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Fulbrighter Federico Moreno is helping grow technology-based businesses in Colombia

Federico Moreno Vasquez is a former Fulbright scholar. He studied technology management at the University of Minnesota, and had many memorable experiences while there. Today, he is a business consultant for his own entrepreneurial venture, one that provides professional advisory for small business based in his home country of Colombia.

“I can clearly remember the first time I held a heavy cellphone in my hand… or the first time I was able to browse a website when the internet first came to my city,” Fulbright scholar and recent graduate of the University of Minnesota, Federico Moreno Vasquez, recalls. “This caused such an impact on me that from early high school I was sure that I wanted to explore information technologies… I knew that the 21st century was going to be the Communications Century, and I wanted to be part of that boom.”

This desire to pursue a career in information technology was only solidified while taking classes in telecommunications engineering at the Universidad de Medellín in his home country of Colombia.

“I was very excited [about] all the interesting courses I could take to understand the science behind technology, the way technology operates, and how it improves people’s lives. I felt I was about to get into one of the most exotic and mysterious areas,” Vasquez explains. Unsurprisingly, four years’ worth of classes at the Universidad of Medellin was not enough to satisfy Vasquez; he wanted more. After graduating with a degree in telecommunications engineering, Vasquez decided to apply for a Fulbright scholarship administered by Laspau. He was soon accepted to the University of Minnesota to pursue a master’s of science in the management of technology. There, not only did Vasquez learn how to navigate the turbulence of today’s technology business world, gain leadership skills, and explore business strategies to increase the competitiveness of Colombian companies in the information technologies sector, but he also had the chance to take part in many of the remarkable opportunities available to the University’s students.

“It couldn’t be better for me: getting to know a genius of one of the most successful products in the world giving a lecture in product development and innovation in the heart of Minnesota.”

“During our visit to Singapore we went to BOEING,” Vasquez shares of his International Management of Technology class trip to south Asia to visit different public and private sector companies and agencies. “There, they had a Flight Services Office where they had flight simulators to train pilots on the southeast hub. It was a great experience to learn about their strategies of BOEING in Asia and their business strategies in Singapore.” Vasquez even had the opportunity to try a hand at one of the flight simulators.

“I was about to crash the plane I was driving when they were showing us the technology they use to train pilots,” Vasquez laughs. “I had never flown a plane before!”

However, an even more memorable experience for Vasquez was his opportunity to meet Dr. Arthur Fry, the creator of the 3M Post-IT note. “It couldn’t be better for me: getting to know a genius of one of the most successful products in the world giving a lecture in product development and innovation in the heart of Minnesota.”

While Vasquez loved his time at the University of Minnesota and the experiences he had while a student, he makes sure to emphasize that his academic opportunities are not solely for his self-improvement, but for the improvement of his country. “I believe that Colombia has a lot of potential to improve and technology deployment is an important pillar in that process. Colombia lacks professionals who are able to approach these opportunities, and I wanted to give it a try by studying a master’s degree abroad that could help me get specialized knowledge [to bring] back to Colombia,” Vasquez explains.

“I believe that Colombia has a lot of potential to improve and technology deployment is an important pillar in that process. Colombia lacks professionals who are able to approach these opportunities, and I wanted to give it a try by studying a master’s degree abroad that could help me get specialized knowledge [to bring] back to Colombia.”

Today, just a few months after graduation, Vasquez has returned to Colombia and is doing his part to help grow technology based businesses at home by working as a business consultant for his own entrepreneurial venture, one that provides professional advisory to micro businesses. “Make the most of EVERY single day in your experience abroad because later on you will value the importance of that experience for your professional, personal, and academic life,” Vasquez advises future Fulbright scholars. “Do not waste any day without doing something new, insightful or amazing. And more important, for each of those days when you will be learning incredible things and living amazing experiences, think about how you will be able to apply it in your home country when you return.”

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Laspau is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization affiliated with Harvard University. We focus on strengthening higher education in Latin America and the Caribbean.

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