14 Dec 2016
MILE Alumni Profiles: Adriana Perez Gil Ochoa
A growing interest in international trade law, investment and dispute settlement led Adriana Perez Gil Ochoa to pursue a Master of International Law and Economics (MILE) at the WTI. Three years after graduating she is putting what she learned to use at the Mexican Trade Ministry. In an interview with the WTI she says she hopes soon to also start teaching, so she can share her knowledge and experience with future international trade professionals.
Where are you working now and in what capacity?
I am currently working for the Mexican Trade Ministry, as a Director for the General Counsel of International Trade. I took up this position a couple of months after completing the MILE programme. The General Counsel is the legal office that, among other tasks, coordinates and represents Mexico in all international trade and investment disputes. As part of the legal team, I’ve been participating actively in current State to State dispute settlement proceedings initiated under international trade agreements, such as the WTO US – Tuna II case, as well as in investor – State disputes taking place under the North America Free Trade Agreement and other bilateral investment treaties to which Mexico is party.
My work also involves participation in international trade and investment agreement negotiations, particularly negotiations on dispute settlement mechanisms, and any other international trade legal issues where legal advice is required. I am currently part of the Mexican team negotiating the modernisation of the trade agreements between Mexico and the European Union, and the European Free Trade Association.
Why did you decide to embark on the MILE?
From a very young age I had in mind that my career had to be complemented with postgraduate studies. In order to live and work in a city as huge and competitive as Mexico, doing postgraduate studies was the only way to gain a career advantage in any field of my interest. I did a Bachelor of Laws at the Faculty of Law of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, the leading university in Mexico, and during the last two years of my course developed a great interest in international trade law, investment and dispute settlement matters. As a consequence, I started to focus all my efforts on becoming involved with these matters in the real world. By the end of my course the idea of continuing my studies in the international trade field by pursuing postgraduate studies had become a dream I had to follow, in order to deepen and enhance my knowledge in a field I felt very passionate about.
After completing my bachelor studies I had the opportunity to work in international trade related matters and after two years I decided it was time to pursue my dream. The idea of doing this abroad thrilled me so much that I started to do some research and to talk with experts in the field who could recommend me postgraduate programmes. A friend of mine told me about the MILE programme, and once I did all the research I became very impressed. As a trade lawyer, the unique multidisciplinary perspective of the programme and the WTI faculty made all the difference between the MILE and other programmes from around the world. In an instant I just realised it had all I was looking for! So I took the decision to apply immediately.
In what ways would you say you have benefited from the programme?
MILE is a complete life experience! From an academic and professional perspective, I truly think that without the MILE programme my career path wouldn’t have been the same. Before joining MILE I had the opportunity to get involved in trade matters; however, the programme gave me a thorough understanding of the law and economics of international trade and provided me with the tools to pursue my career within the public sector, which I consider has a great impact over the nation, and thus demands very good quality work and understanding of the trade policies from an interdisciplinary perspective.
Also, MILE gave me the opportunity to build a very strong network of students and professionals from all around the world, and many of them became great friends too! The most impressive thing is that this network keeps growing constantly due to the opportunities to stay connected with the WTI community, and I consider this a very valuable feature of the programme.
From a personal perspective, well, I can say that the MILE experience gave me some of the most remarkable memories and lessons of my life. During my stay in Bern I grew in so many ways that I just feel that without all of it I wouldn’t be the person I am today, and I’m very grateful for that.
What for you were the stand-out moments of the year?
There were so many! The one I recall the most was the preparation of the moot court at the end of the year. It was a very stressful but at the same time gratifying time. The endless nights my team and I spent preparing our case gave us the chance to learn from each other and to strengthen our individual and team capacities, as well as the bonds we had already made during the year. All the hard work was also rewarded when we presented our case before a very challenging panel including experts from the trade field (Christian Vidal Leon, Fernando Pierola, Arthur Appleton, and Victoria Donaldson). From eight teams, the panel selected our team as one of the two WTI winning teams, which went to Barcelona, Spain to compete against the two winning teams from the IELPO programme. In Barcelona we received an award for being the best WTI team. It was really amazing!
I also recall some more funny and non-stressful times, like when the whole MILE 13 group went ice skating, skiing and snowboarding! Well, that was very stressful too!
You are still at the start of your career. What professional goals do you have?
For now I would love to continue working in this field and for the public sector. I feel very lucky I have had the opportunity to do what I always dreamt of, and hopefully, to be making a contribution to my country and possibly the world too! It is not always easy: at times the job represents a lot of sacrifices and challenges, but in the end it is very rewarding, so I feel I am on the right track. I also hope to start teaching soon; I would like to share my knowledge and experience, as well as to inspire future international trade professionals.