Personal Assistant to Director of Content, Limkokwing University, 2009
Bachelor of Business (Hons) in Marketing
We at the Limkokwing International Dance Academy want to show that (dancing is) not only an activity to get involved in, it’s about relaxation, having fun, creativity, expression, and being adventurous.
06 August 2009
Setting Sights on the World
Written by Catalina Rembuyan
Born in Quito, Ecuador, Natalia Almeida’s first study abroad program happened when she was seventeen years old. Since then, Natalia has set her sights on the world, and her latest home and destination, Malaysia, is the latest chapter in her life. She speaks to Catalina Rembuyan on the challenges and growths that she has experienced in Malaysia as the assistant manager of Limkokwing University of Creative Technology’s International Dance Academy and her current role as Personal Assistant to Director of Content.
Natalia Almeida has always been certain about two things in her life. Firstly, she was always certain that she wanted to study business management and marketing, and secondly, she has always dreamed of going around the world and seeing as many cultures as possible.
“The first time I went out of my country to study was when I was seventeen and took part in an exchange program that allowed me to study in Texas, the United States,” said Natalia. “I really enjoyed the experience – it improved my fluency in the English language tremendously – and I discovered that I could learn so much by being outside of my home country.”
Limkokwing University is completely unlike any other place I’ve been in: here there are people coming from so many different places in the world, and I love it
As a student at Catholic University of Quito, Natalia would practice a simple principle to all of her expenses: she would work part-time, save some money, and travel. She spent as much time as she did as a student being on the road.
“The things you learn from the experience you get from travelling is something that cannot be replicated in any way,” said Natalia, “I learned so much just by being among and observing people in going about their ordinary daily lives.”
After graduation, Natalia worked at Deloitte in the finance and auditing department. Working there for two years, Natalia admitted that as good and secure as the job was for her, she had a deep-seated wish to be involved in marketing, her real field of interest.
“I like numbers, but not looking at them the entire day!” she said, laughing.
That was when Natalia decided to apply for the internship programs under the Association Internationale des Etudiants en Sciences Economiques et Commerciales, or AIESEC. Through AIESEC, Natalia was hooked up with Limkokwing University of Creative Technology in a country that she had not paid much attention to prior to this: Malaysia.
“When I first thought of going to Malaysia, I was prepared to be located in a small and under-developed country. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Malaysia is in fact a progressive country with a great amount of potential for economic, social, cultural and intellectual development,” she said.
Natalia said that she was first attracted to Limkokwing University because she was drawn to the idea of working in an institution that was entirely focused on improving the existing educational system globally. Starting in the Marketing Department of Limkokwing University was her biggest multicultural working experience. Natalia has been in Limkokwing University for seven months and she enjoys every moment here.
“This has been an important time for me to grow into the person that I’ve become and dream of becoming, and to make me recognize the fact that there is so much more that I want to learn and see and I’m very grateful to be here. Limkokwing University is completely unlike any other place I’ve been in: here there are people coming from so many different places in the world, and I love it.”
The biggest challenge I experience here is the cultural differences between Asians and Latin Americans. In Latin America, everyone dances! On the other hand, while in Malaysia I learned that we need to convince people to get them to dance, and to do this we get our students and instructors to do public performances.
At the Marketing Department, Natalia assisted in the networking with Latin American governments and was recently selected as a Limkokwing University ambassador and oversaw the process leading up to the signing of an agreement between the Venezuelan government and Limkokwing University. However, Natalia’s true test of her character and abilities lie with the Limkokwing Dance Academy, which she was managing together with her colleague, Laura.
At the Limkokwing Dance Academy, Natalia and Laura were given the full opportunities to make or break a project. “Professor Emeritus Tan Sri Dr. Lim Kok Wing told us to treat the Limkokwing Dance Academy as a business project of our own,” said Natalia.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity to learn because I am gaining the experience in handling and managing a business unit all on my own, without putting a single cent of financial investment in,” she said. “This is a learning experience that you simply cannot get in any other way.”
Together with Laura, Natalia worked on developing the entire structure of the Limkokwing Dance Academy from getting instructors to attracting students to dance to setting up the facilities and organizing promotional events and performances. “The biggest challenge I experience here is the cultural differences between Asians and Latin Americans,” she said.
“In Latin America, everyone dances! There is no problem in getting people to be attracted to dancing. On the other hand, while in Malaysia I learned that we need to convince people to get them to dance, and to do this we get our students and instructors to do public performances.”
Natalia says that her greatest achievement up to date would be the opening of the Limkokwing Dance Academy in the Kuala Lumpur Centre. To her, this was a sign that Limkokwing University and Professor Emeritus Tan Sri Dr. Lim Kok Wing have enough faith in the Limkokwing Dance Academy and its team to back them up in order to start a centre in Kuala Lumpur.
Apart from the opening of the Limkokwing Dance Academy in Kuala Lumpur Centre (Bukit Bintang), the dance team of the International Dance Academy has also received recognition from Latin American associations in Malaysia and in June participated in Latin American Festival organized by the Embassies of the different countries from that region. Besides, the Dance Academy just opened new classes in Likokwing University in Cambodia, which is the aim of the Academy: to spread the opportunity to dance to all the students in the different campuses of Limkokwing University. And now is happening!
Proud of her achievements and happy with the experience she is gaining from working in Limkokwing University, Natalia intends to stay on for another year in order to fully take advantage of all the opportunities available for her in Malaysia.
During performances, you will usually see people being very reserved, but as they continue watching the dancers, you will see how their faces light up with smiles as they open up to dancing as a way of self-expression
“My source of motivation is when I am able to spark the interest in dancing in others. During performances, you will usually see people being very reserved, but as they continue watching the dancers, you will see how their faces light up with smiles as they open up to dancing as a way of self-expression,” she said.“We at the Limkokwing International Dance Academy want to show that it’s not only an activity to get involved in, it’s about relaxation, having fun, creativity, expression, and being adventurous.”
Natalia confesses that her next step after that is not fixed in stone, but she hopes to get involved in projects related to culture and education. Upon her return to Ecuador, Natalia hopes to be able to offer a new perspective on education in the country.
“I love Ecuador, and when I return I intend to work on projects that will help to contribute to the improvement of the education of young people.”