Study Abroad Leads to Internationalizing the Finance World

Peruvian alumnus Eduardo Ormeno sets his sights on launching a finance app

The allure of Berkeley—and the California lifestyle—was strong with Eduardo Ormeno, starting when he was 12 years old during a family visit. Since then, studying at UC Berkeley was a goal that he would eventually fulfill.

After receiving a bachelor’s degree in management and international business from the Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas, he decided to take an English business course in Southern California.

“There, I shared an apartment with a Japanese student,” he recalls. “During our many lunches together, he told me about the possibility of studying and working as an intern in a one-year post-graduate program at UC Berkeley. I was quite interested, so we drove to Berkeley so I could get to know the university. I had a positive first impression. There were many opportunities that the university could offer me in a market as competitive and attractive as San Francisco.

“After learning about the requirements I had to meet, I returned home to Lima, Peru, and went straight to work. I submitted the requirements and was ready for my big move to the Bay Area by the end of 2017. That was a very joyful time for me!”

However, he did not think studying abroad would lead to him having an “entrepreneurial epiphany.”

Fast-forward four years, Eduardo is ready to execute his big business plans in the United Kingdom with hopes to expand to Asia one day. I had the opportunity to chat with Eduardo to hear all about what 2021 has in store for him.

Tell me about your professional experience before coming to Berkeley.

I had been working for about a year at Banco de Crédito del Peru, a top-ranking bank in Peru. I was mainly in charge of coordinating the property appraisals that the client would voluntarily deliver in order to pay off his or her debt. Additionally, I analyzed and performed market research for a correct comparison of the property value. The main purpose was to negotiate, manage and recover the bank’s claims, working in the most impartial and transparent way possible.

Why did you choose to study at Berkeley Global?

My desire to study with Berkeley Global was evident because of its excellent reputation, infrastructure and being known for hosting students from all over the world. I knew I would have many unique opportunities inside and outside the classroom, both socially and professionally.

For instance, the Bay Area has many networking events where you can meet amazing people in different fields. What I wanted most was to learn from top professors alongside top students in a competitive environment and experience a new challenge. I wanted to show that I was capable of achieving my goals in the United States. Berkeley is a gateway to an environment where you can meet people from different cultures where everyone respects each other's beliefs and different ways of thinking.

I knew Berkeley would meet all the requirements that I would need to grow both academically and professionally.

Tell me about your experience in the program.

It's a life-changing experience. I realized that each classmate was a representative of his or her home country. I never thought I would meet people from Laos, Taiwan, Lebanon, South Korea, Australia, Japan, Scotland, Portugal and more. Everybody was looking for new challenges. Although in a competitive environment, both inside and outside the classroom, we were all still close with healthy friendships and competitiveness. At Berkeley, they teach you new perspectives on fields you have not yet discovered, which involves plenty of research and debate in each class. In the long term, this gives you the opportunity to work on fields where constant innovation is required.

I also enjoyed the many interactions I had with both my professors and classmates throughout the year. Even outside of the classroom we bonded over some potlucks, welcome events and receptions where we shared meals and traditional drinks of each country.

Any favorite classes?

There were two courses that I really enjoyed. I had never studied project management before, and when I saw it in the curriculum it caught my attention straight away. With some luck, I was placed in Professor Joseph Mudd’s Project Cost and Procurement Management course. He was knowledgeable, had many great skills, expressed many unique ideas and was, above all, patient with his students. It helped me to understand the importance of managing resources and how to lead teams from a different perspective. There were some pillars that left their imprint on me such as the possibility that risks may arise during the execution of a project for a company and making changes to a business strategy.

Without project management skills, a team can be like a ship without a rudder, to move but without direction, control or purpose. Project management provides leadership skills, motivation, eliminating obstacles and establishing clear guidelines for the work team.

