It’s a double feature, ladies and gentlemen! This month, Sikara & Co. is thrilled to feature two astounding woman, Pam Frank and Marcel Quiroga. We’ve blogged about them before, but there’s just too much to say about their work, their kindness, their personalities and their incredible talents. Read even more about them in these full interviews below!
A day in my life includes: Dog wakes me up @ 5. Charles river row or back to bed, coffee, paper, work, Evening w/S.O, Rachel Maddow & Jon Stewart, book, asleep by midnight.
Every world traveler should have…: For cooler climates, Canadienne boots for walk/work/evening-out. For warmer climates, a light shawl or cardigan.
My most memorable flight involved: a tandem sky dive. Talk about transference. I fell in love with the instructor in the 15 min between takeoff and landing. Can’t remember his name.
I am definitely easily bored, mostly content and always giving everyone the benefit of the doubt.
I couldn’t survive without: community/friends, affectionately dubbed …. “the tribe”
The three words that describe my style are…:Coloradoan, Analytical, Sanguine
Biggest Celeb Crush (male, female or both): It seems my crushes are every 20 years. In 1984 it was Rob Lowe (Oxford Blues) and in 2004, Barack Obama. 2024… time will tell.
Upon first encounter you wouldn’t know I…:My 1st language (until 4 when we returned stateside) was invented. It was a mix of Turkish & English which only my friend & I could speak/understand.
The perfect night out includes: Old friends and new acquaintances, like we had @Sikara. A trifecta evening is drawing connections that further people’s passion, purpose & partnerships.
A day in my life includes: meditating for twenty minutes in the morning and again before dinner. If I’m on the road, I stop somewhere and meditate in my car.
Every world traveler should have…: a sense of curiosity. One of the best parts of my education growing up was traveling. You learn how other people live and think, and you might learn how to see the world in different, exciting ways.
My most memorable flight involved: traveling with my son and daughter from Bolivia to Germany on TAM Mercosur. We felt like first class passengers and loved every minute of it. My mom used to call us the three musketeers, and we had lots of fun on this adventure.
I am definitely spiritual, mostly smart and always trying to be a better person .
I couldn’t survive without: the help of God.
The three words that describe my style are…: personable, caring, charming.
Biggest Celeb Crush (male, female or both): the only two celebs in my life are my kids: Jordi Antonio and Alexandra Lucia.
Upon first encounter you wouldn’t know I…: am of Hispanic origin.
The perfect night out includes: warm weather, good food, good entertainment, and good company.
S&CO.: You’ve had a fascinating career working with for-profits and non-profits alike. Tell us how a little more about the work you’ve done.
PF: When I look at my career, I’m always reminded of the words of Steve Jobs “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
From 3,000 feet my career has five obvious dots
- 10 years of experience in for-profit
- 10 years in nonprofit
- International, primarily Latin Am & M. East
- Program and Business development
The threads that connect these dots are:
- Accelerator: Nearly everyone one of my positions in my 20-year career was newly created, and was entrepreneur like within an established organization. Most times, my job ceased to exist when I left — transformed into something different.
- Connector: aggregating and centralizing resources to create shared value.
S&CO.: And now you work for Egypt Cancer Network. What is your role there?
PF: I’m a consultant to them, currently working as their Acting Executive Director. We launched 18 months ago (post Revolution) to support the largest standalone pediatric cancer hospital in the world, Children’s Cancer Hospital Egypt 57357 in Cairo. It’s full charitable and is often referred to as the St. Jude’s of the Middle East. As a U.S. 501c3, our primary goal is to cultivate U.S. funds and resources for the Hospital. Our flagship program is a joint pediatric oncology fellowship with Dana-Farber Children’s Cancer Hospital. My job is made easier because of the strong name recognition of the Hospital, a very active Board, and a national network of passionate volunteers. The hospital, which is state-of-the-art and 100% privately funded, is understandably a great source of pride for Egyptians and Arab Americans. Its influence is spreading throughout the Middle East and North Africa so we are never short of new projects and demands. Every day is a new adventure.
