Flair Magazine

THE GLEANER’S FLAIR MAGAZINE • TUESDAY, MARCH 8, 2022 I {FLAIR 4 playing what Jamaicans call ‘dolly house’. She also read a lot and would often use her books to create floor plans and set up the rooms with doll sets. She considered herself an average student who went to school and did well. “I attended St Catherine Primary, after which I passed for my first choice, Merl Grove High. I got nine CSEC (Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate) subjects, then I furthered my studies at Portmore Community College and the University of Technology,” Blackwood said. Armed with an associate degree in construction technology and a bachelor’s in civil engineering, Blackwood started her construction business in March 2020, at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, all while continuing to advance her project manager career. She is currently pursuing her project management professional certification. MAN’S WORLD While the construction business is often seen as a man’s world, Blackwood does not believe that she is an outsider in the industry, and she has never had to conform to fit in. “I have a lot of advantages being a woman in the field, to be honest. It gives me that drive to work hard to be on top like my counterparts,” Blackwood said. Learning to be true to herself and adopting her own operating style was a watershed moment in her career. Some women, Blackwood said, might believe they cannot do a role, but by giving them support and backing, they have the opportunity to succeed. “It all starts with a passion. Be very dedicated, and do not be afraid to put your foot forward. Always take a leap of faith. The most important thing is to be very confident,” she said. Every new appointment or promotion carries some risk, and Blackwood is unconvinced that women are less equipped to succeed than men. “Overcoming barriers yourself makes you more aware of the barriers others contend with, and more determined to remove the barriers that prevent people from being able to fully participate,” she said. Her typical day starts at 6 a.m., with each day bringing its fair share of challenges. “My day usually starts off by checking the status of my projects and then calling my team to prep them for the day, followed by checking my schedule and completing each task that I set out for that particular day. I don’t slow down until it’s 6 p.m.,” she said. With enthusiasm and steadfast commitment to going the extra mile in spite of the challenges, she is optimistic that she will continue to advance in her career. “I really want to move into luxury construction. That’s the aim right now. I want Chantier to be a household name that sits at the top with the big boys, like the Matalons’ or the Issas’. I’m really committed to [pushing] myself to tremendous growth,” Blackwood said. keisha.hill@gleanerjm.com While the construction business is often seen as a man’s world, Blackwood does not believe that she is an outsider in the industry, and she has never had to conform to fit in. RICARDO MAKYN/CHIEF PHOTO EDITOR ‘Overcoming barriers yourself makes you more aware of the barriers others contend with, and more determined to remove the barriers that prevent people from being able to fully participate.’ PURE CONTINUED FROM 3


THE GLEANER’S FLAIR MAGAZINE • TUESDAY, MARCH 8, 2022 I {FLAIR DEAR CAPABLE Woman, When you think of womanhood and the wonderful qualities of the women in your life, without hesitation, the names and great deeds of friends, relatives and public figures come to mind. Often, little thought is spared to your own personal victories – the mental, emotional and physical ‘wins’ – that have transformed YOU into the awesome, capable and confident woman you are today. As we celebrate the beauty of being surrounded by incredible women who persist and continue to ‘win’ in a world that limits them, we acknowledge that it is impossible to define what womanhood means to all women. Our diversity and individualism are what makes us special! This International Women’s Day, as we join hands with our global sisters to #BreakTheBias, we salute your untold stories, small victories and private battles. We implore you never to diminish your ambitious, audacious spirit, kindness, big dreams and desire to uplift those around you. We encourage you to be unapologetic about who you are. Your voices deserve to be heard. LASCO, through its Curves brand, has never been shy about its advocacy for women and young girls to have equitable access to education, healthcare and mental wellness resources. We wholeheartedly believe that every woman can ‘Be The Woman’ they dream or desire to be. For us, personal health development is one of the critical means to ensuring our nation’s women and young girls gain access to affordable choices for menstrual hygiene materials and knowledge-based resources. Curves is proud of our legacy of upliftment and actionable change and continues to support foundations and charitable organisations such as #WeInspireWomen and #HerFlow that richly embodies our vision to educate and motivate our women. Let this International Women’s Day serve as a reminder to cherish and love, completely, the parts of yourself that you may be tempted to shrink. YOU are wonderfully made ... full of personality and bubbling with self-assurance to dominate any space you choose. With Love, Curves A love note to a capable woman 7 F.ADVERTORIAL

THE GLEANER’S FLAIR MAGAZINE • TUESDAY, MARCH 8, 2022 I {FLAIR 8 Krysta Anderson Staff Reporter FOR THIS year’s International Women’s Day, women all across the world are sharing how they break the bias in their passions and professions to level the playing field and create gender equality. Today, Flair honours a group of strong, talented, powerful, and competitive women who aren’t all talk; they also walk the ‘rifle’ walk. Meet Jamaica’s all-female shooting team – the Super Six. The team consists of four members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force – Detective Corporal Sasha-Gay Mullings, Corporal Kayla Keane, and Constable Shayon Francis, who are assigned to the Corporate Communications Unit, and Constable Sheresa Solan, who is assigned to the Counter-Terrorism and Organised Crime unit. Two civilians were also recruited – Renee Rickhi, a businesswoman and Yeonie Campbell, a forensic scientist – to round off the team formed by Superintendent Steven Brown. “[Superintendent Brown] had the vision to show that there are tactical women who can manoeuvre any obstacle, even in a male-dominated organisation or event,” Detective Corporal Mullings, captain of the Super Six team, explained. An official sport since the 1800s, competitive shooting has become a staple at the Olympics. Tested on skill, power speed, accuracy, and precision, the Super Six so far has competed in the pistol categories of limited/standard, production, open and carry optics, much to the delight and excitement of the attentive audience. They have also competed in the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) category and managed to transform an initially tepid