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Author: Solange Wilson

What makes a good company?


As locals of the Dutch Caribbean, living abroad, one of the main goals of UPG is to deliver acquired knowledge and improvements to the islands. There are many ways to do so but what we have noticed is that the best way to accomplish this is by working together with others. So for the year 2019, we plan to develop ourselves by understanding what is needed to work together. We want to understand what makes a company successful and then do what is necessary to do so.

Some people own and manage companies, and others work for them. What both have in common is that they both want to see the results of their efforts. Employees want to be part of a fun and positive environment, where what they say and feel matters.

A company is not only about a product or a service. Great companies have a positive culture. They create an environment where they can focus on and invest in their most valuable assets: their employees.

Company culture

A company’s culture is its personality. It is the environment in which employees work. This can be a fun environment. It can be a harsh environment. It can be a chaotic or well-organised environment. It can be many things. One thing is certain, employees enjoy working in a company that has a positive culture and atmosphere. Companies who invest in creating a positive work atmosphere are often the most successful.  What are the signs of a positive atmosphere?


Good Communication

A positive atmosphere begins with good communication. Employees should feel like they can voice their opinion without fear of retribution. They should feel safe when approaching colleagues, as well as members of management. Good communication doesn’t happen on its own. For this to happen, interpersonal communication is vital. It may sound old fashioned, but face-to-face interaction is the best way to find out about someone’s interests and goals.

Investing in employees

Good companies invest in their team, helping them grow. To do so, companies must know what drives their employees and what motivates them to excel. Most importantly, companies should help employees find their strengths. Employees are people, and the success of your company depends on them.

When companies help employees find their strengths, they become more confident in themselves and their personal goals. So, it is beneficial for them to invest in their employees by accepting and implementing employee feedback.

Listening to employees shows appreciation

It takes a lot of courage to speak your mind. Most employees only make an effort to give feedback when they care about and are committed to the company. The decision makers (management) should be approachable. Also, companies should be creative in how they create an environment where employees can speak freely.  

Helping employees transform their ideas into reality

Only listening to employee feedback isn’t enough. Companies should help bring these ideas to fruition because it shows that they trust and are confident in their opinion and are willing to invest time and money into their ideas.

A sense of humor

Last but not least, it should be fun to work for a company. All work and no play make people bored and looking for other opportunities. In most companies, management does a poor job at making sure that work is fun; this is better left to the employees.

A fun, healthy work environment is essential when it comes to creating a successful company. The most important thing that influences an employee is their motivation and happiness, and how productive and efficient they can be.

UPG attends first ever Caribbean Student Conference at Erasmus University

Rotterdam,The Netherlands- On November 23rd, UPG attended the first Dutch Caribbean Student Congress at Erasmus University. The theme was “Elevate your mind, Elevate your potential”, a day consisting of a variety of workshops powered to give students useful tips, tricks and tools that will help them to successfully complete their degrees. These workshops took place during the morning and the main event, a series of inspiring and captivating speakers and presenters in the afternoon. The day was then ended with an hour of networking.

A few of these speakers were Ms.Jean-Maire Molina, an Expert Eeducator on Study Success at Hogeschool Rotterdam. She drove a powerful presentation on her vision on Mindset, failure and success based on her Tough Love teaching method.The method looks at focusing on success rather than remaining and giving all your energy on failure. She even brought proof of her methods, with her student counterpart and future motivational speaker, Alexius Labega. 

Jandino Asporaat, Comedian and Star of Bon Bini, the movie, made his talk about the students.Taking questions from the audience shed light on his journey to success, Asporaat shared shared his experience of coming from Curacao and dealing with the shame of not speaking the Dutch language perfectly.Then, learning what made him special and how tapping into and cultivating his natural talents coupled with hard work led him to his current success. Ending his talk, with encouraging the students to dream big and work hard.

Aminata Cairo, PhD, Lecturer for Inclusion and Diversity at The Hague University, delivered a presentation on Connected Learning. She first interacted with the audience with singing and dancing that later lead into great storytelling. These were stories  that spoke about the good and hard times in her education, the family stress she endured and those that her student colleagues were enduring that drove the message of “never judge someone’s success because internally they could be struggling”. It was truly a refreshing and memorable experience.  

UPG saw and meet many students from the different Dutch Caribbean islands as well as other stakeholders present. It was a great days if showing support to other organizations, learning from others and being inspired.

Why we chose to stay: Carlvin Brooks

What is your background?
I have a background in law, more specifically financial law. For the last couple of years I have been working in financial services and most recently, about 6 months ago, I started working in the field of Anti-money Laundering and Terrorism Financing.

What do you find is the biggest reason that people do not return to St. Maarten?

They do not know where to start. When most students are finished with their studies, they talk about wanting to return. But there is huge uncertainty on where they will be able to find work. The only place where they talk about working is for the government. So, I would say it’s not being certain of where they would be able to find work and secondly, finding work in the field in which they studied.

What do you want to focus on while in UPG?

I have 2 approaches. First, it is developing the platform of UPG, to a platform where (young) professionals and students can join and gain experience in a field that they are passionate about while building their professional network. Secondly, taking time out to really get to know the people of the islands, coaching (young) professionals, students and help them accomplish the goals they have set out for themselves on a personal level.


