IIL Spotlight: Melina Africa

As a global company with 18 regional offices, IIL has employees and associates in every corner of the world. Each month, you’ll get to know a dear friend or member of the IIL Team in our “IIL Spotlight” series.

Here, we introduce Melina Africa, Client Services Manager at IIL’s Global Distribution Center in Monett, Missouri. This month’s IIL Spotlight was written by Melina’s husband, Colby.

Don’t let her gregarious nature, charming smirk, or the occasional bout of laughter distract you.  Practically growing up in the company, Client Services Manager Melina Africa is a dedicated member of IIL who learned how to produce, design, manage, and inspire throughout her 16 wonderful years of work.

She hails from small-town Monett, Missouri, the very same town from which IIL CEO E. LaVerne Johnson calls home. Melina has always worked hard, figuring out how to get things done not only at work, but at home as well. As a strong mother of two children, her 15-year-old daughter Tayler and 9-year-old son Parker, she balances major responsibilities that go beyond her usual work duties.

From IIL’s own humble beginnings in a small office above a small-town print shop, Melina recalls her first role working in the shipping department which she received after finishing high school. Unbeknownst to her, she was on her way to be thrust into one continuous motion of learning and change.

Since her start date, Melina has always demonstrated a strong work ethic. Working in a small team at the time, they would be there every day if need be, as long as it took.

“I started straight out of high school,” she said. “I didn’t plan on staying, but things worked out amazingly.”

colby-melinaSo Melina kept at it, working up from one position to the next, always impressing both those in the company, and eventually, those outside including trainers, vendors and suppliers. She wanted more, so once again she put her head to the grindstone and did whatever was necessary to keep IIL moving forward.

In 2005, Colby Africa—then CIO at IIL and good friends with Senior Vice President Judith Umlas—was asked by Johnson and Executive Vice President of Operations Steve Osborn to make a trip down to Monett to take a look around, meet the team, and attend the annual Christmas party.

Little did Colby know, he would meet the love of his life during that trip. Initially, a friendship began between Melina and Colby and, over time, flourished. In pursuit, Colby asked Melina to join him at the New York City office.

With Johnson and Osborn’s blessing, she made the move. It was there where her innate people skills, mainly her ability to connect with people quickly and meaningfully, became a huge asset to the company.

“I moved from Monett, which was very small. It was definitely an adjustment, but [the city] feels like home,” said Melina.

Melina remembers living in Midtown Manhattan, undoubtedly one of her favorite places to have been. She loved the freedom of “being able to walk and do whatever you want,” taking in the many sights to see. She’s also fond of the Financial District where the World Trade Center resides, describing the city life as a “surreal feeling” to her, enjoying every last second.

After an incredible experience in the city, she figured it was time to return to Monett. Of course, Colby followed her there as they became closer and soon brought in a new member of their family, Parker.

Tayler enjoys playing softball in her spare time and hopes to be a pediatrician, as it has kept her interest for the last several years. Parker has taken on Taekwondo and wants to be a professional Xbox video gamer, participating in e-Sports events.

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One thing is for certain about Melina: she always yearned to travel. In high school she was able to make a few trips to Mexico, The Bahamas, and the Florida Keys and saw the beauty of the water and was inspired by the people she met while traveling. This is what drives her to reach her current goals at the company which are running the Monett office one day and to travel around IIL’s global offices.

“Being here for so long, I know the backbone of the company,” she said.

There is no holding back a woman like Melina. She is able to translate her internal fire and native desire to do something special with her life into a way about her that makes people comfortable. With two kids, an “interesting husband,” and constantly displaying her working ability and adaptability, there is no doubt she will continue to thrive and surprise us at IIL.


IIL Spotlight: Craig Kilford

As a global company with 18 regional offices, IIL has employees and associates in every corner of the world. Each month, you’ll get to know a member or dear friend of the IIL Team in our “IIL Spotlight” series. Here, we introduce Craig Kilford, partner of IIL, IPM Day 2013 speaker and CEO of Course Conductor.com – a new customer review website positively disrupting the project management training industry.

If you are involved in project portfolio management, it’s hard to not come across the name Craig Kilford, co-author of Management of Portfolios, the UK Government Standard for Project Portfolio Management.