response. “An all-female team competing in a male-dominated event like SWAT took them by surprise. They didn’t take us seriously at first, but by the end of the event, I knew we had earned their respect. The audience was amazing. They cheered us on, and the energy they brought fuelled our competitive nature,” Rickhi highlighted. GRATEFUL FOR SUPPORT Detective Corporal Mullings, is grateful that the Jamaica Rifle Association (JRA) has adopted the Super Six and has been supportive and instrumental in their training. “Big up to our main coach Anthony ‘TJ’ Johnson and our Welfare Manager/Rifle Coach Robin Rickhi,” she told Flair. She is also grateful for the support of Minister of Gender and Sport, Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange. Coach Johnson shares Detective Corporal Mullings’ enthusiasm. For him, it has been an absolute pleasure training women who are not only physically capable and cooperative, but who have the mental capacity to readily absorb information and are eager to learn. He applauded his phenomenal team, saying: “The Super Six ladies are of that mettle, rising to the task and performing like veteran shooters at the SWAT competition. Their every move was scrutinised by spectators, competitors, and the judges. They were the talk of the competition. Dem dress boasey, sah. Dem cya miss. Dem good, sah. They performed amazingly well, with just three weeks of training, beating many of the all-male teams,” he said of his team. The Super Six looks forward to representing Jamaica in the Pan American Games later this year, and is currently venturing into another shooting sport, the International Practical Shooting Confederation, where Johnson anticipates that his team will also do well. “I believe we will achieve great things. It’s hard not to when you’re surrounded by ladies that are dedicated, committed, willing to work hard, and accept change readily. We will bring fame to our little island. We will shine like the North Star to show the way that you can achieve great things with dedication, knowledge, and hard work. Super Six, on target every time,” he said. Until then they preparing in earnest, preparing for a match on May 28, and hoping to secure sponsors to offset the cost of sourcing ammunition for training purposes. krysta.anderson@gleanerjm. com This all-female shooting team is ready to take down all barriers. PHOTOS BY RICARDO MAKYN/CHIEF PHOTO EDITOR MEETTHETEAM DETECTIVE CORPORAL SASHA-GAYE MULLINGS Detective Corporal Sasha-Gaye Mullings joined the Jamaica Constabulary Force in 2013. A lover of both rifle and handgun, she confessed that she had not shot a rifle in nine years before training in October to prepare for the SWAT roundup. “For now, I stick to handguns. I love a .40 calibre weapon, but I also love the 9mm Glock pistol. I have been introduced to optical sights, and I am considering adding that to my weapon soon,” the detective corporal shared. RENEE RICKHI A member of the JRA for many years, Renee Rickhi, an entrepreneur was inspired to shoot competitively because of her husband, who is a very active practical pistol shooter. She found the sport very intriguing and shoots a number of forms as a result. “I shoot a lot of disciplines, practical pistol, rifle, sporting clays (clay pigeon shooting) and skeet,” she added. CORPORAL KAYLA KEANE Corporal Kayla Keane has been a police officer for over 10 years, where she learnt to shoot. She has been doing been doing practical pistol shooting for approximately six months, and credits the spor t for improving her skills. “Shooting as a sport has significantly improved my shooting ability,” she told Flair. The corporal shared that her shooting strength is her athleticism. Physically stronger than most, she can compete for longer without getting exhausted. “I prefer shooting with a Glock 17 as opposed to a Glock 19. It’s always going to be a Glock for me until I can afford a race gun,” Keane added. YEONIE CAMPBELL Yeonie Campbell got involved in shooting as a spectator of the practical pistol matches held at the JRA. Pretty soon, the forensic scientist became a range officer and a competitor, “At the time, there were only a few lady shooters, but I have never been intimidated by this as I had always been involved in male-dominated sports.” Her eagerness to do well, pure love for the sport and athleticism are her biggest strengths. CONSTABLE SHERESA SOLAN Constable Sheresa Solan became fascinated by pistol shooting when she accompanied Super intendent Brown to the JRA range. Based on her skills, it was recommended that she take her interest beyond just mere enthusiasm. “My strength in shooting is accuracy, but my weakness is speed. My first time competing was nerve-racking, but as we engaged in more shooting activities, I became a bit more relaxed, comfortable and confident,” she shared. CONSTABLE SHAYON FRANCIS Constable Shayon Francis, who shoots in the limited category, was happy to be invited to join this ground breaking team. With determination as her strength, her weapon of choice is the pistol. She does enjoy shooting a rifle as well. “At first, I was nervous about the competition because we were competing against males. But after the first challenge, I saw that we were true contenders, beating some of them at the sport.” F.PROFILE


THE GLEANER’S FLAIR MAGAZINE • TUESDAY, MARCH 8, 2022 I {FLAIR CHERYL DONNAMarie Lewis rose to the position of the first female deputy director general of the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) in 2019 after a sterling career in law and utilities regulation, spanning some 24 years. She is widely viewed as one of the foremost authorities in legal and technical matters pertaining to utilities regulation in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean, a reputation which has seen her receiving many requests to provide advice, make presentations and participate on panels on such matters, both locally and overseas. Lewis’ foray into utilities regulation started in the Attorney General’s (AG) Chambers, where she worked as legal counsel for 15 years. Her various positions there included her appointment as the director of commercial affairs, where she represented the Government in matters such as the privatisations of Air Jamaica and the sugar industry, Jamaica’s first debt exchange, the creation of the Jamaica Stock Exchange Junior Market and the introduction of ethanol in Jamaica (‘85 and ‘90). Lewis states, “Upon reflection, I am grateful for my years at the AG’s Chambers as it exposed me to so many areas. It was perhaps because of the multifaceted experiences why I did not feel daunted to join the OUR, which deals with highly specialised matters. I always love to challenge myself, and I saw the opportunity to take another step in my career, while at the same time serving my country.” Lewis joined the OUR in October 2010 as deputy general counsel and became general counsel two years later. She held this position for six years, having responsibility for providing legal and strategic advice on regulatory and legislative matters regarding