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Spotlight Series ft. Gladys Gordon

Wednesday, August 5th, 2020

Senior Executive Assistant, Holt Logistics

Gladys-Picture-CACC

CACC: What is your connection to Chile?

Gladys Gordon (GG): First and foremost, I was born and raised in Chile. In 1990, I joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Chile. During my third year at the Ministry, I was assigned a foreign mission that involved representing my country in the local Tri-State area via the Consulate of Chile in Philadelphia. When I traveled to the United States for my foreign mission, I became the first person in my immediate family to travel outside of Chile. And while foreign missions often involve temporary assignments, I ended up working at the Consulate of Chile in Philadelphia for over 20 years—at first serving as Consular Officer before eventually becoming the Chancellor of the Consulate. Throughout my time with the Consulate, I worked closely with the local Chilean community, forging lasting relationships that continued beyond my employment with the Ministry. On occasion, I continue to work with the local Chilean community through the Consulate whenever my assistance is requested. Of course, my involvement in and support of the Chilean community extends even further through my personal, unaffiliated efforts.

CACC: How did your experiences lead you to your position at Holt Logistics?

GG: Working at the Consulate of Chile in Philadelphia was incredibly rewarding—both professionally and personally. My work involved helping many Chilean individuals and families through challenging—and periodically dire—circumstances. It also afforded me the opportunity to interact with many extraordinarily accomplished individuals from the worlds of academia, government, politics, art, and business. I will forever cherish my time working at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and—more specifically—working at the Consulate of Chile in Philadelphia. Notwithstanding, I remember going through a period of concern and uncertainty regarding my own future, as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Chile deliberated the possibility of permanently closing the Consulate in Philadelphia. After living almost half of my life in the United States in service of my country, I had developed a great affection for the United States. I was also married to an American and had a son that was born in the United States. And while my husband and son both adore Chile, we all wanted to continue living in the United States. Aware that I might be assigned a different foreign mission if I remained employed with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I decided that it was the appropriate time to consider retiring from the Ministry while I diligently searched for work in the private sector. Interestingly, all that I had learned and achieved throughout my two decades of dedicated service to Chile and the local Chilean community didn’t seem to attract much interest. While the local business community appreciated my service and accomplishments at the Consulate, it seemed that no one could envision how my skill set would translate to the private sector. Admittedly so, this was quite a scary time for me. I started doubting my skill set, my ability to adapt, and—more importantly—myself. But let this be an important life lesson; all it takes is one person to believe in you. And for me, that one person was Leo Holt.

Last May, I celebrated my fifth year working at Holt Logistics. I primarily work in the Executive Offices at the Corporate Headquarters of Holt Logistics—often lending support to the Marketing Department. I can’t imagine working for a more amazing and conscientious company—which is not only dedicated to the welfare of their employees, but is truly dedicated to the entire community that it serves. Holt Logistics not only facilitates commerce between our local area and Chile—as well as my other parts of the world—but it also promotes and financially supports Chilean cultural events that are considerably important to the local Chilean community.

CACC: What is something you want the Greater Philadelphia Region to know about Chile? 

GG: As the people of the world struggle to navigate, confront, and adapt to this unprecedented challenge to public health, it is hard to see beyond the borders of our confinement. Nevertheless, we still maintain important connections to the rest of the world. And one of the more significant connections—particularly to our region of the country—is the connection we still have with Chile. In our region, a large percentage of the fruit we consumed during the winter and spring continued to flow from Chile—despite the logistical challenges and occasionally supply chain interruptions caused by the pandemic. Advanced IT—critical to the continued function of businesses straining to keep viable—also continued to flow from Chile. While any of us can be excused for not noticing this important connection during this extraordinarily difficult moment in our lives, Chile remains an important and active partner in our region—as well as to the rest of our country. And once we feel safe enough to travel abroad, there is no better place to start than amazing Chile. As an intrepid visitor, you can explore and learn more about Chile through its wine, gastronomy, film festivals, art, and unparalleled landscapes. These landscapes include deserts, forests, mountains, lakes, beaches, volcanoes, ice fields, and glaciers. In Chile, you can truly ski, hike, swim, and sightsee to your heart’s content!

CACC: What makes the CACC a special and valuable organization to you? 

GG: The CACC is one of the most active and vital Chilean Chambers in the United States. The Chamber’s ability and determination to foster and maintain a vigorous trade relationship between the Greater Philadelphia region and Chile has been integral to the steady flow of products and services needed in our area—particularly in this unprecedented time of crisis. The Chamber sponsors and organizes a wide range of events designed to promote the businesses of their members. And while I was working at the Consulate of Chile in Philadelphia, the CACC was always there to support Chile during moments of crisis—such as those caused by natural disasters and, of course, the 2010 crisis involving the trapped miners in Copiapo. The CACC also supports Chilean cultural events that are important to me and—more importantly—to the local Chilean community.

CACC: Where is your favorite place in Chile? Why?

