The Bermudian’s 2019 crop of rising stars is an impressive group of ambitious, tech-savvy young people with limitless passion and an infectious drive for success. While they may be focusing on very different careers – including tech, banking, hospitality and international business – together they prove that Bermuda’s future shines very bright indeed.


Felicity Burton
Age:  28
Place of Employment: Fairmont Southampton
Job Title: Reservations Manager
Education:  Associate of Arts in Business Administration, Bermuda College; eCornell
Number of years working: Six

Recently promoted to reservations manager, 28-year-old Felicity Burton has been recognised by her employer, Fairmont Southampton, as their top rising star this year. While she admits that hospitality wasn’t her first choice after graduating Bermuda College, she’s grateful she landed an entry level job where there was lots of opportunity for development. “I quickly moved around to different departments learning all I could and found reservations is a perfect fit for me,” she says. “It gives me the opportunity to interact with guests while still being able to do business related tasks.”

A professional mentor is vital to success in the workplace and Burton credits her current manager Deanna O’Brien for pushing her. “She’s an amazing leader—I looked up to her prior to reporting directly to her,” she says. “She’s won leader of the year and has grown within the organisation, becoming a member of the executive team. Sharing a similar skill set, we naturally connected and she genuinely pushes me to learn and grow in the industry.”

Working her way up the ladder at Fairmont Southampton over the last six years has been instrumental in helping Burton prepare for her current role. Being a part of the various departments has given her a well-rounded understanding of how the hotel functions throughout the entire internal process—from sales to room reservations to front office. “The best part about working for Fairmont is the opportunity to grow and transfer to different roles or even different countries,” she adds. “I also appreciate Fairmont Southampton’s initiative to develop Bermudians into leadership roles. Being recently promoted to reservations manager, I’m happy others in the organisation are also being groomed to become leaders.”

She says her best day on the job so far was when she won the Fairmont Southampton 2018 Heartiest of the Year award (colleague of the year). Burton is currently pursuing a business analytics certificate from eCornell which is being sponsored by the hotel. While her ultimate professional goal is still uncertain, she hopes to be in a role with more responsibility in revenue or finance in the next five years. When asked what she loves most about her current career, she responds simply: “I love that every day is different.”

Her best advice to her younger self? “Keep your options open. You may end up doing something you love just by chance.”


Anthony Sousa Jr
Age: 21
Place of Employment: Marcus’, Hamilton Princess
Job Title: Demi Chef de Partie
Education: Diploma in Culinary Arts, Bermuda College
Number of years working: One

“I’ve always had a passion for cooking,” says demi chef de partie Anthony Sousa. “I spent a lot of time cooking with my mother and my aunt, who are both great cooks and inspired my love of food. Being passionate about my work is great: it means I wake up every morning looking forward to going to work in the kitchens at Marcus’.”

At only 21 years of age, Sousa acknowledges that he is young but he wishes he had gotten started even sooner in the culinary field. He got his first taste of chef life during a summer internship at Cambridge Beaches and he started at Marcus’ after winning the Marcus Samuelsson chef competition last year. Marcus himself has identified him for future success, calling him the “next generation of talent from Bermuda.”

The best part of working for the restaurant is the opportunity to work directly with Samuelsson, an international chef and Sousa’s role model. “Nowhere else in Bermuda would you get this experience,” he says. And what he loves best about his chosen career is the variety in it. “Every day is different, based on the ingredients you’re using, the dishes you’re making and even the diners. There’s also so much to learn—you can never be finished learning new things about food or culture.”

But being a chef is a demanding—and rather unsociable—career choice, says Sousa. “Working as a chef in a top restaurant is a very hard job. It means working hard when your friends are out enjoying themselves and being up all hours. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without the help and support of my friends and family.” He also credits his mentor Danai Hongwanishkul, the chef de cuisine at Marcus’. “He’s the top man in the kitchens day to day and he’s always pushing me to be my best—he teaches me new tricks and helps me embrace my own skills, flavours and inspiration.”