the OUR’s statutory mandate. During her tenure at the OUR, she has provided effective representation locally and internationally. Notably, Lewis has played an integral part in the introduction of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the electricity sector and the development of the associated infrastructure in Jamaica, the first such in the Caribbean at the time. She has delivered special lectures internationally, relating to Jamaica’s experience with LNG. Lewis is currently one of three deputy directors-general at the OUR – the only woman in its 25-year history – and has oversight for the legal and consumer and public affairs departments. She is also a member of the office’s legal affairs subcommittee. A British Chevening Scholar, Lewis holds a Masters of Laws (Distinction) in International Business Law from the University of Manchester in England and a legal education certificate from the Norman Manley Law School, Jamaica where she graduated in the top five of her graduating class. She holds many other professional and academic qualifications, but remains humble in her success. An ardent Christian, Lewis is a firm believer in ‘paying it forward’. As such, she mentors teenagers, young adults and adults from various walks of life, guiding and motivating them to realise and release their God-given potential. She is a past student of the Montego Bay High School for Girls and Holy Childhood High School and is a member of the Jamaican Bar Association. Cheryl Lewis making her mark The first female deputy director-general of the Office of Utilities Regulation, Cheryl Lewis continues to make her mark. OUR’s first female deputy director general breaking bias, blazing a trail 10 F.ADVERTORIAL


THE GLEANER’S FLAIR MAGAZINE • TUESDAY, MARCH 8, 2022 I {FLAIR AFTER WINNING a Flair Distinguished Award, many of our fabulous awardees continue to do amazing things. We decided to check in with some of our Distinguished ladies to find out what they have been up to and see who continued to blaze a trail after receiving their awards. F.THE DISTINGUISHED Flair awardees continue to thrive GAIL ABRAHAMS – COMMUNICATIONS 2020 It was such an honour to receive the Flair Distinguished Award for Communications two years ago. Since then, I have changed jobs, and today, I am the chief marketing officer for Hardware & Lumber Limited, one of Jamaica’s most admired companies, where I get to do what I love while working with a diverse and committed team. The impact of these awards goes beyond the women who are recognised as young girls are also inspired to set their sights on even greater futures. 12 LESLI-ANN BELNAVIS – ARTS 2018 I was shocked and excited to know that I was one of the first set of women to be acknowledged by the Flair for International Women’s Day in 2018. Since then, I have got married and started a photography and creative solutions agency with my husband titled LMent Creative. I have started to embrace my talents as an artist and photographer more. I am now the director of Art Therapy Jamaica, which offers art therapy services to children, adults, groups, couples, and families, both in-person and online, both on a local and international level. The pandemic brought many tests as well as blessings. Despite the uncertainty, devastation, and challenges it brought, I was able to [secure] an official office location for Art Therapy Jamaica. I am excited to see the growth and how my passion and talents as both a photographer and art therapist continue to impact the nation. FIONA BURKE – VOLUNTEERISM 2018 In 2018, when I was given The Distinguished Award for Volunteerism, I was seven months pregnant with my second child. She is now almost four years old. Time flies. It seems I still wear the same superwoman cape referred to in the 2018 feature article. In addition to juggling family life and all that I do with Flourish, I teach what is called Confidence Class, which is a public-speaking course, and I partner with my husband in a business we recently started called Wood Artistry Jamaica, where he uses wood to create masterpieces. What’s next for me and for Flourish? A free virtual concert on Easter Monday called Hi Skoolaz, for teens across Jamaica, which will feature a slew of local entertainers, celebrities, and influences and Confidence Camp for Kids and Teens in the summer. I’m sure it’s evident I have no plans to relinquish my superwoman title any time soon. LISANDRA RICKARDS – BUSINESS 2018 When I stepped down from my previous role as CEO of the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship at the start of 2020, my plan at the time was to go on an adventure and relocate to Europe for a year or two, building my own business from there. The pandemic changed those plans, and I remained in Jamaica, launching and growing my company, Soul Career, a talent -development company that helps attract, develop, motivate, and retain high-performing talent – which has turned out to be the greatest adventure. My vision was to create a fully remote, location-independent company that would allow me and my team to live and work from anywhere while we pursued our mission of redefining the relationship between work and life and changing work culture. I’m really proud to say that since 2020, and in the middle of a global pandemic, we’ve quintupled our growth, serving clients from all over the world with a team of five that’s based in the Caribbean, Europe, and Southeast Asia. This has been the most challenging and most rewarding journey of my life, and I’m excited about accelerating our growth now that the pandemic is receding. YHORDANKA AKWANZA – BUSINESS 2018 I had a brand-new human named Tao since winning the award in 2018. His birth in 2019 propelled me to step away from the day-to-day micro-management side of the Eyeland Eyewear business and invest more in our team training so that they can function more without having me there and ensuring that the company is functioning as it should. As of today, we have 13 locations islandwide. My husband and I continue to focus on making the world a better place and have started a company called Essential Solar, where we install solar panels and systems islandwide because we want Jamaicans to be power independent and create a better environment for future generations. We have also started an Airbnb called Our Escape in Portland, and I have started a side hustle of being an influencer where companies reach out to me to help them promote their environmentally friendly products and fashion. CHRIS-ANN SIMPSON HARLEY – SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY 2019 There have been a lot of changes since I won The Distinguished Award in 2019. Good changes. I have grown the Woman’s Touch brand. It is now in most major retailers islandwide and has got more engagement with our customer base with the help of our distributor Derrimon. We have expanded the Woman’s Touch line from only pads into other healthy options for women that include wipes and a feminine wash. We have major plans for the upcoming years as we grow. God has been really good.