GG: As a young teen, my favorite place to visit was Bahia Inglesa. Although I grew up in Santiago, I spent my summer vacations with my relatives who resided in northern Chile. Bahia Inglesa is located in the north, about 10 kilometers from Caldera in the Atacama region of Chile. It was quite a physical challenge traversing the mostly rocky shoreline—but it was always an adventure. And since I was particularly adventurous in my youth, I was never bothered by the occasional injury caused by the rugged terrain. During this time, my cousins and I would explore Bahia Inglesa, as well as many other interesting and remote places in the surrounding area. I vividly remember the nights in the north. Parts of the north were so remote and dark during the evenings that you couldn’t even see your hand in front of your face! But the sky was utterly spectacular. It felt like you could pluck the stars out of the sky like wildflowers in an endless meadow. But the most awe-inspiring sight in the night sky was the hazy-white band of the Milky Way, which can only be viewed by the naked eye in the total absence of the light pollution. And while I love all the amazing regions of Chile, northern Chile will always produce a heightened sense of nostalgia within me.

Muchas Gracias to Gladys for sharing her inspiring story!

Spotlight Series ft. Benjamin Leavenworth

Wednesday, August 5th, 2020

SPOTLIGHT SERIES: 

Benjamin Leavenworth, Honorary Consul of Chile

Cheers for Chile! Celebrating Chile's 202nd Anniversary of Independence

CACC: How did your experiences lead you to become the Honorary Consul of Chile? What is your connection with the country of Chile?

Benjamin Leavenworth (BL): The first time I went to Chile was in 1991 to spend 3 months on a climbing and kayaking expedition around the Northern Patagonian Icefields. I fell in love with the splendor of the country and a few years later came back to start a wine company with a college classmate called Vina Cono Sur. This was an amazing experience as it was the early 90’s, when Chile was re-emerging on the global scene. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to not only start a major exporting company from scratch, but also to help shape in some small way a country’s future. Cono Sur was a success and today is a million-case winery exporting all around the world. I ended up staying in Chile for almost ten years and then returned to Philadelphia where I founded an international business consulting company. I considered Chile to be my adoptive country and naturally stepped in to support it whenever possible. Some of my efforts were noticed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and in 2005, I was appointed Honorary Consul of Chile by President Ricardo Lagos. It was and continues to be an unusual appointment as Chile maintained a full Consulate General in Philadelphia headed up at the time by Consul General Jose Luis Morales Molyneux, who became a dear friend to me along with his wife Cecilia and their family. In 2006, when Consul General Morales returned to Chile, I was asked by the Foreign Minister to assume the responsibilities for the consulate, for which I have been responsible for the past fifteen years.

CACC: What does your role as Consul here in Philadelphia encompass?

BL: My role as Consul is principally focused on fostering economic, commercial, political and cultural ties and representing Chile in my jurisdiction, which include the states of Pennsylvania, Delaware and Southern New Jersey. While I operate with a significant level of independence, I also work closely with the Ambassador of Chile in Washington D.C. and the Consul General in New York in developing initiatives and implementing strategies as directed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Since the consulate offers the full range of consular services, for which I have a dedicated consular official, occasionally there are times that I get involved in these matters too.

CACC: What is your favorite part of your job as Consul?

BL: While there is nothing more satisfying than helping a person in need, which is a part of the role I play as Consul, I have to admit that the favorite part of my job is connecting the two countries that I love so dearly. I have had the honor of personally arranging the visits of President Bachelet, and former President Pinera (at the time, now current President of Chile) to the Greater Philadelphia Region, as well as official visits to Chile by Governor Jack Markell of Delaware on two occasions and Governor Corbett of Pennsylvania where they were received by President Pinera and President Bachelet. It has also been a pleasure to lead numerous regional delegations to and from Chile and working closely with members of the Chilean Senate and Congress who are big fans of our region. This is quite understandable since over half a million jobs in Chile are tied to commerce stemming from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Together, we have implemented a robust sub-national strategy connecting stakeholders in both countries such as governors in both countries, growers, businesses and universities. This is a great deal of work and an immense amount of stress, but it is also greatly rewarding.

CACC: What is something you want the Greater Philadelphia Region to know about Chile?

BL: I want our friends to know that despite all of the challenges that the world and Chile is facing, that it still remains a country that is firmly committed to partnership with our region. Our mutual trade relationship supports thousands of jobs on both sides and feeds millions of people. There is so much more to do, and as Chile reinvents itself for the 2.0 economy of the future, it will be a place for opportunity and further commercial development be it in agricultural and food technologies, IT, or investment. We are aligned in our belief in transparent institutions, rule of law, democracy, and an open economy.

CACC: What makes the CACC a special and valuable organization to you?