Kilford is a compassionate professional who managed an eclectic portfolio of projects, which today form the solid foundation upon which he has built his new business venture, CourseConductor.com. From “Killy Kilford” the artist to “Course Conductor,” the education tech startup, his various works range from painting musical artists to unique community-building projects.

Through a neurological phenomenon known as sound-color synesthesia, his ability to paint is inspired by the colors he sees when he hears music. Using this ability and taking on the alias “Killy Kilford,” he started his artistic career as a music painter, where he’d join musicians on stage and paint large abstract musical canvases as they perform.

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Craig painting alongside Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

Kilford worked alongside nearly 100 different bands over 10 years and was first artist to paint live on stage at Knebworth, one of England’s largest concert venues. Each band enjoyed their custom painting as it was a unique representation of their own musical art. Through many performances, he recalls two of his most memorable.

“One of my favorite gigs was The Black Eyed Peas because it was the first time I painted with total freedom,” said Kilford. “Iggy & The Stooges was also very special – it was at Knebworth in front of 70,000 people – which is something I’ll never forget.”

In 2013, Kilford moved to New York City from the United Kingdom. As he was happily walking around the city, he noticed what he believed to be ‘negative’ street signs such as the “Don’t Honk $350 Penalty” sign. With that particular dose of inspiration, he went home and recreated the sign but changed the words to read “Honk Less Love More” which he felt would have a more motivational impact on the people of the city.

As he further developed the idea, Kilford took it upon himself to manufacture 200 government specification street signs containing more positive messages such as “New York Loves You” and “Listen To Your Heart.” He assembled a team of 50 volunteers and together they installed 200 of these Happy Street Signs™ across Manhattan and Brooklyn.

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Craig with Newark Mayor Ras Baraka

Although the signs were illegal, the project gained media attention and so he moved on to the city of Newark, New Jersey to begin working on a new project that brought the Happy Street Signs™ to life.

With no history or previous connection to Newark, Kilford was inspired to get involved in that community when he saw a news story about a Christmas shooting that resulted in the death of two teens in the city. In the aftermath of this event, he felt that he could do something through his art to somehow “inspire positive social change through public art installations.”

After contacting schools, Juvenile Detention Centers, and the Traffic Department, he ran Happy Street Sign workshops and worked with young people to define Newark’s own positive messages within the signs. He then contacted Newark Mayor Ras Baraka who instantly loved the concept and saw it as a way to increase feelings of well-being around the city.

Kilford then formed a partnership with Newark’s Anti-Violence Coalition, city government departments and community groups including social outreach workers and gang leaders. During a press conference on October 15, 2014, Kilford and Baraka offically installed Newark’s first Happy Street Sign “Love Up Guns Down” and gathered the community to install another 199.

“The challenge was how to collaborate with all the various people in Newark when you don’t know anyone… but where there is a will there is a way,” Kilford said. “Every single person I met in Newark welcomed me with open arms; it was incredibly warming and after 10 months of teamwork. Newark became the first city in the world to officially install Happy Street Signs as a way to enhance feelings of well-being across the city.”

In parallel to these creative projects that Kilford took on in the past years, he maintains his professional ties with his own consultancy work and IIL, previously as an IPM Day 2013 presentation speaker.

“IIL is one of the leading training providers for Management of Portfolios, so it was a pleasure to be involved [with] IPM Day where I talked about how organizations can implement project portfolio management in 100 days,” said Kilford.

After the combination of these creative and scientific projects past, what does it all lead up to today? All the effort enabled Kilford’s most recent project; a customer review website that helps every professional in the project management industry find the best course using reviews written by fellow professionals (taken in the last five years), aptly named “Course Conductor.”

Course Conductor officially launched its beta platform in June 2016 and IIL was the first of 25 Founding Members to get involved. The community is growing fast, now listing all accredited project management providers in the world, which accounts to nearly 2000.

CourseConductor logoKilford says: “I started CourseConductor.com because I wanted to find out who was running the best course for Management of Portfolios and couldn’t; then I realized that this pain is felt by everyone in the industry as they spend hours trying to compared courses looking for the best ones.”

Positive feedback from people in the industry has been a big help, as many professionals have already written course reviews helping to elevate their personal brand, as well as helping fellow professionals make their course-purchasing decisions. Large corporate organizations are now using the site to source the highest quality training partners.