THE GLEANER’S FLAIR MAGAZINE • TUESDAY, MARCH 8, 2022 I {FLAIR F. ADVERTORIAL OUR SOCIETY is seeing a growing number of women stepping up and out as decision-makers, not just in their homes, but in major industries and organisations. This evolution of the role of women as empowered equals has augured well for the mindset shift required to drive change in the role of women in leadership across the globe. This has also allowed women to break the bias in several male-dominated industries and contribute to creating a sustainable future. For Anntonette Cowan-Palmer, regional manager at NCB Insurance Agency and Fund Managers Limited, stepping out of her comfort zone on the constant quest for greatness has allowed her to move beyond her limitations. Palmer is no stranger to hard work. Growing up with a single mother and five siblings, she watched her mother work hard to provide for her family each day. “Mommy barely earned above the minimum wage, but she never complained, never borrowed, we were never hungry, and we all went to school. I watched Mommy plan and sacrifice, which taught me that the management of money. [It] being a scarce commodity, [it] needs planning and sacrifice if you are to reap its rewards,” she explained. From as early as she could remember, Palmer learnt the value of saving, which allowed her to enjoy the simple pleasures of life without depending on her mother. “I would save my lunch money to have money for the grand market, sports day, or to go to KFC when we went on church trips. We all knew Mommy could not afford any more, so whatever we got as lunch money, we had to make it work,” she said. MINISTERS OF FINANCE AND HOME AFFAIRS As women, we are expected to be nurturers and stewards of our family, and invariably those roles involve managing money. “We are the ministers of finance and home affairs,” said Palmer. “We must plan in such a way that the immediate needs are met, and we prepare for the future demands. This is no easy feat,” she continued. When it comes to attaining wealth and exercising good money management, she noted that investing is the best way to earn more money. “To get more money, you must practise investing. Investment also requires discipline and time. I have always believed that every dollar spent outside of those providing for basic needs must be put to investment and should not be used only for pleasure,” explained Palmer. Her advice to women is to not be frivolous with their spending and to be mindful of where their money is going. “The next time you decide to spend ostentatiously, ask yourself: ‘Is this the best way to invest this money? What returns will I be getting on this investment?’ I also believe that the best way to use debt is to invest it. Don’t borrow to get it if you won’t make a return on it,” she pointed out. Palmer’s daily motivation as a female leader comes from being grateful for life, health, family, and freedom. Her optimistic mindset has created a magnet for the many opportunities she has gained. “People often ask, do you ever have a bad day? [The] truth is, I don’t have bad days; there may be off-moments here and there, but never a bad day. There are just too many great things that are going well to allow just one small thing to disrupt that flow. I also firmly believe that all things work together for good. So, even when there are challenges, I do not dwell on them; rather, I focus on the great opportunities that are presented, whether to learn or to earn,” she said. Palmer’s wish for the future of women in business is to ensure that more people partake in the mentorship of young women who are interested in growing their careers and becoming leaders within their sector. “I hope we will not just be sitting in the boardrooms, but more of us will be chairing those boards. I want to see more women become leaders in this technological age, driving innovation and leading industries, all while impacting lives positively and empowering future generations to become better than those before,” stated Palmer. She paid homage to her mother, Icilda PitterPetrie, who has always been her strongest influence. Palmer said her lessons of disciplined focus, love for others and stress-free living have moulded her into the woman she is today. “Growing up, my mother also emphasised that ‘anything worthwhile doing is worthwhile doing well’, and these words have guided me in life. She was my greatest mentor, and because of her efforts, I am where I am today,” stated Palmer. Anntonette Cowan-Palmer credits mother for strong influence 14 ’ Mommy barely earned above the minimum wage, but she never complained, never borrowed, we were never hungry, and we all went to school. I watched Mommy plan and sacrifice, which taught me that the management of money. [It] being a scarce commodity, [it] needs planning and sacrifice if you are to reap its rewards. ‘ Anntonette Cowan-Palmer, regional manager for NCB Insurance Agency and Fund Managers Limited, said she thanks her mother for teaching her the value of money, discipline and love for others.



