By Heather Blahnik (Madison ’96, US ’98 AI ’99)
Martin Alvarez (LSU ’92), Executive Director Multi Country Latin America and General Manager Panama Service Center for Dell, understands the challenges of growing a business and how AIESEC can be a big part of that. Responsible for 40 business units from Canada to Argentina, Martin has grown the office of Dell in Panama from 1500 employees 6 years ago to over 2500 employees today. Finding good talent to fill those roles has been a key to success.
From his AIESEC experience at LSU as LCP and as VP External Relations on the US National Staff, Martin knows the kind of talent that exists in AIESEC. When he arrived in Panama 6 years ago, he engaged with the AIESEC team there and helped them to polish their sale pitch. Then he brought together senior leaders from Dell and other corporations, helping the AIESEC team present the organization and its advantages. A few of those leaders said, “This sounds interesting. Let’s try it.” Trainees were then placed in a few teams within finance and marketing in Dell and from there trainees spread from one area to another.
Dell in Panama has taken 30 trainees over the last 3 years, with 10-12 trainees working at the company at any given time. All of those trainees have had year-long assignments and most have been extended to 1 ½ years. Most trainees have come from Latin America (Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela), but they have also come from other countries such as the US, Germany, Poland and Latvia. Dell is now trying to focus on hiring trainees from countries in Latin America, where they can be re-hired back in their home countries when they finish their traineeships in Panama.
Since the first trainee arrived 5 years ago, 5 have become full-time hires: 3 in Panama, 1 in the US and another in Brazil. What is the benefit that business managers see in AIESEC trainees? Managers have been very pleased with the high skill set of AIESEC trainees, which provides them with proactive, enthusiastic talent to help with project work load. AIESEC trainees turn out to be cost effective for the impact they provide, give needed flexibility to the businesses as they do not factored in as direct headcount, and AIESEC truly facilitates the process of acquiring this international talent.
Dan Vial, Sr. Finance Manager at Dell, says of AIESEC:
“I believe it’s a perfect exchange and benefit to both Dell and the Intern by providing multinational corporate experience and receiving support in the different functions with differentiated talent. Many of these talents have been and are future potential to continue as part of the Dell team.”
Trainees in Dell have also been extremely happy with their experiences. Christian Kwiers, a trainee in Dell Panama in S&P, said of his time as a trainee:
“What amazed me the most about working at Dell has been the high level of empowerment given to the employees. At AIESEC, we are taught to be proactive, to be critical, and to always look forward to improve how things are done, and Dell is a great school to put all this in practice.”
Martin has not only introduced AIESEC into Dell, he has also helped to build AIESEC in Panama. When Martin first arrived in Panama, the country had 1 local committee, raised around 5 traineeships a year and had no formal Board of Advisors. He helped them build a strong Board of Advisors and the country now raises well over 60 corporate traineeships a year and boasts 3 full local committees. Martin has also ensured that Dell sponsor many conferences and events in the country, providing funds, in-kind transport, and Dell equipment.
Nominated and selected as an AIESEC International Alumni Entrepreneurship Award Recipient in 2009, Martin now serves on the Board of Directors of AIESEC countries in Southern Central America as well as on the Board of Advisors of AIESEC in Panama. He says of his AIESEC years:
“I honestly believe that if it were not for my AIESEC experience, I would not be who and where I am today. I gained personal development and global vision. It opened my eyes to the world, work ethic, professionalism, teamwork, leadership, confidence, adaptability, and the desire to impact others in a positive manner.”
If you would like to learn more about the relationship between AIESEC and Dell, or ask Martin any questions, you can contact him at Martin_Alvarez@dell.com.
If you think that you may be able to take a trainee in your team or company, you can fill out a form and a member of AIESEC US will be in contact with you shortly.