How did you start out?
I got involved in the study travel industry almost unintentionally - when I traveled to the UK as a very young ESL teacher willing to explore all the socio-cultural input I had been incorporating through years of researching all sorts of literature related to the British Isles. It was end of 1991, and I used to have some private students at a very small school in the outskirts of Buenos Aires. One day, I told them that I had sent an application to study abroad during the following summer, and some of them got so excited about the idea that they asked their parents if they could come along. I was 22, my students only 17; we spent 4 weeks in the UK, and that was the beginning of it all. Those were the early steps of my career as an educational consultant. After getting my Bachelor´s in English Language at USAL in Buenos Aires, where I still work as a teacher and researcher, I went on to specializing in Socio Lingüistics to finally obtain my PhD Degree in 2012. Meanwhile, I continued organizing study abroad programs to the UK every single year during our summer and winter recesses, and recruiting students from my own school of English and from different local educational institutions that started contacting me through word of mouth. Upon completion of my doctorate, I found I had more time to expand my little enterprise into something bigger, and so incorporated a new range of programs and destinations. This is how VCE International turned into what it is today.
What piece of advice would you give to your 21-year-old self?
I would tell my 21-year-old self to be patient as nothing happens overnight. I used to get really frustrated when things did not go as I expected. I could not see it was just a matter of time.
What helped you get as far as you have?
My upbringing in an Italian family where nothing was scarce, but there were no luxuries. My parents taught me the meaning of hard work and responsibility.
A low point in your career/life and how you overcame it?
I started my post graduate studies as soon as my first son was born in 2003. However, it took me almost nine years to finalize my dissertation and obtain my PhD degree. This was partly due to the intricacies of balancing career and life goals. I am still trying to overcome that, and I know some women in our industry who find themselves doing so as well. We want to be successful professionals but we can´t help feeling guilty when our careers keep us away from our families.
One word to describe yourself?
Resilience may be defined as the capacity to overcome difficulty. I believe there is only one way to tackle problems: by combining the harsh and the tender streak in you. It all comes down to adapting to unexpected scenarios, separating your role from your personality, and developing the ability to either take immediate action or resort to procrastination if need be, always bearing in mind your objective, but never forgetting the consequences of your decision.
What are you most proud of in your professional life?
The fact that I have always acted in accordance with my ethical values and carried out my duties to the best of my abilities in order to achieve my goals, without intending to gain advantage from or causing any harm to anyone.
Your first paying job: What and when?
I got a job as a floating teacher of English when I was 17 years old. Of course I had no degree then, but the school owner was a friend of my mother´s and needed a helping hand. I worked really hard; we eventually became partners, and then some years later she unfortunately passed away. That school is still running, and now I have a new partner who also started working as a helper just as I did over 25 years ago. I do not have much time to actually work there any more, but my heart is deeply rooted in it.
What do you do to keep yourself centered?
There are certain things that keep me centered: At the office: Silence, coffee, two computers over my desk, and my mobile. I can work non stop for hours on end. I never get tired. The more I get done, the more energetic I feel. Outside the office: my husband, who has always supported me; my two kids, Francisco and Manuel; my friends; my dog, Oliver; my garden.
What’s your favourite quote?
Everything comes to him who waits, and does something in the meantime.
The first part is a quote, the second part is something I have added, just because I believe we should not only be patient but also proactive when it comes to fulfilling dreams.
What would your superpower be?
I guess most of us women have the ability to do lots of things at a time. I often find myself immersed in so many tasks simultaneously that I feel like the MARVEL character Doctor Octopus in Spider-man II, especially when I do home office, and my family is around. But you know what, I just LOVE it. Nothing gives me more satisfaction that actually being able to complete one by one all the items on my daily mental check list.