THE GLEANER’S FLAIR MAGAZINE • TUESDAY, MARCH 8, 2022 I {FLAIR 18 F.FINANCE Keisha Bailey Contributor WOMEN, WHO have been hanging on the sidelines with their personal finances, are now getting ready to jump in, and it’s about time! We may be in 2022, but the global gender pay gap persists. Research shows that women, on average, earn 23 per cent less than their male counterparts for the same work. Until the global pay gap shrinks, women must become the bosses of their financial situations. Ladies, you have pocket power. You have what it takes to be successful with your own money, to dive into the sea of finance and investing and emerge as the true money champions we are. According to the latest survey by Fortune magazine, 64 per cent of women said that improving at least one aspect of their finances was among their New Year’s resolutions, compared with only 54 per cent of men. So how exactly do we as women get started with investing to improve our personal finances? WHY WOMEN SHOULD INVEST Let’s explore the primary reason that all women need to invest. With inflation resulting in the record-breaking high prices of goods and services and interest rates climbing higher every day, stashing money in a savings account won’t allow you to outpace these increases. Investing is the tried, tested and proven way to beat inflation and build real wealth. Once we have adopted the mindset that investing is critical to wealth creation, it’s time to take the necessary steps to maximise how much we contribute monthly to investing. This, in turn, will drive the future growth of our money. And quite simply, if men can do it, then so can we. WHEN WOMEN SHOULD START TO INVEST Should women wait until they are finished having children before they invest? Should they wait for marriage before opening an investment account? The simple answer is – no. Stop waiting: there is no time like the present. Idle money is the worst money, and can lose value every day because of inflation. HOW DO WOMEN START TO INVEST The best way to start investing is to start with what you know. These days there are lots of practical, easy investing options at your fingertips. If you are in the ‘done for you’ camp and don’t want to get knee-deep in financial statements, then a unit trust (mutual fund) may be the best option for you. For women looking to be fully immersed in investing, buying stocks in quality companies you know would be a great place to start. You also may join financial education communities like my Money Squad, where I teach you how to invest to build wealth. Once you start investing, it’s your duty to pay it forward. We also need to teach the next generation of young girls that their future can be different, shining brighter than any diamond Rihanna will sing about. When they understand that financial power is within their reach, they appreciate their freedom to build a life on their terms without relying on unpleasant systems, like abusive relationships or toxic work environments. Investing unlocks the power to define our own stories, to show up as our best selves. It grants us the power to claim a seat at the proverbial table which men have dominated. In short, investing gives women the chance to change the world. Now, who’s with me? If you are serious about building www, then there is no time like the present. I’ve said it before and I’ll repeat it: Ladies, you have pocket power. It’s time to become truly successful with your money. Keisha Bailey (@profitjumpstarter) is an experienced investment strategist and investment educator who teaches persons how to earn passive income, create financial freedom and generational wealth by investing in stocks. She may be reached at www.profitjumpstarter.com. Girl, get your money right! How women can build pocket power through investing Women have pocket power, says Keisha Bailey of Profit Jumpstarter.


THE GLEANER’S FLAIR MAGAZINE • TUESDAY, MARCH 8, 2022 I {FLAIR 20 F.VOX POP What do you love woman? about being a AS THE world celebrates International Women’s Day, we asked nine women: What do you love about being a woman? I absolutely love the diversity of both a pants and a skirt. What does that mean? I’m not confined to just one standard. Today, I am free to lead, inspire, and, or build an empire, and in the same breath, nurture and love unconditionally. I am unapologetically all these things. – Paula A. Bullings, regional field marketing manager, Blue Diamond Resorts Being a woman, to me, is one of the most complicated, difficult, beautiful, complex yet powerful things you could ever hope to be. However, what I love and admire the most is my strength and my ability to be expressive and to simply be my true self. – Alyssa Knibb, medical imaging specialist, the University Hospital of the West Indies We possess certain attributes that the opposite sex does not possess – the ability to carry another human being in our bodies for nine months. The saying “behind every strong man there is a good and even stronger woman to give him support and guidance” always proves to be true. We are superhumans to our families, jobs, and society at large. As caregivers and teachers, our love can be felt by everyone who comes in contact with us. We embody tenacity, inspiration, and mentorship as we bring style, charisma, competition and a wealth of ideas into the workplace. – Paula Roberts, logistics supervisor, ATL Autobahn The meaning of womanhood has changed for me throughout the various stages of my life. Currently, I am a mother, a sister, a nurturer, a provider, a teacher, a daughter, a friend, a disciplinarian, a role model, and on some days, ‘a hot gyal’. Being a woman is unapologetically embracing who I am, what I want, what I deserve and not being confined by societal expectations of who I should be. Being a woman is accepting that I can be both assertive and feminine; I can be kind and have boundaries. – Trish-Ann McTaggart

