THE “CULTIVARSE” PETAL. INTERVIEW WITH DIANA SALGUERO
Tell us about yourself
My name is Diana Salguero, I am 23 years old and I have been working her for a year. Until a couple weeks ago I was working in post-harvest, on the quality control side working with process indicators.
I studied in the south, in my province Napo, and then I did high school in Tena. The last two years I was in the international baccalaureate program and then after graduation I was awarded a scholarship to study agronomy.
What got you interested in agronomy?
I like a job that gives back and that can take me back to the countryside. Initially I considered studying environmental biotechnology because I enjoy nature, I like working with plants and everything that is the countryside. I was getting ready to studio biotechnology, within the fields that I knew of it was the one that caught my attention the most and all of the sudden from one moment to another an opportunity presented itself. I lived in the countryside until I was 8 years old, this is why I was always drawn to the countryside. Even though in my community environment it’s not that a career in agronomy is something that stands out. I suppose that here it is similar; there the careers that stand out are law, medicine and so on.
My school called me and said they have an option for a scholarship to study in Costa Rica, to study agronomy and that I had one week to get my documents ready to submit them. First I asked myself if I wanted to study this subject, which is when I did some research on the topic and the university to see what the atmosphere was like. I wanted to know what I was going to find, which is quite difficult to do at a distance.
Around the middle of September I received an email from Earth University admission informing me that I had been selected to continue to process and that I must go to Quito for an interview. Initially I could not believe it, but I began preparing and learning the evaluation procedure so I would be ready. Finally, I went to take the exam and do the interview which went really well. I have to wait 3 months until I finally received an email letting me know I had been accepted along with another 9 Ecuadorian students.
I was super excited to be able to go study abroad and on top of that to study agronomy because it was more likely to take me to the fields more so than biotechnology. Now I just needed to convince my parents.
How did you convince your parents?
I basically never convince my mom, she said she did not want me to go. My dad on the other hand said he supported me, he was not in agreement but none-the-less he supported me. They purchased my plane ticket because the scholarship did not cover it that cost and with a partial yes from my dad I went ahead. I finally arrived in Costa Rica in January of 2012 and that was how I entered the world of agronomy.
Now that you completed the process, what do you parents think of the fact you are working here in floriculture? Do they still feel that you left the country?
Seeing the completed process left them very pleased because they appreciate the accomplishment, but when I mention that I want to continue studying law just to know about it and not to practice, my dad congratulated me. He said that is a career that will finally take you to the city, I explained that I did not plan to practice, only that I wanted to learn about the laws of my country in my free time, not more than that. Then his disposition was less cheerful and said that because I already had an education I could pay for this pursuit out of my own funds, but I always feel from my father that discouragement that I did not pursue a career that would take me to the city.
Why the aspiration for the city?
Because they are from the countryside, all my siblings where born and raised in the countryside. So my family views the countryside as a place where you work just for sustenance. They do not think you can make money in the countryside to live a better life and it is one of the goals I have with my family. To show them that in the countryside you can make money for your family, not only for yourself, but also for others by creating job opportunities which generates social impact. It goes beyond a career. Law, not to undervalue it, but I feel like it is a career where you work for yourself.
Tell us about the work you do at Florsani. What do you want to do with you role here at the company?
At the moment I am in a period of transition.
Prior to the change, I began my day by reviewing the indicators. These are useful to consolidate the information about the flowers, then you save it all in a file so to sales department can do their job. When there were areas with trouble I would analyze, correct and suggest changes so we could avoid further errors.
I am in the process of training another person to do my previous job while I am working in the area of fertilization, irrigation and composting. These new areas delight me. Even though I was in post-harvest for a year, where I learned a lot, especially about the closeness and commitment we must have with the work environment.
Working in a closed environment is totally different than being out in the field, where even ones emotions dissipate quicker. In the fields I will be with a much smaller group than I was in post-harvest. This will allow me to focus on the technical aspects in more detail.
On the other hand, composting is an area that I am passionate about because it is not only applicable on the farm, but also at home. Knowledge about what to do with your scraps and how to better manage these to reduce the impact we have on the environment.
What are you motivations (in daily life and about the future)
My motivation in the short term, here at the company, is to so the results that come out of my work here in our work environment. When I do not see results I get discouraged and I lose my way, but when I see results I feel motivated.
What motivates me in the long term and constantly is my family. To go back to the countryside, make it productive and to show my parents that the career I choose was not the wrong choice. It is not something that will keep me living at a subsistence level like they still view it, which is my long term motivation.
How do you feel like the company is supporting your motivation or your dreams?
When they interviewed me, the production manager and the general manager (current owner), they asked me where I saw myself in 5 years. My answer without a doubt was as the owner of my own company and they showed me their support. Unlike the idea that “we are investing in a person and in 5 years she plans to leave”, instead they showed their support by many me feel like that motivation for growth was a plus. Having the goal of having a small company, medium or large, what matter is that the individual have a vision of the future.
I cannot say I see if they are directly supporting my dreams, but the fact that that was their answer and that I am here working, I see it as their continued support. I am not necessarily going to produce flowers, but I am learning to work with others, to manage resources and how to be more efficient. For me, since I began here, that is how they have directly been supportive of what I want to do in the future.
How do you believe that the yoga you practice at the farm has impacted your life and made you a better leader for your team?
I have a temperament, that through the yoga I have been able to manage it little by little. Before coming here I practiced, meditated and also did the more physical aspects than what we do here. The fact we have a yoga studio, has made me see my weaknesses and one of those is my temperament.
Through the yoga I have been able to directly work on my weakness, my temperament. Sometimes instead of being active, I can become out-of-control and I become reactive, which I do not like and that is why I work on this aspect of myself every day.
Finally, tell us as the petal of “grown” is present in your work and personal life?
Florsani taught me about something simple but difficult to do for everyone, and that is to not sit still. It’s important to keep moving and searching new activities to do because is very easy to fall into a comfort zone and think that everything you are doing is ok, when you can always do better. This an aspect of myself that I’m changing since I started working here, I believe I’m growing.
When I think about what else can I do, besides of what I’m already doing, I notice that it doesn’t need to be related only with my work or career if it involves a proactive action that gets me out of my comfort zone. A personal example would be when I moved to Quito I stopped running. Although it was something I’m passionate about and did every day when I lived in Malchingui. After a month, I forced myself to do it and remember what I have learned at work, and that is that every start is hard at the beginning because it’s not easy and everything that has a reward at the end, requires effort.
That is a change that Florsani did in me. Now I realize when I’m staying in a comfort zone, that effort is required to take new challenges that allow me to keep moving forward.