College of Architecture + The Arts

Florida International University
College of Architecture + The Arts

Modesto A. Maidique Campus
Paul L. Cejas School of Architecture Building
11200 SW 8th Street Miami, Florida 33199

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Faculty Profile: A Professor of Strategy, Style, and Gaming Skill

Dr. Raquel Perez

What brought you to FIU?
The draw to FIU was that I was born and raised in Miami, and it was a community that I have always been in love with. At the time, I was a full-time consultant but wanted to get into higher education and was offered an opportunity to adjunct in several universities.

I love FIU for its diversity – that makes it unique from universities across the country. You know, when you’re out there as a consultant, seeing the marketplace and different organizations, I sometimes see the challenges that people from diverse backgrounds may have. Whether it be different cultures or different socioeconomic classes, it can cause a disparity in corporations. So, I wanted to be in a university where I could help students learn the skills and concepts needed to secure jobs in some of these amazing organizations.

What is the best part about being a CARTA Faculty Member?
Honestly, I think it’s the opportunity for growth and new projects. We have an amazing team. If any innovative idea comes to mind, I know I can present it to a solid faculty that will give me insight, direction, and support in the process of having it come to fruition.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part, I’d have to say, is wanting to always do more. I wish I could be unlimitedly available to all of my students – having projects readily accessible for them to get involved with and grow from. In a perfect world, I could do that. To the best of my ability, I try to make myself as available as possible to make the connections that are needed.

What project(s) are you working on and how can students get involved?
My focus, right now, is collaborating with my colleagues in the Global Strategic Communications (GSC) master’s program to assess where we are in the Augmented Reality (AR)/Virtual Reality (VR) space. We are looking at how AR/VR trends use mixed realities to improve communication skills and their roles in marketing, advertising, and public relations. So, we are developing those pieces to see where we are and looking at those different elements. Through our GSC team, my hard-working interns and the community engagement we have – like our inaugural GSC Speaker Cathy Hackl we hosted in February 2019 – we are continuing to evolve in the AR/VR space.

I think the best way for students to be involved in this current phase is to attend these informational sessions and be engaged. That way, we all have the same knowledge base and as soon as opportunities become available, I could reach out to the CARTA family for student assistants.

What is the most helpful advice you’ve received that will be beneficial to share with college students in your discipline?
In my graduate program, I had a professor—Dr. McKay. She was amazing and she gave me a piece of advice that has kind of stuck with me forever. She told me to always strive to be the peacock in the hen house.

There are a lot of candidates who will be just as great as you are, have your same degree and maybe even have the same job experience you have, but your task in life is always to figure out your special touch on things. It should be to figure out your special perspective – your special impact or contribution – because that’s what’s always going to set you apart. If you’re trying to do what everybody else is doing, you’re just going to look like everybody else. In approaching challenges differently and with a unique mindset, you become rare in the eye of a potential employer. You become a necessity that the organization doesn’t have. Therefore, always striving to be that peacock in the hen house is, essentially, figuring out a way to be unique.

What was your first job before you entered Academia?
Before academia, I was a communication, change management, conflict, and strategic planning consultant and I still operate in that area. In a nutshell, I help organizations navigate through change implementation and conflicts, and focus on those rounds – something that I’m definitely still growing in and developing through.

How do you get to spend your free time? Any hobbies and interests?
I like to spend my free time, aside from traveling, by gaming. I absolutely love video games! My favorite types are Action/RPG games like God of War. I’m actually on the Nintendo Switch right now, playing Octopath Traveler. I love the ability to become immersed in a completely different world and the opportunity to figure out new challenges and gain new skill sets.

Do you feel like it applies to your field and helps you approach things differently?
I think the one commonality in gaming and my real world is the strategy. In gaming, you always need to find the strategy as to how you’re going to beat this level, this boss or procure different items. I think this very much mirrors what I do in my everyday life – whether it be conflict, problem or change. I ask myself, “What is the best plan of attack?” I do think it does sharpen my instinct and my response time by always determining innovative ways to reach the end goal.

If you could have dinner with one person, living or dead, who would it be and why?
I have an obsession with military strategy. So, I think that the people that I would want to meet are some of the amazing military strategists we have had throughout history – both successful ones and unsuccessful ones. When you’re talking about someone like Napoleon Bonaparte – What made his campaign successful? What was the demise of that campaign?

I want to say Hannibal Barca is another one of my favorite commanders. What’s cool about him is that he came from a small town and he basically went up against Rome and famously took elephants across the mountains. I think to myself, “How do I not have a conversation with him!?” Unfortunately, he lost the battles to Rome, but the fact that he got so far and with limited resources was genius.

Do you have a favorite book and/or artist?
My favorite book has to be the Art of War. I think that it has amazing insights and tips and is so relevant in different factors of life.

My favorite artist is J. Cole and I love that his lyrics are always very relevant and connected to what is going on, presented it in a way that people can process. I think he’s very quick-minded and smart about his delivery. I love strategy but I also love staying connected to the world and human experience.

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