My personal journey – Guest Editorial
A common thing that many people have always asked me is “where do you live, what is the secret to success and how did you end up in Switzerland?” I always smile due to the many emotions I experience before answering. Often I don’t even know what to say. I get nervous and confused, feelings run inside my […]
A common thing that many people have always asked me is “where do you live, what is the secret to success and how did you end up in Switzerland?” I always smile due to the many emotions I experience before answering.
Often I don’t even know what to say. I get nervous and confused, feelings run inside my body so deeply that I freeze for a few seconds. So many memories come to mind that even I find myself wondering what would be the “acceptable” answer.
Life should be simpler than we sometimes consider it to be, and in my opinion we should focus on simple steps along the way.
There is no secret recipe to apply to all aspects of one’s everyday life, however; it is just the desire to constantly progress and the willingness to improve one step at a time, and identify where you want to go and what it will take to get there- that matters.
I would like to share my personal journey into the FX industry. Not many know this story but I feel that sharing may inspire others in similar positions as myself, to go the extra mile.
Welcome to Switzerland!
I first visited Switzerland from Peru in 2005 as a tourist for 2 weeks after receiving an invite from a close friend of mine. I instantly fell in love with everything Swiss and spent my days with my camera and made sure that I took lots of photos of this beautiful country, all along just being “WOW’ed” at every turn thinking what a nice place this would be to live one day.
To make a very long story short, I was offered a job at an import-export company which supplies Peruvian foods and beverages and took the chance and made the move from Lima, Peru, to Geneva, Switzerland.
Fast forward 1 year, and I was living / working in Geneva and quickly realizing that Peru and Switzerland are completely different worlds. I managed to learn a little bit of the country’s culture and opportunities that exist in Switzerland, however; the Swiss are a very unique bunch, and was finding it difficult to integrate.
At this point I decided to leave the company because I wanted to immerse myself in the all the opportunities Switzerland offered including getting involved in the three big Swiss industries; watch manufacturing, chocolate and finance.
Of course with regard to the first two famous Swiss industries, I remained just a consumer. I had absolutely no industry knowledge apart from how to appreciate Swiss engineering and Swiss chocolate! With regard to finance on the other hand, I had some know-how, albeit limited to Latin America. On to the next as they say. I started applying for jobs.
All this while, I still felt a foreigner and that I was unable to really integrate into Swiss society. I figured that a good place to start was to learn to speak the language, French.
I thought that by speaking English and Spanish this would be enough. I met many people living in Switzerland and they get by just speaking English, however; the reality was that it was not. I said to myself: “This is not enough, do you want to go the next step? Luis, you must learn French”.
CV’s, Interviews and Français
I went to dozens of interviews and all of them told me: sorry, you have no Swiss experience, no understanding of the French language and no understanding of our system. Being in Switzerland, I got lots of reply letters saying: thanks Mr. Sanchez, but you are not qualified.
This went on for months, until a FX company called me for an interview. I was so happy and excited that I put on my best suit, polished my shoes (twice!) and went. Once at the interview, the interviewee started off with “Hello Mr. Sanchez, we looked at your resume and realized that you have the right aptitude to work for us”. Excited but not ready to show emotions I replied, “Thank you”, and spent the next five minutes explaining my experience until they asked me one simple question: “Do you have any experience in FX”?
I thought: “Maybe I should try to make this up, as Swiss people are very civilized and generally believe what they are told, and then I will go home and Google FX to learn all about it.”
And then I thought again and said to myself: “Luis don’t do it, just say the truth as hard as it is.” I replied: “No, I have no experience and thanked the Human Resources manager, and then she said “thank you Mr Sanchez” and I then stood up to leave when suddenly the Human Resources manager asked me “Mr. Sanchez, where are you going?”
I said, “Well, I am going home since I don’t have experience, I don’t think you will ever hire me.”
She looked to me stunned and said “Hold on we are looking for people with your profile with no FX experience, since we will teach you that.” I said: “Really???????” (What’s the catch I thought??)
Even though the interview was in English I re confirmed just to be sure; “You will hire me and pay me to come to classes?” This is not a common practice I Latin America, so I wanted to be sure.
The answer was “Yes, we will.”
So I started my course, learning the FX industry and was very excited, saying to myself “thank you God for this opportunity” along the way.
After a short period of time I realized: I came to Switzerland as a tourist, I stayed in Switzerland completely by accident and I’m now in a high quality FX company working and hoping that this job will last forever, until I came back to the basics, the ABC, which was that I did not know the culture and language, so I wondered how I was going to be able to survive in the future.
Let’s say one day things go wrong and this fabulous company that I work for fires me, I will not know the culture, neither the language. This concern made me think again about my options.
I left the company and went to French classes which were full time, 8 hours a day, moved to an apartment where I had French speaking roommates so that the integration process would be easier.
Meanwhile I needed to pay bills and survive, and Switzerland is a very expensive country, so I took my saving from Peru, and I took any job available: I was a barman at clubs (like the Cocktail movie J), I taught Spanish, I worked as a removals man, a driver, to give some examples, whilst I studied French full time.
I did not have any inferior notions or feel bad. I knew that this was a process, even though I was 32 years old, BUT some relatives and friend where telling me “Quit and come back to Peru, Luis you can barely pay your bills and service costs, however in Lima you can have a better life.”