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THE GLEANER’S FLAIR MAGAZINE • TUESDAY, MARCH 8, 2022 I {FLAIR 22 F.ADVERTORIAL WHAT DISTINGUISHES a sales organisation like Guardian Life Limited, one of Jamaica’s largest and, by extension, part of the Caribbean’s leading financial services groups, from its peers? The meaningful difference is a sales adviser like Laslene Topey. Topey admits, “I will walk on water for my clients, just to ensure that their needs are met and their expectations are surpassed.” She embodies what sales excellence is all about: commitment, authenticity, a sincere and holistic interest in clients’ needs, integrity, and a genuine desire to promote organisational efficiency. But where did these traits stem from? Her unhesitating response to that question came with a smile, “My dad, my best friend.” Growing up in Greenwich Town, then moving to the Molynes/Three Oaks area, Topey came from humble beginnings, but explained that her dad, with whom she lived, and her mom, though residing overseas, together ensured she had a first-class upbringing and sound parenting. “It was my dad who instilled in me certain values and [attitudes] that have now become my moral compass in both my professional and personal dealings.” From her dad, she learnt not just by his telling, but by him modelling the importance of several behavioural traits, such as being gracious and kind to others; how being organised fuels productivity; the need for setting a high standard for self; discipline in all you undertake; cultivating a mindset of a winner; being nonjudgemental; having good manners; and making sure that you are always accountable. These qualities have been her orientation and are now imprinted in her. We all can acknowledge that sales success requires the right engagement model with customers, and the right relationships within your own company; and putting in the needed time and energy is a prescription for great performance. Topey has obviously mastered all the above. As one of Guardian Life’s outstanding performers, she has qualified for the Million Dollar Round Table every year since joining Guardian Life Limited some 10 years ago, winning Rookie of the Year in her first year of sales; and having over 100 trophies is ‘proof perfect’ that she is no ordinary sales adviser. She will tell you that her continued success is no accident, or ‘buck-up’. Topey is truly customer-centric. For her, customer engagement doesn’t just mean spending time with customers. It means supporting their needs even outside of insurance products. “I am happy to use my other skills and experience as a previous banker to help my clients in many ways, if it means, for them, their business growth or personal development,” she pointed out. To many who know her, it comes as no surprise that even her weekends may be taken up spending additional hours with any one client, if the need arises. She views her clients as family, and for Topey, family is everything. Her son and her two nephews are her world, and “they know oh so well that they command a priority position in my life”. Her now-deceased parents used to gush about how super special they were made to feel, as she ensured that she gave them primary focus and care. “Sales is hard work, and as the saying goes, hard work must pay off,” she reaffirmed. Consistently, Topey, as one of Guardian Life’s top performers, puts it simply: “While I know that offering a broad portfolio can provide a powerful value proposition to customers in some situations, the real satisfaction and gratification for me is witnessing the difference I am able to make to the lives of many of my clients. For that, I am immensely proud.” FOR SHERALEY Anne Bridgeman, vice-president of customer experience and marketing for Property and Casualty at Guardian General , she was destined to be a marketer. By her account, the prerequisites were “preloaded in her DNA. I’ve always been creative, outgoing, with an eye for detail, [and] a knack for negotiation to successfully influence others.” At The Queen’s School, in her Kingston home town, she successfully rallied classmates around causes, helping to shape their world view. Today, she successfully leads a divergent regional team across more than 10 Caribbean territories, bridging gaps of culture, distance, language and values. “I afford team members the comfort of authentic self-expression as we chase our goals.” The ‘secret sauce’ to her success comes in three ‘flavours’. DETAILED Bridgeman converts cues from stakeholders into enhancements and corrective actions. “I hear every customer who reports a bad experience because that provides invaluable insights for future operations.” DEDICATED In a profession often misunderstood as superficial, Bridgeman cherishes integrity. “The most important brand is YOU; being authentic, [and] honouring your word are paramount.” Self-development feeds others. “I’m always just a phone call or message away. Whatever my responsibilities, I remain accessible to my family while acing my job.” DIVERGENT Bridgeman does not do ‘boxes.’ Sheraley Anne Bridgeman says she was destined to be a marketer. Laslene Topey: Guardian Life’s master of customer relationships Sheraley Anne Bridgeman Living life in 3D with marketing in her DNA Bridgeman’s fast four Money: “Motivation is intrinsic. Money’s a by-product of passion and hard work.” Ambition: “My accomplishments speak for themselves. There’s no limit to what my family can achieve.” Preferences: “I’m a jeans-andsneakers, domino-playing, musicmixing DJ kinda girl. Curry chicken, white rice, potato pudding. Don’t worry, I exercise regularly and meditate.” Dreams: “I’m currently living my dream life. I love my challenging career, based in a beautiful country with incredible people and a supportive, blended family. I’m truly grateful.” Laslene Topey embodies what sales excellence is all about.


THE GLEANER’S FLAIR MAGAZINE • TUESDAY, MARCH 8, 2022 I {FLAIR Stephanie Lyew Flair Writer SARAMISIR started riding horses at the age of three and fell in love with them, but slowly began to realise that one horse’s power was not enough. Fuelled by inspiration from her father, Rugie, the president of the Jamaica Karting Association, she switched lanes to a different track, exploring go-karting and go-kart racing. “Having a father in motorsports most certainly influenced my love for it. It’s the best father-daughter bonding I could ask for,” Misir told Flair. It was definitely against the norm, especially locally, where female racers are still a very rare find. Sara was out on the go-kart track every weekend, training in her spare time while balancing the life of a teenage girl in high school. She has since moved up the ranks in the automotive field, having advanced to race cars and racing professionally outside of Jamaica. A professional career in motorsports was not one of the goals she had written down in her diary, “but I always wanted to have an athletic career, and seeing my dreams slowly come to reality has been an amazing experience”. At 19 years old, Misir made her debut at Dover Raceway in St Ann for the Jamaica Race Drivers Club Total Lubricants Carnival of Speed in a Volkswagon Saveiro double-cap pickup. Now, at 23 years old, she has made her mark on the Formula One circuit and is even more committed to breaking gender bias. “There is no such thing as ‘a man’s world’ or ‘a man’s job’. Women can do anything they set their mind to! I’m an example of that, so are the other women in motorsports. This year’s International Women’s Day theme is appropriate, as it means not looking at being a woman as a barrier to achieving anything,” Misir said. Misir is the first woman from the Sara Misir racing to the top 24 F.PROFILE ‘Women can do anything they set their mind to,’ Sara Misir told ‘Flair.’ CONTRIBUTED ... Says there is no such thing as ‘a man’s world’ PLEASE SEE RACING, 26


