After completing your studies, you worked for six months in auditing but decided to move on. You then turned to consultancy, working for Intys Consulting and nGage Consulting. Having decided with your partner to try something new, what made you choose Uruguay?
> Lionel Quataert: It was a bit by chance. It was our research that brought us to this little country with its population of 3.5 million people and 13 million cattle. We might well have ended up in a neighbouring country. At any rate, the quality of life here is good. I can cycle to work along the sea wall and go kitesurfing or play beach soccer at weekends. Weekends in Montevideo are relatively peaceful. Most people head to the coast or into the countryside.
During your university career, you made an Erasmus trip to Sweden – a very international experience that didn’t really allow you to immerse yourself fully in Swedish culture. Are things different in Uruguay?
> L.Q.: There are few expats here in Uruguay. I spend most of my time with Uruguayans. As well as the human side of things, I really wanted to give myself a reality check, challenge my way of seeing things and our very European models with another reality. The paradigm is very different here and I think that the learning experience, both personal and professional, is rich in benefits, even though this adventure can sometimes be fraught with frustration. Uruguayan people are very charming and make themselves very available. It’s very pleasant working with them, although their habits and customs are very different from ours. What seems obvious to a European sometimes isn’t so to a South American. Sometimes wrongly, sometimes rightly.
You work for the MVD Consulting firm in Montevideo, what does your job entail?
L.Q.: I’m a consultant, so I help businesses with their growth processes. In concrete terms, this may mean establishing a strategy for a South American company looking to improve its position in the local market or, conversely, to export its activity to another market (regional or international). I also help international businesses to set up in Uruguay. There are various “free zones” in the country with an advantageous fiscal system. Because of this advantage and because of the relatively high level of qualification among the people of Uruguay, many international companies set up their regional headquarters in this country.
What made you become an Alumni Ambassador?
L.Q.: I’ve always been active in the various SBS-EM associations and it seemed logical to me that I could help develop the School’s profile beyond our borders. As I’ve only been living in Uruguay for a few months, I’m still at the early stages of this process. There are only five or six Alumni living in Uruguay so I’ve been in touch with the ambassador for Brazil with a view to organising joint events.