At age 27, ensconced in a comfortable job at Chevron, Guadalupe Antao Cortez took a leap of faith and quit to start her own business.
“I don’t regret it for a second,” says Cortez, who co-founded Sinergias Creativas, a human resources and communications consulting business, in her hometown of Buenos Aires in 2010.
Four years after that fateful decision, Cortez was the keynote speaker at the 2014 Enablis Benefit Gala in Toronto. Enablis is a Canadian non-profit dedicated to empowering and supporting early-stage entrepreneurs in developing countries. Barrick is a long-time supporter. The Benefit Gala, which was held November 6, showcased the growing impact that Enablis is having on entrepreneurs in Argentina.
Sinergias’ experience is representative of that impact. The company began working with Enablis in 2011 not long after Cortez attended a presentation on entrepreneurship by Enablis founder Charles Sirois. Since then, Enablis has provided Sinergias with critical guidance, support and advice, Cortez says. For example, when Sinergias began developing an important new software product, an Enablis coach provided guidance and technology training to Cortez that facilitated the product’s development. Through the process, and with the help of her coach, Cortez learned how to delegate more effectively and focus on the most critical aspects of the product’s development.
Enablis also connected Cortez with a veteran Canadian entrepreneur to serve as a mentor. Yanouk Poirier, Managing Partner at Leaders Co., an executive recruitment firm, has experienced many of the things that Cortez is going through and his perspective has been invaluable, she says. In addition, Cortez meets monthly with local entrepreneurs affiliated with Enablis. These “E-Circle” meetings allow her and her peers to talk about their experiences and challenges and share advice.
“It helps to know that you’re not alone,” Cortez says.
Cortez says that, like her father, she is not a natural born entrepreneur. In fact, her father’s experience was a catalyst in her decision to become an entrepreneur. A long-time employee at a multinational film production company, he was fired in 2001 when the company downsized. This convinced Cortez that job security, even when working for a large company, is often ephemeral. Nine years later, to the consternation of her father, she left her good-paying job at Chevron to open Sinergias. Today, Sinergias is a profitable business with 10 full-time employees and 70 clients.
Cortez’s advice to those considering the entrepreneurial path is to overcome their fear and take the risk.
“Don’t be afraid. There’s always a path forward.”
Interestingly, her 69-year-old father is heeding her advice, pursuing a small business initiative of his own selling broadcast equipment. Cortez is helping him develop a business plan.
“I like to think that maybe I inspired him,” she says.