Influencer Rochelle Monte
Interview December 2019
Could you share with us some information of your family life?
I have one older brother and a younger sister. I am the middle child. My mother is still alive and my father passed away this year. My parents were very supportive in whom I have become. My mother always taught me to be limitless, she gave us the room to pursue the careers of our choices. She had only one requirement: we should be good at whatever we choose to do.
Contrarily to many parents, she motivated me to pursue a career in arts yet, I choose to pursue a career in business which is my other passion My father was a fighter, a hardworking man, an ethical person that didn’t tolerate disorder, he had a lot of grit and had a well-developed ability to come up with creative solutions to solve problems, which I am grateful that I have inherited.
What is your educational background and professional background?
I have a Master Degree in Business Administration (MBA) with a specialization in Quality Management. Though, I have never worked in a specialized quality management position, I live by and apply the principles of quality management such customer satisfaction, identifying and solving root causes of problems instead of treating symptoms and improving business processes throughout my career. After graduation, I worked for one year in product development at Postna N.V.. Later, I switched to PriceWaterhouseCoopers (‘PWC’ where I worked as management consultant in the Financial Advisory Services division . Afterwards, I worked for 4.5 year at the former Algemeen Pensioenfonds van de Nederlandse Antillen (‘APNA’ now APC) as an Investment Portfolio Manager for 4,5 years. After APNA , I worked at the Girobank N.V. for 8 years and was responsible for different departments and areas in bank including Treasury, Investments, Compliance, Information Security , Payments, Bank Card Services, Research and Product Development, Branch Network, Online Banking and operations. After the bank felt under the supervisory measure of the Central Bank of Curaçao and St. Maarten (‘CBCS’, I was appointed as a proxy holder of CBCS at the Girobank N.V. for some months after which I quitted to pursue my dream, of starting my own business. Now, I own 3 companies and I am a Supervisory Director at ASKA insurances.
What is the name of your company?
I own Excellency B.V. where we offer business, management advisory services in the areas of Corporate Finance, Strategic Planning, Business Improvement, innovations and policymaking. Our clients in Excellency are mostly large corporations in the Financial, Telecommunications, Utility, Health Care and Government sector. Clients come to use when they need to restructure/ improve (part of) their business or when they need to innovate. Considering the sizes of these companies and their impact on the economy and hence the community, we are glad to be able to positively impact our community by serving these companies.
In addition to Excellency B.V., I am the founder of Business Brainer together with 2 business partners. Through Business Brainer, we have created a model and web application to guide entrepreneurs through the process of creating purpose driven businesses or scaling there existing businesses. The Business Brainer Model is focused on the “DNA” of an entrepreneur, we help entrepreneurs find their purpose (their Why) and to combine this with their talents and passion to solve a problem/ satisfy a need of their customers in order to add value to their customers. Once they create their business concept, we help them define a marketing and branding strategy and help them make their financial projections by answering deep questions. While they answer deep questions, the Business Brainer app automatically generates their business plan and financial projections.
Last, I own a real estate company togehter with two other business partners.
When first met you were also working in Bonaire partially, right?
Yes, I have had a client on Bonaire for 5 months through Excellency B.V at the time
We met when you were in charge of Business Boost of Curaçao Development Institute enabling starting entrepreneurs to begin their own businesses and you also invited me to one of your courses where you focusing on some young starting entrepreneurs. Is this your focus, enabling others to become successful in business?
Yes, that is the focus of Business Brainer, we used Business Brainer model in that program to guide a selected group of 20 millennials through the process of creating / scaling their business. My affinity with entrepreneurship goes way back. My grandmother comes from an entrepreneur, a family. I can recall stories regarding her entrepreneurial spirit, how she used to capitalize on opportunities when they presented.
As a kid my youngest sister used to create businesses (lora man). She used to make and sell bakery and offer services such as typing services to neighbors. I used to be her “business advisor”. My father used to work first at Shell and when the Shell left, he went to work at Isla as an employee Unfortunate after ten years working at Isla at the age around 50 years, he was laid-off. It was a tough timing since at that time I was finishing college and my sister was finishing high school and we were both planning to study abroad. After he couldn’t find a suitable job for a while, my sister and I encouraged him to start his own business and we helped him to start his business. He was able to provide for his family till he passed away early this year; the business still exists. That is the reason why I strongly believe that entrepreneurship is a feasible alternative for people who lose their jobs. Against this background, Business Brainer has guided 10 persons who have lost or are about to lose their job this year with the financial support of MCB and PSB through a 3- month entrepreneurship program.
We saw your paintings at the exposition on Saturday at Kaya Kaya Street Party, and we were pleasantly surprised by taking notice that you are also a painter? Where does this come from?
Since I was a child, I loved doing handicrafts, painting, puzzles. This honed my abilities to be analytical and creative at the same time.
