Influencer Giovanni Eugenia

Interview August 2020

Could you share with us some information of your family life?
I was born in Curaçao in 1984. My mother was always very caring and always motivated me to become the best version of myself that I could be. My mother never told me not to do something, but she told me to try it and give it my best effort. I have one sister who also always helped me when I needed her support. Growing up I always tried to “compete” with my sister on the academic level. She was a straight A student and I made it a challenge for me to also reach that academic level, and personally I believe I did quite well. My father, although not living with us, was in the picture. He was a hardworking man, not afraid to get his hands dirty as a car mechanic and, despite him not being around all the time, I did learn from him as well in regard to the do’s and don’ts of life.

Giovanni and his partner

Since December 2019, I became a father myself of a beautiful boy which lightens up my day every day and together with my loving partner, we try to provide him with the things we ourselves did not have, but also especially with the things that we did have, which is the love and support of our families.

Do you experience nostalgia now that a lot of our students are going to Holland for their advance studies?
Well, not in that sense, I do remember that when I left to Holland for my studies in 2002 we were addressed by the Minister of Education of that time and she told us not forget to come back to Curaçao to help build up the country and when I came back to Curaçao in 2009 I had to overcome a lot of obstacles, it wasn’t easy to settle in back on the island. I did learn a lot in Holland and in the end that is what really matters.

What kind of business are you exactly in as an entrepreneur and what is services does your company offer? Do you have any people employed?
Since 2012 I run my own HR/ARBO consultancy business which provides training, psychological support for employees, occupational health support and company policy advisory in the area of Human Capital Development. Despite not having people employed, my goal is to provide employment opportunities to both experienced as well as starting professionals in the field of occupational health and training in the future. As an Occupational Health Psychologist I want to make employees in the company also to feel happy and satisfied and it isn’t easy for a lot of our local companies to look at employees in this way, but there are a few. In the beginning of my career here in Curaçao it was challenging and after I met Arthur Nivillac, who at that time had started Optima B.V., we decided to collaborate with each other, and things started to work out for me.

Could you share with us some of your educational background and past professional experiences?

We were referred to you by Adric Walter and you were referred to contact me synchronically by Glenn Helberg (both we have interviewed as Influencers) the day I contacted you, so we were meant to meet and connect.
If I look back at my educational background, I can say that I consider having followed the fast lane towards getting my master’s degree. I did my primary education, then went to the VWO (Maria Immaculata Lyceum), after which I moved to the Netherlands to study at the University of Leiden in 2002.

In regard to my professional experience, I can say that I was blessed with the possibility to work on many projects with numerous professionals. 

In 2015, I worked as an interim HR Advisor for Rijksdienst Caribisch Nederland in Bonaire where I was able to learn so much. I have also been working with Optima Arbodienst already for almost 8 years and we have provided support to numerous companies, big and small on Curaçao, Aruba, Bonaire and St. Maarten. I was also involved in the Global Entrepreneurship Week organization, which focuses on stimulating the entrepreneurial mindset within our community.

Furthermore, I was both President of JCI IOBA Curaçao in 2018 and National Vice President of JCI Dutch Caribbean in 2019, an organization focused at developing active leaders within our community. Next to that I am a collaborator in the Curaçao Tech Meetups organization which focuses on leveraging technology for our island to grow and develop more.

We have understood that you are especially interested in human behavior. I have understood that this interest in human behavior has spiked after the protests in Willemstad on the 24th of June. Where does this interest come from?
Well, funny story here. I went to the Netherlands with the primary intention to study ICT. During that time, they offered a mayor-minor system where you could do two trajectories at the same time. So, I opted to go for Information Technologies and Psychology. But within the first month I felt more and more interested in human behavior, especially because I was learning a lot about my own behavior. The great thing about understanding my own behavior, is that it helped me to help other people. By looking at the root causes of the behavior, you can help people overcome many hurdles that might be in their path.