“Training providers are loving us and claiming their Course Conductor profiles so they can use their customer ratings to show how good they are on an unbiased platform,” said Kilford. “To top it all off, we are just about to release incredible statistics and infographics about the project management industry – none of which have been seen before in the market.”

Not only is its main objective to help every professional find the best courses via an easily accessible platform, but Course Conductor also has a mission aimed towards social sustainability, with its promise to clean a gallon of infected water for each newly posted review as a contribution to making a better world.

Bringing his portfolio management and artistic expertise to the table, Kilford has been, and continues, to be a part of those who seek to improve our world through his diverse talents and interests.

Learn more and visit Course Conductor here.

Previously taken a course with us? Please help us help more professionals by taking two minutes to give us a review on our Course Conductor page.


IIL Spotlight: Nolan Voss

With 18 global companies, IIL has employees in every corner of the world.  Get to know a new member of the IIL Team each month in our”IIL Spotlight” series. Here, we introduce Nolan Voss, Senior Graphic Designer at IIL Headquarters in New York City.

From strumming the strings of his guitar with his band and working as our Senior Graphic Designer, Nolan Voss is truly a full-time artist.

Before the beard, a young Nolan often spent time with his dad by tagging along to his own band practices. It was from this inspiration and being around the lifestyle of a musician that he realized he wanted to rock.

nolan-guitarPicking up his first guitar at the age of 14 during his first year of high school, a hand-me-down Gibson “The Paul” from his dad, he began to get more serious as he was practicing. With his earliest influences consisting of bands including Metallica, AC/DC, Faith No More, and Nirvana, Nolan grew to love playing Metal music and its related subgenres.

As he started expanding on his music knowledge, Nolan originally played as a bass guitarist in first band during his sophomore year of high school. Together, they were playing on public access shows, performing at teen centers, and creating their own music. As time went on, Nolan also began DJing parties and attended open DJ nights on his own.

Nolan is not only musically involved in art, but visually involved as a professional. Staying true to his talents and to pay the bills, he attended college to lead into his current career as a graphic designer.

“I enjoy illustrating, making things look presentable, and my ability to contribute artistically… I was into designing album covers, DVD labels, band flyers, and many different things,” said Nolan. “Corporate or edgy, it’s important to work around different industries. It’s good to know a little bit of everything.”

Starting in 2004, Nolan was in a new band and got used to the life of touring. He and the band were taking on small tours ranging from a weekend to a week long, as well as writing and performing music for independent works. Gaining more experience, the band soon performed on a music video that aired on MTV Latin America.

As 2010 came around, Nolan formed Anicon, his current band, with Owen Rundquist, who he met at a mutual friend’s going-away party. What originally started as a small recording project blew up into something bigger as they put forward together their musical prowess.

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Cover of Anicon’s new album “Exegeses”

Adding two more members, Alexander DeMaria and Lev Weinstein, to complete their 4-man ensemble, Anicon built their success as they began touring in June 2012. Together, they’ve toured several times and work hard, each time with a great payoff.

“What I really enjoy about touring is that I get to see areas I’ve never been to, and meet great new people in different states,” Nolan said. “Seeing different environments is fulfilling, and every time I come back, I feel refreshed!”

Following their efforts, they were soon picked up by music label Gilead Media, who is creating the vinyl format for their upcoming July release and working on the US promotion, while label Avant Garde is handling their European and CD format distribution. The band is set to appear in an article with Decibel magazine in August for their first record review in print.

This year, they plan to go on a mini-tour, performing at the Migration Festival in Olympia, Washington as well as another larger tour in the coming months. Although Nolan dedicates much time to his musical work, it has never had any negative effect at the office and only adds on to his creative character.

“I’m very happy and thankful that I work at a company that allows me to enjoy my hobby and passion,” said Nolan. “It’s been very flexible.”

Today, Nolan stays more musically involved than ever before. He records many local bands with his own freelance on-location recording studio and also enjoys writing music in his home studio. With many passionate years in practicing and performing music, he doesn’t plan on silencing his talents.

 [trx_infobox style=”regular” closeable=”no” icon=”icon-musical_note”]Stream the new Anicon album here.[/trx_infobox]


IIL Spotlight: Rodolfo Ambriz

(Above, Rodolfo with his sons, Roy and Arturo, and his wife, Adriana)

With all the employees we have around the world, we wanted to bring to light who we are here at IIL. Each month we will spotlight an employee from one of our offices. Here, we introduce Rodolfo Ambriz, Managing Director at IIL Middle East. 

