Influencer Migdarys Mercera-Martina: driven, empathic, honest, and direct
Interview April 2022
Migdarys, could you share with us some information about your family life?
I was born in Curaçao in Buena Vista, I am married and I have two wonderful daughters and I have one other siblings. Our family was very traditional, but there was one big difference to most other families and that was I grew up in a family where volunteering was considered the normal thing to do. My grandfather was the one that started this and his house was next to the community center of Buena Vista and he was one of the pillars of the community center. My mother always stressed the importance of education in our lives and my father complete my education, by stressing “the need to be helpful, serve where this was possible” and this is what we have always done. This made me become the person I am at this moment. We were raised to treat other people as we wanted the other people to treat us. This is what I am trying to enable also in my daughters and my husband. There was a time when I would say that we “camp” in Grote berg, where we live, and spend most of our time still in Buena Vista. I have been working as a volunteer in Buena Vista for 42 years, this has started to change in the last ten years
Could you share something about your educational background and your experience?
I went to Maria Immaculata Lyceum (MIL) and got a bachelor’s degree in General Management and Accounting at the UNA, now UoC. I followed some other courses to increase my knowledge in policy matters and now these days I am mentoring and coaching students that are trainees as a certified teacher/mentor at the workplace, which I studied during my after office hours as I was working full-time. I believe coaching youngsters is one of my strong points as I am very good at this. Of late, I am finishing my Post Graduate Education in Theology.
We know you to be a very active Influencer and support MCB’s lots of initiatives in the NGO sector. Can you expand a little on when this started and why you as a pivotal person in MCB are supporting so many initiatives?
I am working now 30 years at the bank. I have worked for some other organizations before I started at the MCB first as an auditor, then in the commercial credit department. MCB has a policy where they encouraged employees “to give back to the society”. One of the first activities I got involved in as an employee of MCB, was a project that aimed to upgrade the neighborhood of Fuik, which entailed not only following the schoolchildren at school but also following these children up to their family situation. Later on, as an account manager, I was helping out youth explaining to them what the banking world was all about as part of “giving back to society”. Lionel Capriles himself once called me in his office and told me that he knew how much voluntary work I was doing, and he explained to me that they were considering asking me to do this work full time as part of the corporate responsibility of the bank.
I asked for a time out to consider, but when you are called on, you don’t have a lot of options. This was different than working on analyzing financial accounts of different companies. So after ample consideration and also considering the philosophy of the bank itself, I decided to accept the challenge. I have been doing this for 16 years now involving others, in helping me with ideas, information, and pieces of advice to help me, do this work. I went from doing this for some hours during the day to now being almost 24 hours a day involved in this field.
Our work of “giving back to the society and our volunteerism” as MCB for the society in the 105th year of its existence, has become a concept in our society and it is part of the DNA of the bank, and through our donations and the alliances we form with others, we maximize out higher impact in the society.
Do you have any idea of how effective your support is for those who benefit from this support by social entrepreneurs and volunteers?
We believe that our support is effective. Three years ago a student did qualitative research on the effectiveness of our support underwriting which we were expecting and our work is widely known and most of all accessible. We support different organizations in Curaçao and on many occasions our name is being mentioned by NGOs and some individuals.
Our impact is big, as I was watching TV the other day and they interviewed a Medical Doctor that was sharing that it was the MCB that helped him so he can become an MD, he is not the only one, we have stories from companies, individuals that lost their homes because of a fire, NGO’s also sharing that we supported them one way or the other. We pay attention to every letter we receive and evaluate them against the background of the rules and regulations that exist at this moment helping as much as possible. We also support different social entrepreneurs involved in recycling, micro-companies that needed equipment during the Covid days we do as so much as we can. We support hard and soft skills development with an emphasis on the youth, the development of art, the environment, and volunteer work in all areas and walks of life as we need more volunteers.
“As all of us have a mission in life, we need to treat people as we want to be treated.”
What is your BIG WHY or driving motivation to be who you are right now?
I am grateful for the Supreme Being that I am allowed to serve people, and I serve them with Love. As all of us have a mission in life, we need to treat people as we want to be treated. Every single person is unique and this gives me the power each day to engage positively with whomever I meet, be it a drugs addict or the Prime Minister. All of us need to treat each other like that, to make a difference in each other’s lives and share as much love as possible with one another and walk our talk. I am grateful for the patience that I have and I must say that in almost 90 % of the times I get triggered, I don’t get mad.
What are your plans for the coming years and when do you consider that you have been successful in your personal and business/professional life, let us say 5 years from now?
I want to still be making a difference. Our team has the privilege to have a budget, where we can make proposals to our management, to help others reach their goals.
On a personal level, I want to keep taking care of my health and have enough time to keep on reflecting and see how I can improve myself and improve other people’s lives, as nobody knows when our mission on this planet comes to an end.
What are the challenges that you are dealing with? And how are you dealing with these different challenges you confront?
The biggest challenge is the lack of honesty, that is my experience at least. We need to help more people so that they can work on their norms and values.
Our lack of compliance with commitments we make.
These challenges have grown over the past two (Covid) years and that is why we need to work hard on them.
Do you use your inner voice to evaluate when dilemmas show up? How does that work for you?