BL: The CACC is truly the most professional and connected Chilean and American trade platform in the United States. I greatly appreciate the role that our members, the board of directors, and Executive Director play in fostering and supporting the valuable trading relationship between our two countries. As Consul, I am very grateful for the support that the CACC has afforded me over the many years, be it in times of an emergency like the generous response to our devastating earthquake in 2010 or the extraordinary support for our Presidential and Congressional visits. Without the Chamber’s support, it would have been hard to pull off the “Viva Chile” celebration in 2008, a week-long citywide event with 17 activities and over 17,000 attendees. In my opinion, this is a perfect partnership that is underpinned by a deep friendship and desire to make lives better in our respective countries.

Many thanks to Benjamin for sharing his story and being our first feature!

Spotlight Series ft. Martin Lewit

Wednesday, August 5th, 2020

SPOTLIGHT SERIES: 

Martin Lewit
Senior Vice President, Nisum International

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CACC: What is your connection to Chile?

Martin Lewit (ML): I am originally from Argentina, but I’ve lived in Chile for 10 years in total, most recently the last 7+ years leading Nisum companies. In 2013, I returned to Chile after 7+ years of living in Boston, where I completed my MBA at Babson College and worked at Fidelity Investments.

Furthermore, I’m emotionally connected to Chile because my parents, my sister and her family also live in Santiago and most importantly both my kids, Oliver and Sofia, were born in Chile. I’ve truly enjoyed my last 8 years living in Santiago alongside so many Chilean and foreign friends.

CACC: What experiences led you to become SVP at Nisum International? 

ML: It has been an interesting journey, with a few twists and plenty of international moves. I’m passionate about tech companies and entrepreneurial at heart, which has been key when taking on new challenges. There are three areas that have led the way to me getting here.

First is education. I developed an entrepreneurial mindset early on in my college education. I graduated with a dual degree in Business and Accounting in Buenos Aires, Argentina and decided a few years later to pursue an MBA from Babson College, a leader in entrepreneurial teaching. All throughout I focused on what drives companies, and especially their people, to grow and innovate.

Then, there is my professional journey. While I’ve worked quite a bit in Tech and Finance, I have had opportunities to live and work in many countries, learn about several industries, participate in various functional areas and assume managerial responsibility as I grew in my career. The journey helped me become a generalist and lead teams in regions as far apart as Chile and India, Pakistan and US.

Finally, I think a key aspect has been finding a balanced skillset, allowing me to take on complex business challenges with innovative solutions, developing and empowering those who I work with and generating connections to create new and exciting opportunities.

CACC: How did you become involved with Chile: a Digital Country (Ch1l3)? 

ML: Ch1l3 is an incredible Private-Public partnership that supports the expansion of Chile’s Digital Services industry to new markets. It fosters collaboration between members and enhances our capability to develop new and innovative solutions. I’m passionate about the project and have worked on it since its design and inception.

Actually, I collaborated with the original project, the first technology sector brand launch in Chile back in 2008, then called ChileIT, and worked with the team for a few years while living in the US. This initiative helped us develop a presence in the US market and was an incredible experience for me, although it eventually was discontinued.

In 2013 when I came back to Chile, I worked alongside Chiletec and ProChile to relaunch the program, which eventually became Ch1l3.

CACC: How do you see the Ch1l3 brand evolving in the future?

ML: We are facing a new and very uncertain environment that is also quickly changing. One thing we’ve seen is the faster adoption of digital technologies. Also, the new remote and distributed workforce across many industries has disrupted the way we work and opened new opportunities to seamlessly incorporate global talent into our digital challenges. Our brand becomes even more relevant today and I believe can add new value to many companies as they navigate through these complex and changing times.

CACC: What do you think sets Philly apart from other cities in the U.S.?

ML: Interestingly when I started working with Ch1l3’s plan for the US, I knew we wanted to have Philly be one of the key launch pads for the Brand. There is a clear and close relationship between Chile and Philadelphia that goes back many years based on strong commercial and cultural ties. The presence of the CACC has been key because it is a terrific partner in growing and developing relationships.

I feel Santiago, Chile’s capital city, and Philadelphia are similar in many aspects, including their resilience, their people’s love for their city, and proving that they are secret gems close to a bigger metropolis. Philly has a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem and is a city with the ability to reinvent itself while continuously growing and expanding.

Also, I feel a personal bond with the city because when we started our expansion to the US over eight years ago, our first customer was from Philly.

CACC: What is something you want the CACC Network to know about Chile?

ML: That Chile is an incredible and committed partner, and it is a country that from a business standpoint is very aligned with the US. I actually have heard from many of our business partners that Santiago many times feels like another US city.

We had some issues last year, as many countries have around the globe, including unrest and protest. However, as Chile prepares to reinvent itself for the future, I’m confident we will overcome these issues and will become a better society and a stronger community. My message would be to continue being confident in Chile, one of the best countries to do business in the world.

CACC: What makes the CACC a special and valuable organization to you? 

ML: The CACC is a committed and trustworthy partner, which is incredibly valuable. Beyond it’s network and professionalism, the commitment and openness from the overall CACC team has helped us think about how to best engage with the broader Philly community.

Muchas gracias to Martin for sharing his story with us!