Mosaic Stories

    Hector Linares

    Hector always envisioned himself living abroad; he just didn’t know that those opportunities would take him to St. Louis. Hector was born and raised in Bogota, Colombia where he graduated from college with a degree in electrical engineering and was eventually hired by Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters, a Mosaic Ambassador company, is one of the world’s leading sources of intelligent information for businesses and professionals.

    After working in Colombia for a few years, Hector received his first offer to be transferred to a position in another location. “My company, Thomson Reuters, had opportunities in different countries, so as a young, single person I chose to relocate with them.”

    Ultimately, the situation in Colombia helped to influence his decision to leave due to the higher salaries and better opportunities in other countries. “There were problems with the government during the time when I left. A lot of people left fearing for their lives due to the drug lords and local gangs. I was fortunate enough to have a sponsor for my legal immigration”.

    Even though Hector always knew that he would love the opportunity to live abroad, this decision was still quite difficult for him. He understood that his life would completely change once he moved away from his home country of Colombia.

    “When you make the decision to leave your country, your whole life changes. You have to be very brave and conscious that you’re going to change your relationships with your family and friends. But at the same time, you have to try and stay positive and view it as an opportunity to grow. It was a learning experience for me”.

    After working in London, England, Hector would go on to work in Bangkok, Thailand again with Thomson Reuters before finally coming to St. Louis. “I chose St. Louis because my company has a large office here so St. Louis was always known as a good place to live and also known for having many resources and talent”.

    Today, his official title is operations manager for the St. Louis branch, which is one of three global service centers located throughout the world. The other two global service centers are located in Poland and China.

    Hector was eager about his new life in St. Louis; however, he came here knowing almost no one. Fortunately, Hector was lucky to be able to have a boss who acted like a mentor to him. “My boss was the person who convinced me to come, I leaned a lot on him for day-to-day help. He was the first person to take me to a grocery store, he’s American, a cardinal’s fan”.

    After restarting his life in St. Louis, Hector felt that there was something missing: his love of soccer. Once he learned about a local pick-up team, he decided to join. “Soccer is very humbling and easy in that way. You just need a ball and some players. It’s open to everyone.” It was through soccer that Hector began to make friends and meet other members of the international community such as the St. Louis Mosaic Project. It was also where he met his wife, Diane. Hector credits soccer, Thomson Reuters, and the Mosaic Project for making him feel welcomed and accepted in St. Louis.

    “The Mosaic Project is important to me because it promotes a sense of immigration and diversity in the St. Louis community. It’s a way of being part of this community, it brings together international expertise and the most important part of the project is to help form and grow the international community”.

    Since Hector’s arrival almost 8 years ago he feels more at home than ever before. “I love St. Louis. Living here is very easy. It has a small town feel with everything that you’d expect from a large city. I prefer St. Louis because it’s clean, relaxed, and a great place to raise a family”.

    Besides playing soccer, in his free time he is involved in many different non-profit organizations like FIRST Robotics and STEM education for kids. FIRST Robotics is a competition that motivates young people to pursue education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math. STEM education (science, technology, engineering, and math) is a non-profit initiative, which offers programs, classes, camps and tutoring to help children. Additionally, Hector is connected to various Latino groups such as the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) which is a non-profit that helps Hispanic engineers to grow professionally and is also another way to give back to the community.

    Even though Hector has moved all over the world during the past 15 years of his life, he plans on staying in St. Louis. Hector and his wife Diane recently purchased their first home together. As for his future aspirations, he hopes to stay with Thomson Reuters. “For my company and me, it’s always been about how we value diversity and having various points of view. We get people from all over the world who are relocated here and we try to hire international talent. I want to share my experiences with them”.