I go into silence and I ask for illumination on which option to choose from. I never decide immediately. I will wait three days, meditate and pray and then decide. And this could be personal or business. Like the day Lionel Capriles approach me and asked me to consider becoming responsible for MCB corporate responsibility program. I took my time but knew that when asked to serve, I have to comply.
How are you trying also to keep up with your knowledge and skills levels?
Next month I will finalize my Post Graduate course in Theology. We were planning to finish our studies in 2021, but because of COVID, we ran into a delay. After my graduation, we will see what next.
What are your strengths?
I am driven, empathic and I communicate easily with people. This enables me to deal with and understand easily almost all types of people.
Do you have hobbies or interests that you are also passionate about?
I can relax excellently with plants, I am a member of the ferns club of Curaçao, I love cooking and I love having fun at home with people that I invite to come and visit us. Sunday afternoon everybody is welcome at our home.
If you as Migdarys would meet a stranger on the bus (let’s say in New York or Bogota Columbia) and they would ask you to introduce yourself, what would you answer?
I would tell them hello and that I am from Curaçao, a beautiful island, and I would invite them to visit us and share the island with us. But it depends on the mood of the other person also.
How would you describe Migdarys in one word or one sentence?
Driven, empathic, honest, and direct.
Who are the persons that have inspired you the most in your career?
The Salesiano Fathers, lately the Family Obama, dr. Martin Luther King, I am a member of the Toastmasters, any literature that inspires you, like the poems of Ellis Juliana that has substance and triggers you to think deeply.
What is a trait that is still a work in progress?
I trust people too much and approach them too openly. I need more balance in this.
What was a defining moment in your life?
This was when I was still at the MIL and I met the Salesianos Fathers of Juan Bosco, Fernando Mion, and (now Bishop) Luis Antonio Secco. I was impressed by how they practiced their spirituality. Their adagio: “Whatever makes us different, treat others well”. This impacted my religious and spiritual life greatly. We were invited as youngsters to attend different group activities, especially for the youth, like theater, homework support, and they didn’t force us to attend church, but we were free to attend the church services. I am now working 42 years with the Roman Catholic pastors and this triggered me to know more and I signed up for the Post Graduate in Theology. This helped me, not only to increase my spiritual knowledge but also helped me greatly to deepen my relationship with the Supreme Being. The different themes we discussed made me understand whoever walks around on this planet better. In the meantime, all those who were youth in those days are now in their 50-ties or six-ties age group and they occupy significant positions in our society. It is good to take note of this fact.
Where do you want to be 10 years from now with your career?
To keep on doing what I am doing now with the same strength, ‘animo’, and health so that we can make a difference in whomever we meet in our life.
What would you want your Loved Ones, family, friends, and others to say about you let’s say 20 years from now?
She was still for this one moment so that we can surprise her, instead of her surprising us.
What makes you stay optimistic about the future of Curaçao as we are in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, recession, and in the middle of growing environmental challenges because of the global warming consequences?
We have so much to offer, people like you and myself. We deliberately choose for the positive and we can make a difference, giving what we have for the good of all. This gives us the energy to stay the course despite whatever is happening.
“It is important to do whatever we can do, to develop our youth.”
Is there anything else that you would like to add?
One last thing on the involvement of the Salesiano Fathers, inspired by them, I am part of the Roman Catholic Women organization, called “Damanan Salesiano, we organize activities for the youth as volunteers. We as a family go on vacation every year or every two years. Every single year, since I was very young, we organize a vacation plan for some youth. If we don’t do this, we don’t feel right. This is also how I brought up my two daughters. It is important to do whatever we can do, to develop our youth.
It is important also to mention that I am a reading mother as part of a program of the Public Library to trigger more youth to read. I do this once a month. We need to motivate our youth to read. If we don’t read nor listen, we can’t develop our own balanced opinions.
We also need to re-educate our people on how to become more honest. Like when asking for help don’t fake it that you need help, while this is not true.
One of the 250 Influencers of Curaçao
Migdarys Mercera-Martina is a driven, spiritual, empathic, caring, socially engaged, professional, with a high Emotional Intelligence that makes it easy for her to communicate with all types of people. Migdarys has been fortunate to have made one of her passions, namely volunteerism, her work as a professional. With her team, she is responsible for the Corporate Social Responsibility Program of her employer. Being raised in a family tradition where “the need to be helpful, serve where this was possible” got Migdarys socially involved in multiple ways in our society at a very early age. Combining these roots that promoted volunteerism, her strengths, her job as a professional for her employer, and the lasting influence the Salesianos Fathers of Juan Bosco, Fernando Mion, and (now Bishop) Luis Antonio Secco had on her religious and spiritual life, explains very well why she is so impactful and why she stands out. The adagio of the Salesianos Fathers is: “Whatever makes us different, treat others well”. Of late she signed up for the Post Graduate in Theology, helping her to increase her spiritual knowledge and deepen her spirituality.
For all these reasons we deeply love and respect Migdarys, and we consider her one of the 250 influencers of the islands representing the NGO sector focusing on “Corporate Social Responsibility and Volunteerism”. Look at the list of the Influencers we have interviewed or reported on, up to now.