Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Legend of Panama, Part Two

Hello dear friends,

Hope you enjoyed Part One of The Legend of Panama. You did not have to wait for long and here is Part Two of the interview with "Powerhouse Ilya".

OD: I could not agree more! But I understand not all was smooth for your family about 6 years ago.

IEM: Yes, there were few challenging years. My middle son, 16 at the time, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma – cancer that starts in the bones. It was extremely disturbing to see my boy sick and not knowing what might happen. Of course I was very fortunate to have a Dad who is a well-known doctor around the world. With his help we were able to explore the best treatments and facilities available at the time. 

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But that was not the end of our trouble. While my son was going through treatment, my husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer in December of the same year. We were crashed! What do you do? Besides running between two very sick members of your family there was my fourth baby – Canal. I needed to clone myself at that time and not just to get things done but to keep it together. 

That’s were my Canal family came through for me (tears in her eyes)! I had to be away from work for a long period of time and though that there was no other choice but to quit. However, our organization had an option to donate vacation hours. My generous Canal family donated over 1,000 vacation hours to me to spend with my family! With my 850 vacation hours and their generous gift I was able to be away for 7 month and do some work remotely. And that was not the end of the support. The company held prayer groups for my family as well. I am a true believer in God and this was a beautiful confirmation of the power of a prayer. I am forever grateful!

There is another organization that deserves a huge praise – Ronald McDonald House! This was our
home for 7 month and help, support and love that we received cannot be described in words. Due to my experience with this wonderful organization I support and promote it in any way possible. This is my #1 charity of choice!

OD: I am simply stunned! Your life is like a book; perhaps you should right one someday. Now I understand better how such an accomplished individual can be so humble. Your life presented you with few tough lessons. And that is usually where we find our humility.

Well, I think enough tear jerking questions. I’d like to ask you few more questions about your work as one of the members of the executive team.  Your position is a big responsibility, especially as a woman executive. Do you feel the pressure to prove that woman can accomplish anything she has passion for and put her mind to? If so, is it pressure from you or others?

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IEM: One important item that women need to remember is not to put pressure on them. Yes, this is a big responsibility but by adding pressure you will compromise the purpose. Be confident and replace the pressure with a statement. Yes, make a statement! I made one with the presence of pink hardhat and pink vest. It screams: “I am a woman and I am here to stay!”

OD: Do you ever feel the sense of responsibility to not disappoint as a woman executive for women in general and especially women of Central and Latin America?

IEM: Interesting question. I always ask myself, how do I “show” as a person? Am I professional, respectful, supportive, nurturing, open minded? I am a natural leader and always make sure that this trait is pronounced in the most positive way possible. No matter if I am dealing with a woman or a man.

It is a powerful feeling to be a woman executive. I don’t focus on disappointing anyone; I focus on the needs of my family, Canal family in this case. And as you know all the families have their highs and lows. But there is no room for disappointments, only lessons to learn. And for us as women it is especially important! We are the ones that bare the children, if you know what I mean.

OD: Very good point! In conclusion, I am sure you will be happy to share few words of wisdom. Could you please provide few ideas of inspiration for my readers?

IEM: It will be my pleasure! Number one thing to remember for any human being especially a
woman is to be authentic. Do not compromise of who you are for anyone! Be the same to everyone and be transparent!

Another important matter to remember is not to fill obligated to give back. It is not sincere gesture if it’s not from the heart. If you’d like to help someone have a heart desire to do so. Do not do this just to prove something to someone. Take time to learn to be a human, a guide or a mentor. You have something that someone else needs. Education is not just about degrees, it is more about who you are as a person.

OD: Beautiful! So, with the project coming to an end what’s next for the “Powerhouse Ilya”? Any new projects on the horizon? Or perhaps retirement?

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IEM: I have not really put too much time thinking about it just yet. The focus at this point is on the successful completion of the Canal expansion and making sure that everything runs smoothly after. That will take time. 

But there is one interesting international opportunity in Turkey. However, that is as far as I go with this statement.

Retirement is not in my cards just yet. But I would love to spend more time at my beach house: snorkeling, laying in a hammock with a good book, do some diving and gardening. Oh yes, I love plants and won few awards for my garden designs (sparkle in her eyes). And of course taking photos, I miss photography! Time will only tell what is next in the cards for me. Remember I am not a planner!

And here you have it my dear friends, our first international connection and first international woman in spotlight with Current Woman.  She is strong, honest, inspiring, fun and humble. A great inspiration for all of us!

Please let me know if you have anyone that you would like to put in spotlight! Someone who inspired you to be a better person.

Looking forward to hear from you and in the meantime,

Be Active! Be Involved! Be a Current Woman!

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