Welcome to our I am Ria series, where each week we’ll be highlighting a Ria employee and telling their story. This first week’s feature is accounting specialist (and ceviche connoisseur!) Norma Fernandez.
How long have you worked at Ria?
I have worked with Ria for 10 years.
And where are you from originally?
I grew up in Lima, Peru.
What’s one of your favorite memories, growing up?
The beach! We were right next to the Pacific Ocean, so that was always my favorite place.
Do you visit often? What is your favorite time to visit?
I visit as much as I can. I usually go when it is summer here, because my kids are on vacation. It’s important for me to travel with my kids because I want them to understand where they come from. I want to teach them about all the different parts of Peru—Machu Picchu, the jungle, the beach, the desert.
Cool! What was one of the biggest cultural differences you noticed when you moved to the United States?
We first moved to California, and I think it was the diversity that surprised me. People from all over the world packed into one place.
Right, it really is a melting pot. Especially California!
Yeah. I remember also being surprised by the organization of everything. Like, busses being on time…everything is in the right place, the right time. In Peru, the public transportation is just constantly moving. But here, everything runs on schedules.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
An army girl…Haha! My father was in the military, so my brother and I would always make believe that we were traffic controllers or police or war generals.
Would you ever move back to Peru?
You never know where you’ll end up. My daughter and son are almost grown and on their own. They wouldn’t want to move back there, it would probably be hard on them. Actually, my daughter would love to live there, but my son is pretty accustomed to the U.S
How would you describe your job at Ria?
Well, I’m an accountant. There is no business without accounting, so I think it’s pretty important. I handle invoices and various vendors.
What is an interesting fact people don’t know about Peru? What do most Americans not realize?
The diversity of the ecology! We have the Pacific Ocean, the jungle, the mountains, and the desert…all in one country! NASA is even growing potatoes in the desert of Peru because it is similar to Mars…
Sounds like a traveler’s dream…
It’s really incredible.
Anything else people in the U.S. might not understand about Peru?
I’ve met lots of people that think that everything south of Texas is Mexico. People say that South America is Mexico…they think everything is Mexico!
Where would you travel if you could?
If you could be any type of food, what would you be?
Ceviche! Raw fish with lemon and spices. There is nothing that tastes quite like real, fresh ceviche from Peru.
What keeps you motivated to work at Ria?
Ria respects me as an employee and a mother. Everyone has always understood that I need to be there for my children in addition to getting my job done.
Is your job challenging?
Well, I’ve been doing accounting for 17 years. I thought I wanted to try something different when I first came to the States, but it’s what I’m good at. I like the work.
What would you look for in a money transfer service?
I’ve transferred a few times. I think security is a huge thing. Before I was at Ria, I tried using a competitor, and I thought “are they going to actually take care of my money?” With Ria, it always seemed safe. A known name, a position in the market…a reliable company. And people had good things to say.
What does Ria stand for as a business, in your opinion?
I think it stands for people. The money transfer business is people to people. Ria allows people to accomplish their goals of working here and supporting their families back home.
Thanks for your time, Norma!
Check back next week for our next employee feature!