Sousa’s current ambition is to learn on the job as much as he can and he hopes eventually to get experience in kitchens around the world and bring that education back to Bermuda. As for his ultimate professional goal, he says: “Like most chefs, I’d love to open my own restaurant one day and show everyone what I’ve learned and share the food I love.”


Brittany DeSilva
Age: 30
Place of Employment: Hamilton Re
Job Title: Reinsurance Accountant
Education: Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting, McGill University, Montreal; Chartered Accountant Designation
Number of years working:  Four

“I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to be as a child, but I knew I wanted to be successful,” says Brittany DeSilva, who credits her mom, Teresa Frias, for instilling in her the belief that anything was possible while stressing the importance of finding a career path that made her happy. “She passed away unfortunately, but when I was younger she was always someone I looked up to for guidance. I’ve always been very ambitious. I’m not sure exactly where that quality came from; I guess I’m just a naturally driven person. However, my mom raised me to be independent and always encouraged me to do my best. As a child, I always wanted to make my mother proud.”

The 30-year-old reinsurance accountant is now a wife and a mother herself, and she says the experience of motherhood has driven her to further define her personal view of success and her future in her chosen career.

“I really like a challenge,” says DeSIlva. “That’s why I’m grateful to work at Hamilton, as it’s such an innovative culture and challenges me constantly. I’ve had the opportunity to learn about blockchain technology and other advances that are shaping the reinsurance industry, which I probably never would have learned about in previous roles at other companies on the island. Even though my work can be difficult at times and stressful finding ways to overcome the challenges, it’s also very rewarding. Financially, my career is also rewarding as it allows me to provide a great life for my family.”

DeSilva also gives credit to her mentor, Vanessa Hardy Pickering, the chief financial officer at Hamilton Re for giving her guidance and building her professional confidence. “With Vanessa’s support I’ve taken more steps outside my comfort zone and come to realise how necessary this type of courage is for professional and personal growth,” she adds.

DeSilva’s future goals include earning her project management professional certification and she ultimately sees herself as a financial controller. “I’m not sure if this is a professional or personal goal, but I want to reach a place in my career that makes my daughter extremely proud,” concludes DeSilva. “I want to be an example for her so that she grows up seeing that women can do anything they put their minds to. That they can work hard and still be there for their family.”


Claire Frith
Age: 29
Place of Employment: AXA XL, the P&C and Specialty Division of AXA Group
Job Title: US Property Treaty Underwriter, Bermuda Reinsurance
Education: Bachelor of Science in International Business, concentration in Finance and minor in International Affairs, Northeastern University
Number of years working: Six

“When I was younger, I always said that I wanted to run my own company one day,” says 29-year-old Claire Frith, an underwriter on the rise at AXA XL. Like many of her fellow insurance and reinsurance colleagues she didn’t initially dream of a career in the industry, but a combination of lack of job prospects and a fortunate opportunity lead her to her current position. “After graduation I hoped to start my career in the financial sector, as an investment analyst or something of the like,” she says, “but there were not many job prospects in that area at the time. Fortunately, during my job hunt an opportunity arose at Catlin. It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for at the time, but it turned out to be a great fit for me.

“From Catlin, to XL Catlin, to AXA XL, this organisation has always been one that was well known and admired by both our local community and the global community in many ways. I have always been proud to be part of such a well-rounded organisation and one which has been successful in many different facets.”

What she loves most about her chosen career in the insurance/reinsurance industry is that it is “constantly changing and presenting new challenges as well as opportunities to solve the most complex risks. This makes every day different from the next which keeps life interesting.”

Frith is currently working through her actuarial exams with the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries which she hopes to finish in the next few years. She credits her manager for inspiring her to pursue her goal of becoming an actuarial underwriter. “My current manager, Simon Penney, has always been someone I’ve looked up to professionally,” she says. “He encouraged me to start the process of becoming an actuary/actuarial underwriter and has always been very supportive in ensuring I am able to balance both work and study effectively.”