What goals have you made for yourself in UPG?

The main goal that I have right now is to make sure that the system works, to make sure that the platform develops! For the rest of this year, time is being taken to research what happens when someone gets the opportunity of a lifetime. As an example if a young professional or a students gets the opportunity to work doing the job that they have always dreamed of, what does that do to them? Where do they need to develop to handle the responsibility that comes with the job? Personally, when it happened to me, I could not really believe it until, I started myself. And then I began to realize that having my dream job was a lot harder than I imagined it would be. I needed a lot of coaching to help me build up skills that I did not have before.


When was this? When did you get this opportunity of a lifetime? Can you share more about that?

It started with the concept itself of UPG. A few years ago, after attending a project management workshop, I contacted the main speaker via Facebook. We quickly had a meeting with each other in which I had the chance to ask him, about his professional experience. During our meeting, we spoke about my dream of giving back to Sint Maarten. We then spoke about how this can be approached and before I knew it, UPG was a fact. It took awhile before everything could actually sink in. I’m going to make sure that UPG works. I saw what it helped me and it will do the same for someone else.

How did UPG develop your career? How did it take you to the next level in your career?

It taught me a lot about strategy. Whenever you want to do something, everyone always has an opinion or an idea of how it should be done, especially at work. Chances are they see it different than you. However, you were not hired to necessarily do things differently. You were hired to do a certain job and that’s it.  Here’s is where having a thought out strategy comes in, you first have to find out how things work within your work environment. Once you know what works, you will see what you need to do to change things. You’ll also gain confidence when you discover that you can change things if you approach it the right way.

I’ve learnt that if you want to create big changes you get it accomplished with a lot of small steps. You need to understand the process of small steps, or goals. You have to learn how to accomplish goals quickly. It is possible to accomplish big things and it is possible to do things differently you just have to break it down into steps.

This has helped me tremendously now that I am working! Now when I enter an environment I want to know what is expected of me. I then break the expectations into smaller goals that others can see and manage. It makes it easy for those around me to give tips on how to improve what I am doing.


How did that help you get to another level?, Did you say to yourself, “Okay, I want a new job and what I did in UPG helped me to do that ? What did you do?

Well, it took some time to figure out what I wanted. I have a background in Financial Law. That is a broad field of law and doesn’t really say much when you apply for a job. It does show that you know about financial law, but that’s it. However during my study I did specialize in payment systems, so that helped with narrowing down what I’m good at. A payment system is a system that allows money to be transferred from one bank account to the other. Not much jobs are available in this field. In order to get a job in that field you first need experience. And I did not have that.

UPG helped me to understand that I have to find out what skills I need for my career. It can be that you need three main skills. You may not get the chance to gain experience with all three skills in one job, but you can select one skill and apply for a job that helps you gain experience with that one skill.

So when I was approached to work as an Anti-Money Laundering Analyst, I immediately saw how this job can be used as a stepping stone in furthering my career. The other skills I can learn through being active in UPG.

UPG has helped me to understand, when building a career, vary rarely you get a job that matches perfectly with where you want to go. Everything takes time.


How do you think your background will help you to accomplish the goals that you have set out for yourself in UPG?

My background has a lot to do with finances and financial systems. One thing that I want to happen is for UPG to reach to a point where people can work full time to assist our people with returning home! In order to do this I am working on ways to get us funded. So my background is helping me to see options that are available to fund our activities.  I think compared to other people I have an advantage. when it comes to that.


How so? How do you have an advantage?

I studied how to set up financial systems. So if anyone should know how to get us funded, it should be me. But having knowledge and applying it are two different things. UPG has given me the chance to apply what I studied and I have gotten better at applying what I learned but I still have lot of work to do to develop myself so that I can be useful to the people around me.

So I do have the feeling that I am busy with something important, everyday I’m learning something new. I have to be independent, work good within a team and at the same time a high level of responsibility has been placed on me.

What do you want others to know about UPG, if someone were to ask you?

I will break it down in 3 parts.  For students, it’s a place where you can get work experience during your study. There is always room for new talent, you can apply and start working immediately. For professionals, it helps you use the work experience that you already have to see opportunities that are available on the islands. The goal is to motivate you to go back home because your island needs you. Lastly, for both groups, you can use UPG as a bridge to find your way back home!  

Why we chose to stay: Jennifer Hodge

What is your background? 

I did MAVO and then HAVO and in both years I was Valedictorian. I didn’t really take studying seriously, I used to do enough to pass and then I came to Holland and I did Nursing in Hogeschool Zeeland in Vlissingen, however, I did not complete that. I moved here to Rotterdam and now I’m working to become a Pharmacy assistant  

What do you find the biggest reason is that people do not return to St. Maarten?

The biggest reason is opportunity. There is no opportunity unless you know people that can get you a good job. I know there is the feeling of no place to go to develop their career and if they do its again with the vriendjes politiek and if you don’t know the right people, then you are not going to make it. And if that is the case, then why go back when you have something good here.?