THE GLEANER’S FLAIR MAGAZINE • TUESDAY, MARCH 8, 2022 I {FLAIR 26 F.PROFILE Caribbean to make it to the final of a Formula One qualification competition, being one of 50 finalists from a list of more than 9,000 applicants worldwide. This week, she heads to Sweden for the final chase for one of the four spots in the 2022 GT Cup Championship. “It means everything to me to know that I’m making pioneering moves for Jamaican women as Jamaica’s first Formula [One] woman driver. I hope all women and girls use this as an inspiration that anything is possible, and that just because something is difficult doesn’t make it impossible,” she said. Formula One training demands a lot fromMisir. It requires time management, training on and off the track, and it is physically and mentally taxing. Yet she does this, all while pursuing a master’s degree in architecture. “I’m good on the racetrack, but I have multiple dreams that I want to accomplish as well, and architecture is one of them. Turns out it’s also another male-dominated space,” she shared. But Misir is up for the challenge. stephanie.lyew@gleanerjm.com RACING CONTINUED FROM 24 AS A student of the Jose Marti Technical High School, Jonoi Forrester’s name often saw her mistaken for a boy. In one instance, it even saw her being placed in auto mechanics classes, where the curriculum sparked a lifelong love for auto engineering. But despite her long-held passion for mechanics, Forrester was not entirely sure about a career in the automotive industry. She wanted to be a meteorologist, but continued on the path chosen, and matriculated to the Jamaican-German Automotive School for her tertiary education, where she studied auto-mechanics. At 25, she now wears the title of workshop controller at ATL Autobahn and has been working with the company for the past three and a half years. Currently, she is tasked with ensuring that all work on the vehicles in their garage (usually within a dealership) is carried out appropriately. “My daily duties entail allocating jobs to the technicians, relaying information between technicians, service advisers and washstand. I do a lot of administrative work in-between also, which comprises of reports, organising of the workshop, parts requisitions, and the works,” said Forrester. She added, “What I love about my job is that every day it allows me to learn something new about BMWs, which has always been my favourite brand of cars.” In the initial stages, between gender differences and the distinct age gap, it was a challenge to adapt, she said. But, having been recognised and represented as a team member who believes in achieving a shared goal, she has managed to overcome it. “Every day is a work in progress, because there’s always room for improvement. I think I break the bias by showing that regardless of a woman’s soft exterior, we are just as capable as men, and by challenging myself to do better than the day before every day that I go into work,” Forrester shared. stephanie.lyew@gleanerjm.com Happy accident sparks Forrester’s love for auto Jonoi Forrester’s placement in auto mechanics classes sparked a lifelong love for auto engineering. IT CAN be intimidating for a woman in a male-dominated field, but to be the first and only saleswoman in a meeting room filled with your male cohorts, the challenge can feel even bigger. Recalling her start in the automotive industry nine years ago, Jhanelle Wagstaffe says it was initially a nail-biting task to get male clients to purchase a vehicle from her. “I will not lie, it was difficult. It was not easy convincing a male client to buy a car from you when you were just learning about cars yourself,” Wagstaffe told Flair. Wagstaffe, 34, who moved out of the banking sector and worked her way up the professional ladder of the ATL Automotive Group – from sales representative in the Volkswagon department in Montego Bay to her transition to Honda in Kingston, and now to her position as senior sales manager, Volkswagon – said there were days she went home and cried because of self-doubt. “There was a time I thought this was just getting way too hard. And I remember calling my manager who supervised me when I was just employed to ATL, and asking her how she handled it and how she survived in the environment. That was the turning point for me; she gave me some solid advice that I’ll cherish to this day,” she said. “Professional growth through the ranks ... it’s never easy. Now, as the only female sales manager there, I’m reminded to put in the work and do it properly. Once you do that, you will never hear you are doing wrong. It’s normal to wonder if your opinion is as important as the males, especially when you’re listening to the male associates, so you work twice as hard. You have to be strong.” Never in Wagstaffe’s wildest dreams did she envision that she would have worked in the automotive industry for more than three years. As a student of psychology and criminology, she had originally planned to spend a maximum of four years in car sales to acquire funds to fulfil her goals to become a forensic psychologist. But she could not ignore the pull of the auto world. Her father actually owned a fleet of trucks and tractors, and she surrounded herself with friends with a passion for motor cars and racing, and over the years, with continued training in sales and management, and increased knowledge, the auto industry didn’t look so daunting. A car became more than an engine and four wheels, and Wagstaffe began to see her purpose as a saleswoman. Her advice to young women entering the industry: “Have a strong will for success and the drive to develop those around you. Having a strong sense of fairness and honesty has been some of the things that have helped me overcome the challenges of working in a maledominated field.” She adds, “Also, expand your knowledge... . There should never be a time where a client asks a technical question and a sales rep – male or female – isn’t capable of providing an answer.” stephanie.lyew@gleanerjm.com Jhanelle Wagstaffe — A driving force in the auto sales Jhanelle Wagstaffe’s advice to women entering the auto industry: always expand your knowledge.


