Flexibility, single parenting and independent consulting

January 13, 2017 Katy Roberts

For Belize-based Talmix consultant Paco Smith, the decision to move into independent consulting was born out of necessity and the desire for flexibility. As a single father, Paco was looking for a lifestyle that would allow him the opportunity to cut down on his daily commuting, develop his own skills, and devote the time he needed, to his then 7-year old daughter. 

“7 years ago, I decided to become an independent consultant. At the time, I was commuting to Belize’s capital city daily and working in the public sector, which was simply unable to provide me with the flexibility and time to balance my family life sufficiently”, he tells me.  But Paco is anything but married to only one niche or skill. Having a solid foundation in governance and public policy, with his educational accomplishments including an MBA, MSc in Governance and Public Policy and Master in Project Management, Paco is one of those consultants who has diversified his personal offering in order to apply his skills to a number of industries. “I’m the type of person who believes it is better to be all-rounded, than expert in only 1 field. I’ve always enjoyed politics, and I guess that’s why I enjoy public policy. I see opportunity for reform and development in Belize and through my education and years of experience working in the public sector, it has become clear where reform is needed, and activities required to bring about change”

Not only has Paco extensive experience when it comes to sustainability, carbon monitoring and climate change, having worked on several projects alongside Saunders Consulting and PSEARCH Associates, he’s also been involved in an Health Sector Reform Programme, as member of the Cultural Marketing Communication team where he was instrumental in developing a public communication strategy for the Belize Health Reform Project for the Ministry of Health.  Paco is also involved in lecturing at the University of Belize on Public Administration, Socio-Economic Development and Public Sector Administration and Management.  “Throughout my career, I have never wanted to pigeon-hole myself into only governance and policy. I am someone who has competencies in a number of areas, and I believe that life is about continuous expansion and development on these competencies, which is why I decided to retool and recently completed a Master’s degree in Project Management.” 

Paco believes that although is extensive CV demonstrates skill in a wide variety of industries, and experience within certain fields, there is always room for learning something new.  “That’s why I really like the Talmix platform. In Belize, society can be really small, and if you’re not always well-connected, there may be opportunities which simply don’t become available to you. As an Independent Consultant, you have to always think ahead and find new ways of working. That’s why Talmix is a great conduit for me to be able to demonstrate my wherewithal and reach a wider audience. I like to present myself in terms of competencies. I enjoy teaming up with other consultants on larger projects and I enjoy building relationships with both my clients and fellow consultants.”, he tells me. 

The defining moment in Paco’s career was certainly the moment he decided to leave his permanent role within the public sector, and explore an independent way of working, while knowing that the responsibility he held towards his 7-year old daughter. And after 7 years, he has not looked back. “Independent Consulting can be a double-edged sword at times. You want the flexibility and the freedom that independence brings you, but the flip side of that means that you have to be incredibly pragmatic and organised. You need to be able to constantly plan ahead – and look towards the next opportunity. There have been peaks and valleys throughout my journey so far, and when you find yourself in one of these valleys, you as an independent consultant need to know how to survive. That’s why this process remains a constant learning process for all who choose to follow its path.” 

Paco tells me that his involvement in continuous education has been something that has been imparted on him by his parents, from a very young age. Aside from his consultancy, he also works as a tutor at the UWI Open Campus in Belize. He tells me that when one finds themselves in a career valley, that’s when you need to draw on your education – not only the education you’ve already completed, but educational opportunities available to you, that provide you with new opportunity, new skill, new experience. “I wanted to demonstrate to my daughter who is now 13 years old, that if you commit yourself to doing something, and you’re driven enough to get there, you will achieve it”, he says. 

For an opportunity to work with consultants like Paco, talk to Talmix today about your next project. 

About the Author

Katy Roberts

Katy is an independent marketing consultant and founded Fresh Brew Marketing out of her love for the cuppa. A seasoned marketer, Katy writes for several global publications and provides outsourced marketing services to businesses throughout the UK. She is a keen geocacher and rates running around in city centres dressed in Christmas lights as one of her most successful Social Media campaigns to date.

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