As too many of our young Bermudians know, in today’s climate fulfilling employment can be difficult to come by. Lingering negative economic factors have shrunk our population – and thus our workforce – with the knock-on effect of fewer businesses taking chances on hiring inexperienced youth. The talent is certainly here, but opportunities for young people can appear bleak in the face of our unemployment problem.
Luckily, the tide is turning, as evidenced by this year’s impressive crop of nominees for our annual Rising Stars feature. All in their 20s (as of this writing), they’ve begun to establish fulfilling careers in varying fields and are part of the first generation to thrive in the workforce as the global recession comes to an end. The Rising Stars of 2014 are our future leaders, thinkers and philanthropists, and The Bermudian is proud to introduce them to you.
Immersed in the complex world of financial and professional liability (FINPRO) insurance, 24-year-old Laura Norman started at Bermuda’s Bowring Marsh branch in 2011 as one of their youngest full-time employees. Thriving in an environment that requires skills both quantitative and personal, she values face-to-face interactions and networking with industry players as pointed advantages to working in a small place like Bermuda. Having originally applied as a summer intern, Norman – and her talents – stood out so much that Bowring Marsh decided to forgo her internship and hire her as a technical assistant immediately out of school, putting her abilities quickly to the test.
Three years later, Laura has climbed to the rank of assistant vice president (FINPRO), crediting loving, supportive parents and a humble upbringing as two of the many keys to her success. As for employable virtues, she credits her organisational skills, in the face of her job’s many moving parts, as crucial to helping prove herself upon starting with the company. For inspiration, she looks to female power players like Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg, and Yahoo! CEO, Marissa Mayer, who overcame the odds to succeed in an industry typically dominated by men. In terms of overcoming her own adversity, Laura isn’t one to bet against. After suffering severe heatstroke during a 2013 triathlon, she used the setback as an excuse to train even harder for the next one, and she applies the shared virtues of commitment, training and hard work to her professional life. “If you don’t put in the training, you don’t see the results,” she adds.
Proving that helping others plan their futures makes for a rewarding career, 29-year-old Jason Lowe is a premier relationship manager at HSBC Bank Bermuda Limited and loves the company he works for. “As a relationship manager, I strive to provide solutions that will help my clients’ dreams become reality,” he says, speaking to his passion for assisting Bermuda’s residents to achieve their financial and personal goals. Lowe’s enthusiasm for customer service is inspired by his late father, the Reverend Dr. Wilbur Lowe Jr., JP, whose selflessness he says was “a positive force to be reckoned with.” As a short-term goal, Lowe plans to seek his certified financial planner (CFP) accreditation, which will allow him to offer enhanced knowledge as another asset to his clients.
Lowe’s advice for those starting a career in banking is to be well read and informed about the field, particularly in terms of how their role fits into the bigger picture. “If you can understand the many dynamics of your industry and how they interconnect, it will provide you with insight into your current position as well as highlight future career opportunities,” he says, and adds that networking with colleagues is equally important to personal development. Crediting a foundation of faith and strong belief in Jesus Christ as key to his advancement, Lowe’s philosophy regarding personal obstacles is to treat them equally since he believes categorising them as large or small can lead to anxiety and lack of focus. When asked of his loftiest ambition, he states: “One day I would like to be the CEO of a major company. HSBC Bank Bermuda Limited is at the top of my list. What a great story that would make.”
Embarking on one of Bermuda’s most popular and competitive career paths, 29-year-old Nicholle Monish has had a rewarding year since starting as a finance manager for Marsh IAS Management (Bermuda) Limited in April 2013. Formerly an auditor, she now manages multiple captive companies that require frequent interaction with professionals across the globe, and credits such networking opportunities as helping her to become well rounded. “I wanted to be in a position where I could assist companies in making their decisions,” she says of why she originally left auditing for finance, stressing her achievement in securing a front-facing role.
Monish is inspired by everyone around her, and values a number of mentors by whom she’s been influenced through all stages of her career development. With a short-term plan to complete multiple insurance exams for quick advancement, she cites “to retire at age 50” as her loftiest ambition – a goal she’s well on the way to achieving with her resourceful attitude. Noting being “too nice” as her biggest obstacle, she recognises, nonetheless, that this quality has helped her build strong business relationships in Bermuda’s business culture. Asked what advice she would give to someone starting out in her industry, Monish stresses the ability to accept constructive criticism from peers. “There are very few people who actually set goals to see you fail,” she says.