THE GLEANER’S FLAIR MAGAZINE • TUESDAY, MARCH 8, 2022 I {FLAIR 28 F.VOX POP W – our warm, welcoming aura that [we exude] when meeting persons on a daily basis. O – how outgoing we can be, as we help to create memorable experiences in all that we do. M – how we are forever motivated to maintain focus to truly be consistent in achieving our goals. A – how ambitious we are to unlock the true potential within us, to be courageous in all situations [and] to overcome all negativity. N – our natural instinct to always aspire to be a role model with qualities admirable to all. It’s incredible to be a woman! – Samantha McGregor, sales executive, Kia Jamaica I absolutely love that we’re living in a time where we can show up and unapologetically be who we are. That we can own and celebrate our individual yet connected journeys. I love that as a woman we have this innate ability to falter and still rise, to bend without breaking and the grace and grit to keep going in spite of all biases and barriers laid before us. – Sarah Elizabeth Jackson, Da Lady Boss, Simply JIM-DANDY Being a woman is the most beautiful and powerful thing! I have the possibility of bringing new life and essentially being partly responsible for the way it impacts the world. From bad cramps to street harassment, to everything good in between. I love that at the end of the day, being a woman means being able to get through it. – Kimberly Robb-Brown, business development officer, MindfulYou360 Soaps and KRBSWIM Beach Essentials Nurturers, warriors, hunters, safe havens – we own these roles with a level of grace and assertiveness that only a woman can. Grace Jones, Katherine Johnson, and Gloria Stein have proven the extent of our gender’s tenacity. No matter what barrier we face, we hit it until it starts crumbling. We are always getting in good and necessary trouble. This is what I love about being a woman. – Marishka-Kaye Massey, chief executive officer and head designer, The Agency I am proud to be a strong, driven, inspirational, aspirational, dynamic female human being. I enjoy being a multifaceted woman juggling family life, job, business, and so much more. A woman is usually the trusted adult who is given the nurturing role of caring for children, adolescent mothers, and the elderly, and I am humbled that I can contribute to these areas through my business, my family, and as a part of my social responsibility. These roles have been my most satisfying and rewarding accomplishments. I am grateful to be living in an era where there’s emphasis on gender balance as this allows me to represent the female trailblazers who paved the way for us. I appeal to other women to get involved in moulding lives. – Janice Levy, senior sales executive, The Gleaner Company (Media) Ltd


THE GLEANER’S FLAIR MAGAZINE • TUESDAY, MARCH 8, 2022 I {FLAIR F. PROFILE Kenrick Morgan Flair Writer THE (NFT) space is male-dominated, but women like Alexia James are pursuing their passion while quickly making their mark on the NFT scene. James, a Trinidad native who moved to Jamaica for academic pursuits, established herself as a resource for all things NFT and has been featured in numerous magazines and at conferences representing the Caribbean and the push towards a more technologically savvy region. In her own words, an NFT operates like a certificate of ownership and provenance; a digital asset that is uniquely owned by a single person and cannot be reproduced or replaced; a one in a million. But NFTs aren’t the only unique thing she had to share. These are eight questions with Alexia James, NFT specialist: 1. What makes NFTs so special? The first thing that makes NFTs so special is the financial opportunities that people are making with them. But what also makes them special is the art and people being able to put themselves out there. It’s not just static art, but people can now create NFTs from poems, songs, and even dance moves. But seeing the creative ideas out there is really so interesting for me. 2. You were born and raised in Trinidad, why did you decide to come to Jamaica? I came to Jamaica for UWI (The University of the West Indies). So I went to university here in about 2015. That’s a really long time now! Even funnier, I came here knowing nobody, and over the years, I just made all these connections. And then I got into marketing and hosting events, so that was great. So after my degree, I went back home, but I got an offer for a job out here, so I came back in 2018 and have been here since. I think it makes me really unique, though, in terms of my skill set and diversity, and helped to cement my love for different Caribbean cultures. 3. When you aren’t out changing the technology space, what else do you like to do in your free time? Even though COVID is still there, I really love adventure. I love being in nature. I am for sure a water baby. I love going to the country and going to beaches. And, of course, travelling. I love meeting new people and sharing and learning cultures. And for sure, I love carnival. 4. What is your favourite dish from Jamaica and your favourite from Trinidad? I know it may be a little cliché, but I love ackee and salt fish, plus I’ve never had ackee and salt fish before coming here. So that was great. For Trinidad, there is so much, but I would say authentic Trini roti. In Jamaica, you refer to roti as just the skin (the flour pastry), but in Trinidad, the roti has the meat in there, the potato in there and everything wrapped up. And it is AAMAAZING! 5. You describe yourself as an eclectic global marketer. Why? Well, just as I’m not bound to any one country, I have the privilege to go between both (Trinidad and Jamaica). I think it is the same thing for marketing. I’ve been able to travel the world, do pitch competitions, and communicate with audiences all over the world. So I was able to take all that experience and transpose it to marketing here in Jamaica. I think it is important to make your skills and experience transferable from one place to the next, and I’ve had the chance to do so, making me versatile in a lot of different areas when it comes to marketing. 6. How do you establish yourself with your clients, like for ‘a night in the metaverse’? The first thing is, if you don’t put out your work, no one is going to know you exist. And as much as imposter syndrome is a real thing where you don’t want to talk about yourself, we have to. So even for social media platforms like Twitter, I talk about myself a lot there. And that’s just what happened. Even with my guide for NFTs, a friend encouraged that I put out one. I did, and before you know it, people were reaching out. So it may not be perfect, but be proud of yourself and put yourself out there. 7. People have said cryptocurrency is the Internet’s money. What are your thoughts on that? I agree, but I don’t want to say just the Internet. They do operate on the blockchain, which is on the Internet, but that almost limits crypto’s potential. Cryptocurrencies have the potential to be everybody’s everyday money. 8. Any advice to those looking to get into the NFTs, Web3, or the cryptocurrency wave? Take advantage of everything that’s in front of you. Even if you don’t understand it, don’t let it be a hindrance to being a part of the movement. James believes the future of NFTs for the average person could very well be one that is filled with phones sharing cryptowallet information for the purchasing of goods, sharing NFTs for the preservation of unique artworks, or even bartering some new technology on the horizon. kenrick.morgan@gleanerjm. com Non-Fungible Token (NFT) specialist. Alexia James, is making her mark on the NFT scene. CONRIBUTED ALEXIA JAMES: NFT specialist 30