My earliest memory was when I was in kindergarten I made a painting, I cannot recall what it was but it was something green and my mother was so fascinated that she pushed me to show this to my Kindergarten teacher. I grew up with an older cousin who was like a sister. She had a sketchbook of cartoon characters that she drew in life from TV. By seeing her ability to make this sketches in life when watching TV, I was inspired to do the same. So, I started painting my favorite cartoons daily while watching TV. As I grew up, I start painting human portraits of friends and families. I stopped painting during my time at college and University. At 30 years when I built my house I felt the urgent needed to start painting again to fill the empty walls in my house with my own paintings. So, I start taking painting courses to further improve my craft. I took classes of among other Papy Adrianna (Curaçao), Morgaine Paris (Curaçao), Dominique Medici (US), Maria Teresa Mateve (Colombia), professor Lobaina and Magdariaga (Cuba). Since 2007, I participated in various exhibitions, among which:
• Arte pa Libertad organized by NAAM in 2013;
• Isla 100 Aña Den Nos Bida organized by NAAM in 2017,
• Pop up Art Gallery Kaya Kaya 2018,
• Renobashon organized by Landhuis Bloemhof,
• Men and Monument organized by Stichting Monumentenzorg Curaçao.
As you explained to us, all the paintings you showed have a special story and express I assume a feeling/emotion that originates from a deeper level? In what sense does art help you express yourself as Rochelle?
My life purpose is to encourage others to discover their own potential in order to achieve their dreams. That is what I strive to do through my businesses and also through my painting. The paintings you saw during Kaya Kaya have titles such as:
• Windows of Opportunity – a matter of perspective
• Perserveransia- Keep Standing
• Speransa pa nan
• Free mind
When painting, I try to single out the emotion first, feel that emotion and convey that through my art. The painting, with a father holding a child walking away, was a painting I made for the group exhibition Renobashon of Bloemhof early this year to commemorate 50 year of the revelation of May 30, 1969. In that painting, the message that I strive to convey through that painting is that: ”as a country we need to stop doing the same things over and over again expecting different results; we need to break the circle in order to create a better future for the next generation.
What does success mean to you?
Success to me is growing; I love to grow. To me, it is important to be in a better place tomorrow than I am today in all aspects of life; that is my growth path and it has always been like that. That is the reason why I invest a lot of time in personal development. I read a lot, I push myself out of my comfort zone by trying new things, especially when I am afraid to do so. I make it a point to identify the “lessons learned” from everything that didn’t happen according to plan both in my personal life and in business. Moreover, I celebrate small apparently irrelevant achievements, cause to me the journey is more important than the end result.
An important aspect to me is that we are successfull if everybody wins. That is the reason why I strive to encourage others to pursue their dreams. I do this in my personal life, through business and art.
What is your BIG WHY or driving motivation to be whom you are right now?
My purpose is to encourage others to embrace their full potential in order to achieve their dreams and hence create thriving communities.
This is what I strive to do through business and art. I am genuinely interested in people development. For me, business is not about the business per se, it is about the people involved and well beings that businesses can help people achieve. It is the leaders and the employees who determine the success of any business. I believe that if we succeed in enabling the YDK to reach their full potential, we can improve Curaçao as a whole. I strive to contribute in a positive way to my country. I dream of a Curaçao in which we the YDK think positively, a Curaçao in which we put common good first, a Curaçao in which we tab into abudancy, a Curaçao in which we believe in ourselves in order to progress.
Through Exellency B.V., we work with large corporations and the impact is broad with each company we help survive, improve or grow . In Business Brainer, however, we work with entrepreneurs, mothers and fathers that need to provide for their families, mother and fathers with dreams. So, Business Brainer enables us to positively impact human life directly and that is pricesless.
One more thing about my work as an artist, in the beginning it was just pure painting for the fun of it and lately it is more using my work of art to send out messages. That is so great about arts. Moreover, I realized that by making street arts in the city center, which I have been doing since 2017 both as part of the Art Heals Foundation and idependently , we can add value to the economy. Tour guides can take tourists on art walks and hence helping the “bario” and the economy as a whole.
What are the challenges that you are dealing with? And how are you dealing with these different challenges you confront?
I am not dealing with any challenge at the moment …..I really don’t know.
Do you use your inner voice to evaluate when dilemma’s show up?
I always use my inner voice. I rely a lot on my intuition to guide me. I am convinced that my sub -conscious mind knows so much more than my conscious mind does. So, I take action when my intuition tells me to do something, don’t do something or to be wary of someone. . During my careers I had times that I had to approve a lot of routine transactions, invoice and documents. Whenever I get the feeling to stop and investigate further, there was indeed something wrong or something to be wary of. My intuition has protected me from so many things.
I don’t have a conscious way on tapping into my intuition it is natural to me it just happens …I can just feel it.
I find it very hard in business to convince colleagues that they should not be doing something when it is only based on my intuition. People needs facts and sometimes the facts are not there yet.
How does creativity get triggers by you?
Creativity comes very natural to me. I love challenges and I am really passionate about seeking creative solutions for problems. This is something I inhered from my father. No wonder that I have been involved in product and business development for a great deal of my career and most of the time my superiors used to assign challenging project to me.