I also think the cost of living is something to be considered.  People who make minimum wage, if you want to get brown bread it’s about  Naf. 6 guilders, or yogurt is like also high, so its like to get fresh fruit or veggies it’s very expensive down there in comparison with up here. You can just go to the market and you can get things you need. So, it’s a lot of things up here that make it more attractive to stay. St.Maarten is not giving you a reason to come back. I mean most people eventually move back because they have their family there and you to be with your family. If you have kids you want them to be around their grandparents and I believe that is one of the reasons that would make me want to go back, so that my son can be with my parents. But if we are talking about building a professional career and money, then it’s a No. Its not a prospect that St.Maarten has.

What do you want to focus on while in UPG?

Honestly, for me that has been something that  I have been thinking about. Right now, I am seeing UPG as more of  something that will help St.Maarten more than it helping me. When i’m thinking about “What do I want to do?” I am still not sure. My main goal is to help and be able to provide for my son so that he can do whatever he wants to do.  But how am I going to provide to do that, I am not sure as yet. So I’m hoping that in working in UPG will bring clarity or more ideas as what I can do pursue that.

  So at the moment, you just want to help wherever you can?

Yes, and if I’m getting help in the process then that is a bonus, but for now I just want to help.

How do you think your background will  help you to accomplish the goals that you have  set out for yourself in UPG?

Because my background is nursing and that is in essence helping people, It’s  helping to me help others.This is just an extension of the kind of help I can do, I can do physical help or help in other areas.

What do you want others to know about UPG, if someone where to ask you?

A group of young professionals who are from St.Maarten and are trying to make a difference in St.Maarten by teaching and giving people the tools become either business owners . entrepreneurs themselves.


Why we chose to stay: Carlton Brooks

What is your background?

I have a background in electricity. Sterkstroom Installaties.

 What do you find the biggest reason is that people do not return to Sint Maarten?

Because there is slightly no future promised there and when they come back, mainly what they hear is that they are “overqualified” or “they don’t get paid.for what they are worth”. Therefore, they prefer to stay where they are where they feel more comfortable.  I think they feel more safe where they’re at, they have a safety net.

Do you feel  that way as well?

Yes, I do.

Do you feel that you may have a better and brighter future here than home?

No. I wouldn’t say that but I would say it’s difficult to do what you may want to do at home.

What do you want to focus on while in UPG?

 I would like to focus more on agriculture, creating certain events like sports, cultural events. For example, have booths and cookouts, where  people could set up their own tents and sell their food and stuff get to know their customers. It’s really to get something going and get the people together and talk about stuff. 

What goals have you made for yourself in UPG?

Right now, I am working with Denicio Wyatt with more agriculture and that is why I would like step into that field. I was thinking more along the line of the dump, but that dump situation is kind of out of hand for me to sit down and think up a plan for that. I would rather work on agriculture because no one is really looking and working on that field and I like agriculture also. So I was  “Hey, I like this better”.

How is that going working with Denicio?  

Well, he is willing to work with us, he is very willing to do whatever to make something happen. From talking with him and learning how he’s doing and having more information to help him lout in this situation..

How far have you gotten with in helping him?

Right now he is still going through the process of getting everything stabilized for him. So, right now that is basically what we are talking about. It’s really a back and forth right now with the government.

So right now, you are like a support system for him?

Yes, you could say that.

How do you think your background will  help you to accomplish the goals that you   have  set out for yourself in UPG?

Well seeing that electricity is my background, I have not thought about it like that. I would say one of my ideas were about the dump and having a nice recycling system but I would say more the agricultural side.

Then you would say that is more of your interest rather than your background that is in line with your goals you right now.?

Yes, you could that.

And what more do you want to do with your goals, apart from helping  Kenicio? Do you want to do something else with that or just some kind of support for the local on the ground?

I wouldn’t say some kind of support, I  would say, to pick it up. To bring something some new to the table of UPG. I want to work on agriculture. I don’t have something concrete at the moment, but I am busy brainstorming on that right now, something new.

What do you want others to know about UPG, if someone where to ask you?
I wouldn’t that say that’s a difficult question, I was talking to other members of UPG and I would say right now we are looking for our first gig! Our first way to do something. We want to do make a better St.Maarten, maybe we have layouts and plans  and having our own format of doing so. And I would say that has not happened as yet.

Why do you think that is?

Because no one gave us a chance for us to represent, you know. And that’s what I’ve been telling one of our members. I find that we have to have a product, we do have a plan and layouts, but we have to perform, we have to get something going. Let’s sign a contract and it’s like okay, we can handle this and then is when UPG  gotta represent. I can call and say “We can do this and that” but we have to get in there and I think that’s what we’re doing now. We’re finally making steps and we “knocking, knocking” and get “ no and no “ and now we finally getting some “yeses” to get an assignment on the table that we can perform.

At one point we weren’t getting projects, what if we create our own and then see what happens that way?  That’s also a possibility too! What do you think?

Hmm That’s true. What I was thinking for like having cultural events. For example, like how we approach the government up here, if we approach the gemeente up here with something like that  I think we would be most likely to get funded and sponsored for something cultural and bringing the people together.