London has been my home for most of my life, but like most Londoners my roots come from far afield.
I was born in El Salvador in November 1973 and like most Latin Americans, my ancestry is Spanish, Native American Indian and black African - a descendant of freed slaves.
Early on, I was raised by my grandparents. My grandfather was a doctor and my grandmother a businesswoman -a woman far ahead of her time with a degree in mathematics and engineering. She designed our family home, managed the finances and taught me my first lessons in business.
I left my birth country in the middle of a civil war, briefly immigrating to Britain to be with my mother and my step-father, before settling in California.
I grew up in the quiet suburbia of California, where I attended high school and was the debate team captain; honing my oratory skills by competing at district and state level. I made life-long friends there by adventuring in the surrounding hills; or swimming and surfing in nearby beaches.
After graduating aged 17, I left home to work and save money for university at several fine cuisine restaurants. It wasn’t glamorous to be a busboy, but I learnt a lot about food, got fed and earned great tips by paying attention to what our customers valued.
A Battle of Ideas
Attracted by the intellectual freedom of their undergraduate program, I was determined to study at the London School of Economics (LSE). With enough savings to last a year, I took a one-way flight to London knowing that I’d soon have to find a way to pay for my dream.
I took the LSE by surprise by renegotiating my course fees, but they agreed to halve my costs and helped me obtain sufficient loans to cover my degree. I still remain grateful for their gesture and continue participate in their Alumni Legacy Program, giving students the opportunity they merit.
Disillusioned with the lacklustre intellectual defence of individual freedom on campus, I co-founded the LSE Hayek Society – named after Friedrich Hayek, the Nobel Prize Libertarian Economist. Our purpose: Defend and promote individual liberty and free market economics.
Necessity and my passion to promote individual liberty merged together into an entrepreneurial venture when I founded Ama-Gi - the LSE Hayek Society’s magazine. Ama-Gi was named after the first known linguistic expression of ‘FREEDOM’ and its purpose was 4-fold:
Promote Libertarian ideas
Fund the Society without money from the LSE Student Union
Make enough profit to pay my way in one of the most expensive cities in the world
Provide a creative outlet for my cartoons
The LSE Hayek Society soon grew to be one of the largest societies on campus and 25 years later, it lives on.
More recently, I have found that the concept of open debate has come under threat in universities around the world and as a result, I became a founder member of the Free Speech Union, to defend the rights of people to speak freely and keep the market place of ideas alive.
After graduating from the LSE with undergraduate and master’s degrees, I set to work in the City as an investment banker. It was a steep learning curve, diving head first into structured derivative products, complex negotiations for joint-ventures, privatisations and even taking part in formulating strategies for senior management on running the business. I was often trusted to undertake tasks without a clear answer. I became a strategic problem solver for dilemmas that often could not be defined.
In many ways, I played the role of an entrepreneur, but working for a bank was never my place, so in 2002, I teamed up with my step-father to start Celtic Research, a company dedicated to locating missing heirs to unclaimed estates. Since then our company has recovered millions of pounds for ordinary people, whose assets would have otherwise been seized by the government.
Running a small business can be rewarding, in spite of the hurdles and regulation government throws at us.
Our company has been featured in the BBC1 series Heir Hunters since 2007 and we are working on other projects hoping to share more fascinating stories of our cases with the public.
Among my other hobbies, I enjoy hiking and I have a passion for cooking, preferring to design my own recipes to following a cookbook.
I enjoy martial arts, drawing cartoons and enjoy learning new languages. I am fluent English & Spanish, and can understand basic French and German.