Social skills and a positive attitude are two traits essential to client relations – a lesson that 25-year-old Jo-Rena Davis has taken to heart younger than most in her field. As sales and marketing coordinator for the Fairmont Hamilton Princess, she has launched headfirst into this high-energy hospitality role at an early age, grateful for the opportunity to work at what she describes as her “favourite hotel.” Securing this position so impressively young is a testament to Davis’s talent, acknowledged early on at her previous company, a London-based event management company which had her deeply involved in a complex programme with over 60,000 participants. “The [event management] role gave me the opportunity to demonstrate in practice what I had learned in theory,” she says, describing the experience she gained in an applied setting as essential to landing the Fairmont job.
Davis’s advice to young people seeking a career in public relations is blunt and succinct. “Decide what it is you want to achieve and just do it,” she says, highlighting the importance of focus and a driven attitude. With her ultimate dream to become director of sales at Fairmont Monte Carlo, it’s clear she loves the company she’s part of, and is working towards becoming sales manager for the Fairmont Bermuda Group as a short-term goal. Crediting her sister as the person who motivated her to pursue what she most enjoyed doing as a career, Davis’s current inspirations are her colleagues: “There is so much experience in our team, and my peers make a conscious effort to pass it on.”
If anyone exemplifies Raleigh International’s success as a youth development charity, it’s 26-year-old Nakia Foggo, internal auditor at the Argus Group. Having embarked on a three-month expedition to Namibia with Raleigh immediately upon graduating from Berkeley in 2006, her i
ntelligence was quickly recognised by one of her fellow travellers with connections at Argus, and the rest is history. With her talents discovered and secured by a local company before she’d even gone to university, Foggo benefits from a long-standing professional relationship that developed throughout her post-secondary education and right into her career. Argus “consistently invited me back to work as a student during breaks from university,” she says, proving the company’s well-placed confidence in her abilities.
In the workplace, Foggo appreciates that her position removes her from her comfort zone “just enough to stretch me and help me grow,” such growth being fundamental in the ever-evolving field of auditing. Stressing patience as a key professional virtue, she recommends that anyone starting on this career path be able to view positive steps, no matter how small, as “seeds” without getting frustrated at what they might perceive as slow advancement. “You may not start out in your dream position, but with a positive attitude and commitment to your work, you’ll get there eventually.” Foggo’s next big career goal is to acquire her professional certified internal auditor designation, a naturally smart step towards her ultimate ambition of becoming senior management at one of Argus’s global offices. “The plan is to be a seasoned veteran, one of the best Argus has ever seen!”
One who fostered an early interest in business’s most essential service industry, 26-year-old Matthew McBeath is information technology (IT) manager at the Elbow Beach Hotel. “Technology is always changing, so I am always learning,” he says, speaking to the integrated nature of today’s gadget culture and the importance of being a “jack-of-all-trades.” McBeath’s early start in the industry was key to his impressive advancement. Having filled his resume with related experience during summer breaks, he was a desirable candidate for an internship at KPMG upon completing high school. With former employers including Easy Access Consulting, The Total Group and Northrock Communications (now Logic), his credentials were soon noticed by Elbow Beach.
McBeath describes networking as one of the most enjoyable and rewarding aspects of his job, highlighting the importance of resource-pooling in his professional life. He plans to apply his work experience to acquiring a pair of IT certifications (Microsoft & Cisco Systems, respectively), with the ultimate goal of becoming chief information officer at a local or international company and owning his own IT business. “Without IT, businesses cannot operate,” he says, while acknowledging the personal downside associated with a 24/7 service. For helping him get to where he is today, McBeath thanks everyone from former educators to previous and current employers, adding that when it comes to influential figures in his life, there are “too many people to list.”