I cried, more than just one night but next morning I was stronger than the tear I threw the night before and was increasingly more willing to find my path. It was not easy I can tell you. I had conflicting feelings and frustration every day, and even every hour.
I kept sending my CV, thinking that now that I know more French it will be easy. It was not, and again and again, I received letters saying “Thank you Mr. Sanchez, but we cant hire you due to A,B,C reasons.”
Thoughts of coming home came frequently and I was thinking of quitting, and just considering this time as an opportunity to explore a new continent and a new country, but overall I began to think that it was time to go home to Peru.
I broke out many times, but I said, “I can, it’s possible, Luis don’t quit, do your best and try it a day at a time.” Between bars and moving boxes, I was learning and meeting you people that helped me to integrate.
The year 2006 was coming to an end and I had a call on 26th December for an interview in a FX company in Geneva.
Once again I polished my shoes and ironed my suit, applied some gel to my hear put on some cologne and went to the interview feeling like a million dollars, with a very confident attitude and by that time I had some more knowledge of the French language.
I attended the interview and they told me, “Thanks once again Mr. Sanchez”
I went home and wrote a hand written letter saying: “Thanks for the interview and if in the future there is a vacancy, please think of me.” It seems like no one thanks a company when they are not hired, BUT in this situation they called me again and told me come on January 2nd for another interview.
I thought “What? Are you kidding!?” and since the call was in French, I though I misunderstood the message and called back, this time them in English to reconfirm the appointment.
I went on January 2nd and it very much looked like they liked my attitude and enthusiasm so I was hired. I started as a junior salesman for the Latin America market.
God and my persistence gave me this last opportunity and I did my best! 8 years after joining the company I was promoted to First Vice President of this particular Swiss Bank, Dukascopy Bank SA, and I to this day thank them and everyone in the chain that made this possible.
I learned a lot within that period, and I thank Dukascopy Bank SA for this exceptional opportunity and will always be thankful to them.
Also during my 8 years with Dukascopy Bank SA I met so many people, I attended conferences, spoke at events and became a senior industry figure.
I was a speaker on several panels, viewed by the top level of the industry worldwide, and mingled with the crème de la crème of the industry.
I had the opportunity to travel extensively to generate business all over the world and learned different cultures, from Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, all the time never forgetting my Latin American roots.
BMFN offered me to join the company at the end of 2014, an opportunity that I could not refuse and I joined the company as CEO.
Was I afraid? Yes, I was indeed, however not trying was my deepest fear, and so I accepted and join the company as Chief Executive.
I have been at BMFN for one and a half years now and this has been my 3rd life changing experience. At the beginning I was stunned but by applying baby steps I was able to integrate into the company in a smooth and charismatic way.
I thought “This is a new era for Luis Sanchez” and I thought that I should do what ever it takes to make my role a good decision for the owners and my colleagues.
Paul Belogour, owner and director of BMFN has helped me a lot, taught me things that made a direct impact on me and changed my professional and personal life. I thank him and all BMFN team for supporting me and giving me the opportunity to be part of the BMFN family.
So coming back to the initial considerations, I basically live in planes and hotels, (not easy, 250 days on the road yearly).
My lovely wife still is based in Geneva and I managed to deal with that and my obligations through a right and proper recipe whereby we apply proper time management and are happy. We integrate in a way that we find time to share from anywhere. Willing is Caring.
BMFN gave me an incredible opportunity that combines my experience and know how with my personal life, which is an amazing combination.
I have so far learned a lot from the company and I’m still in my new learning curve. I had combined my cultural barriers and charismatic yet humble attitude with my professional obligations.
Knowing the product is one good side in in this industry, but learning cultures and how to develop them is a real task.
Knowledge by itself, meaning just knowledge without cultural understanding its not enough. You need to deeply understand the culture of your corporate clients and identify their local needs and apply proper development of that market
I am now in China and I am sitting in a local restaurant with a glass of the famous national Baiju drink, writing this article to share with the entire world what it takes to develop a new cultural understanding and market. Easy? Not at all believe it not.
I watch and learn everyday from the concierges, taxi drivers right the way through to IBs and customers.
Behavior and manners became paramount, across so many international aspects from eating in restaurants to Chinese tea ceremonies, for me to convey to my sales staff and how to conduct the business that drives the efforts that I have to make, and the personal roots that I have planted since I left Peru all those years ago.
So why I am telling you this long story? Because no matter what changes your experience in life, if you really want to succeed, there are no excuses.
Always head onwards and upwards no matter what happens. Tomorrow is another day and things will be seen differently.
We all fail, grow, fail again and rise again. This is a life circle but remember my humble story that things are possible even if you are right at the end of the world, for example in China!
Never quit, keep going, stand up again even if black Thursday hits you, there is always a good Friday.
Never lose the faith and learn from your down experiences, to stand up again and be stronger.
Life puts hurdles in front of us sometimes, however they are there to bypass step by step. Never quit, keep trying and one day at the end of the tunnel, light will shine brightly in your favor and that moment will be one of speechlessness and will be amazing. Just enjoy your moment, Why? because you deserve it.
This is just one small story. Out there, there are many people like me who have even better stories. Share them with us because human nature needs to read them to identify and know that there is always faith and a good tomorrow morning.
Featured photograph: Luis Sanchez at the Four Seasons Des Bergues Hotel, Geneva, Switzerland