Oscar De Las Salas is the President of O Production, LLC – a multilevel design company, as well as a trendsetter and fashion icon here in the Valley. Learn more about the inspirational and fabulous Oscar De Las Salas…
Hometown: Barranquilla, Colombia, South America
First job: I was fresh out of the architectural faculty, and looking for work experience, and while at cocktail party, a family/friend asked me if I was interested in joining a new construction team. The caveat was that I would need to start at a very basic, entry-level position. At that point, I did not care, needing a job, needing a job. So, I made the call and applied for the position.
Little did I know, that this job would become a lifetime opportunity!
I became part of the architectural/engineering team of Dillingham Construction International Co., a multi-national Architectural/Engineering Design and Construction Company, which at that time was led construction and building contractor of several high security facilities for the American government all over the world.
At my first interview, I was asked if I was able to come on board as part of the bilingual team led by the head of operations plus his three other high security advisors. The intense interview was like something out of a movie, with security discussions and international intrigue. I was thrilled to be hired on the spot, and started as a draftsman.
Fast-forward to almost five years later, as part of the same team, I became the Finishes Architect and Finishes Superintendent for some of their International contracted projects, which included several U.S. Embassies.
Favorite AZ restaurant: Without a doubt, my favorite spot has to be AZ/88.
Not only for my design relationship with the place (I consulted for Janis Leonard, the interior design and, artist behind many of the art installations in the restaurant), but also because of their American classic menu, one that I like very much, with their unique and broad assortment of burgers, and of course, the delightfully savory selection of martinis!
AZ/88 has the perfect mix of mine – a gin martini, with blue cheese stuffed olives, and the burger Au Pourvre II. You can’t beat a martini + burger, surrounded by interesting people and exclusive art.
Person who has impacted your life the most: My father was an incredible source of inspiration and tremendous support during my faculty years – and a foundation in my years abroad. He always provided perfect answers to very complex questions – with quiet and calm.
Someone else who became a true father figure to me, and whom I call my “American Father” is Mr. Randy Stevens. Randy was a dedicated engineer and builder, and started as my boss for almost two years while working abroad. He was the one who; during a very posh dinner at the house of the U.S. Ambassador (accompanied by a very affirmative nod from his wife) asked me:
“Have you ever thought on trying your luck in the U.S.A., Oscar? You know you can stay with us anytime, and for as long as you need. We have seen you grow during all these years, and you are not only my direct assistant, but you are also like a son to us.”
I took him upon on that invitation, and because of him, I came to – and stayed – in Phoenix. The valley is now where I call home.
The latest person who impacted my life? My husband, someone I consider to be my rock.
Your biggest accomplishment in your eyes: While in Europe, I remember fearlessly grabbing my four traveling suitcases after finishing my master’s degree studies (two of them weighted with books and notes from school) to simply ‘go’. And I landed in Phoenix.
I turned in all internships logs and paperwork for approval to my director, and then filed my thesis project summary “American Modernism from the eye of Frank Lloyd Wright”. I jumped on a plane from Barajas airport to come directly to Phoenix Sky Harbor – all with little knowledge about this town, other than Taliesin West, which was my final destination.
That fearless feel of just packing-up, picking-up and going, with no other feeling than one of belief in yourself, is one that I wish to I experience everyday.
The biggest obstacle you have overcome: I might have to address two obstacles, really.
Personally, as a gay man, the biggest challenge was becoming proud of who I am. Given my background, and culture growing up in South America, it was a very long road for me.
And secondly, professionally, being able to express myself in a second language of English with the same proficiency, and intellectual level I carry with my native language of Spanish.
Someone who inspires you: I am moved by the dedicated farm workers, small business owners, and immigrant workers who, with much effort, and day-to-day – work to create opportunity for themselves and their families. And I admire that their drive and happiness remains intact by the need of becoming more or showing more to others.
Favorite quote: From my favorite American poet and writer Dr. Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do: Be consistent, keep your chin-up when not obtaining the results you wanted, or expected. Let your work speak for you, and create multiple opportunities to always excel. Make sure you always follow-up, and close loops if any of your (or someone else’s) inquires remain open.
Remember that there is always a second opportunity, or a new road to conquer.
Maintain calm and create a path.
What makes someone fabulous? A carefully cultivated intellect paired with unimpeachable grammar, and that sense of “je ne sais quoi’ ease, used to express your points of view during a simple conversation, both calmly and with scholarly pronunciation, (with the company of a zealous ability to resolve complex financial multifaceted subjects).
Owning an elegant demeanor, and a focused excellence on appearance accompanied with good manners, an impeccable hygiene and cultivation of fitness.