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Consultants in Exotic Places

Nine trail-blazing Consultants representing Resources
around the globe.

  Use the links below to read more about these trail-blazing consultants.

Ada Lui Lam | Andrew Marchus | Hwajeong Cho | Jaap Krijgsman | Julius Gonzalez | Kitty Yeung | Maurice Mayberry | Peter Waaijer | Rafael del Coro

 

Ada Lui Lam

Ada Lui Lam

Joined Resources: 2005
Practice area: Finance & Accounting
Education: University of Technology, Sydney, B.S., Accounting
Certifications: CPA
Office: Hong Kong
Working in: Korea

 

Since August 2006, Ada Lam has worked with MetLife in Korea. As part of the company’s International Financial Framework Initiative project, she is assisting in implementing a global financial architecture based on a common platform with standard financial definitions, processes and applications. The project encompasses 15 countries on three continents, and Ada acts as the onsite Consultant for MetLife offices in the U.K., Belgium, Korea, India, Beijing and Shanghai.

 

I was born and raised in Hong Kong and had never been to Korea before this project. Seoul is a very clean city that feels like a mixture of Japan and China.

At first, the office – situated in the rather aged building – took me by surprise. MetLife offices in other cities where I’d worked are located in the most modern buildings. It didn't take me long to find out that this office is indeed located in the most expensive area of Seoul and is conveniently near all facilities. It’s right next to the subway and is in an area with more than 100 restaurants. Inside, the office environment is rather quiet. People speak very softly and phones are set to vibrate. Except for the occasional cell phone of foreign visitors, I rarely hear telephones ring.

Changdeokgung Palace in Seoul, South Korea

Changdeokgung Palace in Seoul, South Korea

When I’m working in Korea, I live at a hotel that is a 15-minute walk from the office. I shop in the mall next to the hotel and sometimes go downtown on weekends.

The Korean people are very warm and polite. They are helpful, friendly and quick to offer assistance. On more that one occasion, I’ve asked directions from a person who couldn't speak English, and he or she simply walked me to the place I wanted to go.

Korean and Chinese cultures have many similarities. I had assumed that only Chinese would celebrate Lunar New Year, and would record important dates like birthdays and festivals in a lunar calendar, so I was amazed when I first learned Koreans do the same. A lot of Korean words are “borrowed” from either Chinese or English. For example, coffee mug in Korean is kohee muge, computer is kon pu tor. Without any knowledge of the Korean language, I can understand the answer when I ask a shopkeeper Oi ma ye yor? (“How much is this?”) So far, that’s still only one of three Korean phrases I can manage, along with “thank you” and “good-bye.”

Click here to see Ada's Image Gallery.

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Andrew MarchusAndrew Marchus

Joined Resources: 2005
Practice area: Finance & Accounting
Education: Pepperdine University, B.S.,
Accounting
Certifications: CPA
Office: South Florida
Working in: Bahamas

 

Baha Mar – a 1,000-acre destination resort development in Nassau, Bahamas – called on Resources in August 2007 to help enhance its accounting software environment. Consultant Andy Marchus worked on the overhaul from August to December. Six months later, Baha Mar brought Andy to its main office in the Bahamas when its Vice President of Financial Reporting left the company. He has been engaged there ever since.

 

The client I’m working with is a resort and casino, so I stay in their hotel, which is in the same building as my office. My commute is an elevator ride. During extremely busy periods, I can go a whole week without stepping outside since my room, office, the restaurants and fitness center are all in the same main building.

The Baha Mar resort in Nassau, Bahamas

The Baha Mar resort in Nassau, Bahamas

Bahamians are quite knowledgeable of American culture and government. Many travel to Florida to shop at least once a year. Several of my co-workers attended American universities and have worked and lived there. The interest in President Obama’s inauguration seemed just as keen here as in the U.S., with everyone gathering around TVs to watch.  

The downtown area is quite small and very quaint, and some of the surrounding neighborhoods resemble Miami in terms of architecture and plant life.

My work schedule doesn’t allow much spare time to explore the island, although I have gone on some long-distance runs that have taken me into some interesting neighborhoods. There are a lot of stray dogs on the island, and I've had to outrun a few. One snapped at me and put a small tear in my running shorts.  

The office where I work is messy and unorganized with piles of boxes and papers everywhere. It’s very humid in the warmer months, but none of the locals seem to mind.  Of course, during the colder months, they are bundled up and I'm quite comfortable.

There’s a very laid-back attitude on the island. My colleagues are hardworking but with less of a sense of urgency than I'm used to. Typical accounting deadlines are, comparatively, pretty generous here and are often viewed more like “suggestions.” Then again, maybe these folks really get it and it's the American workforce that should change.

