Interview with Bianca Montalvo, Community Manager & Content Specialist at WebCreek
When I was invited to be part of the WebCreek dots, the person who welcomed me was a woman named Bianca Montalvo, in charge of the company’s social networks. I still remember our first chats, friendly and full of advice. Everything went well, and she treated very normally. Until one day, she wrote to tell me about her new book, calling me “colleague.” We’ve since progressed towards more and more friendly dialogues. Now, I gave myself the task of including her in the muses of WebCreek, this interview series dedicated to giving voice and testimony to the feminine side of the technology industry.
Rafa: What do you think are the advantages of belonging to both worlds, of your Latina blood and having grown up in Miami? You know 2 worlds and 2 languages.
Bianca Montalvo: Well, yes, I always say that I don’t know if it’s a good or a bad thing because I always go into culture shock. What I will say is that I had the luck of my mom choosing Miami. Because, even though I’m a “gringa” [someone from the United States], Miami has a lot of Latino influence. So, I’m not so “gringated,” either. I think that it’s a perfect mixture, let’s say.
Rafa: Who is Dante, why the Divine Comedy, and why is he so special to you?
Bianca Montalvo: He’s… the best. He’s trained precisely to be my service dog. He helps me go up and downstairs, he’s bilingual like his mom, he has a tattoo like his mom, he has bracelets like his mom—in essence, we have a lot in common. He’s my son, a 4-year old German Shepherd. He’s the best friend I have.
Rafa: I’ve heard that you have an evaluation project for handicap access within the city, buildings and transport, and particularly in Quito. Tell me more.
Bianca Montalvo: Yes, you know, it’s something that I’ve been planning for a few years. Unfortunately, it’s not worked out yet, because the government, and culture itself, isn’t ready for something like it. They don’t see it as something necessary and emergent, or of high importance. They believe that what they’re already implementing is enough. And, well, they don’t prioritize accessibility in their projects. So I think to do a type of documentary, like an undercover “a day in the life of…” type thing, in order to demonstrate that handicaps can affect anyone, at any socio-economic level.
For example, those people that we find at stoplights, who sometimes don’t have arms or legs: I’d like to follow them and see how they move about, especially in Latin America. That’s where awareness is missing for handicapped people, as well as basic tools: how do these people move from their houses to work on public transport, in order to earn their daily five dollars, or who knows how much? And I thought to do the same with another person of higher social status. I even thought about doing it with myself, so that people can see someone who comes from another country and went to university. Here in Latin America, everyone says that it’s a very taboo topic; you don’t see people in wheelchairs on the street, let alone living a normal life.
In my project, I’d like to face this missing awareness and share multiple solutions to these issues through service dogs. In the United States, you see them a lot; it’s supernormal. With a handicap, be it small or serious, service dogs or service animals help with mobility (as I said, Dante helps me go up and downstairs, among other things). Here in Quito, ramps, and points of accessibility in public buildings aren’t well done. There are buildings that aren’t accessible at all, even government buildings. So, you say: “How can a handicapped person get a citizen ID card?” My project focuses more or less on this. But like I told you, Latin America is unfortunately underprepared, at least in my perspective, Ecuador isn’t ready.
Rafa: Tell me about Corazón Suicida [Suicide Heart]. When and how did this literary project start?
Bianca Montalvo: Well, let’s see (laughs). It started… I think my whole life, really; I just didn’t know it. I’ve always been the type of person that grabs a napkin or a scrap of paper, wherever I go, whenever something occurs to me. Whether I’m listening to a song, I remember something, I’m eating ice cream, I see someone, or an idea comes to mind; I write it down and take it home. I’ve always been that way. But two years ago, I started to live in Ecuador, started to work part-time with my mom. And, because life happens, I stayed here. It changed my destiny; I met someone and said: “Okay,” fine.
My day used to be: work part-time with my mom, go to the gym, drink a coffee or something, and that was it. And I said, “Well, no. I have to do something more productive with my life.” What can I do that I’ve always wanted to do, taking advantage of this free time I have? And I started to collect everything together. I went into my Facebook profile, copied all that I had there, brought out old notebooks, and, well, that’s how I started. Taking loose texts and everything; and drinking lots and lots of beer. I would buy a beer and read all the loose papers, and I made a draft of the chapter names. I started to read one by one, and said: “This seems like it goes in this chapter, this one here…” I covered the table with a pile of loose papers, notebook pages, and napkins; each pile was a chapter. And that’s how it came about.
