by Gordon Nary
Gordon: When did you attend Universidad de Lima, what degree did you earn, and what is one of your favourite memories from when you were there?
Erika: I attended the Faculty of Communications and Media Studies at the University of Lima in Peru. I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Communications, minor in advertising and marketing. My favorite memories are when I made short films and radio programs. It was great because we would produce everything, including the concept, script, finding actors or guests, editing and post-production, right up until the end product. It was so exciting. I also enjoyed meeting and greeting the different professionals in the field who came as guest lecturers.
Gordon: When did you attend ConcordiaUniversity, what degree did you earn, what was your favourite course, and why was it your favourite?
Erika: I attended the John Molson School of Business at Concordia University in Montreal and earned a Master’s degree in Business Administration with a major in Marketing. My favourite courses were of course all the marketing-related courses; I found them fascinating because we would oversee so many angles, such as Consumer Behaviour, Product Management, Advertising, Electronic Commerce, Marketing for Social Impact and so on. I also very much enjoyed the Strategy courses, since we did so many case studies based on different types of industries, different countries and organization sizes that we learned an enormous amount about developing the process of strategic thinking.
Gordon: When were you Marketing Coordinator, Broadcast Media at World Vision Canada, what were your primary responsibilities?
Erika: My time at World Vision Canada was very special for me since it was my very first professional experience in the country. I joined the marketing team in the broadcasting section to manage the TV and radio advertising programs for short TV and radio spots. My main focus was finding the right marketing mix for spot content and on-air timing, as well as the sponsorships signed in consequence. It was great because I got to work in the province of Ontario, and I oversaw the media buy in stations across the country. I learned a lot, being surrounded by excellent colleagues, and I was able to see the concrete impact of our efforts for the children in developing countries requiring assistance.
Gordon: When did you work at Chambre de Commerce Latino-américaine du Québec, what was your job title, and what did you like most about your work?
Erika: Well, this was a volunteer position I pursued between 2011 and 2014. I joined because I felt I was ready to offer some of my talents to the growing Latin American professional network in Montreal. I am a person who loves and believes in networking and making contacts and establishing real friendships. I also received quite a bit of help when I arrived in Canada in 1999, and I felt it was my turn to give back some of my time and experience for those who could benefit from it and who were also of Latin American origin. I was given the role of Director of Special Events and my main responsibility was to organize the Annual Gala. I put together my own team of volunteers and managed them and the event concept, the sponsorships, the suppliers, the invitations and all the rest. It was wonderful.
Gordon: When did you serve as Head of Events and Communications at Airports Council International and what were your primary responsibilities?
Erika: At Airports Council International I accepted the role of Head of Communications and Events. With nine team members under my supervision, I was responsible for the overall strategy and development of corporate communications planning and events that would help the organization reach its short-, medium- and long-term objectives. Airports constitute a vast industry, and the needs are unique to each of the different areas in the world. I enjoyed the learning experiences and the opportunity to manage and coach a large team.
Gordon: You currently serve as Director, Communications and Media Relations for the Roman Catholic Church of Montreal. What do you enjoy most about your work?
Erika: I enjoy everything about my roles in the Roman Catholic Church of Montreal. I am speaking in the plural here because I have been performing two roles for over five years now: I am Press Officer for Archbishop Christian Lépine and also Director of Communications and Media Relations. My roles require me to communicate with the world of the Catholic faith that I profess and practice, while finding the right combination of communication channels and message for each given audience. I work hand in hand with the Archbishop, which is already an honour in itself since he is a natural spiritual leader, kind, humble, knowledgeable, and prudent. Through my work, I get to learn every day and am never bored, since there is so much going on in our society that communicating the Church’s teachings is so useful for so many. One other very intense aspect of the work that keeps me quite busy is the media relations dimension of my roles. I receive frequent and numerous requests for comment on a broad range of topics. I get to exchange with many journalists and again, these conversations are in many cases very enriching.
Gordon: You do an amazing amount of volunteer work. Please share with our readers an overview of your volunteer work.
Erika: I believe in volunteering because God gave us these gifts and talents so that we should be fruitful with them. Yes, you can receive monetary remuneration for the work you do, but it’s even more rewarding to do something just to serve the good of the other. We are all in need of help at one point or another in our lives, and I in my own life experience have always discovered a hand outstretched to assist me in any given project, situation or struggle. I think we are all called to give without expecting anything in return.
Gordon: What were your responsibilities during the Papal visit to Canada in 2022?
Erika: I was part of the national organizing team for the Papal visit to Canada. My role was as member of the communications team under our team lead, Neil McCarthy. I had two roles on the team: one was as spokesperson and media liaison for the national and international French-speaking media, while the other role had me in charge of coordinating the multi-language translation efforts for the entire visit. The whole experience was at the same time and equally gratifying and demanding. Nevertheless, the lessons learned represented a one-time opportunity since this was a unique event in every sense of the word. To have the honour, first of meeting Pope Francis at the Vatican in March 2022, and then of welcoming him to Canada a couple of months later was something I had never expected.
One spiritual insight that became very clear to me was the fact that the Pope is a true, caring, compassionate and loving spiritual father to us all and a real gift to our world. So I do believe he is a true apostle of Christ: humble, open, joyful, sensitive. His humility is what struck me the most about his presence among us, both in the Rome delegation and during his visit to Canada. We all of us have so much to learn from him. We can all grow in humility, the mother of all virtues.
Something else that was spiritually moving to me was the devotion of the number of people who were mobilized to make this visit happen in the best way possible, and the majority of them were volunteers. This was a genuine act of God: almost a miracle, as we had had two months to plan this visit!
Gordon: You have a special devotion to Mother Teresa. What prompted this?
Erika: I was invited along with Archbishop Lépine to view the documentary film “Mother Teresa: No Greater Love” in January of this year. After the film, I was interviewed to share my insights and reactions to it. This gave me such a great opportunity to give my personal feedback about this documentary, which is a must-see. Mother Teresa is a saint of our times, so genuine, kind and human, who touched human hearts deeply on five different continents. The documentary provides a great overview of her missionary work and the difficulties she endured at the time when she made her decision to serve the poorest of the poor. Saint Teresa’s powerful witnessing has touched my heart ever since I discovered her. Beside my bed I keep a book of her inspirational thoughts, phrases and prayers, and I always pray with her. She is a model to me.
Gordon: May I ask if you are single or married and what your vocation in life is? How did you find it?
Erika: I am happy to say I have been a loving wife to Stéphane for 13 years, and out of that love we have been blessed with two sons: Hector and Isaac. So I say that my first vocation is as wife, followed by that of mother. It’s just beautiful, I believe, to find our vocation and to try to accomplish it each day. As a faithful Catholic, I offer my daily sorrows, joys, struggles and dreams to our Lord in prayer. I know he is there looking after me and loving me even though I may fall.
We have been blessed as parents with two healthy children, one of them with neurodevelopmental challenges since he is on the autism spectrum. I see our special child as our path of sanctity. As parents, we are called to serve his needs and to forget our own most of the time; we need to adapt to him and do as much as we can to support his development so that he can succeed and be happy.
We were all created by Love and To Love. We are called to give even more when we are gifted with special situations in our families. So far, I have grown in several virtues, including patience, fortitude and humility. I still have much more room to grow, and I give thanks to our Lord for having chosen us as parents for our children, exactly as they are, in accordance with his perfect Will.
Gordon: Thank you for a fascinating interview.