Influencer Heinrich Angela: collaborative, driven, enabler and creative
Interview May 2020
Would you share with us some information of your family life?
I am the son of Yvette Angela & Gilbert Angela and I am the only child.
I am not married, but I plan to marry with Tati Rodriguez later on in this year. We have a newborn daughter, Ínarih Angela born just 6 weeks ago. My parents have been very supportive in whom I have become right now, as they have instilled in me values and norms that have become my day-to-day guiding compass in my life. I consider high integrity very important in my life. I was born in Curaçao and I was allowed to be involved in so many activities like sea-scouting, martial arts. I had my first computer when I was 5 years old and I could hardly read. Music – I have started playing piano since I was 5 years old – and in everything I did my parents were very supportive and only required from me, that I really showed genuine interest in doing these activities. It gave me this sense of:
“..If you are going to do it, do it right”. And I had to earn it. In hind sight, they enabled in me a “growth mindset”, I don’t have to accept the status quo and I should embrace change. I appreciate a lot that they have done this.
You are a member of Smart City platform Curaçao could you expand a little what this platform stands for and/or what it is doing?
The platform consists of multigenerational entrepreneurs from all walks of life and representatives from other sectors, be it private sector, government, semi-government, NGO’s, media representatives, some politicians, with the aim of renovating and improving our city district by using technology, but also smart ways of conducting business in innovative ways to attract more people to the city center, what is called gentrification. This platform in turn is a part of the Curaçao Smart nation initiative. We try to boost Willemstad and the reason we have such a rich diversity of people from different background is, that we like to cross pollinate the innovative spirit of young entrepreneurs with the experience of those of the older generations and we believe that we can use the help from all sectors and this makes this a unique and beautiful initiative.
Where is the platform in terms of its development phase?
Well most of the time when we meet, we reflect on what can be implemented 5 to 10 years from now.
How would Willemstad look like and what kind of projects are realistic and which projects can be implemented. I have to say that due to the COVID-19 crisis we are noticing, that the developments suddenly are picking up speed. Now we have to change.
Organism in nature don’t just change for the sake of change, usually they change because there are no other options. Just like organisms we as human beings also change when we have to. Working from home apparently is now possible, because we were forced to. In a society with a fixed mindset, people will prefer the comfort of what they are used to while questioning the need to change energetically. Now we don’t have a choice, right, so we change.
Could you share with us some of your educational background and past professional experiences?
As with most students from Curaçao, I aspired to study abroad. As a child I’ve always loved experimenting with technology and a desire to create things, that make life easier and improve the quality of life. I was always very curious of new technological developments and when I was 4 or 5 years old, I got my first computer and I could at that age hardly read. But I was taught how to upload my own games, so I was raised with a mindset that “the Sky is the limit”. I studied and then worked in the Netherlands for 13 years. Started as software developer and moved into Data analytics and Business intelligence.
It seems to me that ICT is one of the sectors in Curaçao that seems to be very innovative, creative and outwardlooking. What is your opinion on that?
We have seen such an enormous growth in Information Technology over the last 20 years.
Companies and services that where natively not internet centric have taken the leap while others like newspapers and print media have failed to adapt and have paid the price; Another popular example of course being Blockbuster.
Additionally over the past 15-20 years or so, internet centric services have taken an enormous flight and nowadays we can’t imagine our lives without them; think of LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Netflix. Compared to the automotive industry, pharmaceutical and other slower moving industries in the Tech industry the time to market is fast. So if you are earning a living in this sector, you have to be very forward looking and willing to adapt and embrace change. That’s also the only way to keep up with competition. It is a challenging but exciting sector to work in. You learn to embrace the unknown and to take risks.
In baseball there is a saying that goes like this: “..You can’t steal second base while keeping a footh on first base..”.
I work and live in Curaçao, I’m a founder and board member in different initiatives and organizations and this gives me the opportunity to engage with unique individuals and explore different sectors in Curaçao and how they are implementing technology either as an enabler or a driver. While some companies are very progressive, most companies yet fall into the Late Majority adoption lifecycle.
Why that is and what we could do to improve it, is perhaps a good topic for a next session.