“I want both my personal and my professional life to help shape the future of Bermuda,” says 26-year-old Carlita Lodge, civic-minded marketing and communications manager at the Fairmont Southampton hotel. Promoting the public image of one of Bermuda’s most iconic resorts, she values Bermuda’s people as its “true beauty” and keeps a busy schedule communicating the local culture to visitors. With a job that spans multiple skill sets and responsibilities, Lodge appreciates the opportunity to “shape the perception” of the island for the good of its tourism product. Thankful to represent an employer that provides growth opportunities for young Bermudians, she also gets to advocate for the hospitality industry to student interns as a rewarding side benefit of her job. Lodge takes inspiration from Bermudian icon Ruth Thomas, whose contributions to society she says have “shaped the fabric of Bermuda’s culture and community.” Advising those starting out in her industry not to underestimate the flexibility of their talents and skills, she states that while she never expected to end up in hospitality, it turned out to be an ideal career choice given her passions. Lodge thanks her parents for instilling in her the values of education and persistence, which have served her well as a female professional in a competitive economic climate. “I believe as a young woman, you have to work harder to assert yourself as a legitimate and worthwhile business person,” she says, echoing a common workplace sentiment.
As one with a bright future at the Fairmont Group, it’s clear she’s overcome this adversity.
The People’s Pharmacy is one of Bermuda’s most patronised retail businesses, thanks in part to the dedication and hard work of employees like 28-year-old Aleasha Pearman. Having climbed the ladder from cashier all the way to senior accounts assistant, she’s a prime example of how hard work and sacrifice lead to vertical growth. Pearman’s advice to young people starting their careers is to become familiar with all aspects of their company from top to bottom, adding that “you never know who’s watching and what doors can be opened” if you take other people’s advice to heart. A true proponent of good client relations, she describes interacting with customers as the most exciting part of her career, adding that there’s always opportunity for growth and advancement in her field.
Pearman lists her sister Reken as the biggest inspiration in her life, and thanks Greg Dos Santos – the company’s former financial controller – for recognising her full potential and giving her a chance to grow professionally. No stranger to adversity, her career path came with several challenges, including raising a son at a young age and having to postpone the pursuit of her bachelor’s degree. The hurdles, however, made her a more resilient person who was eager and doubly determined to get ahead. “If you have the drive, you can, and you will, achieve your goals no matter what obstacles are in your way,” she says, stating that currently her loftiest ambition is to complete her bachelor’s degree.
If anyone has ever told you that auditing is a boring field, they’ve clearly never met 22-year-old Caroline Berlo, enthusiastic staff accountant at Ernst & Young. “Auditing is actually a respected and extremely social career,” she says, dispelling a common myth about her chosen path. Awarded a prize from the Institute of Chartered Accountants immediately following high school, Berlo was primed to succeed from an early age, and already had two job offers upon completing her first year of university. With a short-term goal of achieving her full chartered accountant qualifications, she notes that her company is deeply committed to training and development, having been voted second most attractive global employer overall by Universum Global in 2013. “I started out as an intern and everyone I worked with supported me through my studies and my new job,” she says.
Eventually, Berlo believes her dedication and self-confidence in the workplace will land her a leadership role within Ernst & Young. She credits the experience gained from attending university overseas as key to her ability to integrate unique perspectives in her professional life, although she loves working on the island.
“Bermuda is my home and it’s exciting to see the abundant opportunities the island provides for young, hard-working, dedicated professionals with ambition,” she says, noting the importance of giving back to the community that helped her succeed. Part of the way she does this is by acting as a peer mentor for two other staff accountants, describing it as an “amazing feeling” to be able to guide and coach others.
Twenty-five-year-old Kimberley Moore is sales and marketing coordinator at BF&M insurance, and has had a rewarding journey growing with the company over the past seven years. “I started at BF&M in 2007 right out of high school as I could not afford to go to university then,” she says, noting that multiple scholarship opportunities and her company’s willingness to consistently hire her on school breaks eventually led to her obtaining a degree. A full-time employee as of December 2013, Moore has dived eagerly into her new role, already having been put on projects that involve interacting with subsidiaries in Barbados and Cayman. Stating that “even as a new hire, my ideas are always taken into consideration,” she lauds BF&M’s willingness to genuinely listen to everyone’s ideas, and is always looking for new ways to reach out to customers.
Moore looks up to women in the private and public sectors who’ve fought hard to achieve unprecedented leadership roles and appreciates her company’s progressive, open-door policy which allows her to freely express her views about its direction. In terms of grand ambitions, hers is a charitable one. Citing a history of several university internships in the non-profit sector, she states that “in the future, I would like to return to that work in some capacity and use experience gained in the private sector to help accomplish my philanthropic goals.” Moore’s advice for young people starting their careers is to find meaning in what they do, adding that this advice can apply to any career path.”