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Maria Margarita Maldonado from Bogota, Colombia

Marketing Manager Colombia & Peru at Facebook

Facebook is changing the way people are used to doing advertising.

Persistence pays: landing the dream job in Latin America

As a teenager in Colombia, Maria Margarita Maldonado dreamt of studying in Australia and working for a multinational company.

Now she’s doing just that. As Facebook’s marketing manager in Colombia and Peru, Maria develops strategies to educate businesses about the platform. She has even met Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and billionaire.

“I love waking up and knowing that I work in a company where the mission is ‘Bring the world closer together’,” she says.

Maria first came to Australia on holiday as a 15-year-old. She returned to study a Bachelor of Business majoring in marketing and finance at UTS in 2005 when her uncle invited her to live with his family in Sydney.

While Maria spoke English well, she wasn’t confident she had enough vocabulary to tackle academic writing, so she enrolled at UTS Insearch where she liked the small classes.

“I didn’t know how I was going to fit in, but because I was surrounded by people from all around the world that were in my same situation it made it easier. I didn’t feel like I was out of place,” she says.

Living in Sydney helped. “That’s the beauty of being in a context that surrounds you in the English language because you get used to it,” she says.

After she graduated, Maria found her first job at a digital marketing agency and another role as campaign manager at Microsoft. Her clients included Clinique, Coca Cola, Paramount Pictures, American Express and Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

Her next role was as a marketing manager for Regus, a multinational office-sharing company where she gained business-to-business (B2B) marketing experience.

After nine years away from home, she returned to Colombia but struggled to find the right job. "Every company would tell me that I was overqualified, that I was too young for all the things that I did,” she says.

I believe Facebook valued my international experience and digital marketing expertise; skills they wanted to bring to Latin America,” she says, adding that Australia is ahead technologically in so many ways and digital marketing is well developed.

Having lived in two distinct cultures, Maria says she can see both more objectively.

“People in Australia are very upfront,” she says. “If you don’t like something you’ll tell me. And for me that’s okay, seriously, that’s fine. But in Latin America, it’s not like that. So you need to be careful what you say and what you don’t say.”

Her current role is developing marketing strategies to educate businesses to use Facebook. “Facebook is changing the way people are used to doing advertising,” she says.

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