We met virtually on a Zoom facilitators meeting of Vision 2030 Curaçao of the facilitators and I was impressed by what you presented in terms of 3-D printing. So I immediately wanted to interview you, as you are representing a younger generation and because of the innovation opportunities that you see as the COVID-19 is shaking up the world at this very moment. 3 – D printing can help in solving some of the challenges we are confronting now, as you showed some 3-D products that can be made in Curaçao where you are anticipating certain needs in the Health sector. Is there a willingness to accept what you are offering in the local market?
There is demand, but usually the market doesn’t demand something until the demand is created. Nowadays in this COVID -19 era that demand has been created abruptly, meaning that companies struggle to keep up with their supply chain. Compound to that, that many companies are urging employees to stay home, or even imposed by state law, production in all segments of the economy has slowed down.
What you see happening now is that companies are pivoting their products to meet the demand. A popular example is Coors breweries who are now making hand sanitizers and giving meals to nonprofits in their communities and donating funds to help bartenders and service industry workers affected by the massive bar and restaurant closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
We also see community innitiatives spring up to help mobilize resources to support critical needs. In our case we setup a TaskForce for 3D printing Personal protective equipment to address shortages.
3D printing technology is nothing new, we’re just using it in new ways to address a different need.
In 2016 I founded Drone Racing Curaçao; an organization that teaches children to build, program and fly racing drones. As a maker-builder community we use 3D printed drone parts for a couple of key reasons;
Cost efficient prototyping; parts are very cheap to produce.
Fast iterations; if a design doesn’t work you can easily adapt and reprint it.
Fast time-to-market; printing at home means not waiting 4 weeks for your parts to arrive from China.
Like Coors breweries we have pivoted the product, and we can now use our knowledge and skillset for the collective battle against the pandemic and help save lives!
I also believe heavily in collaboration between entities. We have partnered with Sea Turtle Conservation Curaçao & Green Phoenix. These two environmental organizations collect recycled plastic from our beaches, shred it and create filament, that can be used for 3D printing, thus creating new products as part of the so-called “Circular Economy”.
Next to medical protection equipment, we will be able to 3D print and supply schools and public areas with door handles where you don’t have to use your hands, but your elbows; these are new needs that didn’t exist two to three months ago.
You seem to be very passionate about what you are doing now, where does you drive come from?
I have always been motivated by the desire to create something that gives immediate result to the user, by either removing bottlenecks or improving the way they conduct their work. Working on solutions for so called altruistic goals also gives me such a sense of accomplishment.
You are one of the facilitators of Vision 2030 Curaçao, why are you participating in this initiative?
While some places in the world have a culture of embracing change, others are more traditional and ride in the curve of the mass majority. Up to a few months ago, from the Tech industry, the question we aimed to answer was, “how can we use technology to help our business adapt to a disruptive and fast-changing technology-powered world?”. Now fast-forward three months, the disruption is medical in nature. At its core, disruption is disruption. It doesn’t matter if it’s technological, economic, environmental, political, or a pandemic. The result is that it ‘forces’ us to adapt to survive.
For Curaçao, it means businesses that for years have shied away from taking their processes online are now rushing to provide their services through online portals, WhatsApp order, and pick-up services, and have opened their product catalog to the internet meaning prices are now also publicly available at the click of a button, meaning consumers are now empowered to compare prices at their discretion.
For consumers, it has meant a giant push for online banking (even for the elderly) and making better use of online platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp, for vital tasks in everyday life, and not just for social engagements. Both the consumer and the producer are embracing technology. And not only casually exploring it. Mind you, the technology was always there, though perhaps the willingness to adapt was maybe lacking. COVID-19 is offering us an unique opportunity to experiment and try different things now. Vision Curaçao offers an opportunity to meet like minded people and we can try to experiment doing things differently. But it also offers me a platform to pose these questions and via a discussion among a broader audience create an impact.
The questions that drive the seminars are:
1. In any workshop or seminar we host on the topic of technology, should the main focus be on the Tools or the Mindset?
2. Aside from a natural disaster, how else can we gain acceptance and create support for new Technological shifts to be adopted, in our local community?
What is your BIG WHY or driving motivation to be whom you are right now?
