Foreign territory: Benjamin Lodmell ’93 takes a unique road to finance, charity and poetry
The road from Alabama to Argentina certainly qualifies as a path less-traveled. But for Benjamin Lodmell ’93 and his family, the long, winding road has been more than just a change of scenery.
His latest move has brought him to Buenos Aires, an idea that began with a bold proposal to his wife. “I said, ‘Honey, let’s go to Jakarta, Dubrovnik or Buenos Aires — take your pick!’” he recalled.
The final decision: Argentina.
An independent financial adviser by trade, Lodmell set out to build a financial advisory firm in Argentina, but things did not work out exactly as planned. Instead, his focus shifted to his family’s charitable efforts, World Children’s Relief, an Arizona-based organization focused on giving “a hand up, instead of a hand out” through a sustainable approach to education.
Through World Children’s Relief, Lodmell has sponsored the education of more than 16,000 girls in northern Ghana and has provided everything from latrines to dental care for communities in need.
“Getting out into the world while in college allowed me to see for myself how brutal poverty really is,” said Lodmell. “I just felt like I couldn't be complacent.”
In addition to his humanitarian efforts, Lodmell remains optimistic that he can establish himself as a financial adviser in Argentina, despite facing political and economic obstacles. Comparing himself to “a little fish in a big, foreign tank,” he said that the most difficult aspect of navigating his career and life abroad involves realizing that you have to learn another country's rules and play by them.
“It’s humbling because your own sensibilities about culture, communication, humor, business and politics are not what matters,” he said. “But I’m not alone — the entire commercial class in Argentina is confronted with the same challenges and there are like-minded folks working to improve current conditions.”
Lodmell’s family is acclimating well to life in Buenos Aires; his children attend local school and the family often spends weekends in the countryside outside the city. Lodmell especially cherishes the opportunity that his children have to experience life in a different culture. “Friendship is a meaningful concept here and the kids will take that wherever they go.”
The natural beauty of Argentina has also given Lodmell a deep well of material to use in his other passion: poetry. “I started out writing about my feelings on social injustice, and now I write more from the perspective of a curious observer with a worldly edge.”
Lodmell points to his liberal arts education and the development of critical thinking and communication skills as being key to his success. He said they have made him well-rounded and provided an advantage throughout his professional career. “I relate more with individuals from a broad range of fields and that has given me a leg-up. I suppose this has made people more willing to give me a chance, which has opened many doors.”