The Great Translator

In August 2001, Maria Merce Martin and her family moved from Venezuela to Weston, Florida, trying to escape horrific violence in their native country and joining thousands of others fleeing the Latin American country. It was a decision she has never regretted, even during a moment of concern when the 9/11 terrorist attack occurred one month later.

“I didn’t think about giving up and moving back,” says Martin. “We don’t give up. I love this country. We’re very thankful for the opportunities we’ve had here.”

Those opportunities have proven fruitful for the energetic and vivacious Martin, who arrived with perfect timing�just as the Internet was blossoming into a major business tool. Now a U.S. citizen and proud of it, she didn’t just bring her entire family with her to a foreign country. She also brought along a company she had founded three years earlier, Optime Consulting, designed to hold the hands of Fortune 500 clients looking to reach international markets online.

Optime Consulting today is a privately held high-tech marketing consulting group with annual revenues of $7 million, 100 employees and offi ces in the United States, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela and Spain. Acting as a sort of middleman between high-tech companies and international customers, Optime counts such blue chip companies as Hewlett Packard, Citrix, Microsoft and Motorola as clients. Among other services, Optime designs and executes multilingual customer loyalty programs, online marketing strategies and social media campaigns.

One of Optime’s clients is Avaya, the $5 billion business telecommunications company. Over the last 10 years of working together, Avaya’s vice president of marketing, Roberto Ricossa, has watched Optime grow to include a virtual Babylon of international linguists who speak English, Spanish, Portugese and French. He says their companies have grown together. 

“Optime Consulting has been instrumental in all the programs we’ve launched, including a loyalty program for Latin American partners,” he says. “We developed the program together. I don’t consider them a vendor or supplier, I consider them a partner. They don’t just copy what other agencies do. They have such creativity�and passion for helping their customers to achieve their goals.”

Martin downplays her considerable career, preferring to focus on good health, family and charitable works. She intertwines all three with her business whenever she can. 

Staying fit is a passion of Martin’s, which is obvious to anyone who meets the trim, perfectly- groomed 48-year-old. She says she is motivated to maintain good health by her parents” experience. Her father, who lives in Venezuela, is blind due to diabetes and has other ailments. 

“When I see my parents I see they don’t take care of themselves,” she says. “In order to get old with quality of life, you have to take care of yourself. My dream is to enjoy life with my kids and grandkids.”

“We don’t give up. I love this country. We’re very thankful for the opportunities we’ve had here.”

To spread the gospel of good health to others” and also help the community she has grown to love as well as celebrate 15 years in business�Martin held a 5K run in September at Markham Park in Sunrise. With sponsorships from Whole Foods, Offerdahl’s, Midtown Athletic Club and others, the race raised $15,000 for the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Optime hopes to make it an annual event.

When Martin first approached certain sponsors about the race, they were skeptical. “�Don’t think of having more than 400 participants in your first race,” they told me,” she says. But, with her marketing prowess and Fortune 500 company contacts, Martin knew she could do better. And she was right: More than 1,000 people jogged, ran and walked that day.

Martin lives in the city where Optime is based, nicknamed “Westonzuela” because of the large influx of Venezuelans there’so much so that she sometimes bumps into people she knew back home. She lives with her husband, Guillermo Palm, who runs a computer and network security company called Odveloper, and their two children, Andrea, 20, a student at Notre Dame University, and Michelle, 13, a student at St. Thomas Aquinas High School.

When she misses her homeland, Martin knows where to turn’the local gas station, which houses a PANNA Caf” Express where Martin can grab an empanada or desgre�ado and, for a few minutes, feel like she’s back in Caracas.

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Drew Limsky

Drew Limsky



Drew Limsky joined Lifestyle Media Group in August 2020 as Editor-in-Chief of South Florida Business & Wealth. His first issue of SFBW, October 2020, heralded a reimagined structure, with new content categories and a slew of fresh visual themes. “As sort of a cross between Forbes and Robb Report, with a dash of GQ and Vogue,” Limsky says, “SFBW reflects South Florida’s increasingly sophisticated and dynamic business and cultural landscape.”

Limsky, an avid traveler, swimmer and film buff who holds a law degree and Ph.D. from New York University, likes to say, “I’m a doctor, but I can’t operate—except on your brand.” He wrote his dissertation on the nonfiction work of Joan Didion. Prior to that, Limsky received his B.A. in English, summa cum laude, from Emory University and earned his M.A. in literature at American University in connection with a Masters Scholar Award fellowship.

Limsky came to SFBW at the apex of a storied career in journalism and publishing that includes six previous lead editorial roles, including for some of the world’s best-known brands. He served as global editor-in-chief of Lexus magazine, founding editor-in-chief of custom lifestyle magazines for Cadillac and Holland America Line, and was the founding editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Interiors South Florida. He also was the executive editor for B2B magazines for Acura and Honda Financial Services, and he served as travel editor for Conde Nast. Magazines under Limsky’s editorship have garnered more than 75 industry awards.

He has also written for many of the country’s top newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, USA Today, Worth, Robb Report, Afar, Time Out New York, National Geographic Traveler, Men’s Journal, Ritz-Carlton, Elite Traveler, Florida Design, Metropolis and Architectural Digest Mexico. His other clients have included Four Seasons, Acqualina Resort & Residences, Yahoo!, American Airlines, Wynn, Douglas Elliman and Corcoran. As an adjunct assistant professor, Limsky has taught journalism, film and creative writing at the City University of New York, Pace University, American University and other colleges.