Q&A With Ta

Written By Ta Corrales

Published October 7, 2020

ta corrales blowing glass in a laboratory

The three most important tools I work with... Coffee, paper, and my laptop. Those who know me can tell you that a good cup of coffee is my favorite inanimate company for work, but also for times of laughter and creativity. Moreover, I am a highly kinesthetic person and so working on paper really helps me bring my thoughts and ideas to life. Finally, my laptop, thanks to which I can create and collaborate with friends and clients beyond borders.

When I’m not working, I enjoy... I am the happiest person in the world while I dance, especially when dancing with others. I love to move, sing to lyrics that I enjoy, and use my muscle memory (with a little bit of improv, always) for pleasure and laughter. I also really love walking leisurely, enjoying nature, and riding my bike.

The biggest misconception people seem to have about my community... I’m Costa Rican, and the most common question I get is where Costa Rica is located on a map? I have been asked if Costa Rica is an island, if it’s in South America, and sometimes also if it’s part of the United States. Costa Rica is located in the Central American isthmus.

I define innovation as... Change management with a positive multidimensional impact. I believe that as humans, we are all creative beings who are continuously innovating. Creativity is everywhere, and innovation is too.

I wish I could learn... All and any handcrafting techniques. To name a few, I would love to learn pottering, backstrap-loom weaving, and basket making.While I am working and learning with my hands, my mind goes to a special place of creativity and self-discovery. Also, some of the most wonderful innovators I have had the pleasure to work with are skilled artisans, with whom sharing time and stories has been an honor for me.

I most enjoyed studying... Environmental chemistry, especially as related to climate change. I am a chemistry nerd and have always loved to understand the world though what feels to me like a smaller zoom lens. It was incredibly interesting and thought provoking learning more about the pathways through which human actions have influenced the environment.

My favorite form of art... I’m going to cheat and mention 3 forms of art that I absolutely love. Textile art, spoken word, and of course, dance. I cultivated a deep appreciation for artisanal textiles while living and working with oaxacan textile artisans. I am often deeply moved by spoken word pieces. And dancing is my favorite art to practice.

The music that always makes me dance... Timba! Timba is a cuban genre that is similar to salsa, with a strong influence of afro-cuban music. It shares the conga marcha with salsa, but features strong bass drums.

The historical figure I most identify with... As a teenager, I very much identified with Marie Curie, because I loved Chemistry, I was learning French, I am named after her (my middle name is Marie), and I dreamt of winning a Nobel Prize in Chemistry!

The living person I most admire... This is an easy one! My grandmother, Marta Campos Méndez. I admire her for being a tireless activist for the rights of women and workers in my country, who has conquered historic achievements for inclusion, and instilled in me the desire to build the better world we want to live in.

My pets... I have 2 dogs, 24 happy chicken and 3 happy roosters as pets!

The quality I most appreciate in my colleagues... Participative leadership. There’s great strength in the ability to share discussions, power, ideas, processes, information and decision-making.

My favorite perk of my job... Being part of an extraordinary and impact-driven community of innovators who are on the frontlines of societal and environmental revolutions for a better world.

To be most productive, I need my work environment... To include good coffee, abundant lightning, and great music!

The three qualities that got me where I am today... Curiosity, courage, and resilience. My curiosity has been the catalyst to the diverse and perpetual learning experiences that I treasure in my memories. My courage has allowed me to do things and exist in spaces that I never thought were possible. And my resilience has helped me overcome the many challenges and hardships that also built me.

Everyone should try... empathizing and really putting yourself in the shoes of somebody you disagree with ...at least once in their life.

My perfect day would begin and end with... Community. I love investing time cultivating bonds with people I love, as part of communities for growth.

The last time I sang aloud... Was just this afternoon, singing to the lyrics of “Amanece” by the Afro-Colombian band “Herencia de Timbiquí”

My favorite aroma... Petrichor! The smell of wet earth after it rains reminds me of home.

My favorite machine or invention... Bicycles! I can list dozens of reasons why I love bicycles, but here I want to share with you three. (1) The role bicycles played in the women’s rights movements. (2) You can reuse bicycles and bike parts to design and build pedal-powered machines. (3) You can modify and improve wheelchairs using bicycle parts.

Want to learn more? Check out About Us and Smith Assembly's Origin Story.