I have always been motivated to make things that can have an impact in a person’s life.
Right now with a new addition to the family, I’d like to create an environment on my birthplace of Curaçao where my children can grow, learn and thrive. As a new parent, I also wish this for all other parents and children. And while technology can be a Big Enabler and a driver of change, our island is facing fundamental challenges like;
– Inequality in education
– high rate of unemployment and deficient economic growth
– Not enough sustainable developments in areas of Energy, waste management,
– Deficient infrastructure for public transportation
A survey done by ThinkToDo of a lady with her child that has to wake up at 5 am in the morning to catch different busses and is back at home by bus at 8 pm to cook and spend some scarce time with her child, illustrates the depth of our transportation system challenges. Because of the breakdown we are experiencing now, there are opportunities now to bring about change and this has re-energized me even more, because it offers us a unique opportunity to bring about changes.
What are your companies names?
Drone Racing Curaçao – Founder
The FIRST drone racing team and community on Curaçao. We teach children with a passion for technology to build, program, and fly drones in order to stimulate creativity, collaboration and problem solving skills.
Curaçao Data Driven – Co-founder and board member
Curaçao Data Driven is a nonprofit platform for creating awareness and sharing knowledge to create a culture that uses data to make better decisions. A key aspect to improve society and business through fact-based decision making.
Curaçao Tech Meetups – Managing partner
A technology platform to help educate our people in emerging technologies so we can tackle local relevant issues and create an even greater generation that will be living abundantly in great wealth.
Where do you want to be let us say 10 years from now in your business and on the personal level?
In my opinion this used to be a good question, but nowadays 10 years is an eternity.
On a professional level a lot can happen in 10 years. Despite not being able to make a prediction in where I will be professionally in 10 years, I’d like to think I can make a difference in reducing some of the fundamental challenges mentioned above.
On a personal level of course I’d like to be the supporting parent and partner.
What are the challenges that you are dealing with? And how are you dealing with these different challenges you confront?
I work in a sector that needs to move fast and we are not used to this tempo in Curaçao. So when I came back to Curaçao 3 years ago, I went to look for organizations where I can meet people of the same mindset and team up to collaborate to add value. You have them like JCI IOBA, ThinkToDo, Curaçao Tech meetups. Communities and organizations that create positive impact with sustainable projects. An improvement could be to see these NGO organizations working together to support more collective projects, and getting both the private sector and government entities involved.
Do you use your inner voice to evaluate when dilemma’s show up? How does that work for you?
I go back to my inner values instilled by my parents, and if that doesn’t give me an answer, I look at data.
Multiple sources in order to weigh pro’s and cons from different angles.
I joke-ingly always use the saying: “..In God we trust, everybody else, bring data..”.
How are you trying also to keep up with your personal knowledge and skills levels?
I am super involved in seminars, web-meetings and on-line courses. I also still have lots of contacts with former colleagues and people I have met on seminars. Nobody’s an expert in every field, that’s why we need to leverage each others strengths and knowledge. Furthermore technology has made staying in touch much more convenient.
What are your strengths?
Perserverance, eye for detail, creativity & Innovative and contextual ownership.
What do you exactly mean with contextual ownership?
A collaborative approach where a person takes ownership of a certain tasks based on his/her experience. This approach is often used in Agile teams composed of members from two or more departments or functional areas working together to solve a problem or handle a situation that requires capabilities, knowledge, and training not available from any one source.
However for this to be successful, members must have a collaborative mindset, a common goal, and the maturity to put the shared goal above ego and personal gain.
Do you have hobbies or interests that you are also passionate about?
Apart from technology, I would say, dancing salsa, and watching a good movie or TV series.
If you as Heinrich 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?
I would say I’m an incredibly driven person that tries to make a positive impact on people’s lives and in the community where I live in.
How would you describe Heinrich in one word or one sentence?
Collaborative, driven and creative.
Whom are the persons that have inspired you the most in your career?