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Hwajeong ChoHwajeong Cho

Joined Resources: 2007
Practice area: Finance & Accounting
Education: Pensacola (Florida) Christian College, M.S., Educational Administration; B.S., Accounting
Certifications: CPA (U.S. certified)
Office: Tokyo
Working in: Korea

 

Hwajeong Cho was born and raised in Seoul, Korea. When she was 14, her family moved to Saipan, a small island in the Pacific. She worked in Guam for many years and longed to experience working in her homeland. When she saw a project opportunity with Resources in Korea, Hwajeong, who had been living abroad for 20 years, signed on. So far, she has worked with MasterCard Korea, Office Depot Korea, and Dassault Systems Korea.

 

I visited my family in Korea quite regularly, so I was familiar with Seoul. It was the work environment in the city that left an impression on me. All of my work experience prior to this had been in Guam, another small island in the Pacific, so working in a city like Seoul was quite exciting for me.

Pagoda view from hotel room

Pagoda view from hotel room

Korea is a place that’s both new and old. It is so rich with history and heritage. At the same time, it is booming with modern technology. I love the excitement in Seoul – a city of so many people.

My first project was in a tall building in the heart of the city. Right next to the building is Chung-Gye-Chun, a man-made river that used to be a road.

During that project, the local staff took two American clients and me to a formal sit-down restaurant. By “sit down,” I mean a real sit-down-on-the-floor restaurant. This is not uncommon in Korean restaurants. Although I’m a Korean national, even I had difficulty with the seating. The two American gentlemen finally resorted to stretching their legs out straight under the table, because they were going numb. We all laughed, and I could feel their pain!

The client’s staff, both U.S. and local, were very friendly and pleasant. The local staff took us to an ancient palace near the office and showed us around. It was nice to reconnect with my own heritage, which I had not had the chance to do for a long time.

I visited the countryside, called Choon-Chun, in one of the eastern provinces. I had always wanted to go there. It was springtime and very beautiful with all the flowers in full bloom.

I have a brother and sister who live in a suburb of Seoul. I stay at a hotel in the city during the week and visit my family on the weekends.

I am thankful to have been given the opportunity to experience new and exciting things while working. Not a lot of people can say that about their jobs.

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Jaap KrijgsmanJaap Krijgsman

Joined Resources: 2006
Practice area: Human Capital
Education: Business School Netherlands, MBA; HBO Den Haag, Labor Market Politics and Personnel Management
Office: Utrecht, Netherlands
Worked in: Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

 

For seven months, Jaap Krijgsman worked in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with Lamnalco Group, which operates a fleet of 95 vessels offering marine services for oil and gas companies around the world. The company – co-owned by Boskalis, a Dutch dredging company, and the Rezayet Group based in Saudi Arabia – operates offices in the Middle East, West Africa and Australia and has approximately 900 employees (150 on shore and 750 offshore). Jaap, who has more than 20 years of human resources experience in large, multinational companies, supervised a team tasked with projects that included recruitment at the director- and senior-management level, crewing for offshore positions, development of new compensation and benefits structures, and organizational redesign.

 

I worked at the Lamnalco office in Sharjah, one of the seven Emirates and a 25-km (15-mile) drive from Dubai city. The office is located at the Buhaira Corniche, a beautiful area with a lagoon and park surrounded by tall buildings.

The UAE is made up of 20 percent locals (Emirati) and 80 percent expats. Junior staffers – laborers, construction workers, etc. – are mainly from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Senior staffers are from Western Europe and the U.S. Newcomers must adapt to a variety of cultures.

Cornish Road in Sharjah. Jaap’s apartment is in the tallest building on the right.

Cornish Road in Sharjah. Jaap’s apartment is
in the tallest building on the right.

All I knew of the Emirates had come from stories told to me by my brother-in-law, who lived in Abu Dhabi for a couple of years. I bought some books about the Arab culture and Emirates history. I read them and used them during interviews with candidates from all over the world. Anyone coming to live and work in the UAE has to know the basics about such things as clothing, traffic, use of alcohol, etc. This was especially true in Sharjah – one of the most traditional emirates – where it is forbidden to drink alcohol, and almost all of the local women wear burkas.

Summer in the Emirates starts at the end of April and lasts until the end of October. The heat is often unbearable. Late July was the worst I’ve ever experienced with temperatures of 51º Celsius (124º Fahrenheit) during the day and 38º Celsius (100º Fahrenheit) at night. The only way to survive in July and August is to stay indoors with the A/C in overdrive.

