so we could relate and create something cool. So we’ve had this open for 7 years but didn’t start running it until 4 years ago.

Once I got out there I didn’t know the first thing about marketing, I was scared of the phone. Still to this day I get a little bit queasy. But as I got more experience in the business and as I took certification classes and got to know more about the industry I wasn’t as nervous. I realized then that I had to find something to stick out. We were competing against huge national franchises so we went and got certified in water damage, fire restoration, and carpet cleaning. I also came up with a customer service plan, which is the little gift bags, the cigar wrapped candy bars, water heater tags, and just tried to create a great customer service plan. A first time customer gets all of those things and then returning customers I’ve been little gift card packs and I’m also a painter and artist so I create inspirational art. I use butterflies because I am kind of transformed like a butterfly and I want to pass that on to other people.

I wanted to create a different pathway for myself because I was stuck where I was and didn’t have any self-confidence.  We call after each job to check up on our customers and just try to do things that our competitors don’t.

It’s all about running a boutique business. We also have a referral program. We try and have the best customer service so that our clients can in turn be our cheerleaders.

What was your biggest struggle in starting the business?

Feeling the fear and doing it anyway. I seriously was terrified. I always wanted to be a teacher growing up but I never had the self-confidence to go to college and now where this business is transforming and growing I’m able to educate our customers. I eventually want to be a huge business and have a lot of employees and be able to make a difference in their lives. I want to make a difference in the economy and be a leader and show people how you can change. Make your dreams come true by being the change within yourself.

How did you react upon winning the “Woman of the Year” award? Was it unexpected?

The 2009 “Small Business of the Year Award” was really unexpected; I even threw the letter in the garbage. The Chamber President had to come and ask us if we were going to come to the Gala dinner, but at the time we were really struggling and couldn’t afford to buy tickets. He asked if we had gotten the letter from him and I had to go back home and dig it out of the trash before I realized we had won.

A few years ago I made this goal that I wanted to be in a magazine. My son was super supportive, but the rest of my family kind of laughed at me. So I went and cut out a picture and put it on my vision board. I had been a member of NAWBO for a year and the president came to me and asked me to share my story and nominate myself for the award. I told her I didn’t like tooting my own horn but she encouraged me to do it anyways because they didn’t know enough about me to nominate me themselves. It took me a long time to enter, but I finished it and then began having these visions that I would win. The date came and went of when they usually let you know but I didn’t hear anything so I was really sad. It was on my vision board but it didn’t happen. But then I got a call on June 6th of last year to tell me that I had won. I was shocked! She told me that the date had been moved back and everything shifted and I said “Oh my gosh!!” and was so excited.

Would you consider that award and your process of becoming more self-confident your biggest success thus far?

I didn’t realize how big that was, but when I got there that night and they told me what a hard time they had picking the winner it started to dawn on me. They had invited the other nominees, and one has ten non-profits and I just started crying. I was so honored.

What tips do you have for women in business?

One of them is goal setting. That made a big difference for me.  For example, for me I started with the phone because I hated using it. I created a template Monday through Friday and Sunday I would sit down and create goals for the week. I started with 3 a day and writing it down was the key and action was the big thing. Even on the days that I didn’t want to go I had to. Even to this day my stomach still gets queasy when I have to go out and see agents. But accomplishing those goals helped our business grow and things happen faster.

What is your favorite part of your job?

Really all of the cool people we meet. They turn into friends. You get on a personal basis with people. I’m a crier but I try not to be, my kids get mad at me. But when you have a flood it’s very devastating so when I get the calls I try to be sympathetic and kind.

Kris has been married to Frank for 29 years. They have 2 children, Mason 22 and Mikell 18. Kris is honored to be the recipient of Chamber West’s 2009 Small Business of the Year Award and NAWBO’s 2011 Woman Business  of the Year Award.  Kris, along with her company, Anchor Water Damage & Restoration has been featured in the following media outlets in the last 3 years: abc4, KTALK, The Salt Lake Tribune, The South Valley Journal and Utah Business Magazine. Her company was the first Flood company to be Gephardt approved in Utah.