Interview of Juan Carlos Ordóñez Grisales: Kitesurf Instructor and Co-owner of ChivorKite (Kitesurf School)

Edited By: Gilan Choubachy, Mona Timor Shehata
Publisher: Amira Haytham
Interviewer: Jeison Harley Fandiño González

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: You started the school with your brother and your mother at a young age. How could you describe the experience of starting your own school at that age?

Juan Carlos Ordóñez: Working in something that you like is a dream to many people. To me kite surf is more than a dream, it is my life. Founding a company with my family was a challenge, yet, it was something that we wanted to do. At the beginning, we didn’t have much knowledge in dealing with people from different backgrounds.
Many times, at the end of our workday, we thought about the amount of mistakes we have made. Nevertheless, we did not let it affect us, we learned from our mistakes and tried to leave a smile on people’s faces. Starting at an early age enabled me to expand my vision and learn from the different stages of my life and grow in each one (whether in the right or wrong way); I learn in every moment.
Additionally, owning a school allows you as an instructor to gain great knowledge about kite surfing. In other words, creating a business is a rewarding and an enriching experience, both professionally and personally.

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: How has teaching people of different nationalities benefited you?

Juan Carlos Ordóñez: Giving lessons to people from different nationalities, cultures and languages is initially a challenge, because in many cases there are difficulties in communication. Yet, it is fulfilling because not only you challenge yourself and your teaching skills in difficult situations, but you also learn about new cultures. At work I use English, which is not my native language. This improves my language skills and gives me a chance to continually practice the language.

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: You work in a rural area. What do you think about and why do you hire rural people to teach them to become kite surf instructors?

Juan Carlos Ordóñez: Working with local people and those from nearby areas has two main goals: firstly, as they get connected to sports, they help in developing kite surfing around different regions of the country. Secondly and most importantly, to give them a source of income and an opportunity to learn about the region and the people around them. They get a chance to experience a world beyond their village.
With the rural people’s help, we can successfully run this business. They learn to appreciate what they have, to love their homes and to work sustainably. We both win.

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: How do you deal with Human Resources?

Juan Carlos Ordóñez: The personal treatment is always cordial, trying to manage a friendly atmosphere, without disrespect or misconduct. It is about creating a comfortable work environment where everyone can live together so that they can perform better in their tasks.

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: You work as an instructor, but you also engage in cooking and other activities in the hostel (where the students stay). Do you see any changes in your co-workers’ perspective when they see you joining them in these activities?

Juan Carlos Ordóñez: Helping in other tasks emphasizes the idea of teamwork for our co-workers and that cooperation is important for the proper development of ideas. Thus, I wish that everyone gets involved in all fields of their own accord because it is important that everybody knows about other activities, then they can all talk the same language.

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: Now, you are doing your internship in a different company, do you think that there are strategies which companies can integrate from your teaching experience at Kite surf?

Juan Carlos Ordóñez: In the company’s business there were some failures which we successfully resolved or reduced. For example, the employees in the company are not connected and there isn’t good communication within the departments. Many of the products or services are managed by only one person and the rest of the company do not know how to do what he or she is doing. Therefore, it is important that all the employees are capable of doing every activity. It does not matter if they do it in the right or wrong way. But with time, everyone is going to progress in all the fields.

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: You have been teaching in different places, is there something in those experiences which makes you change the way you see your company?

Juan Carlos Ordóñez: Those experiences gave me the opportunity to learn from different kitesurf schools and hostels. For example, the main goal at first was to develop kitesurf as a sport, now we think about including more physical activities and focus on sports’ tourism. We certified four instructors to this end.
We, also, have visited places which concentrate on wind sports as kitesurf. For example, in Brazil we learned to improve how to attract people’s attention through creating a comfortable experience for people, without losing the essence of our company: “to make people feel at home”.

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: Why is it important to create a family feeling?

Juan Carlos Ordóñez: The family feeling is transmitted to the clients and they feel like they want to stay here longer because they feel at home. It is easy to make progress because we are always in contact and together. We, also, know our points of strength and weaknesses, hence, each one is given the right task to do.

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: What are the advantages and disadvantages of working with your family members?

Juan Carlos Ordóñez: I don’t see any disadvantages in my case because when we are working we take on our roles as co-workers. I rather see a lot of advantages, for example, we always get on very well because conversations amongst family are pleasant and lack any form of disrespect.