Q & A with Victor Mercado!

Posted November 21, 2019

What is your role at ILLUME? 
I serve as a Principal at ILLUME. I oversee our business development and communication efforts.

Where are you from and where do you live now? 
I was born in Mexico and grew up in a small town on the U.S./Mexico border. My great grandfather’s dad was from San Francisco and he and his family settled one of the original mining towns in the state of Sonora, Mexico. My great grandmother’s family were cattle ranchers. I live in Tucson, Arizona. My wife and I both have deep roots in the Southwest.

Who or what inspires you in your work? 
The desire to learn new things and operate across innovation spaces drives my work. Also, human connection. At a very human level, we’re all trying our best to solve some pretty complex problems. I’m inspired by folks who are constantly leveraging their networks and resources to deliver a better customer experience or figure out the grid of the future. I’m inspired by folks who have big ideas and swing for the fences. There’s no lack of that in this industry.

Do you have any pets? 
Sadly, no. Dogs are cool, but our family is constantly on the go. We have two kids, ages seven and fifteen who are involved in a ton of activities.

What are your favorite hobbies? 
I absolutely love cooking breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays (I watch Meet the Press religiously on Sunday; then football). I love running and I play golf more than I should (I think this year I played every weekend in May; remarkably I’m still married!). I’m an only child, so I gravitate toward things that are super introverted and quiet to help me find my center.

What’s your favorite quote or motto? 
Be kind.

What’s the worst job you’ve ever had? 
Oh goodness! Right after finishing my undergrad a family friend asked me to help him do an inventory of his payphone business. He lived in Arizona but was from Tennessee and used his Southern charm to convince me it was a good idea. It was the year 2000; cell phones were emerging, so you know where this story is going. The job was traveling across the state with spreadsheets and spreadsheets of payphone locations taking Polaroid pictures of them as he got ready to sell everything. I got paid to see Arizona, and since I used to play in a band at the time, we used his warehouse by the airport to practice (perks!). It was a strange gig, though. People would stare when I got out of the truck to snap pictures of random pay phones. Although, now that I think of it, today we take pictures of our food!

What is the best concert you ever attended? 
So not a fair question! As a musician I’ve seen all sorts of shows—from Beyoncé at the Rose Bowl to tons of classic rock acts, to blues in Chicago, New Orleans jazz in the French Quarter, and Mexican Corridos in South Tucson. I’m going to punt on this one. There’s too much good music out there.

What is your superpower? 
I love meeting new people and connecting people to each other. I ask people all the time, “Have you met, so-and-so?” It’s not so much name dropping as it is this innate desire to see people take their ideas to the next level.

If you could have chosen another career path, what would you be doing? 
Writer or musician.