Staff Spotlight: Daniel Ponce-Taylor

Director of Programs


Daniel is a marine biologist with 10+ years experience in setting up, managing and evaluating high impact conservation and community development projects in Africa, Asia, Latin America and South Pacific. Currently focusing in designing and developing high quality environmental and development service learning opportunities for international students. Passionate about helping students reach their maximum potential and find new ways to develop their careers.

What is your favorite travel memory?

I have to say that nothing matches my 1st trip to Costa Rica as a biologist. I had the amazing opportunity to work in a leatherback turtle conservation project, training volunteer and local community members in data collection and relocation techniques for nests. Seeing those near-dinosaurs come out from the sea and so slowly and gently making a nest was mind blowing. And what can I say about weeks later seeing the hatchling making it back to the ocean!

Which destination is most underrated? Conversely, which is most overrated?

Tricky! Nicaragua is an incredible country that only recently has started to get some attention. In that region, everyone looks at Guatemala, but for me Nicaragua has a more real feel to it. I loved it. Closer to home, and since I am from Mallorca, I feel the mountains and small coves of the northern coast of Mallorca are underrated, as everyone thinks of Mallorca as party island (Magalluf and all that!!)

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

I think you need to be true to your core values. Those core values have to live within the organization and your staff, you can't just make them up, and you need to create your strategies and plans around them. Only then everyone will be 110% behind them. Also you need to have a clear strategy with enough flexibility to adapt to changing markets and industry conditions.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

GVI has given me the opportunity to grow in many professional aspects. From the start, when I was managing the Mexican operations, I have been given the opportunities to learn, make mistakes (and I think I have learnt from them too!). As a marine biologist I never thought I would have the opportunity to manage and oversee health projects, community development initiatives or wildlife expeditions. Not only that but my skills set now includes remote management, accounting, HR practices and policy implementation, and many others. I am so grateful for the opportunities I've been given in the past 10 years within GVI

What unique qualities does your company possess?

Amazing, hardworking, extremely committed and very opinionated staff team! I think that's what makes GVI so special.

Describe a time when you felt especially proud to be part of your current team

So many when thinking about the impact we have on the ground or on the volunteers. But I am so proud when I see how our team sticks together and helps each other out. With a big team all over the world, it's even more amazing when one of the team is going through a difficult moment and everyone helps and offers support. With everyone spread out geographically you would think that this would not be the case, but the family feel is very engrained within GVI, and everyone is willing to go a bit further to help each other out, specially in difficult situations.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

I love hearing from people that I met many years ago and out of the blue I get an email saying that "it all started with GVI". It makes me very happy that we have been able to kick start someone's amazing career, and in some cases we helped surfaced those skills. I recently was in Jalova, Costa Rica, and I met a volunteer who told me that she had drop out of school and knew she wanted to get into wildlife conservation but was not enjoying school. She worked hard to save enough money to go to a GVI expedition and it was her experience on base made her realized she had chosen the right path and now wanted to her more hands on experience before returning to school. I wish her all the success in the wildlife conservation arena!