I also enjoyed my Business Negotiating class with Professor Brett Yokom. I remember the phrase that he once said to me: “We love negotiating every day of our lives,” and how right he was! Up until then, I didn't know concepts of negotiation such as “best alternative to a negotiated agreement” (BATNA), “zone of possible agreement” (ZOPA), reservation price and more. These concepts became very useful to me during my next three years living in California. I even used these skills when I negotiated my salary and agreement with my first full-time job in the U.S. I can say that I felt satisfied with my skills in negotiation while working for a large American corporation.

Both courses were and still are essential in my day-to-day life. I keep them very much top of mind. Undoubtedly, UC Berkeley made it possible for me to discover a new outlook in the business world.

Tell us about your professional work since completing the program.

After completing my eight months of study, I was able to participate in an internship. I was accepted at a data services company called Gracenote Nielsen Company where I had the opportunity to really test my knowledge. It was the first time I worked abroad and with people from different cultures. I focused on maintaining the product portfolio while collaborating with team members on task management. The internship program was a great way to gain experience while working in a different country!

That experience helped me take my next step into a full-time position. I was accepted as a relationship banker at Bank of America. I coordinated with Merrill Lynch on mortgage and auto loans rates for our clients. I focused on digitalization by transforming our business activity with technology in order to deliver a fully digital banking experience to our clients. During those three years, I enjoyed learning all about the California business market. Working in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley allowed me to understand new cultures, world issues and develop new ways of thinking. All of this has and will help me throughout my future career. 

Moving forward, I now have the opportunity to attend the University of Glasgow in the U.K. studying for my master’s degree while making efforts in developing a financial transaction–based idea. My goal is to process and develop software that allows users to store and share data to understand how they spend their money each month. I want the user to have a resource where they can practice better money habits in their daily routine. They will be able to track at which places they tend to spend their money. I also want to make it a simple and easy process for users to transfer money and pay bills to various accounts. I hope to recruit other students who are interested in this idea to work alongside me.

If all goes well, I will be able to present my idea and obtain a visa where I can stay and work full time on my business. I am excited for this next challenge and hope to fully set up my business in 2022. Thank you, UC Berkeley!

We’re thankful for you! And I’m sure our students would love to hear about what your top 5 things were to do in the Bay Area.

1. I had the chance to take aviation classes in the Bay Area! I enjoy traveling often and I wanted to feel the adrenaline of flying a plane for the first time. It was simply amazing!

2. Traveling by car throughout California was always fun. I particularly enjoyed driving around Big Sur with friends while appreciating the California coast and its beaches. Good music, talk, food, sunsets, photos and more!

3. I quite recommend skydiving! It is a great way to overcome your fears and learn how to handle pressure while getting a fantastic view from above. Once you are in the plane and thousands of feet above sea level, there is no turning back. You jump, or you jump!

4. I loved enjoying all that San Francisco had to offer. I particularly liked hiking, looking out at the Golden Gate Bridge, picnicking at Mission Dolores Park, going to an NBA Golden State Warriors game and working out at the piers. I would even attend different food events where you can taste dishes from all different countries.

5. Visiting the skyscraper buildings in San Francisco was fun because there are many restaurants at the top. My friends and I liked trying these different places and enjoying good wine. Also, there are headquarters for networking events at big companies where you can meet professionals from different areas.

What advice would you give to a student coming to study at Berkeley on how to best succeed?

At the beginning of 2020, I remember being invited to a "welcome week" event for the new students of that semester. The enthusiasm I saw in the students for living and enjoying Berkeley made me recall when I first began my studies.

I have found that being a part of a diverse cohort is important to having a quality experience. It allows you to meet people from different parts of the world and builds a bridge to more opportunities and challenges.

Personally, I would tell them to immerse themselves in a new lifestyle, have a positive attitude and be optimistic even through the bad days. All of this will strengthen your self-esteem and help you to believe in you. Not always will you be surrounded by friends; sometimes, you will be alone and you will discover new aspects of your personality. This will make you a stronger person, both mentally and emotionally. Try to keep your mind busy and continue to grow your network of contacts around the world.

Also, explore a new job and academic market. Globalization pushes people to continuously learn and grow daily. And, of course, make friends and have fun!