September 2006
Issue 47


Pilar Rivera, BA ’96, Globetrotting Entrepreneur

Pilar Rivera firmly believes that we don’t belong to just one place, but are all citizens of the world. Her global perspective has taken her places both literally and figuratively in the decade since she graduated from GW.

Armed with a degree in international business, Rivera started a company that helped businesses take their websites international in every sense, from language and culture to currency and risk management. Partnering with IBM was a boon, and she says the work was incredibly fun – until the crash.

Undaunted, this high-energy entrepreneur realized she had to reinvent her career. “I went back to school – not just to learn new things, but to recharge my batteries,” says Rivera of the master’s degree she earned at the University of Maryland. When considering possible ventures, “I looked at construction and saw growth,” she says. “And I saw that baby boomers were retiring and going elsewhere.”

Her vision was born: Why not give baby boomers international options in countries such as Costa Rica and Mexico, where their money will go so much further? She called architects, developers, and other professionals to find out about resort-style retirement living. She also completed an executive business program at Harvard.

As co-founder of ALTEEVA, a business solution firm that focuses on the global perspective, Pilar works internationally every day. “I feel blessed to do what I want and to use all those skill sets I learned in school. I grew up around the world and speaking multiple languages, and I don’t feel any different here than in Germany or France or South America,” she says. Working over the Internet can be convenient, but Rivera says the human touch is still essential to international business.

For all Rivera’s travels to other places, GW still holds a place in her heart. Serving on the planning committee for her tenth reunion coming up this October 20-22, she’s calling more than a hundred classmates to encourage their attendance, and plans on “having a blast” catching up with old friends and making new connections. She urges everyone to take advantage of alumni benefits such as reunions and the online alumni directory, and hopes her feeling is shared: “This was my community, where I belonged as an undergrad, and where I still belong.”