That’s when the hardest task started: start all this from scratch in a Word document. This was super hard for me because I’m honestly quite complicated; I don’t like to write on the computer, just on paper, old school. Likewise, when someone tells me, “Bianca, download this on Kindle,” what shit is that—I mean, (laughs), no. Give me a book. I want to turn the page, feel the paper. So, anyway, Corazón Suicida is my book. It was just recently released for sale on Amazon a few months ago. I still haven’t been able to send it to print; that’s a bit expensive. But I’m seeing if I can do it soon, through a Colombian publishing company. The cool thing about my book is that, for those who read or have heard of it, the publisher DejaVú, from Caracas, supported my book and my authorship. This publisher is where the famous Venezuelan author, Nacarid Portal, released his books, which fills me with pride.
Rafa: Can you repeat the name for me?
Bianca Montalvo: Yes, it’s Nacarid Portal, and his editor, Emanuel Speaker, was the one who accepted to do my book. And, well, you haven’t bought it. Buy it, right, Rafa?
Rafa: Good point! (Thumbs up)
Bianca Montalvo: Hahahaha. Of course!
Rafa: Why white, black, and red?
Bianca Montalvo: White, black, and red… mmm, well, I don’t know. I always go for life dressing dark clothes. I used to use color, you know, and—I don’t know—there was a season when I changed to black, black, black: it’s minimalist, it’s not… ah, how can I say it?… like, stuffy. It’s pretty basic. And red, well, red is passion; red is love. White, well, because it goes well with black and red. If you want to assign meaning, well, white is purity.
Rafa: Great. So, it would basically be your dark side, passionate side, and spiritual side.
Bianca Montalvo: Well, yeah. Look, how you said it sounds better.
Rafa: Thanks, thanks, colleague. Tell me about a normal day in charge of the social media of a constantly-growing tech company like WebCreek.
Bianca Montalvo: Ah, well, look: the truth is that it’s the first time that I’m working for a tech company, to be completely honest with you. I’ve worked in so many random things, that I can’t say that I’ve done this before. A normal day for me, well, I’ll tell you that before entering the office, I drink a cup of coffee. Because if I don’t have coffee, I don’t exist, my day doesn’t start—no matter what time it is. Coffee is first; this is sacred. And, well, you know that WebCreek is a super relaxed environment. I mean, I believe that that’s why I’ve lasted a year and four months, and I’m still here. I’m super laid back; I do what I have to do, but I don’t like when people pressure me. My day is basically to read content, make and edit headlines and hashtags, eh… overdose of headlines and hashtags. It’s super cool, actually, and what I like is that I don’t only deal with social media. I’m also involved with recruitment topics, with you (we’re pals on the Creative team), brainstorming ideas for content projects, etc. So it’s a mix that keeps me active, and I believe that’s important for my personality.
Rafa: Cool. Now it’s time for our funny question: If WebCreek were a tattoo, what form would it have or what would it say, and on what part of the body would it be?
Bianca: Well, I believe that WebCreek would be a lotus flower.
Bianca: They say that a lotus flower rises above whatever circumstance, humiliation, or problem. And in the year + that I’ve been with WebCreek, I’ve realized that–maybe for our large team or cultural diversity–there are moments of our communication when we say, “No, it’s that she said this, and he said that…” It’s a communication problem that normally happens when there are so many people involved. I think that, at the end of the day, we successfully move forward to give the client what’s desired of a company like WebCreek. So, yes, a lotus flower. Where? Well, I say that each person’s body is her/his own; I have a tattoo on every part of my body. So, the placement of the tattoo would depend on each person. And in which color? Well, with the red of passion, like the lotus that I have. Passion moves everything. It’s the motor of everything.
Rafa: I found this poem on your Facebook of Corazón Suicida, and I’d like to ask you for some reflective thoughts about it. It says:
“I will always be with you, although I’m not where you are. I will be with you because you are part of me and I carry you inside, just as you carry me” (Page 51, Corazón Suicida)
Bianca: (after a short silence) Well, yes, look: I would say that it’s a tribute to pure love. A true love that is indestructible before any problem or situation– in the good and in the bad, as they say. In my case, it’s a tribute to the love of my life, the reason why I’m under Quito’s sky.
Now, if you’re in a relationship with someone you love, look: consider yourself the most blessed person in the world, because this is unique. If you have the chance to wake up every day with the person you love at your side, you have it all. So, well, yes. This passage was in tribute to that, to a love that you can have for someone, for a friend… even for a dog! Each person, if we have a genuine relationship that’s full of love and respect; I believe that a piece of us always goes with that person, wherever she/he goes.
I thanked Bianca for her answers and her time in this interview, and closed the chat to move on to my next task: the transcription, which thus enables me to bring this testimony to you all. But I didn’t move on without first imagining the WebCreek tattoo–the red tattoo, on the skin of those of us who have agreed to be part of the dots that form this network of talent, which connects our Texan company. And I’ve taken on the task of gathering various ideas about the topic. After all, content is what defines and shapes us; therefore, for the next of these articles to come, I’ll share my hypothesis of what’s behind the workings of WebCreek.