And indeed, after the events of the 24th of June in Willemstad, my interest sparked even more. The reason for this was that, all over social media, people were talking about the displayed behavior by some protesters and also about the mindset of Curaçao. I could see a lot of judgment, but not many people were talking about the core of the problem that might have led to the displayed behavior. Where did all that anger come from? Is it history, family, friends, unresolved traumas? Without this knowledge, it is very difficult to work on practical solution to deal with the destructive behaviors we witnessed. So, I made it a personal action to find out even more about human behavior, so I can further give my contribution to the development of a united Curaçao where we work towards the growth and development of our community. Based on discussion in Vision Curaçao 2030 as part of the sub group Health and Wellbeing, I sent out an invitation via Facebook for all those interested in behavioral aspects of our population, to start to investigate the causes of the mindsets or the way some of us think in Curaçao. We had 15 people interested. We have met twice already and we started in the group to collect more information on everything that has been written about this subject matter related to behavior within families, children, you name it, in Curaçao. All of this with the end in mind to suggest and work on solutions that could be implemented in Curaçao.

So I ended up approaching Glenn Helberg, he has been president of OCAN for years and also Sinuhe Oomen. They had offered this report to the Dutch government in 2008 addressing a lot of these issues, the root causes of certain behavior, and the report included recommendations. There was no follow up in the sense of execution of the recommendations. This has made me even more convinced of the fact that whatever we come up with needs to be independent of the involvement of the government if we really want to achieve change.

What is your BIG WHY or driving motivation to be whom you are right now?
Might sound very cliché, but basically, I want to be able to be one of the contributing factors of the positive development of Curaçao. I look around and I see so much potential, yet often times I believe we limit ourselves by not taking risks and by not thinking big. Basically, I want to be able to leave a Curaçao behind, where future generations, including my own son, can live on an island that is filled with opportunities for everyone and with a lot of positivism.

When do you consider that you have been successful in your personal and business/professional life, let us say 5 years from now?
On a personal level, I would consider to have been successful the moment that I could have created a positive impact on the lives of people who are in need of “a break”, especially young people who are trying so hard to reach their goals but who are still struggling due to the system. Think of for example young professionals who are not getting jobs, or whose skills are not being acknowledged because some people are unwilling to do things differently.

On a professional level, I would consider being successful that moment when the importance of my profession as an Occupational Health Psychologist gets the recognition it deserves here in Curaçao. Together with some friends and colleagues at Optima Arbodienst, we have accomplished a lot already in this regard. But I would like more companies to see the added value of working with an Occupational Health Psychologist to help them create a healthier atmosphere within their business.

What are the challenges that you are dealing with? And how are you dealing with these different challenges you confront?
Referring to my previous answer, one of the biggest challenges I have is to get the acknowledgment of the importance of my field of expertise within the business community. Often time companies are willing to invest in new buildings, equipment, financial advisory, legal advisory, but the investment in human capital is often lacking. So, getting to that point where more attention is given to the human aspect, with the support of an Occupational Health Psychologist, is my biggest challenge.

The way I’m dealing with this challenge is by trying to create more awareness on the matter and by working with like-minded individuals to help support the ones that are willing to do things differently, to reach their maximum potential.

Do you use your inner voice to evaluate when dilemma’s show up? How does that work for you?
I do make use of my inner voice to evaluate dilemma’s. Often times I refer to it as my gut feeling. So far it has worked quite well for me, but next to that inner voice I also believe that it is important to surround yourself with positive people who believe in your purpose and who are willing to give you an honest reality check whenever needed.

How are you trying also to keep up with your personal knowledge and skills levels?
With all the technological developments, there are a ton of ways I try to keep my knowledge and skills up. Online workshops and videos, articles that I read online and even looking at relevant issues in the (social) media. But next to that, throughout my almost 11 years back in Curaçao, I have formed part of many organizations as previously mentioned and have met many people with whom I can have interesting discussions with on a wide array of topics.

What are your strengths?
I consider myself to be analytical in nature. I like to know, I like to learn and I like to provide solutions. Next to that I also consider myself to be very creative. For example, I taught myself some graphics designing, I follow cake decoration and fruit carving videos on YouTube and I created my own computer desk based on one of my favorite movies, The Avengers.

Do you have hobbies or interests that you are also passionate about?
In 2002 I started dancing salsa here in Curaçao based on a nudge I got from my dear mother, just before I left for the Netherlands. Arriving there, I continued taking classes and ending up as a performer in one of the most well known salsa dance groups of that time, Salsa Dance Squad. I remember dancing 4-5 nights a week, just to get to know more people and get better at the dance. I also remember going to congresses in the UK, Paris, The Netherlands and Miami and dance all night long. Although I do not dance as intensely as before due to an injury, I still consider dance to be my passion.

