By Grace Austin
Learning the latest work performance skills and incorporating them into one’s business life can be difficult in the best of circumstances, but can be even more challenging for those who are not native English speakers. Train! specializes in skills development training and coaching negotiation techniques to Spanish speakers at many of the leading companies across the U.S. and Mexico, including Bank of America, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, DHL, BASF, Nestlé and DuPont. Rafael González Montes de Oca, the company’s founder and CEO, presents workshops at companies to provide the Spanish-speaking employees with knowledge that will allow them to improve their professional development, both in management abilities and in relation with others.
Train! began as an initiative by de Oca nearly seven years ago. From working at large corporations, de Oca realized that the only way to truly be innovative was by becoming an entrepreneur and creating his own organization. Watching the markets closely and listening to clients has been the cornerstone of Train! Headquartered in Mexico City, Mexico, the organization now has six employees. Improving negotiation skills and leadership/team building among clients has become the main focus of the organization.
“We are always researching and developing solid content. [The content] is not only inspiring, but [offers] high levels of [knowledge]. We combine that with a style that is very interactive and exciting for participants,” related de Oca.
Traditional learning styles are passed over for newer ways that allow clients to have fun and apply their skills immediately.
“We have been able to grow due to our unique product and that we think in a different way. Clients notice that and they value that. We are always creating new materials and resources for our clients.”
Indeed, training materials change every week. New research and information are constantly being replaced. De Oca says participants are often surprised when they notice that material has been updated since the week before. This is no small feat for a field that is notorious for lack of originality and “fun.”
Being of Hispanic origin and a native Spanish speaker, de Oca has found that these qualities have helped him and Train! not only succeed but stand out. Making participants comfortable through cultural identification with employees has been a key to Train!’s success. De Oca, though, is apt to point out that these qualities are only a means to achieving a desired outcome.
“Speaking in Spanish and sharing the [same] way of interacting is just a resource to get to that objective,” said de Oca.
Although there have been financial difficulties from the global economy, using innovative and up-to-date materials has been a way for de Oca to combat any challenges to Train! and its growth. Role playing and exercises are an integral part of this. De Oca also uses scenes from popular movies to help bring the typical boring video resources into the twenty-first century.
“We take parts from actual movies. We show Angelina Jolie, Jack Bauer from 24, and Sandra Bullock. That is more appealing to them,” said de Oca. “They learn more than from a twenty-minute classic movie.”
Partnership with California Chamber of Commerce
Train! has recently partnered with the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce by providing professional development training resources typically only available to Fortune 500 companies to small Latino-owned businesses. The goal of the partnership is to help many of the underserved Hispanic business segments in California to grow by providing Spanish-language video tutorials, articles, and other professional development resources.
“These opportunities have been quite successful. They have given me the chance to notice that the [Hispanic population in the U.S.] is underserved. We are growing to provide resources for these businesses,” said de Oca.
Improving content on the web, as well as participating in Commerce events and meetings are both ways that Train! is attempting to better improve the partnership. De Oca hopes to use seminars as a way to reach out to a larger group of Hispanic entrepreneurs in California.
Although the partnership is less than a year old, de Oca hopes to continue its growth.
“We are convinced that everything we have to offer does make a difference. There are many things that one has to do if one is a company, particularly a small company. Sometimes [small businesses] do not realize these skills of negotiation do make an impact,” said de Oca. “They find better results. We think we can be a great help to these businesses.”