Carmen Castillo has a large family—her mother, nine siblings, twenty-three nieces and nephews, and another two thousand plus, if you include her employees (Carmen considers them family). She provides for them all with a great sense of pride.
Carmen’s saga is one of rags to riches. Her parents were poor, raising the brood in the south of Spain during the Franco regime. When Carmen was seven years old the family moved to Mallorca.
“We moved at the time of the government transition. There was much fear and trepidation, as no one truly knew the direction in which our country would go. Franco, to his credit, did one thing right—he invited King Juan Carlos back from his exile in Italy, and this made for a smooth transition.”
I enjoy my ability to provide for my family—paying college tuition for nieces and nephews, purchasing a home for my mother, advocating for women and minority-owned businesses worldwide, and being deeply entrenched in the everyday business of my company, staying close to clients and employees alike.
Carmen has always been a girl with a vision, a go-getter with purpose. “I knew from an early age that I would stand on my own two feet—be my own boss. I had an inner drive to achieve that goal.”
She got her first job at thirteen in order to pay for her education. The overachiever entered a private high school early, excelled, and even graduated early.
Carmen’s life-changing moment came when she was invited to visit some friends (who summered in Mallorca) at their home in Palm Beach, Florida.
“I knew in an instant that Florida was where I wanted to be. I went back to Spain, received a student visa (the quickest path to returning) and enrolled in a Palm Beach County culinary school.”
The dream of opening her own business and doing it her way was always in the cards, and Carmen, surveying the landscape, decided that internet technology was the place to be. “I knew it was here to stay, and that it would change the way we live our lives forever.”
Kismet hit while Carmen was working at a restaurant where she met the Chairman of Superior Group, a company dedicated to staffing and engineering services primarily for the aerospace industry. The Chairman was most impressed with Carmen’s hunger for business; they struck a friendship and they continued discussing a potential collaboration. Eventually, a partnership developed, and to this day, Superior Group and SDI continue to do joint business across the globe.
SDI International was born in a one-bedroom apartment in Pompano Beach, Florida, with Carmen at the helm (and pretty much everywhere else). Initially, SDI provided strategic recruitment, pay-rolling and Independent Contractor Compliance programs, eventually evolving their service provision to include tail-end supply chain management and procurement solutions centered on managing large numbers of small suppliers handling numerous non-critical transactions for large multinational clients.
Early in her business development efforts, Carmen learned about the importance of diverse certification for small companies looking to do business with larger corporations. Carmen made sure that SDI became certified as both a Woman- and Hispanic-owned enterprise (MWBE), through the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), the National Minority Supplier Diversity Council (NMSDC) and their regional and local adjuncts. SDI began to leverage the purpose of these organizations: to connect certified MWBEs with large companies committed to doing business with diverse suppliers.
As her business grew, so did her clientele, all Fortune 500s, and SDI followed her clients’ global footsteps, opening Centers of Excellence to support them 24/7, worldwide. Before long, Carmen’s dream grew from regional, to national to global—her portfolio of solutions, headcount and global operations reflecting that growth. As Business Trend noted in their March 2017 article, “SDI International went from supply chain management, vendor management, general procurement, into business process outsourcing, taking on entire non-core functions for her client companies.”
Asked how the Latinarrific essence is reflected in her life, Carmen was quick to respond. “my ability to provide for my family—paying college tuition for nieces and nephews, in purchasing a home for my mother, advocating for women and minority-owned businesses worldwide, and being deeply entrenched in the everyday business of my company, staying close to clients and employees alike.”
That unique sense of family and service, and her advocacy for an equal playing field for all business owners and suppliers, plus her charming humility has Latinarrific saluting Carmen Castillo.
LIFE CHOICES TIP:
8 Tips on How to Decide Where to Live*
- Understand what really matters. …
- Leave room for career flexibility. …
- Live where your income is at least as high as the median. …
- Consider that more choice is not intrinsically more desirable. …
- Don’t relocate away from a spouse or significant other. …
- Keep your commute short. …
- Seek diverse populations for a richer life.
- Make a decision to improve the world
* Source: penelopetrunk.com
A visit with friends in Palm Beach cemented Carmen's decision to move to Florida. She returned to Spain acquired a student visa to expedite her return to Florida, and enrolled in a culinary school in Palm Beach County.
How to juggle work and family: Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Our inclination as women is to care for our children, husband, friends and colleagues, and not take time to take care of ourselves! Eat right, exercise, get plenty of sleep and drink lots of water. When you feel good, you’ll be better equipped to deal with your hectic schedule. And when you’re not feeling your best, you’re much more likely to feel overwhelmed. Say “no” to the less important things. Decide what’s most important and do that. Let go of the rest.