Rodolfo Ambriz (Civil Engineer, PMP, PMI-SP, PMI-RMP, MS, MCP, and Registered Practitioner of MSP, MoP, and Managing Benefits) is no stranger to project management. With experience working on mostly large to very large projects in Mexico as well as in other Latin American countries, he is a veteran project management consultant and trainer, as well as co-author of Dynamic Scheduling® with Microsoft® Project 2013.

For over a decade, Rodolfo served as IIL Mexico’s Managing Director. Recently he made the gracious commitment to transfer to the IIL Middle East office in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. His family still lives in Mexico but this doesn’t stop Rodolfo from supporting the passions of his two sons—filmmaking—by sharing his knowledge of project management.

Together his sons Roy Ambriz and Arturo “Vonno” Ambriz began their careers in filmmaking five years ago and created their own company, Cinema Fantasma.

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“I don’t know much about filmmaking, but I help them with the planning and project side of things,” Rodolfo says. Specifically, he likes using Agile methods when it comes to the films.

What used to be Rodolfo’s home office is now their studio for creating products for Adventure Time, Uncle Grandpa, The Amazing World of Gumball, and other shows. They have also done work with Guillermo del Toro who directed Pacific Rim and Pan’s Labyrinth.

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Cinema Fantasma’s latest accomplishment is their film Revoltoso which has been selected for sixteen festivals, received five awards, and will be competing at the Brooklyn Film Festival taking place June 2 – June 13.

You can check out more of their work here:

Cinema Fantasma


IIL Spotlight: Cathryn Chee

With all the employees we have around the world, we wanted to bring to light who we are here at IIL. Each month we will spotlight an employee from one of our offices. Here, we introduce Cathryn Chee, Managing Director at IIL Asia.

In the concrete jungle of Singapore, Cathryn Chee feels right at home. A self-proclaimed city girl, she loves everything about her city with the high rise buildings and hills, except for one thing: the lack of wildlife.

Since she was a little girl, Cathryn has always loved animals. The passion started out with household pets like dogs and cats, and she would look after other peoples’ dogs because she just loved being around animals so much. “It’s therapeutic for me. It’s also interesting because they don’t speak but they make other noises in order to communicate with me,” she says.

Her love for animals didn’t stop with dog sitting. Cathryn now follows her passion by taking trips to learn about animals found in the wild. “A trip is usually 8-10 days and I go to learn how the animals are taken care of, how they eat, how they breed, how to work with them, how to greet them, and so on,” she says.

So far Cathryn has worked with dolphins, ostriches, penguins, and—her favorite—pandas.  Pandas have always been her favorite animal and she’s seen them in a ton of zoos; however, when she went to a panda research lab in China, she was able to get up close and personal with them.

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Another favorite of hers was working with ostriches in South Africa. She even got to ride one! “They’re so much fun to work with because they’re so hyper and also very strong.” She also went on safaris to see elephants, giraffes, and even got close to a family of lions. Cathryn never feared for her safety because the safety precautions were very clear.

Although Cathryn’s passion is for the sake of education and a love for animals, it’s a hobby that can get pretty expensive. Fortunately, all the money she pays is donated to the research facilities, so her experiences in turn help the animals she observes.

For her next big trip, Cathryn hopes to go to Antarctica to swim with the seals. This type of trip is done via a research team that opens their facilities to civilians. Cathryn will be able to follow the researchers as they work, and learn more about their interactions with global warming and with the animals in the area.

As for where Cathryn sees her passion leading her in the future, when she retires she hopes to get part-time work at a wildlife preserve. “I think it’s important to give back to the environment. It affects each and every one of us and it’s our duty to help. It doesn’t necessarily have to be as big as helping animals, but it can be as simple as picking up your garbage or not using the AC to save power.”

For anyone interested in taking similar trips, Cathryn suggests researching online since they are not heavily advertised. She found the Antarctica trip by looking through National Geographic.

Don’t miss next month’s IIL Spotlight to learn more about our team. We are more than just your average company. Together, we are a family.


IIL Spotlight: Samantha Milhaven

With all the employees we have around the world, we wanted to bring to light who we are here at IIL. Each month we will spotlight an employee from one of our offices. Here, we introduce Samantha Milhaven, Social Media Coordinator at IIL US.

