"Something in me knew that my place was here".
Country of Origin: Argentina.
State of Residency: VIC. Favourite place in Australia: Lake Eildon, VIC. Upon arrival: Shocked to learn most people live in the outskirts (suburbs that are over 10KM away from the city!). In Buenos Aires, everyone lives in the city
By Trini Abascal
Laura is a driven and determined Argentinean woman. Her high performance and passion for education has landed her important roles within Australia’s leading publishing companies. Laura proves that in Australia, hard work and perseverance can be a rewarding experience. Her positivism and appreciation of the Australian way of life has seen her adapt into this country in a seamless manner.
Tell us Your Story
A while back I considered relocating to the USA; however, I unexpectedly fell in love with an Australian man and moved instead to Melbourne ten years ago. After the initial few months of finding my way around, reality kicked in and I felt quite isolated. I needed to work, so I looked for a sales and customer service role in IT. However, I was open to other opportunities as my priority was to get my foot in the door. I was lucky enough to be offered a role as a customer service representative at Computelec, an IT integrator that services the education sector. It was a junior role, but I wanted to gain experience and work my way up from there. Even though back in Argentina I was an experienced team leader, I knew that I could prove myself. Hard work, long hours and lots of love for what I was doing led me to change roles a number of times over my 7 years with this company.
As things were looking up professionally, my personal life was taking a hit. Splitting from my partner was not easy. Even though I could have packed my bags and move back to Argentina, something in me knew that my place was here. There was so much left for me to do and learn. I was lucky enough to have the support of my family, even dad visited to help me settle into a new house. I placed all my energies back into work and in 2009 I was promoted to national manager of a business unit.
When applying for my next role, I decided to be very strategic because I learned that you can only be truly successful if you enjoy what you are doing and where you are doing it. In 2013, I became Regional Sales Manager for a multinational publisher, Pearson. One year later, I was approached by Wiley to lead their secondary education business as National Sales Manager. I find managing a large team and being part of an innovative organisation is very rewarding, but it’s also very demanding. However, I feel very privileged to be part of an industry that changes people’s lives. Coming from a third world country I have seen first hand the difference that education makes. I also believe that surrounding yourself with passionate people lifts you up and brings out the best in you. As for my personal life, my new Australian partner is amazing, loving and supportive. He inspires me to be better every day.
Accent - At the start of my journey the language was a bit of an issue, even though I was a proficient English speaker getting used to the Australian accent took a while; particularly when trying to support customers over the phone from places such as far north QLD. They found my accent hard to understand and I was struggling to comprehend them as well. However, my accent proved to be an asset, as people would remember talking to me.
Family & friends - Not having family and old friends around is always hard, but I was determined to make it work. If I was to sacrifice not having them near, I had to take every social and professional opportunity, and be the best I could be.
Work-place environment - Prior to my time in publishing, working in IT was and interesting experience. Even though at Computelec I had female colleagues most customers and technology partners that I had to deal with were male. IT was boys club, so getting to be noticed was not a problem, but getting to be trusted required effort. I had to prove my ability and proficiency. However, this made me more resilient and determined.
Passion – I feel Latinos have a “fire in the belly” in the way we communicate. This passion engages with others and brings them along the journey with us.
Work-life balance - At the beginning I found Australia too laid back. I was in a hurry and no one seemed to understand why! However, as time went by I learnt to appreciate having a work-life balance. These days I really respect how important this is.
Supportive - Australians are fun and loving. The way they embrace other cultures is amazing. I was lucky enough to have great mentors professionally and great friends.
Piece of Advice
Enjoy the ride - Have pride in what you do, whether it’s something small or big, do it to the best of your ability. Celebrate the small wins as life is made of small moments. Remember to give yourself some leeway, mistakes are learning opportunities.
Step up - I have learnt that just working hard is not enough to succeed; you can’t trust that people will eventually notice you. You need to put your hand up for challenges and development opportunities. Most businesses are happy to pay for your development if they can see the return on their investment. As Richard Branson said “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!”
Are you ready? – It can be a great adventure, full of opportunities, if you are prepared to work hard for them. If you embrace diversity (and remember that being different is what makes you special and unique) you will have a blast in this incredible country. There are so many places to see and such beautiful people to meet. However, if you cannot conceive your life away from immediate family, this may not be the right move for you.
In the next few years...
Laura would love to continue to work in the education field, leaving an imprint in a business that helps change people’s lives. She also plans to continue to travel as she believes that discovering new cultures is rewarding and it reminds her how extremely lucky she is to live in a place like Australia. She would enjoy eventually retiring from the corporate life to work in a not-for-profit organization. If you wish to contact Laura email us at firstname.lastname@example.org