Melanie Moore Carpenter '95, '98
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What is your edge (strength)?
Communicating. My business is based on communicating effectively via multiple languages and across different cultures. I am very fortunate to be fluent in other languages, as well as possessing the ability to recognize the nuances of each country in which I work.
What at Hofstra gave you your edge?
Playing Division I basketball with a very dynamic and diverse group of teammates for four years. I saw how my teammates’ motivations were unique, but yet each of us wanted to feel rewarded in some way. The team I’ve built at my company is no different, and I love to see spontaneous collaboration and teamwork.
In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
FUN! I had a great time and made some wonderful friends for life; namely my husband and teammates.
What was your major?
International business as an undergraduate and finance as a graduate student.What was your favorite class?
Anything taught by Professor Neelankavil. Aside from being brilliant, Professor Neelankavil was very nurturing, which was what I needed most at a time when I was maturing and selecting a career path.
What is your fondest memory of Hofstra?
Seeing my husband for the first time in the Student Center. It was love at first sight!
What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?
I provide investor relations services to Latin American companies. My clients are large corporations listed on the New York Stock Exchange and/or on their local exchanges. We assist them with all their financial-related communications to investors, analysts and the media. I had no idea this field existed when I began my job search. I simply answered an ad that called for skills in Spanish, writing and finance. Who knew it would be my exact calling!
Who in your field do you most admire?
My business partner, Maria Barona, who has transformed our work in Latin America into a valuable tool for companies to utilize. She never stops thinking of ways to improve our service offerings, and she motivates me to do the same instead of resting on our laurels.
What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing you learned there?
I was hired by Maria, who was then the director of Latin American Investor Relations at Thomson Financial, to do the same thing I do now. The distinction was the rigid corporate mindset that did not provide the flexibility that Latin America requires in terms of budgets and tailored services. I realized immediately that I could offer a better solution for my clients and luckily, they agreed!
What advice would you give current Hofstra students?
Stop and think about what your greatest strength is, and figure out a way to apply your talents in the world. I can remember telling my teachers in the third grade that I wanted to be “a liaison for Latin America” when I grew up. I don’t think I realized what I was even saying at the time, but I recognized that my language skills and travel experiences at that age were special. I have my mother, who was born in Ecuador to a French father and Spanish mother, to thank for that!
How do you balance work and life?
I am very fortunate to be my own boss. When Maria and I started the business eight years ago, we knew we would start having children someday and vowed to support each other to be the best working moms possible. I work from home a few days a week and have a great team to lean on when I’m on class mom duty! Other keys to success are my Blackberry, my supernanny, and my ever-improving organizational skills.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years, I’ll have two teenagers under my roof, so I envision myself e-mailing from somewhere in the bleachers or auditorium during a game or school play! I’d like my company to be present in new regions, while creating additional job opportunities around the globe.
What is the single most rewarding experience in your career thus far?
Ten years ago, I was asked to give a presentation on investor relations to the president of Argentina at the time, Fernando de la Rua, and he asked me to sit next to him at dinner. I was so young at the time, and it was at that moment that I realized machismo was dead and I could do anything I set my mind to!
Any advice to Hofstra students and graduates looking to start their own businesses?
Base your business on your strength and expertise. Prepare to work hard in the first year with little or no compensation, so having a nest egg or a generous spouse is a big plus! Write a business plan before you make any moves. It’s the best way to organize your ideas and uncover the factors that will doom you to fail, such as competition, worse case scenarios and financial planning.
What is the most rewarding part of founding your own business?
Hiring people! I have a wonderful team of people that actually enjoy what they do. Giving younger men and women the opportunity to come in and grow in their careers of choice is satisfying, but seeing them purchase homes and raise families with financial security is truly overwhelming.
Do you have a favorite quote or saying that has kept you motivated through the years?
“Don’t worry, be happy!” I could not survive if I was stressed and did not have a smile on my face, so I try every day to be a positive force for those around me.