March…a time when the weather gets warmer, flowers start to grow, and madness takes place. That’s right, it’s time for March Madness, arguably the best month of the year (depending on what sports you like to follow)

For those of you that don’t know, March Madness is the name for the NCAA basketball tournament that takes place every year. Viewers from all over the U.S. huddle around their T.V. to watch the men’s and women’s college basketball teams take each other on for the ultimate title of NCAA Champions. It’s competitive, dramatic, and so entertaining.

Especially for IIL’s Samantha Milhaven who has been a fan of the tournament for years, even attending the Women’s Division 1 Final Four in 2015.

One of the main reasons Samantha (aka Sam) has been so into the madness is because she has played basketball for 16 years. She started out in Kindergarten with other kids and took it all the way to college.

Basketball was more than a hobby; it became a way of living. By the time she reached high school, basketball had become such a norm that her friends would be more surprised if she didn’t have practice or a game during the weekend.

10404176_10205329853459432_4458996526634392111_nAfter years of hard work and one New York State Championship, Sam became part of the 1.1 % of females to continue on to play in Division 2 basketball at Adelphi University. Now, four years later she is a part of the real world with the lessons she’s learned in her back pocket for when life doesn’t throw the right pass.

The first lesson is that there are going to be a lot of people who you don’t see eye to eye with in life. Sam has learned this over and over again with players, managers, assistant coaches, and coaches. Sometimes her views and their views just didn’t match up but it didn’t matter. What mattered was that on the court everyone respected each other and focused on getting the job done…which was winning.

The second lesson is that in order to achieve success you need to work for it. This is something told to society everyday, but Sam did all she could to live it. Sacrificed nights out, getting to bed early, choosing the gym over a dinner out with friends, picking nutritional meals, and spending extra time in the gym to work on her game even if it was 11 at night. It didn’t matter, she was willing to do whatever it took. Now that basketball is behind her, she applies this to her goals in life whether it’s to be a published writer or to excel at work.

The most important lesson she’s learned is to love what you do. Basketball had been something she did for fun until it started getting serious. Once something feels like a job it’s easy to lose sight on why you did it in the first place. There were many times Sam felt like giving up, handing in her jersey, and walking away…but she loved the sport too much. She loved the satisfaction of making the shot and of being a part of a team so powerful. If she didn’t love it, why would she put herself through all the work?

10897088_10204800952277233_5438745507417341588_nBasketball has taken her all over the U.S., from upstate New York to Chicago, and all the way down to Virginia. She has made so many lifelong friends from the sport she is still in contact with today. Without basketball she’s not really sure who she would be as a person today. Along with the lessons above it has also taught her patience, understanding, kindness, and determination.

Now Sam coaches 9th and 10th grades girls in AAU basketball which travels all throughout the summer. She has found a whole new level of love and respect for the sport now that she coaches. “It gives me a new insight that I didn’t fully understand as a player,” she says about her experience coaching so far. “I sometimes forget that they don’t know what I know because they haven’t been in college yet. They haven’t gone through what I’ve gone through. So I try my best to prepare them for what’s waiting for them down the road while making them the best players they can be.”

She’ll also be attending the Women’s Final Four this year in Indianapolis, watching the sport she grew up falling in love with every day.


IIL Spotlight: Leon Herszon

With all the employees we have around the world, we wanted to bring to light who we are here at IIL. Each month we will spotlight an employee from one of our offices. Here, we introduce Leon Herszon, Senior Vice President at IIL US.

Leon Herszon was never a swimmer, cyclist, or runner. So it may come as a surprise that he competed in an Ironman Triathlon last year.

Most of his life, Leon was interested in three sports: rowing, tennis, and judo. That was until around 20 years ago, he had a serious issue with his lower back and his doctor told him he would not be able to do any sport that would have a direct impact.

A few years later, Leon visited a doctor in California who suggested a special back brace that could help with the pain. Leon gave it a try while playing tennis and found that he didn’t feel pain anymore. After using the back brace for some time, Leon tried running a short distance with the brace for five minutes. Still no back pain. So five-minute runs turned into ten-minute runs and eventually, Leon found himself competing in 5ks. Then a friend of his talked about triathlons. Leon always liked challenging himself so he thought he’d give it a try. He registered for his first Sprint distance in May 2012.

