From Political Asylee to Art Director
Art Director, Oscar, shares his career and life experiences that brought him from Honduras to CBRE.
January 28, 2022 3 Minute Read
Tell us how your journey led you to CBRE
Prior to my career at CBRE, I worked for a number of advertising agencies in Honduras, where I’m originally from. I came to this country in 2013 as a political asylee with $150. I had to flee due to political unrest, growing human rights violations, and my heavy involvement in LGBTQ activism in a very conservative society.
I began working as a graphic designer at 15, at my brother and sister’s business. From there, I worked for several advertising agencies in my country. I had to leave all that behind and basically start from scratch. It was a very rough time—I knew my trade, but I didn't have the connections and didn't know the environment. It was completely different—the culture, the language, the people...different expectations. There was A LOT of competition and it was extremely fast-paced.
How were you able to navigate a new culture? What worked to your advantage having previous experience at advertising agencies?
What played to my advantage is that with Honduran advertising agencies, you have to be a jack-of-all-trades. You have to be able to design the billboard, climb on a crane, and install it! You have to be able to design a campaign and come up with slogans and scripts for TV and radio. I've done it all. So I am very well-seasoned. When I got here, to the US, I was the new kid in town. The first opportunity I received was in a boutique agency and that's how I started.
What intrigued you to make the leap from a boutique agency to a global company?
When I got the opportunity to apply here, of course I jumped because CBRE is a juggernaut in the industry. I am an ambitious person and I do like to thrive; I like to succeed. The artist in me is always looking for validation. I thought it was a very good opportunity for me to do what I do best.
What did you notice once you became a CBRE insider?
When I got here, I discovered corporate is not bad after all. I saw an opportunity to keep on growing in an environment where It's fast-paced, but there's also a lot of civility in it. Advertising agencies can be rough!
The work here is very interesting. I've always been into architecture and interior design, so I gravitated to the artistic part. I saw I can marry these two things and still have fun with what I do. So that's how I ended up staying in real estate, which I NEVER envisioned, never in a million years!
You began your career being a part of a team and now, three and a half years later, you manage a team. Were there challenges that came with that?
Initially, there was some challenge in my mentality shifting from player to coach. I have worked with big teams before, but I was never the one in charge, so that was intimidating. That's the part where I learned the most from my Marketing Director, Johanna Clark-Wendt, because she knows everything that's going on around her. it's fascinating just to see her work.
Were you supported through those challenges?
I cannot stop singing praises about Johanna because she recognizes what I can do—even at times I didn’t know I could do them. She has always supported me in every way. That feeling of being supported, I try to absorb that in the player-coach mentality shift with my team.
You’re in New York City, what feeds your creative energy when you’re not working?
My friends and I went through the same experience as political asylees, so we're very tight. Whenever our schedules coincide, we love to go to museums. I LOVE opera! I'm always dragging my friends to the opera. The Met’s Fridays Under 40, I don’t just use it, I take FULL advantage of it!
That’s the thing I love about this city the most, all of that is available to take advantage of. I’m always trying to find these quirky experiences that I never would have imagined back in Honduras. That’s my outlet, my friends— and I'm very devoted to my family. Just like my career, that’s one of my legs.
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