Before moving to Ensenada in 1982 I was a management consultant to FORTUNE 500 multinational corporations in the U.S. , Canada and Latin America.
After ten years of this work, that kept me on the road 70% of the time, I realized, it was time to slow down. My career had a negative affect on two marriages. A twice divorced, burned out consultant I was. Tired and in need of a rest.
Unhappy with the changes in my beloved Oakland is an understatement. I grew tired of brandishing my weapon to scatter the drug addicts; who, for their cravings, created roaving bands of thieves, stealing everything left unprotected. I moved to Ensenada. After failing in my first attempt at doing business in Mexico I decided to do what all business failures do, and what I knew best – Consult!
Now, after years of providing legal and fiscal consulting to small foreign owned businesses in Mexico, I have renewed opportunites for my skills as an Organization Development Consultant.
In Mexico, most Personnel Services: Health benefits, Retirement, Severence pay, and Subsidized Housing are all paid by the employer (approximately 22% of salary) but administered and controlled by government agencies. The work culture of Mexico has never necessitated what we consider “standard” personnel practices found in large U.S. and Japanese firms: hiring criteria, written job descriptions, performance appraisals, earned pay raises, and “in house” training departments. Efficiencey was not seriously considered when workers were so inexpensive and you had “captured market” customers who would accept production delays and mas o menos quality of product.
All of this has changed with globaliazation and Mexico is embracing this change as quickly as they grasped the cell phone and the PC. If you are a Spanish speaking HRD professional and want international experience Mexico could be an alternative. Don’t, for a minute, think you are going to earn the kind of loot you make in the States-FORGET IT. If you want to enrich your life and learn more about your American culture Mexico needs your talent, but at peso prices.
If you are a Human Resources consultant you might hook yourself up with someone in Mexico who can open and exploit a fast growing market for you and your service.
We are now two very interdependent nations. Forced to cooperate in North America’s best interests to compete effectively in the global marketplace. I am encouraged that, for the first time, I am able to make a decent living at counseling foreign investors in Mexico. For fourteen years I have been diligent in my efforts to promote crossborder commerce. At times, I felt like quitting; considering the long hours worked which did not produce the income I had become accustomed to in the United States.
In any “fee for service” business it takes a good five years (on average) to develop a successful practice. So why did it take me fourteen years to see positive results? The answer, other than the fact that I’m slower than average, is that NAFTA has only had five years of successful implementation.
When I arrived in Ensenada, fourteen years ago, the only foreign investors I saw were retirees, whose biggest investment was a leased beach house. I made my living, in those early years, writing lease contracts and establishing an occasional bank trust for foreign ownership. The only foreign owned corporations I assisted were small “mom & pop” shops. Maquiladoras (foreign owned assembly plants) were only interested in Tijuana and I did not want to live in Tijuana. Nor did I want the long commute from Ensenada to Tijuana to work. I purposely chose to limit my income in order to maintain a saner lifestyle.
As mentioned earlier, in the Mid 1980’s, Mexico was still an isolated nation commercially. The largest corporations were owned by the government, along with the banks, the phone company, petroleum and the transportation industry. Mexico’s domestic market was protected by heavy import duty. This isolated economy and captive market created for Mexican owned companies the luxury of not having to concern themselves with modern business practices or, the most boring of subjects – efficiency.
All of that has changed. With the demands to compete globally a viable market now exists for consultants who can help Mexican organizations become more “results” oriented and customer friendly. On my monthly business trips to Mexico City, I am meeting fellow consultants with incredible frequency. This is a marked change from the past when I had to explain to fellow Mexican passengers what a consultant does and why it is important to hire folks from the “outside”.