Meet the Columbia MPA Student and Endeavor Chile Intern Aiming to Benefit Others

September 15, 2020

Columbia Master of Public Administration (MPA) student Luis Enrique Flórez Parodi spent his summer semester at the Chilean branch of Endeavor, the international organization that creates support systems for high-impact entrepreneurs with a global network of mentors and business leaders.

After two semesters at Columbia MPA, “where I delved into subjects of my interest and explored other unknown ones, my interest awakened in job creation, informality and entrepreneurial ecosystems as engines of economies,” he says. “This motivated me to do an internship at Endeavor Chile where we performed a study on the impact of scale-ups, or high-growth companies, on the country's economy and on the generation of jobs - the first such study in a decade.”

During his time at Endeavor, he had the opportunity to meet with the most relevant entrepreneurs in Chile “where each one left me with a vision, a lesson or an experience that I treasure as one of the best achievements of these months working on a team that was highly competitive, stimulating and welcoming,” he notes.

Flórez’s path to Endeavor, and to Columbia for that matter, is far from ordinary. He grew up in downtown Lima, Peru in the 1990s “in a neighborhood where social protests, informality and crime converged,” as he says, “but there was also a strong spirit of those who wanted to get ahead.”

His hard work and interest in math and science led him to study mechanical engineering at Peru’s Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería, then to land a job at the country’s largest engineering firm, Graña y Montero. At the same time, he started to volunteer at a social impact organization called Crea+, teaching children from vulnerable areas on Saturdays. “Being in real contact, and not just looking at statistics, gave me a first-hand view of my country’s terrible educational reality. It made me take a 180° turn in my objectives and goals. A few months after graduating, I quit my job as an engineer and at the call of a friend to design an educational project with private capital, I said yes.” Flórez helped to found the Maba project, an initiative looking to close the gaps in educational quality through technology use and training teachers in 21st century skills.

During his three years at Maba, he worked very closely with Peru’s Ministry of Education. “That contact brought me closer to the public sector and made me see how good policy or public reform can generate a relevant change in society,” he noted. From there he jumped head-first into the public sector, working at the Ministry of Economy and Finance’s Peruvian Private Investment Promotion Agency, in charge of the state’s public-private partnership (PPP) projects. It was during these last experiences that Flórez realized his passion for public policy and his desire to hone his skills at a renowned school of higher learning. He applied to Columbia’s MPA program and was accepted; after a year of school he began the internship at Endeavor.

Where to from here? “Now I am about to start the last year of the master's degree and I wonder which way I will have destiny point me to this time. I just know that wherever I go, I will seek to generate benefit for others,” he says.