S&CO.: You’re traveled the world for work and fun. Where has been your favorite place to visit? What is it about X that you love so much?
PF: Colombia. When I started traveling extensively to Latin American for business in 1990, it was the only country I visited where women were frequently holding management positions. Even back then, during the height of its civil war, there was a sense of stability, security, order, democracy and capitalism. The people are sophisticated, polite and progressive. The misty sunrise mountainous descent from the Medellin airport into the city is breathtaking. The best Peruvian fusion food is in Medellin, not Lima as are the best tango dancers (not Buenos Aires). The best salsa dancers… Cali not San Juan. Artists like Botero and authors like Gabriel Garcia Marquez set the tone. The culture of Bogota is a perfect blend of Latin America and old-Europe. The country has three mountain ranges as well as the amazon for unparalleled biodiversity. I simply can’t say enough good things about Colombia and Colombians. You just have to experience it.
S&CO.: You’ve been very involved with Room to Read—which is how you were introduced to Sikara & Co.—what is it about this organization that has made you such a proponent for their cause?
PF: They are the millennium Gold Standard for nonprofits. I’ve watched them grow since John Wood’s first Nepalese book drive. RTR was talking about impact and transparency before it became industry standard. John and Erin (co-founders) have always been focused on accountability and ROI. They make a great tag-team, complimenting each other’s strengths. Now that I’m responsible for a nonprofit, I constantly refer to RTR as the go-to model in everything including donor database, volunteer structure, marketing and reporting. John’s first book, Leaving Microsoft to Change the World, has become standard reading for nonprofit management courses. I just pre-ordered his new book, “Creating Room to Read: A Story of Hope in the Battle for Global Literacy.” If it’s anything like the last, I’ll get copies for our staff and Board.
S&CO.: This month, we’re featuring the power of partnerships. Be it friends, colleagues, family or romantic partners, we feel that two can indeed be better than one. Has there been someone in your life who you feel exemplifies this belief?
PF: My parents. They just celebrated their 50th anniversary. I remember when I was 23 years old, and dad was coaching me during one of my first impending breakups. He said “Pam, you have to work hard at relationships. Look at your mom and I, it’s not always easy.” To which I responded, “well I don’t want it that hard. It should be easy of it’s meant to be.” If looks could speak, he would have said “my dear child, I hope you are right, but I think you are wrong, and I know you will insist on learning the hard way.” Of course, Dad was right. In addition to teaching me that partnerships require hard work, they’ve also reassured me that economies of scale do eventually set in. If mom and dad were in the 50 percentile twenty-three years ago, in terms of ease of relationship, they’re now in the top one percent.
S&CO.: What are you passionate about?
PF: My passion is justice. An unjust situation will consume me, but a simple just act touches my soul. It feels like true love when given the opportunity to connect people/resources “to right the unrightable wrong”… The Impossible Dream
S&CO.: If you could only grab one thing from your home, what would it be?
PF: Zeeba, my Tibetan Terrier. But since she’s not a thing and my photos/documents are backed up on the cloud, I would have to make a decision between artwork versus jewelry since they both hold stories and memories. Jewelry would likely win because it’s easier to grab and I would lose precious time trying to decide which piece of art is my favorite.
S&CO.: What inspires you?
PF: Nature and serene people.
S&CO.: What is your favorite Sikara piece?
PF: The Italian 17-stone necklace combines my favorite Sikara elements, gold, silver and aqua chalcedony.
S&CO.: You’re currently working as the Chief Relationship Officer and Director of Marketing for Capital Formation Group. What is a typical day like for you?
MQ: My job is really all about people and building long-term relationships that add value to their lives. I begin the day by ensuring that what needs to be done for clients gets done, which might be working on their financial plans, having their investments reviewed by our CIO, or coordinating things with their accountants and attorneys. Throughout the day, I spend most of my time talking to clients and potential clients about what they want and need to accomplish and how we can help them from a financial planning/wealth management perspective. I focus on helping people secure their financial independence and build the legacies they want to have.