Finding that balance in life is Frith’s ultimate goal—both personally and professionally, and when she isn’t working hard or studying she enjoys running, playing volleyball and boating. “I enjoy working to progress my career and I will always strive to move forward,” she says. “However, I believe it is equally important to have a good work/life balance.”


Joshua Da Ponte
Age: 24
Place of Employment: One Communications
Job Title: Manager, Data Operations Centre
Education: (In progress) Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science
Number of years working: Two at One (Three at Bermuda CableVision prior to merger)

“Technology in general has something that has always interested me and came quite easily,” says Joshua Da Ponte, the data operations centre manager at One Communications. “I am the kind of person who enjoys solving difficult puzzles and constantly being challenged. The industry is all about coming up with new solutions. It is also incredibly vast and can overlap with virtually every other industry, so there is good mobility.”

Currently working towards his bachelor’s degree in computer science, Da Ponte started out working in the call centre, then interned as a cable engineer before entering his role as the data centre manager. “I gained valuable experience and insight as to how most of the company operates and learned from many different management styles in the various departments,” he says. “We have a strong supportive culture amongst the departments in the company. There is no finger pointing, just common issues that we all work together to solve. It is a great place to enrich personal connections and foster professional growth.”

What he loves best about his current career is how every day brings something new and challenging. “Telecommunications moves at a rapid pace so my work is rarely boring,” says the 24-year-old. “We aim to make everything easier, faster and better—and there is definitely no small amount of satisfaction when we fulfill this ethos. It has helped to shape my current mind-set and has led to genuine improvements in my personal life.”

Young and ambitious, Da Ponte is currently focused on completing the final year of his bachelor’s degree and he intends to pursue other industry-related certifications soon after. While senior management and/or entrepreneurship are definitely in his ten-year plan, his ultimate goal includes becoming a subject matter expert and helping to influence the direction of the industry in Bermuda. “Consulting from home sounds nice, too,” he adds.

When asked what advice he would give to his younger self, he says that introspection is the key to success if done right—and listen to your mom. “Without improving your self-awareness, you fail to master key skills to strengthen yourself and those around you. In addition, your mom was right; you do have food at home.”



Michellae Edwards
Age: 26
Place of Employment: Rosewood Bermuda
Job Title: Resort Activities Manager
Education: Berkeley Institute; Rotary Exchange
Number of years working: Six

Always up for a challenge, Michellae Edwards was blessed with an eye-opening opportunity to live in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, for ten months after graduating high school. “The reason I chose Bolivia was because of their native language—Spanish. I wanted to gain more independence and this was a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. At the age of 17, I travelled across the world to be met by a family I did not know, nor was I fluent in Spanish! I was ready and up for the challenge.

“Living in Bolivia, a third world country full of poverty, the experience opened my eyes completely,” she says. “I learnt a new language, developed a love for people and travelling—and it made me most appreciative of being a Bermudian. If it was not for my mother, I would not have gone on and completed that journey. She inspires me every day.”

With a love for art and design growing up, Michellae Edwards wanted to be an architect but her career path quickly changed once she began working in the hospitality industry. The 26-year-old was hired as a front desk/concierge agent at Rosewood Bermuda six years ago and was promoted to resort activities manager in April 2018. “With a love for working with and meeting new people, I knew customer service was the perfect profession for me,” she says.

Edwards’s position now is creating memorable experiences for her guests—a role that suits her well. “As the resort activities manager, my key role is to create not just activities but Bermudian experiences for guests,” she says. “Connecting with them prior to their arrival, planning their entire vacation and helping them celebrate memorable milestones is what it’s all about. It feels as if you’ve known them forever, as if they are family.”

“My best day on the job thus far was welcoming the Bostwick family back to the resort,” she adds. “They remembered me by name, and they told me the reason they come back is because of me and the service I give. That made me feel so good inside.”

In the future, Edwards hopes to visit Rosewood hotels and resorts all over the world. “There are properties in Asia, Canada, Europe and the Caribbean and I plan to visit them one day,” she said. “And my ultimate professional goal would be to work at the Rosewood London.”



