BFP: What do you do?
LMSO: OMJ at the IDB was created in 2007 with the exclusive mandate of financing business models that serve the base of the pyramid in Latin America and the Caribbean. OMJ is the only operational unit at a multilateral development bank that supports market-based solutions to poverty. Since I started working at OMJ at the IDB I’ve been in charge of communications, outreach, technical cooperation or grants, and more recently I’ve become a part of the team that’s developing the knowledge production strategy.
BFP: What is the best part about your job?
LMSO: There are several things that I love about working at OMJ. OMJ is not only contributing to scale and expand business models that provide goods and services to underserved populations in Latin America and the Caribbean, but it’s also a pioneer in the field. It’s exciting to work at a place that has become a benchmark and a thought leader for others interested in low-income markets. Additionally, because we’re such a young crowd and we’re all close, working with colleagues at OMJ feels like working with friends.
BFP: What have been your greatest challenges?
LMSO: Among the challenges of working at the IDB is the process of understanding how a large institution like this works. It’s an ‘art’ to understand the Bank’s procedures, the hierarchies, the systems, the thousand acronyms, as well as—and probably most importantly—the internal social codes. Though challenging it’s definitely something that changes with time.
BFP: How have you overcome these challenges? / What advice, would you give to others?
LMSO: The only antidote to overcome this challenge is patience and good judgement. It’s very important to observe and learn. In general, I believe these two characteristics plus persistence are keys to success in this and any other field.
BFP: If someone wants to do what you do, where should they start?
LMSO: I studied political sciences and law. Then I did a Master of Public Administration. In one way or another I always liked and worked in public policy, communications, and outreach. I did a master to gain analytical skills and knowledge in economics. Even though I believe your academic background helps, there is not a unique recipe to build a career in development. I’ve seen a lot of successful people changing careers. The key is to network, network, and network.
BFP: Finally; what do you hope to get out of being part of the BFP community?
LMSO: I’ve already gotten out a lot of the BFP community. I’ve not only been able to promote OMJ’s content on the BFP website, but also I feel I belong to a global community that will help me stay connected to peers working in my field outside DC.
Thank you to Lina Maria Salazar Ortegon for taking the time to do this interview.
Read previous Member of the Week interviews here.