S&CO.: Tell us about your career and how you ended up working for Capital Formation Group.
MQ: I’ve had a diverse career in financial services, having started at a foundation for sustainable development, followed by raising capital for a private financial fund, and then managing corporate and private client relationships at a commercial bank; all of this in Bolivia. After establishing a solid foundation there over a ten year span, I moved back to the United States and worked with Morgan Stanley’s Individual Investment Group, and then with the Private Banking and Investment Group of Merrill Lynch. I was introduced to Capital Formation Group by a retired Managing Director of one of the Wall Street firms, who as I came to find out, had been (and still is) a client of CFG since she began her career as a Wall Street Executive. I knew that meant that there was something special about CFG, and I was right!
S&CO.:You’re traveled the world for work and fun. Where has been your favorite place to visit? What is it about that place that you love so much?
MQ: I have two favorite places: Spain and Brazil. I love the history and richness of the Spanish culture and how friendly and sincere the Spanish are. In Brazil, I’ve mostly visited Rio de Janeiro and surrounding cities. There is something in the air and in the ocean in Rio that makes people radiate happiness and be so carefree! (My thoughts are with those suffering the loss of loved ones in Brasilia due to the recent nightclub fire).
S&CO.: You’ve been involved with Room to Read—which is how you were introduced to Sikara & Co.—what is it about this organization that has made you such a proponent for their cause?
MQ: Education is essential to people’s progress and quality of life. I believe Room to Read is doing an amazing job of bringing education to children who would not have this opportunity without Room to Read’s help. Children everywhere have the same right to a good education and deserve to be healthy and happy.
S&CO.: This month, we’re featuring the power of partnerships. Be it friends, colleagues, family or romantic partners, we feel that sometimes two can indeed be better than one. Has there been someone in your life who you feel exemplifies this idea?
MQ: I have to first mention the “instant partnership” that Pam and I created when we met at the Room to Read event that introduced us to Sikara. Talk about two like-minded people grabbing an opportunity to bring some outstanding women together. The power of partnership is indeed unique and creates synergies (1+1=3 type of thing). My parents exemplify that (in their case it was 1+1=4, because they had my sister and me). They came to this country right after getting married and “partnered” for the success they’ve achieved as educators. They will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary this year and they still hold hands like newlyweds.
S&CO.: What are you passionate about?
MQ: Making a difference and doing things that matter. The greatest positive impact I hope to have in my lifetime is in my children’s lives, who are now adults. I would also like to think that I can touch the lives of many people, even if I only meet them in passing. I have room for improvement, no doubt, but in the end, I hope to have achieved a better and deeper awareness of what really matters in my journey through life.
S&CO.:If you could only grab one thing from your home, what would it be?
MQ: Pictures. The best memories live in our hearts, but it is great to have a visual reminder of how special different moments have been.
S&CO.: What inspires you?
MQ: Mostly, people. My kids, my family, and people like Mother Teresa, Oprah, John Woods (founder of Room to Read). People I know who are battling cancer, and the people who are helping them get through it. I am also inspired by people who have the courage to change the things they can change for their own good or for that of others. And finally, I am terribly inspired by those who live in dire circumstances. Millions of people are born into poverty, violence, disease etc. by no fault of their own. I admire their resilience and I am inspired to do something to change things for the better, and through my work, to help the fortunate help the less fortunate.
S&CO.: What is your favorite Sikara piece?
MQ: Is there such a thing as a favorite Sikara piece? There are so many beautiful pieces of Sikara jewelry that the favorite could be any one of them. I especially like the country-inspired pieces. What a great way to blend travel, culture, and art! And I do love the Sikara signature swirly earrings. I gave away lots of pairs for Christmas, including a pair for myself!