John Clayton
Director of Operations, Mexico
Arista Technologies
/
Expert Contributor

Mexico: The British Perspective

By John Clayton | Wed, 09/08/2021 - 13:21

You’re crazy. It’s mad. You don’t speak Spanish. That’s brave. You’ll love the food. Those were some of the words that were said to me when I first told my family and friends in 2019 that I was embarking on a new life, living and working in Mexico City.

With a little apprehension, I was stepping into the unknown, starting a new career. I didn’t know anyone. Well, okay, my girlfriend is Mexican and I was meeting her at the airport, so I had some idea and wasn’t completely stepping into the unknown but I had very little knowledge of Mexico and the way of life and business.

Stepping off the plane, wondering what it was really going to be like, I was more excited than nervous. I was determined to make it happen in Mexico, no matter what I was up against.

My first real experience of Mexico, was traveling to Queretaro, and I was blown away by the vibrancy, the energy of the place, the amazing people, and the amazing food, especially my first taste of chilaquiles, which I’ll never forget.

What really jumped out at me, was opportunity staring me straight in my face. For me, this was exciting because in the back of my mind, I wasn't totally sure. But I was in for a big surprise when it came to business life in Mexico.

Having started work in the Polanco area, my first experience in Mexico City blew me away. The size of the city, having come from a small city in the UK, took a bit of getting used to as I walked around, not speaking the local language. While it's important to learn to speak Spanish, people were extremely helpful and willing to help me with communication. What really stood out was the warmth and friendliness of the people. I always say that people make places and people in Mexico are simply fantastic, with a genuine eagerness to know who you are and to interact with you, which is a rarity in the UK.

When I first started working in the big city, the words that come to mind to describe the place are awe-inspiring and sleeping giant. Corporately speaking, it’s phenomenal, with even greater potential and overall growth, given the vast natural recourses, in gas and oil, food manufacturing, and people’s eagerness and willingness to do business. Whether in the boardroom with CEOs or the lady on the street selling bread, tacos and drinks, it's just a great place to do business.

The openness and enthusiasm to listen to ideas and business proposals in Mexico is contagious, with a sense of positive energy surrounding the place. The creativity and entrepreneurship are and will be the driving force for future growth in Mexico, one that really excites me. Mexico has the potential to be a real powerhouse across the world.

What makes me optimistic about this fabulous country is the big hearts that people have, the resilience in challenging times, whereby Mexican history has continually proven that the people always bounce back from adversity.

When I walk around, visiting places, speaking to people, it's clear to see that Mexicans are very proud of their country, and so they should be.

There’s a sense of evolutionary change in Mexico. We are now living in a more globalized world and I believe this is helping Mexico grow, economically speaking and with tourism rising. Places like Queretaro, with its beauty and increase in commercial growth, León, with its magnificent manufacturing of products, such as leather and footwear, San Miguel de Allende, which is an incredible place to live, with its art and restaurants, Oaxaca, with its glorious natural beauty, and of course, the food, and Cancun for its growing popularity as a holiday destination, where I heard it could be the next Dubai. And I know I’ve only scratched the surface. With this in mind, I predict a huge increase in overall growth and success with a very bright future.

Mexico, however is not without its challenges. Politically speaking, yes, the country is divided, but name me a country that isn’t. This happens to all countries all the time and will continue to do so. My answer to that is that we mustn’t be blinded by it and have in mind the bigger picture and with a creative, enthusiastic, winning mindset. With this, we will always prevail and the Mexican people must have this in mind all the time because individual destiny must be in each other's own hands and can only happen with a positive attitude and the right education in order to continue to strive for continued growth and success.

Improving the wealth and education gap would also be a huge benefit for the country. If wealth and education were more balanced, it would ensure more long-term sustainability for the country. This, I feel would dramatically improve society overall in wealth, health, education, spreading the opportunity to people who want to succeed, thus creating even more growth longer term. With this, strong, correct leadership should be at the forefront of the political leaders.

On balance, I’m loving my time in Mexico. It’s a special place. An exciting place. One where there are extraordinary opportunities if you are willing to work hard and build relationships with people. The Mexican people will welcome you with open arms.

On a final point. It’s also my opinion that there are things that you can do in Mexico, within a business context, that you couldn’t do elsewhere. Whenever I hear the phrase “emerging economy,” I raise a smile because to me that means massive opportunity in disguise. This makes me feel lucky to be a part of Mexico and I want to continue to be a part of its success.

Photo by:   John Clayton

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