This article originally appeared in CENTRO Tampa in Spanish and has been re-published here in English.
She was very small, perhaps seven or eight years old, when Julia MacGregor-Peralta started her first undertaking in the business world: selling hamsters! “I think I grew up with an interest in starting businesses on my own, in areas where others had not,” said MacGregor-Peralta in an interview with CENTRO Tampa. “But in general, we Hispanics are like that. We want to be entrepreneurs, business people.” The daughter of an American father and a Uruguayan mother, MacGregor-Peralta said that this first experience was not wasted on her.
The yearning for new opportunities in business, manifested over time in the formation of six successful business, including a cleaning service, a company that offered music and Spanish classes to elementary school children, a translation and interpretation company in the health field, to the most recent founding of Global Safety Management (GSM), in Tampa. GSM specializes in the creation of safety manuals and data sheets in different languages for protection from chemical substances and other components used by manufacturers throughout the world.
GSM was founded fourteen years ago and it represents the entrepreneurial culmination of MacGregor-Peralta’s efforts in her business endeavors. In 2012, its operations were further consolidated by opening its doors to strategic investors and private capital. They saw the potential in GSM’s management of these documents and the highly technical requirements that go hand in hand with GSM’s unique software (patent pending and created by the MacGregor-Peralta group). This technology makes it possible to distribute this information in the fastest way possible. According to the Commerce Department of the United States, this activity generates billions of dollars annually in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
As a successful entrepreneur, wife, and mother of two girls, Sofia, 21 years old and Liana, 27, MacGregor-Peralta is proud and feels a great responsibility leading a company that is in such a highly competitive market in which the majority of the executives, founders and CEOs are men. “It isn’t common to see a woman in this field,” said MacGregor-Peralta. “But it’s rarer still to see her in the chemical and technology fields.” But far from taking all the credit, MacGregor-Peralta is a humble and grateful person who values teamwork. In that respect, she added that she owes much of her achievements and personal victories to the help and support of the people who surround her.
“Success also comes because of the trust and commitment of those around you: your family, friends, investors, and colleagues at work. It’s most important to not forget that collaboration and teamwork,” said MacGregor-Peralta, 50 years old. “The difference between success and bankruptcy is also luck, being in the right place at the right time or coming across someone who ends up having great importance in your life.”
MacGregor-Peralta’s history is characterized by diversity, values and academic excellence. Born in Hialeah (Miami), she followed the tradition of a family that values unity. MacGregor-Peralta’s parents (he American, she Uruguayan) always stressed the highest level of personal and bilingual development. Despite marrying a doctor of Dominican heritage, Alfonso Peralta, when she was very young, and all the challenges young couples encounter, that upbringing came through.
At Georgia State University, MacGregor-Peralta was pursuing advanced courses in Chemistry when she decided to change majors and study Psychology. Later she pursued a Masters in Operations Management (University of Alabama), Entrepreneurship and Technology (University of South Florida) and Business Administration (University of Florida). Her efforts seemed boundless.
“One of the things that helped me to succeed in my career at the university and in business were those Hispanic values and attitudes,” emphasized MacGregor-Peralta. “My mother-in-law helped me and took care of the girls while I studied or worked. I can say that they never had to stay with anyone who was not family because grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins were always there. That’s our way of life: family is very important to us and that attitude comes through in our work-place [at GSM].”
GSM is special in another way. In addition to being one of the most effective businesses in its area, its operations and leadership teams are composed mostly of women. Women have a great deal of influence. “Most of our employees are women and a large percentage of them are Hispanic and women of color,” specified MacGregor-Peralta, who leads a team of approximately 42 people in Tampa and over 20 contractors all over the world.
Liana Rodriguez, of GSM, said that working with a great team of females has helped her to feel more empowered, supported and appreciated than in other places of employment. “The women with whom I work truly understand and achieve a balance between work and personal life,” said Rodríguez. “Many express their appreciation for the work I do and make a great effort to encourage me to take on greater challenges, and I do the same for them.”
Another GSM employee, Serena Gallardo-Ramos, said that MacGregor-Peralta is a generous leader who often praises and supports people for their gifts and talents. “She understands the need to have balance between a private life and work,” added Gallardo-Ramos.
The presence of GSM and women like MacGregor-Peralta in the business world, add to the popularity of the Tampa Bay, St. Petersburg and Clearwater area as one of the ten best regions, on a national level, for women to start and grow businesses, according to a recent study by the Economic Development Corporation of St. Petersburg (EDC).
César Hernández, Publicus’ public relations and management specialist in both the public and private sectors, classified MacGregor-Peralta as a shining star. “She is an extraordinary executive and businesswoman,” said Hernández. “Our area benefits greatly from having her and other business people whom, with their collective voices, contribute to what is becoming Tampa’s narrative.”
Centro Tampa is Tampa Bay’s most-read Spanish language publication and website. View original article in Spanish from CENTRO Tampa.