At first, I worked weekends since there was so much to do. A weekend in the Emirates is Friday and Saturday, with Sunday being the first workday of the week. Since we dealt with offices in other parts of the world, it was easy to lose two work days a week, which I couldn’t afford.

Later, as things stabilized, I enjoyed free weekends and visited all the places I had heard of, including Palm Island, the Atlantis Hotel, Ski Dubai, the Burj Al Arab (the only seven-star hotel in the world) and the Burj Dubai (the largest building in the world). Dubai is unbelievable with huge shopping malls, lots of restaurants, bars and beautiful beaches. Construction is ongoing 24/7.

The traffic is something special, and so is the traffic jam. You must learn to drive the Arab way: blow your horn constantly, change lanes constantly, never give way to cars in front, and always tailgate or another car will get in front of you. Above all, try to avoid hitting another car. It took me a couple of days and some lessons from an Egyptian colleague to learn how to drive there.

I really enjoyed working in this wonderful part of the world. But what I enjoyed most was contributing to our client’s success. We finalized all of our projects and succeeded in finding a permanent human resources director.

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Julius Gonzalez

Joined Resources: 2005
Practice area: Finance & Accounting
Education: Columbia University, B.A., Economics; Harvard University, MBA
Office: South Florida
Worked in: Venezuela and Brazil

 

Julius Gonzalez is no stranger to foreign cultures. Almost all of his 35 years of work experience has been in international business, and for 12 of those years, he worked on overseas expatriate assignments. In Venezuela, Julius was Resources’ Team Lead for a 10-month engagement with the Global SOX team for General Motors-LAAM (Latin America Africa Middle East). He was responsible for documentation of financial controls, validation testing and remediation planning to support global compliance by several South American affiliates. He also spent nine months in São Paulo, Brazil as the Interim Controller with Interpublic Group, a large advertising agency based in New York City.

 

I have been to Venezuela almost every year since 1980 for both business and personal reasons – my wife is from this country. I have also traveled to Brazil on business almost every year since 1982 and lived there for three years as an expatriate employee for a drilling and oil field services company in the early 1980s.

Mountains in Venezuela

Mountains in Venezuela

To me, Venezuela was more difficult to adapt to than Brazil. I worked in Valencia, Venezuela, which is about 80 miles west of Caracas, the country’s capital. It’s a busy industrial city with lots of traffic, working-and middle-class families, and a reasonably good standard of living. The infrastructure – transportation, communications, and supply chain – in Venezuela is almost chaotic and everything is extremely expensive because the currency is overvalued. There is also constant political turmoil and labor difficulties. We had a team of five Resources Consultants supporting the effort, and it was difficult to overlook those issues over the long run because they affected our productivity and often necessitated long hours, persistence and support in order to deliver to the client. 

One time, another Consultant and I were caught in street labor demonstrations that had stopped traffic in all directions. Although we never felt threatened, we did have to sit in traffic for three hours.

I managed to do a little exploring on weekends – Venezuela has beautiful beaches about three hours from Valencia. The Venezuelans are also avid baseball fans, and I was able to watch the excellent winter-league games.

The Brazilian culture is more open and engaging. I worked in São Paulo, which is a very large, sophisticated metropolis of more than 18 million people. There is lots of business activity in São Paulo, and the whole city seems to revolve around business, business and more business. There are many good restaurants serving cuisines that reflect the international nature of the city and its inhabitants.

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Kitty YeungKitty Yeung

Joined Resources: 2005
Practice area: Finance & Accounting
Education: Curtin University of Technology, Australia, Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting); Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University, Australia, Master of Finance
Certifications: CPA and FCCA, Hong Kong
Office: Hong Kong
Working in: Kuala Lumpur

 

Consultant Kitty Yeung worked in Kuala Lumpur for CEVA Logistics, a leading global logistics company that provides supply chain management solutions. CEVA, formed in the 2007 merger of TNT Logistics and Eagle Global Logistics (EGL), employs more than 54,000 people in 1,000 locations in over 100 countries. EGL’s regional headquarters is in Hong Kong. Kitty’s responsibilities included reviewing financial statements and schedules for a local statutory audit.

 

I have been to Kuala Lumpur many times, for leisure and for work in a previous company. The CEVA office was in Petaling Jaya, the satellite city of Kuala Lumpur. It’s not a very populated area and mostly inhabited by Chinese, Malays and Indians. There are no high-rise buildings. It’s a very green place with lots of fresh air, although it can be hot and humid. The weather is funny. You can have a thunderstorm, dark sky and strong wind in the morning and sunshine with blue skies in the afternoon.

