Guiomar Obregon has been helping build Atlanta through the engineering firm she started almost 20 years ago.
The 1993 master’s graduate in civil engineering is also helping build the skills and reputation of engineers from Colombia, where she grew up.
Her work has won a slew of awards — everything from Outstanding Georgia Business from the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office to the Inspiration Award from the Latin American Association.
It also has attracted the attention of Global Atlanta, a news website that focuses on international business, which recently profiled Obregon.
While you might say education is in Precision 2000 CEO Guiomar Obregon’s blood, the construction entrepreneur wasn’t born with a silver shovel in her hand.
These days, the Atlanta-based construction firm she runs with her husband and company president, Carlos Sanchez, is showered with accolades, but it wasn’t easy to break into the Atlanta mainstream as a woman- and Hispanic-owned outsider.
“The perception is that you come from another country, you don’t know enough, and that happens at the professional level,” she told Global Atlanta. “The perception is that, ‘Yeah, you’re an engineer, but you’re from Colombia.’”
Some potential clients assumed that she was an illegal immigrant, or at least prone to hiring undocumented workers, she said.
Ironically, that became a competitive advantage: Competent Colombian engineers flocked to Precision 2000 as they fled violence back home, since she knew how to validate their credentials.
“Sometimes the guerrillas would push them out, or threats of kidnapping, so they would move here, and then they could not find work that was equivalent, so we would give them the opportunity.”
That sparked an idea: Why not be more proactive about building Colombian engineers’ capacity, benefiting her business in the process?