"Learn and Self-Educate. Finance Is an Incredible Field, and Ever-Changing" - Derrek Space

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1. Tell us more about yourself and your life.

I was born in Dallas, Texas, and moved to Coral Gables, Florida, when I was
eight. I grew up in the Miami area, went to high school here and matriculated
from the University of Florida. After graduation, I was lucky enough to land a
job at Lehman Brothers, in NYC. 

Coincidentally enough, my first day of work was September 11, 2001, at 3 World Financial Center, connected to 1 World Trade Center. Walking through 1WTC that morning is incredibly eerie, looking back at everything that happened, and one day we will never forget. After Lehman Brothers, I worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers, PepsiCo, AIG, andAetna, just to name a few. 

Currently live in South Florida with my wife, Soledad, my two children, Sophie and Matthew, and Lulu, our [pug] dog. Love to read, play sports, and work on the business. I love to travel and have lived my entire life in the United States.

2. What led you into Finance and Business Strategy?

I always had a passion for numbers, and always loved the idea of ‘paving the
way’ for companies, i.e. Strategy. In today’s ever-changing economic
landscape (now so more than ever), strategy has become even more of a key
factor influencing business planning and long-term results. 

Talking about fundamentals, once you realize that the economic value for a company in nothing more than the gap between price and cost, it is therefore solely measured by sustained profitability, you realize how important strategy is for the panorama. 

On the flip side of that is finance, and my interest is driven by
‘painting the picture’ to tell the story. You know where you’ve been, the
numbers tell you that, but where you are going is driven by a myriad of
factors, many of which you can predict (and control) through understanding
the macro, and micro-environment of the business you are dealing with. 

I can go on and on, but I LOVE finance and LOVE strategic thinking.

3. What is that one cause you care deeply about and why?

Income equality. In the United States we have our own issues, like many other
countries, but the disparity between what men make compared to women, is
truly, outstanding. On any given level, the average woman’s wage is about
80% of what the male counterpart is. 

I have worked with some [female] absolute experts, super-knowledgeable and their level of insight is incredible.Is it fair that they, on average, are making 20% less than the opposite gender?

I know this is a fight that won’t end anytime soon, the same as social injustice.

4. If one wants to contribute and make a difference in the finance field, how can one do it?

Learn and self-educate. Finance is an incredible field, and ever-changing. The
great thing about finance is that it’s a cross-industry profession, and one that
you can adapt to moving from industry to industry, with the sole exception
that even though the numbers may be the same, the explanations,
terminology, and way the numbers are presented may be different.

But I can attest working in multiple industries, ranging from financial services, to
consulting at a Big 4, to consumer goods/products, to spirits, to
telecommunications, insurance and healthcare, I never lost a beat. Always
challenge yourself to learn more, and teach others, so they can learn from you
(from personal finance to corporate M&A, it’s all fascinating!)

5. Who is your role model and why?

My father. He instilled a work ethic in me at a very young age and always
expressed how difficult the world is and to always give 110% and exceed

Though these are timeless sayings, he was not wrong. To be as indispensable as possible, and to always have Plan B ready in case something goes sideways or not in the direction you’re expecting it to go. 

From growing up as a child, playing sports, supporting me in my good days and bad days,his love, care and demonstrating his love for me and what I did was something that I will always cherish.

6. What are some of challenges and roadblocks you have faced along your journey?

I have faced TONS of roadblocks, but self-reflection, and challenging your
thinking and rethinking how to do things differently has allowed me to not only
grow, but exceed my internal expectations and to break through barriers that
before I was unable to do. 

Example, when I was working at PricewaterhouseCoopers, I was working in internal finance and realized, that in order for me to become a partner, I had to get a CPA. At that time, I was not sure if I wanted to go that route and the opportunity to work in corporate finance at PepsiCo came up. 

Was that the right decision? Who knows, but it allowed me to pave the way into other areas of finance that allowed me to grow and prosper, ultimately, allowing me to build Consultgenix in 2018 after I left AIG spearheading the finance for the Latin America division and overseeing our credit card programs that we had with Mastercard, Visa and American Express (AIG undertook the risks associated with the credit card usage). 

So, if you don’t pivot, and rethink your long-term strategy, you will have a hard time knowing how to get there and the steps one needs to do to achieve that level of success.

7. Your opinion about the current situation of the Finance industry.

It’s ever-changing and evolving. With Artificial Intelligence coming in, a lot of
things have changed over the last five years. Many positions out there will
become redundant due to AI and robotics. As I stated, we need to continually
self-educate, learn, and adapt to our circumstances. 

I love finance and have apassion for what I do. Within finance, I have done so much, but there is still a ton of things I have not delved into, which also makes it so fascinating.

Between corporate finance, financial operations, personal finance, mergers
and acquisitions, understanding the foundations of how finance works
(balance sheet, income statement and statement of cash flows), there is just
soooooo much out there that we can learn from. 

With that said, the global finance landscape has shifted, and it is our job to shift with the landscape and not become pigeon-holed in the past. I am very excited to have chosen finance, and I am very eager to see how the future holds for us, knowing that we must adapt too.

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