Forty-two years ago, the father of Ileana Pradere ’97 established his furniture manufacturing business, Pradere Office Products. Now in the hands of his three daughters, Ileana and her two sisters, Jennifer Pradere MBA ‘14 & Michelle Pradere-Gonzalez ’05, are using what they learned at FIU to carry on what their father worked so greatly for.
Despite having majored in three different areas, the sisters share a common bond by holding FIU degrees that, in turn, allow them to strengthen their company. Ileana notes these different university backgrounds have allowed the sisters to bring their own perspectives and educational experiences into the managing of their business – a diversity that is invaluable to any company.
As first generation college graduates, it also allowed them to kick start their own legacy — an FIU legacy.
“The combination of all these courses [in the Finance and International Business program] helped me to have a broad understanding of all that goes into running a business and being successful,” says Ileana, now Principal of Pradere Office Products. “This education combined with our parent’s experiences gives us the tools to carry on our father’s legacy.”
Her journey within FIU not only gave her the educational resources to become successful, but also allowed her to build relationships and establish networks.
“Still to this day I can come back to FIU and use it as a foundation of resource and a platform on which to build new relationships,” she shared, expressing the power of FIU’s network.
Currently, there is much in the works for Pradere Office Products. “We have already been able to evolve the core of our business from being a custom furniture manufacturer to becoming distributors for some of the best known office furniture manufacturers in the country and worldwide,” explains Ileana.
They are also in the process of hiring FIU alumni in order to expand their design and sales teams. “We have the benefit of doing business with some of the most influential companies in our community but [we] see the great potential to do a lot more,” Ileana shared. “By strengthening our design and sales teams we will have more in-house resources to service our clients better and grow our market share.”
When asked what advice she would impart onto students and young alumni, Ileana had three key pieces to share:
- Dream big and do not limit your possibilities.
- Become involved with FIU as a student; don’t let your time at FIU only be about getting your degree.
- Stay connected once you have graduated.
Today, Ileana reconnects with her alma mater by participating with the Pino Global Entrepreneurship Center and frequently attending their lectures and workshops. Her and her sisters are also proud Lifetime Members of the FIU Alumni Association.