Next to that, anything that involves artistic expression fascinates me. That is also why I am a huge fan of video games due to the immersion it can provide within an artistic fantasy world that was created out of the imagination of a person.

If you as Giovanni would meet a stranger in the bus (let say in Holland or the US) and they would ask you to introduce yourself what would you answer?
Hi, my name is Giovanni Eugenia, born and raised in Curaçao, and I am a very dedicated person who loves to help people and who enjoys smiling and seeing other people smile.

How would you describe Giovanni in one word or one sentence?
I am a dedicated, driven person with a hint of silliness.

Whom are the persons that have inspired you the most in your career?
The primary persons who have inspired me in my career are my mother and my sister. My sister as an inspiration to do my best on an academic level and my mother as a role model of someone who worked very hard to provide us with the best education possible, the best care in the world and an amazing love that I cannot even describe.

What is a trait that is still work in progress?
A trait or rather an ability that is still a work in progress is the ability to detect my own boundaries and to say “no”. Especially with the birth of my son, finding a balance between career, helping and personal live, has become very Important for me.

What was a defining moment in your life?
The moment my son was born was definitely a very important moment in my life. It gave me an additional sense of purpose. Something to fight for and someone to be a good example for. I want to be a role model for my son, so that has definitely pushed me to try and create more positive impact.

Where do you want to be 15 to 20 years from now with your career?
I want to be in a position where I can look back and feel fulfilled with what I have accomplished. I feel so great to meet people that I have helped in one way or another expressing their gratefulness for what I have meant for them after years. Hopefully, I can also have expanded my business so I can also provide more starting professionals with coaching and training and opportunities for development.

What would you want your Loved Ones, family, friends and others to say about you let’s say 20 years from now?
You made a positive difference in my life and in the life of others.

We are climbing out of the lock down now and just starting to open our borders back since the first of July, because of the presence of the Corona virus in World. What makes you stay optimistic about the future of Curaçao?
Despite the challenges encountered during the Coronavirus lockdown, I was able to see a lot of people who were willing to give their time and even money to help the ones who are more in need. Like the “Voedselbank” and the number of free on-line courses being offered. Even after the lockdown, I still see many people trying to work on sustainable solutions to help our community recover and become even stronger. It is the hard work of these people that gives me hope and that empowers me to continue contributing wherever I can as well.

Is there anything else that you would like to add?
As a small community, we need the help and support of each other to be successful. Next to that, we need to start thinking out of the box and start to be more creative and innovative. Curaçao has so much potential, so I believe it’s important for us to start using this potential more effectively and efficiently. Let’s learn from the “old” and embrace the new for a brighter future.

And it doesn’t matter who you are. I mean I am just your average person, born and raised in Souax. I have experienced many challenges and have encountered many disappointments, but by surrounding myself with positive people and by working hard I was able to also accomplish many things.

Connect with Giovanni Eugenia

One of the 250 Influencers of Curaçao
Giovanni Eugenia is an energetic, creative, bright, dedicated Occupational Health Psychologist, owner of his own business. Father of a son that he and his significant other welcomed in December 2019, has been a defining moment in his life. His curiosity and his attitude instilled in him via his mother to be “his best version” during his life, has driven him to study psychology, as he was interested to understanding himself first and later on, be able to help others understand themselves better. This curiosity and his resilience has made him stand out, as getting his drive back in Curaçao after he graduated in 2008, which was not easy. Especially in an environment in Curaçao where few employers value “employees”-satisfaction and wellbeing on the workplace. His curiosity and his drive to create a positive impact on the lives of people, made him hone his leadership skills in the Jaycees organizations, while also serving the community as an active Jaycees member. By working in collaboration and through sheer perseverance Giovanni has found his footing in Curaçao business wise, until the 24th of June 2020 events in Willemstad, triggered his curiosity again BIG TIME. Looking for answers where all that anger came from? In search for practical solutions to deal with the destructive behaviors he witnessed, Giovanni invited via Facebook interested people to join a group to explore, to collect more information and in the end come up with practical solutions. Seeking to understand and at the other hand implementing practical solutions in collaboration with other like-minded people and not per se depending on the government, makes him a stand-out again. In this sense, Giovanni is 100 % aligned with Share2Uplift movement and Uplifting BV & associates in enabling mindset changes in all walks of life on the island. For all this, we deeply love and respect Giovanni as one of the 250 Influencers on the island, representing the private business sector, focused on enabling mindset changes for the good of all.

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