In order to recharge and be creative I need to have “me times” away from work. I deliberate in planning my “down time” to refill with creativity. For me going on vacation is a sacred thing and I am blessed to have clients that can understand and respect that. The great mayority of my week-ends are also deliberate down times as I have the tendency to work long hours during work days. I also notice that I am more creative in the evening. Moreover, I realized that when getting stuck in a thinking process a simple walk to the rest room can generate new ideas. When stuck you need to stop do something else and come back to what you where doing before later on. Moreover, being around creative people is also a incentive to generate creative ideas. That is the strength of Business Brainer since one of my business partners Danique Zimmerman is a creative as well.
How are you trying also to keep up with your personal knowledge and skills levels?
I read a lot, I am very focused and I work a lot on improving myself and learn from my mistakes, my lessons learned.
What are your strengths?
I am creative and have a well-developed analytical skills and problem-solving skills. This makes it possible for me to think out of the box to solve complex problems and to create innovative solutions.
I am very empathic toward other people and where possible encourage them to embrace their full potential and to follow their dreams.
I have once taken the StrengthsFinder test of Gallup years ago and according to the test my strongest strength is responsibility and connectedness, which is the ability to see that we are all connected that we are all part of something bigger thus we should not harm each other instead we need to help each other. I am more interested in authentic and meaningful connection with others.
Do you have hobbies or interests that you are also passionate about?
Painting is of course my main hobby. I do also love photography and I love to travel to gain new experience by learning about new cultures, new traditions, historical events, meet new people, eat other type of foods. Most of the time I combine my vacations with art, either by visiting museums or taking art classes abroad. For example, I have taken classes in Cuba, Italy, New York and Bali.
I also like to organize social gatherings to bringing friends and family together just to celebrate life.
If you as Rochelle 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 am a business professional, painter and a people’s person, a Yu di Korsòu that really loves her country above everything.
How would you describe Rochelle in one word or one sentence?
Enabler … I build bridges
Whom are the persons that have inspired you the most in your career?
I have been fortunate enough to meet lots business leaders when I was very young that believed in me. Like Harry Parisius, Philip Romer and Manuel Suena. They saw my potential before I was aware that I had those potentials they gave me responsibilities and opportunity to grow. I am very grateful for the opportunities that they give me and has always consider that it is my duty to pay it forward for the next generations.
What is a trait that for you is work in progress? You want to improve on?
Keep my the life balanced, as I have the tendency to get carried away and get too much involved in work. So I pay extra attention in keeping my life balanced and maintain my healthy routines like doing my yoga and sports and painting.
What was a defining moment in your life?
The moment my dad died, as it made me stand still and reflect on “life” itself. My father’s death was unexpected. This made me reconfirm that life is relative and that we spend way too much time worrying and putting energy in things that are not important at all. When a love one is gone the only thing that really matters is the good memories remain nothing else at least that is the case for me. So, my priority is in continuing making good memories with loved ones.
Where do you want to be 10 to 15 years from now with your career?
I would close to retiremement by than. I would be financially stable, my investments would be solid an paying off and I would be enjoying life.
What would you want your Loved Ones, family, friends and others to say about you let’s say 20 years from now?
I would be extremely happy if the dreams that they have shared with me, would have been realized. Moreover, I would be happy if they could recall great moments that we have share together.
What makes you stay optimistic about the future of Curaçao?
First of all, my love for this island. I can see our potential. If only everybody can see it. If only everybody could collaborate with one another to reach our full potential as a country. We need to see the world as an abundant place that represents opportunities for us as well, instead of literally fighting with each other for some scarce resources within the borders of this island. Look at how some of our athletes make it internationally in different sports. The more I travel, the more I realized how beautiful Curaçao is and how talented we are. We are able as “Yu di Kòrsou” to create new things, if we allow ourselves to do so.
Is there anything else that you would like to add?
No, not necessarily, but I still have this dream that one day our people of Curaçao will be educated enough, where through our educational systems they learn to think for themselves and be empowered enough to decide for those things that are for their own best interests. They will then be able to select true leaders to guide this country towards prosperity.
One of the 250 Influencers
Rochelle Monte is an empathic, hardworking business owner that offers business and management advisory services. As a business professional, painter, a people’s person, that is constantly involved in her own personal growth. Her BIG WHY is “To enable people to reach their full potential”. Combining an analytical mind with also being a “creative”, has made her a premier “Out-of-the box”- thinker, which makes her see an abundance of opportunities and she helps other people discover their potential. Rochelle believes in looking at all our potentials and that collaboration is “key” to improve Curaçao as a whole. She is an advocate of a bigger overall effort island wise, where starting entrepreneurs can continue to help one another, while being guided and so increase the overall chances of survival as a starting business. In that sense, we are totally aligned with Rochelle and support her in whatever way we can. We love and deeply respect Rochelle and definitely consider her one of the 250 Influencers of Curaçao representing the business sector.