For my values and norms that would definitely be my parents. For technology and growth mindset I would say Tarik Farah, a schoolfriend of mine. Since he was 19 year old, he started a company “Corporate Wireless Telecom Services” in a time when nobody had Wifi. He once told me that he wanted to experiment with bio diesel to lower the costs of fuel for his car and collected cooking oil from restaurants he experimented until he could do it. He is more like “Just do it” and no “B-S”. This mentality is contrary to the general consensus on the island, where we take ample time to dialogue and discuss about possibilities. While this in turn can be attributed to risk management considering the lack of time and resources, one may also argue that perhaps we shun away from putting in the necessary time and energy to get it done.
I believe that the future belongs to flat organizations and horizontal collaboration, not for hierachical organizations. This new form of organization is called “flatterachies”. That is the future of work.
What is a trait that is still work in progress?
Not always chasing perfection.
What was a defining moment in your life?
The birth of my daughter, absolutely.
What would you want your Loved Ones, family, friends and others to say about you let’s say 20 years from now?
We all want to be remembered for something, to be known as more than merely ordinary. If I get to the end of my life and realize that I played it safe because I was too afraid to fail, I would be mad at myself. From a young age, I was always told that I could do whatever I chose to do as long as I worked hard and didn’t give up.
I want to be remembered as someone who made a difference, who is resilient, with a laser focus to achieve whatever goal he sets. I also want to set a good example for my children to follow. We’ve all got roles in our lives, and it’s how we choose to live it that makes all the difference. A quote by the late Steve Jobs;
“The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are usually the ones who do.”
We are shot down now because of the presence of the Corona virus in Curaçao. What makes you stay optimistic about the future of Curaçao and humanity in general?
I believe that in every challenge there is an opportunity, so finally we in Curaçao have reached a point where we have to work on mindset changes, because the COVID-19 is forcing traditional and inflexible structures to adapt to a “New Normal”. There are so many positive things that will emerge out of this crisis, and that keeps me optimistic.
Why is this important? Imagine if we wouldn’t have had this COVID-19 crisis?
As I explained, we have the technology, but we lacked the mindset, now we need and are forced to change our mindsets, to create the new.
Basically it is a zero-sum game, either we adapt our mindsets and change or we perish. Mindset is thus much more important than technology. So that makes me optimistic about the future of Curaçao and the world in general. I believe will emerge out of the crises more resilient, more flexible and compassionate, and more inclined to embrace change. We are finding new ways of doing things, new ways of coping, and new ways of adapting.
Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Yes, there is one more thing. I sincerely wish we would collaborate more and embrace change without the threat of a global pandemic. History has taught us that two things can bring people together on a global scale; a common goal or a common enemy. While a common enemy works on an instinctive survival mindset, it focuses on an immediate situation and leaves little to no room for future planning. A common goal is centered around hope and a future vision.
One of the 250 Influencers of Curaçao
Heinrich Angela, is a young highly skilled professional working in the Information Technology sector in Curaçao as a “Data analytics and Business intelligence”-expert. Earning his living in a sector where fast pace changes and innovation are the normal “modus operandi”, his growth mindset has taught him to embrace changes at the one hand, but also to let go of the old normal. A mindset, that he wants to enable in Curaçao. Heinrich lives by the adagium that “mindset is much more important than technology” and the breakdown caused by the COVID -19 worldwide crisis opens so many doors for new opportunities. As a driven and very active person, guided by strong values, norms and high integrity as his internal compass, Heinrich has always loved experimenting with technology and a desire to create things, that would make life easier and improve the quality of life of people. Being raised with a mindset that “the Sky is the limit” Heinrich is very active in enabling this growth mindset in Curaçao via different platforms and networks, like:
• Drone Racing Curaçao (founder),
• Curaçao Data Driven (co-founder)
• Curaçao Tech Meetups (managing-partner)
• the recently started initiative Vision Curaçao 2030 (as a facilitator);
• Smart City Curaçao (member) aimed at gentrification of Willemstad.
As a contextual leader Heinrich is involved in connecting, enabling, aligning and creating impact by collaborating, trying to make things that can have an impact in a people’s lives, within 6 months to one year. We love and respect Heinrich deeply because of his drive to enable mindset changes in Curaçao. He furthermore models the new way to work, create value and impact our society and as representative of the business and Information technology sector, we definitely consider him one of the 250 Influencers.