Kitty Yeung at Disneyland in Hong Kong

Kitty Yeung at Disneyland in Hong Kong

Our office, although not very modern, was quite spacious. The staff was made up of 50 percent Chinese (management level) and 50 percent Malaysians (junior level). The Chinese spoke Cantonese, my native language, and the Malays spoke English so I was able to communicate with both. However, I admit that the first few days, I had difficulty understanding their Cantonese as they use a lot of local slang. For instance, 落水 (falling water) means 下雨 (raining).

Malaysian cuisine is spicy and flavorful. I tried different food such as nasi lemak (rice cooked in coconut milk), satay, nyonya, onde onde (Malay dessert), curry fish head, fried kway teow (fried flat noodles with shrimp, egg and bean sprouts) and teh tarik (Malaysia tea).

On weekends, my colleagues and I went to Kuala Lumpur for shopping, walking around and visiting the night markets. Compared to Hong Kong, the cost of living in Malaysia is extremely low. Kuala Lumpur is a cosmopolitan city – overcrowded and with traffic jams like New York City and Hong Kong. It’s very different from the calm and environmentally green Petaling Jaya.

The local people are very nice, caring and warm hearted. One day, I had to work overtime. It was late by the time I was ready to leave the office and taxis don’t run after 8 p.m. A co-worker, who was kind enough to stay in the office and wait until I finished my work, drove me back to the hotel.   

Another time, I became sick at work and had to go back to my hotel. A hotel employee accompanied me to see a doctor and arranged a special meal for me. The hotel manager sent me a get-well card and flowers. I was very thankful for the hospitality and care shown to me.

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Maurice MayberryMaurice Mayberry

Joined Resources: 2007
Practice areas: Finance & Accounting and Information Management
Education: University of Florida, B.S., Business Administration; University of Chicago, MBA
Certification: CPA
Office: South Florida
Working in: Mexico

 

For nearly three years, Maurice Mayberry has commuted between his home in Boca Raton, Florida and Mexico City, Mexico, where he works as a Resources Consultant for MetLife, a $50 billion NYSE insurance company. Maurice – who has more than 10 years of experience in Big Four consulting and in managing financial, strategic planning, accounting and business operations for companies in a variety of industries – is leading a general ledger system implementation team. As part of the project, he is evaluating existing processes and procedures and recommending improvements.

 

Prior to this engagement, I had never been to Mexico City. It took some time to adjust, but I learned the customs and business culture with help from colleagues and friends.

Mexico City is a large, crowded place with beautiful parks and public buildings. It has a mild spring-like climate all year long. The biggest problems are air pollution and traffic.

Maurice Mayberry, far right, works with a team in Mexico City that includes Resources Consultant Angelo Pompeo, left; as well as MetLife employees, IT Associate Juan Alvarado (yellow shirt), IT Manager Juan Arroyo, International Finance Director Kathy Marx, and Finance Trainer Nicole Roth.

Maurice Mayberry, far right, works with a team in Mexico City that includes Resources Consultant Angelo Pompeo, left, as well as MetLife employees, IT Associate Juan Alvarado (yellow shirt), IT Manager Juan Arroyo, International Finance Director Kathy Marx, and Finance Trainer Nicole Roth.

The office where I work is in a modern building which is more advanced than most offices in the U.S. The people I work with are well educated and extremely professional.

Mexico is a country with a rich heritage. It’s been home to several sophisticated civilizations that date as far back in time as the ancient Egyptians. The local people are warm and friendly, except when behind the steering wheels of their cars on the streets and expressways.

The city is fascinating, and I enjoy exploring. There are 1,500-year-old pyramids in Teotihuacan, Aztec ruins at the main square downtown, a wonderful Anthropology museum and dozens of neighborhoods all with their own unique character.

A memorable moment was climbing the Pyramid of the Sun, built by the Teotihuacans, which is located about an hour north of Mexico City. I also walked in the ruins of their city, which was home to 250,000 people when it was mysteriously abandoned in the 800s AD. At that time, it was one of the largest cities on the planet, and today Mexico City, at about 25 million, is in the same position about 1,300 years later.

Mexican food is delicious, and I find it to be one of a few distinctive cuisines in the world. The country’s rich heritage is evident in its food as well. For example, corn tortillas, a key staple of the Mexican diet, were first used by the Aztecs 500 years ago, and the Mayans invented chocolate more than a thousand years ago.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in Mexico, and it has been both professionally and personally rewarding.

