A 1993 graduate in international relations and native of Bolivia, Sergio I. Flores said, “One of the best experiences of my life was to study at BYU and especially at the Kennedy Center; I made a bunch of international and local friends. I got an education that has helped me to get new ideas from the different topics and classes and from the experiences of other international and USA students in order to help my country for its development.”
After graduation, Flores returned to his country to work for the Ministry of Finance. “As advisor to the undersecretary of budget, I had the opportunity to apply what I had learned about international public policies, political science, and international trade (business),” he said. “They gave me the responsibility to coordinate an international economic trade agreement with Mexico in the area of goods and services. I also worked in the elaboration for the public budget for 1994 and1995.”
Two years later, he began work for the undersecretary of tax policy. “I was addressing fiscal reforms relative to the internal revenues, customs, and international agreements, in order to reduce the Bolivian deficit, increase the national revenues, and the global economy,” said Flores. “We were also working with international development organizations such as IDB, the UN, and World Bank, to get some financing for the reforms.”
This experience led to an opportunity with the United Nations in the Department of National Development, where he managed twelve projects for the economic and public finance sector. “I learned all the international procedures of the UN and IDB,” said Flores.
In 1997, Flores left to attend Texas A&M University to pursue an MBA. “After the MBA, I came back to Bolivia and got a post graduate in public strategy. And in December 2002, I completed a second MBA at the Catholic University of Bolivia. They have an agreement with Harvard University, therefore, I had access to the same material Harvard students do. I decided on this to exchange experience and to know the national reality of applying the USA education system,” Flores explained.
In the meantime, Flores had been working on a project of structural reform in international commerce. He faced the challenge of changing the Bolivian customs structure, international procedures, and international trades and agreements to increase revenues on imports.
Now he is back at the Ministry of Finance as a senior advisor and coordinator of international cooperative projects with the vice ministry of tax policy (formerly called the undersecretary). “We are now dealing with a new tax reform in order to have a better tax collection system. I am also coordinating negotiations with the IMF, in order to reduce the national deficit, and have external cooperation (financing), so the government can work in public investments,” said Flores. “Now my intention is to get into politics with a new technical and international vision. I want to help our economy from a higher position or at the embassy.
“International relations helped me to be a better professional with a global vision of how Bolivia can take advantage of other countries’ experiences, (i.e., reforms, both economic and social) and to have international experience in business trade and international commerce. I also learned how to negotiate with international organizations such as the UN, FMI, IDB, and WB.”