Spanning Cultures, Pondering Careers

Marcos Leal ’23 keeps one foot in America and one in his home of Guatemala as he contemplates his future.

By Steve Neumann
Image Courtesy of Marcos Leal

Marcos Leal

Marcos Leal ’23 was lucky to be able to go back to Guatemala right before the COVID-19 pandemic started in 2020. There, the Integrated Business & Engineering (IBE) student noticed there were a number of local small businesses—people selling their cookies from their house, or selling their art online on Instagram—that were basically existing by word of mouth alone.

“I saw this huge market gap of informal businesses that weren’t easy for consumers to reach,” Leal says. “So with six of my lifelong friends, I created the first unified platform for the economy of Guatemala.”

Leal and his friends created Lo Local, a searchable directory of over 450 local businesses designed to promote the informal economy of Guatemala.

“The benefit to the consumer is that they can find all these local and unique businesses on one single platform,” Leal says, “and the benefit to the businesses is that they can promote themselves [to a wider audience].”

Leal, a Leonard P. Pool Memorial Prize winner— awarded to Lehigh sophomores and juniors who demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit—who graduated from the American School of Guatemala in 2019, chose Lehigh because he had grown up with an interest in both engineering and business, and the IBE program was a perfect mix of both degrees. Currently, Leal is in the middle of a Launch Internship with Ernst & Young in New York City.

“I was assigned to Financial Crimes Consulting,” Leal says. “I never knew it was such a big industry. I’m learning a lot about how such a big firm scouts their clients, and not the other way around, where clients search for you.”

Leal is also the director of the analyst program for the Lehigh Consulting Group, a professional club at Lehigh that offers free consulting to startups in the area.

“It’s a win-win experience,” Leal says, “because students gain consulting real-world experience and companies gain free consulting from a top university.”

Since arriving at Lehigh, Leal enjoyed sharing stories of his Guatemalan upbringing while fully immersing himself in American culture. As he looks ahead to his post-graduation life, he intends to continue his work with Lo Local while beginning his career in business consulting.

“I’m thinking about working for one of the big three—Boston Consulting Group, Bain & Company, or McKinsey,” Leal says. “I’ll probably stay in the U.S. for several years, but I definitely want to go back to Guatemala and start a family.”