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Peter WaaijerPeter Waaijer

Joined Resources: 2008
Practice area: Finance & Accounting
Education: Erasmus University, Economics; Institut d’Administration d’Entreprise, Aix-en-Provence, France
Office: Netherlands
Working in: Tanzania

 

Before joining Resources, Peter Waaijer had a long career with Shell International Oil Company and held a variety of positions in finance, general management and commercial responsibilities in The Netherlands, U.K., Dominican Republic, France and Germany. He also served as CFO for the global LPG business of Shell and was Business Services Manager of Shell Global Solutions, the Technology, Research and Development entity of the company. He is currently working for the Tanzanian subsidiary of a Canadian oil and gas company, which has found gas in the south of Tanzania, on the border of Mozambique. Peter is the acting Finance Director and is using his financial expertise to train the staff and develop a successor.

 

When I worked with Shell I traveled to many countries in Africa, including Senegal, Mali, Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroun, Djibouti and Nigeria. Between work and personal holidays, I have visited Africa many times.

I am currently working in the city of Dar Es Salaam, which has more than 4 million people, most living on less than $1 U.S. per day. By African standards it’s an organized city. The streets are clean, and people stop for traffic lights. Many “roads” are often dirt tracks that Western eyes might not recognize.

The screen-enclosed beach hut at the Saadani lodge where Peter and his wife, Ingrid, slept – until they thought they heard a lion!

The screen-enclosed beach hut at the Saadani lodge where Peter and his wife, Ingrid, slept – until they thought they heard a lion!

I am here with my wife, Ingrid. We have a nice apartment with a balcony that overlooks the coast and the Indian Ocean. I am learning to speak Swahili. Ingrid already speaks some conversational Swahili and works for a charity, teaching English three days a week. Her students are grandmothers who are caring for grandchildren whose parents died of AIDS – a big problem here. The charity is currently helping 19 grandmothers and 84 grandchildren.

Everyone I work with is dedicated, professional and sociable. When one of my staff got married recently, my wife and I were invited to the wedding. Although it was held in a Western-style hotel, it could have been in any rural village, with the traditional music, singing and dancing.

People here are a bit more laid back. If a meeting is scheduled to start at 10:00 a.m., don’t expect anyone to be there at that time. We usually eat lunch at the office and I’ve learned to eat with my hands, although beans and mashed vegetables are still a challenge.

My wife and I visited a safari park that was situated on a beautiful deserted beach. We took a river safari and saw amazing animals, including zebra, wildebeest, hippos, crocodiles, buffalo, eagles, deer and gazelle, to name a few.

At the lodge where we stayed, you can sleep in a screen-enclosed hut on the beach, which we opted to do. However, after a couple of hours, Ingrid thought she heard a lion, so we quickly moved inside!

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Rafael del CoroRafael del Coro

Joined Resources: 2006
Practice area: Finance & Accounting
Education: University of Puerto Rico, BS, Business Administration - Accounting
Office: South Florida
Working in: Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela

 

Consultant Rafael del Coro served as Project Team Lead for General Motors’ Global SOX team. Working from Venezuela, Rafael was responsible for managing an international team across multiple countries and led the teams through documentation and testing of key processes and controls through the company’s global finance organization. He also worked for Resources in South America as Controller for the Brazilian location of a leading manufacturer of cable and connectivity solutions for communication networks, and as Interim Controller for a $5 billion Brazilian metal mining subsidiary. Other engagements in South America include reviewing operational and financial processes and procedures for SOX compliance for four Brazilian manufacturing subsidiaries.

 

My experience in international finance and accounting enables me to make substantial contributions to Resources’ clients in South America. The fact that I was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico and I’m fluent in Portuguese, Spanish and English is another asset.

Maurice Mayberry, far right, works with a team in Mexico City that includes Resources Consultant Angelo Pompeo, left; as well as MetLife employees, IT Associate Juan Alvarado (yellow shirt), IT Manager Juan Arroyo, International Finance Director Kathy Marx, and Finance Trainer Nicole Roth.

SaoPaulo, Brazil

I’ve worked and lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina as a Finance Director for a major multinational company and also lived and worked in Porto Alegre, Brazil as Controller for the same company. I have been in Brazil and Argentina on numerous occasions and throughout most of South America. I know both countries so well that there is no adjustment to the culture when I’m on an engagement.

In my latest Resources engagements, I spent five months in Buenos Aires and five months in Sao Caetano. There are always new things to discover in South America.

People are very friendly, particularly in Brazil. Sao Paulo is a very industrial city. When I’m there, I enjoy going to see Tango shows. The dance always offers something new to experience.

Buenos Aires is a sophisticated city with exquisite architecture. It is often called the “Paris of the Americas.” The city has some of the most beautiful boulevards and avenues I’ve ever seen. There is also a very active nightlife and many cultural activities.

In both countries, it is worth mentioning that eating beef is second only to watching football [soccer]!Resources end carrot

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