Triathlon has typically 4 distances:

  • Sprint: swim 750 yards, bike 12 miles, and run 3.1 miles
  • Olympic: swim 1,500 yards, bike 24 miles, and run 6.2 miles
  • Long distance: Also known as half-Ironman or 70.3. Swim 1.2 miles, bike 56 miles, and run a half-marathon (13.1 miles)
  • Ultra distance: Also knows as Ironman or 140.6. Swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and run a marathon (26.2 miles)

After the Sprint, he was cautious about increasing his distance but did so each year, and has gone on to do Olympic and half-Ironman triathlons. After his half-Ironman back in May 2014, Leon started paying more attention to his nutrition, hydration, and the demand on his body. He would channel into project management methods to make sure all aspects were taken care of. For example, extensive planning to cover all variables, such as issues during the bike ride or assuring proper nutrition during the race.

Throughout his training, Leon has found the challenges to be more psychological than physical. “Once your mind says ‘No, I can’t’ then you’re out of the race,” he says. Completing the triathlons were more about challenging himself and pushing to see what he could do. “During the race I would think to myself how crazy it was that I was there, I should’ve been doing something else.” But no matter what, Leon kept pushing through. He learned to manage the pain and found a way to change his mindset. He would focus on the fact that he was bettering himself and had the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors.

Leon completed his first full Ironman event last spring. As soon as he finished the race he hugged his wife, who had been at every single race since he started his journey to the Ironman. When asked about the best moment after the race, he says, “Hearing the words, ‘Leon, you are an Ironman.’” The sense of accomplishment made everything worth it.

Leon Crossing Ironman Finish LineAfterwards, Leon slept for fourteen hours and took it easy for a few weeks. However, he isn’t done. Leon plans to finish another Ironman Triathlon this summer. He trains mostly on the weekends and aims for quality rather than quantity. He’ll go out on a Saturday at 6 AM and return at 2 PM and then on Sunday do a long run.

Through his experience, Leon has developed a true passion for triathlons. He shares that participating in the three sports helps prevent injuries. If you are constantly running, you’re more prone to injuries related to running, and the same goes for the other two sports. However, if you are constantly changing it up your body gets to take “breaks” from each sport.

“No matter who you are, your body is going to feel the aches and pains,” he says. “But it has been a great experience. I am very thankful to be able to enjoy being out there, for my health, and a chance to do something I never thought was possible.”

Leon is more than happy to share his experience with anyone who is interested. You can reach him at leon.herszon@iil.com.

Don’t miss next month’s IIL Spotlight to learn more about our team. We are more than just your average company. Together, we are a family.

Leon Herszon, Civil Engineer, Msc, PMP, is finishing his PhD studies and started his career at Shell managing HSE (Health, Safety, and Environment), Information Technology and strategic projects. He was invited by IIL to start operations in Brazil, and moved thereafter to the USA. Now he is based in NY acting as Senior Vice-President, managing global and strategic business. He also delivers presentations and training worldwide, including lectures at Rutgers Business School, and communicates in English, French, Portuguese, German, and Spanish.


IIL Spotlight: Max Laussu

With all the employees we have around the world, we wanted to bring to light who we are here at IIL. Each month we will spotlight an employee from one of our offices. Here, we introduce Max Laussu from IIL Europe. 

Max Laussu is the Managing Director of IIL Europe (UK). Over Max’s 6 year career with IIL, he has worked at three of our international offices in Paris, New York, and now, London.

Anyone who has ever met Max can immediately sense his great love of life. With a passion for traveling and finding new thrills to experience, Max has developed an unusual hobby: skydiving.

In one of Max’s travels, he found himself in Australia and in his search for the next thrill, he decided to do a tandem skydive jump. Skydiving had always been on his bucket list and what better time to do it than on a trip to Australia?  The tandem jump included one minute of free fall while having someone strapped on his back. The experience ended up being more peaceful than Max expected and he immediately fell in love. In that moment he knew he had to do it again.

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Max has gone on to earn his “A” skydiving license which allows him to jump on his own. He is able to jump anywhere as long as the weather permits. One would think that winter would be a bad season for skydiving, but Max shares that it is actually the best time of year to skydive as long as the air is dry.

Max’s next goal is to acquire a FS1 license which would allow him to jump with other skydivers and do formation jumps.  To do so he needs to prove that he is in control of his body while he dives with an instructor. He recently bought his own skydiving suit and plans on getting his own parachute this year. This, he shares, is a big step that one should take some time before jumping into (pun intended).

