Born in Cayman and raised in Brazil until she was almost 10, Pilar Bush is a former Director of Tourism, founder of AtWater Consulting and is currently Executive Vice President responsible for Marketing, Communications and Community Development at Dart. Pilar is a mother to Nathan, 131/2, and Niko, 5, and sits on the boards of several local charities.
At home and at work, Pilar Bush is always thinking about the big picture. Whether pondering how to raise her sons to be joyful, independent and responsible young men or how can the Cayman Islands become one of the best places in the world to live and work, her mind is always working.
Her professional achievements run the gamut from orchestrating recognition of the Cayman Islands as the ‘Culinary Capital of the Caribbean’, organising Cayman’s first ever JazzFest, developing brand partnerships with the NFL, NBA and Nickelodeon, to being a founding member of Literacy is for Everyone (LIFE), and serving as the current Chair of Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Pilar is a visionary with an eye for make-it-or-break-it details. Whether she’s discussing dinosaurs’ dietary habits with her son, Niko, developing global marketing campaigns to reposition the Cayman Islands, or advocating for changes in the public education and more accessible services for children and families, Pilar aims to make an impact guided by a clear sense of purpose.
“I was involved in Key Club as a teenager at John Gray High School, and took a pledge to ‘build my home, school and community, to serve my nation and God, and to combat all forces which tend to undermine these.’ The essence of the pledge is how I try to live my life.”
Her long list of accolades has not come without sacrifices, though. She gets up two hours before her family to have quiet time for uninterrupted work, and as she says with a smile, “extended downtime is a rare treat.”
Pilar’s parents raised her to believe that to whom much is given, much is required, and this value still underpins her worldview. She doesn’t complain about the challenges of simultaneously being an engaged parent, partner, and corporate and community leader. It’s part and parcel of the purpose-driven life she’s chosen. “Whether as mother of a teenager, or a manager of a team, we each do the best we can and then we wake up the next day and try again.”
When asked how she balances being a parent and an executive, she replies, “It seems natural to ask career-oriented mothers this question, but it actually reveals the double standards of gender. I rarely hear this question asked of ambitious men. Because working women still carry the bulk of parenting responsibilities, my answer is that it’s an imperfect and dynamic balance. Johann fully supports my career and is hands on with the boys, for example he is the one to get Niko ready in the morning while I make breakfast and lunches. I rarely accept social engagements, using weekend nights to catch up with Nathan and watch an episode or two of his favourite series, Avatar.”
Maybe this is why Pilar’s most frequent advice for mothers comes in the form of three short questions: “What matters most to you? What are you willing to give up? How can you make it simpler?”
On Sundays, days that are reserved for family, Pilar often reflects on the week prior and what’s coming ahead. In those moments of introspection, she often ponders about Cayman’s future. “The sense of community and shared values that were the bedrock of my childhood – have we lost these? As parents and as a society, what are we teaching our children to value most?”
But just as she doesn’t complain about the difficulties of thriving at work and at home, her concerns about the evolution of her country never turn to blame or indifference. “I refuse to criticise something without first trying to make it better. With my boys, I try to be the changes I wish to see. In our community, instead of complaining, I’d sooner join other likeminded people, sacrifice some leisure time and work on solutions.”
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