Influencer Victor Monk

Interview September 2018

Victor Monk, could you tell us something about your self and your family?
“I am a father of two sons now grown up children, and I am very happily married for over 29 years. I consider it a great win that my children have grown up well, both now studying in Holland, and my family is very united. I was born in Colombia, my mother is still alive and I care for her, a lot. I visit her regularly. I have one other brother and one sister, and I came to live in Curaçao when I was 10 years old. I am a family man and the Bible inspires me a lot in everything I do and I love soccer, swimming, going to the gym and I have always loved sports, especially soccer.

I come from a family, who was living on welfare and I always believed that if I study and work hard enough with dedication, I can come very far career wise. I am now, as we speak, the director of the Social Development at Ministry of SOAW of the government of Curaçao that offers social welfare for those most in need. So I believe that if I can achieve this, anyone can, if they put in the work. My job gives me this unique authority to be helpful for people whom are in a disadvantage position. 

I am always looking for ways and means how to further improve the lives of those whom are less fortunate in this world. This also explains why, I try to do acts of kindness on a personal basis every single day, that makes me feel good, and I consider it a privilege to be able to do this.”

In your life, you have to dealt with lots of challenges. Could you tell us about some of them and tell us how you overcame them?
When we came to Curaçao, we didn’t know anyone. We only could speak Spanish and I had to start school in the 5th grade, where Dutch and Papiamento were the only languages that were spoken. And I was teased by other kids when I tried to speak Dutch or Papiamento, but fortunately not all were like that, some really tried to help me. I had this wonderful teacher Mrs. Hato who was very interested in me and who took interest in my learning, so she taught me in after school hours, the languages. I was always very good at arithmetic, and I focused on my strengths and from there on, I gained an increased self-esteem to try other subject matters.”

“I have always been very highly motivated to do well and did well at school, and this while going to the challenges of getting accustomed to a new culture and country (Meaning Curaçao and later Holland). And after finishing M.I.L., I got my master’s degree at the University of Tilburg, Holland as a social economist. In Holland my biggest challenges were to get along with other Dutch students and I experienced less willingness by most of these Dutch students to be helpful towards students from other countries than Holland itself. In my experience, I consider the people in Curaçao were much more helpful and more human in that sense.

I decided to come back to work and live in Curaçao and that was a deliberate choice, because I wanted to give something back to our island. I started my career at Afdeling Financien Eilandgebied Curaçao in the year 1992, but soon they approached me to join the Bureau Ziektekosten Verzekering as a staff member, where in the year 1997 I became the Finance Director and in 2005 I became the Director.

In the beginning of my career, my biggest challenges were how to help those most in need where there was always a lack of sufficient money.
I experienced that one specific group, those with a handicap in the society, had extra problems. We decided to form a group and we ultimately worked on introducing the “ley di labizjan” or AVBZ. This made it possible to improve the physical and mental care of handicapped people in a much better way. My idea was then to come with a general medical insurance system (AZV) for all, on the island. At this moment, we do have a basic health insurance system, but that isn’t the same as what I dreamed about, but we this a quite reasonable health insurance system we now have in place and now we are working on a general pension system. When you work in government, I have, over the years, become aware of red tape and politics. That is why you should be patient, persevere and focus more on the process and less on the results.”

“After some years at BZV, I returned into government after some bumps with politics, but I came back in government stronger than ever. I was asked to become a Secretaris Generaal (SG) of BPD, but I preferred to be a director of Social Development at the Ministery of SOAW. As a director I am more directly involved with projects, that can influenced those whom really need help. As a SG, you are more of a coordinator. You have a slightly better salary, but you are not directly involve with the people in need. I believe that you must love what you do and always be willing to help people that need it the most.”

In the 25 years that I have worked, I have been confronted with lots of challenges and there are lots of people trying to pull you down in the mud, but when you have a clean consciousness and you do what you do from the heart, you will always come of out of these challenges victorious. In my career I have been put aside (in Dutch: on “non-actief” twice. I lost my job as the director of BZV, because I kept my ground as a principle centered person. But with the help of Jehova GOD and my family standing right behind me, I came out of this stronger than ever.”

How did you overcome challenges up to now, rebounding from whatever challenges you confront?
“My trust in GOD all Mighty, my family and my confidence and trust that what I am doing is for the benefit and good of all.”

Furthermore, in the past I was very focused on the results and when I didn’t get the results, this really disappointed me. Now I focus more on the process, work hard to achieve my goals, but then I am aware of reality factors and I am enjoying more, the journey.”

What are your strengths?
“1. I am a person that really cares for people;
2. I love being in management;
3. I am very creative and innovative and I love thinking out of the box;
4. I am very result oriented and
5. I am a very positive person.”

How would you describe your leadership style, people centered or result oriented?

“I used to be very result-oriented in the beginning of my career, but as years had gone by, I transformed and now I am a people centered manager and leader. This is why I put lots of focus and attention on coaching programs for the employees that I am responsible for at the Ministery of SOAW.”

What is your BIG WHY or driving motivation to be whom you are right now? Where does that come from?
“I want to prove to myself, that I can reach my goals not at the expense of others and still be able to help those the most in need of this help.”

We have come to know you as a person that is very result oriented and also well-connected in networks and can easily get along with different people and stakeholders, is that a competency – we would call it people’s skills – that one needs to be successful in life?
“If you really care for other people, and you do your work with love, you will undoubtedly achieve what you set your mind on.
When you focus too much on the results, though, you can get stress out, which is something that had happened to me. This was a big lesson for me and I have changed my ways and now I am enjoying life more and to the fullest.”

We have come to know you also as a very innovative and eager to learn new things as a manager and leader with a large circle of influence, where did that come from? Is it something that can be learned?
“I believe if all of us have this potential in us, it is up to us to achieve this potential. I have learned so much from those leaders I have worked with. I learned from their positives and tried to improve my self step by step.”

What are your future plans, short term and long term? What are your biggest challenges that you foresee to reach your future goals?
 “In the short term on a personal level I want to further grow spiritually, I want to improve my family ties and improve my Inner Mental Peace.

At work I want to enable the restoration/rehabilitation of four “Sentro di Bario” and I want to enable an improved work climate at work.

Long term is I want to become even stronger spiritually and mentally. I want to have happy family relations. I want to enable the construction of an Elderly Care center with optimal care for our people, and I want to enable a general pension system for all workers in Curaçao.”

We have come to learn from you that you really want to use all of your abilities to influence and solve problems that are bigger than those where you work now. Where did that come from?
I have thought myself to look at things as though they are challenges.

I read a lot and my mother always was looking for solutions for everything without complaining and my wife always stimulates me to, take steps slowly but surely and prove to myself ultimately that it is possible. My wife was always there when I most needed this, I love her dearly. She has been very supportive to help me to be where I am now. I trust in GOD that our love will last till the end of our lives.”

What were some of the most Influential books that changed your life?
The most important one was the ‘Bible’ and ‘To be happy in Alaska’, by Rafael Satandreu.

How, in one word or sentence would people that know you, best describe you?

Do you want to share anything else that might be relevant for those reading this blog?
“The coaching program I am following via Uplifting BV is making me, every single day, more and more aware of all the beautiful and positive things that surround us.

One of the 250 Influencers
As the core group of Share2uplift we consider Victor indeed “Victorious” a winner (in papiamento = “Victorioso” and one of the 250 ethical leaders of our islands, that continuously works at creating value for the whole of the society, by connecting dots and aligning efforts.”

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