From sidewalks to skyscrapers – opening up to the possibilities in business
Written by Reina Adriano, Hult Global Ambassador and Masters in International Business Student Class of 2018.
In the Philippines, people do business on the sidewalks. Concrete pavements are where the transactions take place. I watch those who come and go–on one corner stands the mango peddler, and close by is the cigarette vendor. I know a man who wants to make a living from repairing things that are broken. He opts for a construction job instead, because repairing broken things doesn’t pay him enough to feed his family. So he’s out on the streets too, only he is covering manholes and fixing bridges.
Not all business happens on the sidewalks: there are people who sign contracts in coffee shops, and some who shake hands with others at their own desks. There are those who rarely see the pavement because their offices are found high up in skyscrapers. At times I tell myself, “I want to be like these people–to live like them, to work like they do.” Perhaps this impression of the business world is why I applied for a business program at Hult. I write about people who deal with day-to-day business, even more about the people who do it on the sidewalks. This I know: a lot more deals are sealed where lint and grime meet in the open.
My background is in everything but business, which means I must find a way to connect the dots to make sense of where I’m going.
Creating a path
My background is in everything but business, which means I must find a way to connect the dots to make sense of where I’m going. I need to create a path for myself in an industry where a lot of things are already happening, meaning that I could potentially get lost very easily. I finished my undergraduate degree in Math and Creating Writing; these are my sidewalks – an unusual combination, some people may say.
My father didn’t want to see his eldest daughter near the sidewalks. He suggested that I take my master’s degree while I am still young and unburdened by commitments. I think he was right. Every morning, I read reports about the stock market in my country and realize how one piece of news affects another. I write my analysis of the charts and numbers in a journal, pretending that business cases are stories with conflicts and that the manager is a protagonist in need of a resolution. When words do not make sense, I dive into numbers. I make remarks on the statistics of my country: how many people are homeless or unemployed, how many live with a business on the sidewalk.
I am beginning to understand that what may work in another country, may not work in mine.
Opening up to the possibilities
At Hult International Business School, I have the opportunity to exchange business ideas with people from different backgrounds and cultures. I hope that I can make solid and sincere connections with students from all over the world.
I am beginning to understand that what may work in one country, may not work in mine. I now know how important it is to try again after a failed first attempt and be open to possibilities. Often, the voice of one isn’t enough, and I know this all too well.
I am now miles away from the Philippines. But in every pitch I make, or with every person I shake the hand of, I always remember the sidewalks – those who run their businesses from them every day, along with those who want to but can’t. I cannot promise when I’ll do great things to help them. But for now, all I can do is this: immerse myself in the world of business, understand its language, and realize how the world poses challenges to different people—to those who are running their business on concrete pavements, and to the ones who are trying elsewhere.
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Reina Adriano is a Filipina studying for a Masters in International Business at Hult in Boston. Being a stock-trader, she plans to enter the world of finance after graduation but also hopes that she can still do something else: to write and to write about people, like she has always done. Visit her blog.