Max shares that there is nothing else like the feeling he gets when he skydives, and that it can be very addictive. “You can do whatever you want in the air. If you want to just take in the view, you can,” he says. “It’s such a magical moment and you don’t want to do it too much to lose that,” in regard to becoming a frequent skydiver. Some people end up taking the activity very seriously and it’s easy to recognize those who do; however, Max enjoys it for pleasure, not something to participate in for competition.

After a recent weekend skydiving in Northern UK, come Monday Max was feeling much more positive about life. Max says that it has taught him to not take things too seriously, that a job is a job, and that he doesn’t want to go crazy over everything. Skydiving is usually viewed as an extreme sport but it has become a meditative activity for Max. When asked if he recommends people to try skydiving he is eager to say yes. “There is no other feeling like it. You feel alive.”

This year Max and a group his friends are making plans to go to Portugal to find a “drop zone” to skydive for four days. With big plans for skydiving, Max has a lot to look forward to in the New Year with his upcoming license to skydive with others, his trip to Portugal, and purchasing his own parachute bag. At the office, “I’m keen” is something Max is often quoted as saying, and that is really the approach that Max has towards life!

Don’t miss next month’s IIL Spotlight to learn more about our team. We are more than just your average company. Together, we are a family.


IIL Spotlight: Amal Le Collen

With all the employees we have around the world, we wanted to bring to light who we are here at IIL. Each month we will spotlight an employee from one of our offices. Here, we introduce Amal Le Collen from IIL Europe. 

A couple’s 25th wedding anniversary is coming up. What do you think they are going to do for it? Maybe exchange some gifts. Perhaps a family vacation or even a second honeymoon. What about provide clean, accessible water for a village?

When IIL’s Amal Le Collen and her husband were planning their anniversary they initially thought a second honeymoon to an all-inclusive paradise resort; however, once they found out that the price would be 5,000-6,000 for a week, Amal’s husband asked if she would rather do something more substantial with the money. Amal remembered how her mother once wanted to provide a village in Morocco with a water well so they could have water close by, rather than having to travel 2 ½ hours each way to fetch some. Unfortunately, her mother passed away before she could do this.

Like all major projects, Amal needed to do research. It turned out the cost of materials, transportation, and completing the well would be around 5,000 dollars. This would provide the village with water for more than a lifetime. Next it was a matter of finding where to dig for the water.

Amal visited a few farms who had previously dug a well, they all mentioned they  used a dowser service, per free dictionary definition: “A person who uses a divining rod to search for underground water or minerals” Initially, Amal was unsure of his methods, but he marked two spots, telling her that in the first spot they would need to dig 90 meters for water and in the second spot they would only need to dig 75 meters and it would fall into 3 rivers.

Before they could dig, Amal needed to buy the materials, find the right company for the construction, and decide on the best time to travel. It turned out the time Amal decided to travel was one of the most important religious holidays in Morocco, called Eid al-Adha. Prices were up and a lot of people were taking time off.

However, Amal was able to find the right company. A Syrian company ended up assisting Amal on her mission. They were very honest with her and ready to help the village. Because she wanted to ensure quality, Amal purchased all the best materials herself. The company brought the machines needed, they found the spot, and they were ready to start. Then an unexpected problem arose. Amal found out that they needed water to dig. In order to provide water, they needed water to begin! Water was obtained after traveling the five hours to the nearest source.

At the start the village came out to pray for Amal. For 72 hours straight the  group poured water, dug, and slept. Due to family and job responsibilities, Amal ended up leaving when they reached 36 meters. At 60 meters the group hit the first bit of humidity for water. Then Amal received a phone call being told that at 73 meters, water was found.

As soon as Amal heard the news, she began crying. “Nothing will give you such satisfaction like giving water to people,” Amal shares.  After succeeding in her project she says she was “just in the cloud for the longest time.” Amal plans to continue to help those in need once her children are fully grown. She plans to create a blog to tell her story and offer advice to anyone that has interest in bringing the gift of water to a village. Eventually she would like to help educate children in need using games.

If you have any questions or would like to find out what you can do, you can email Amal directly at Amal.LeCollen@iil.com. She is more than happy to assist anyone with information.

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