Stephen Mayor
Age: 27
Place of Employment: HSBC
Job Title: Relationship Manager, Corporate Banking
Education: Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Political Science; Associate in Reinsurance
Number of years working: Four
As a child, HSBC relationship manager Stephen Mayor wanted to be a doctor but soon after starting the pre-med programme he realised it wasn’t the right choice for him. “I switched to economics and political science as I felt these would set me up for almost any career in business,” he says. “I haven’t looked back since.”

After university he knew he wanted a career in business but wasn’t clear which aspect was the right fit for him until he found corporate banking. “Corporate banking is fast-paced, dynamic and every day is different,” says Mayor. “I’m working with people in different industries all over the world. It’s very engaging.”

Mayor says the best part of his chosen career is the varied nature of each day and the exposure to the world of business. “With a diverse portfolio of clients, mostly international enterprises, my job is to learn how each of these companies works,” he says “We get to be a part of their ventures and, in some cases, help them reach their goals. I’m working with pharma, telecoms, utilities, professional firms, conglomerates, etcetera. This job brings me into contact with so many aspects of the financial world. I’ve learned more in the past year than I could have imagined.”

Being a huge international operation HSBC presents almost unlimited opportunities, making it a great company to work for, says Mayor. “We have specialist teams in London, Hong Kong and New York who are on the cutting edge of finance and banking. I’ve been fortunate to work with them on a couple of large deals for clients and it has been fantastic.”

The great people there help, too. “Everyone is super approachable and receptive to questions,” says Mayor. “People want you to learn, to succeed, and will go out of their way to make time for you. That is extremely important. What you learn in college is one thing, but what you pick up in the ‘real world’ is the real meat and potatoes. If no one around you is willing to help you develop, you really are hamstrung.”

Mayor hopes to get the opportunity to work overseas in one of HSBC’s major markets within the next five years, and as for his ultimate professional goal, the 27-year-old simply wants to enjoy what he does every day and continue learning. “It would be hard to be successful if you’re miserable,” he concludes. “If you’re competent, curious, engaged, have a good attitude and are happy, then you will be successful.”



Zenika Simons
Age: 31
Place of Employment: PwC Bermuda
Job Title:  Manager, Assurance
Education: Andrews University; University of Nottingham; DeVry University
Degrees: BBA in International Business; MSc in Supply Chain and Operations Management; MA in Accounting and Financial Management
Number of years working: Seven

“From early childhood it seemed evidently clear that I was progressively gravitating towards a career in law,” says 31-year-old Zenika Simons whose chosen career path took a different turn after she secured summer placement at two local legal firms during her senior year of high school. “The opportunity to experience the day-to-day inner workings of this vocational field afforded me immeasurable insight; and I soon learned that despite having an affinity for law, I was becoming increasingly keen on having a future in business,” she says.

Simons currently works as a manager at PwC Bermuda and relishes the role. “I love being able to inspect and review client data in order to assist with providing reasonable assurance to stakeholders that companies are reflecting financial information that is fair,” she says. “In being able to do this, I am assisting in ensuring that these stakeholders make informed financial decisions.”

And the best part about working for PwC is the collaboration and mentorship programmes built within the company culture. “I love that I am surrounded by talented people with an array of experience,” says Simons. “Each day I am able to work with people in Bermuda and abroad to find meaningful solutions for clients. I coach junior staff but also am coached by members of senior management; thus I am in an environment where I am continuously learning.”

“At PwC you are assigned a coach,” adds Simons when asked who her mentors were. “This coach is someone who is presently operating in a role that you are aspiring to work towards in the next two to three years. My coach has been phenomenal in providing me with guidance which has been essential to my development thus far. Additionally, PwC’s asset and wealth management service has a strong leadership team who I look to for continuous advice; they have also been instrumental in my professional growth.”

When asked what experience has prepared her most for her current position, Simons gives a surprising answer. “Believe it or not, travelling,” she says. “Travelling broadens your perspective and allows you to develop a deeper appreciation for individual differences and the varying ideologies and practices evidenced throughout the world. I strongly believe that travelling has prepared me to approach my life and career in business with a level of patience, empathy and understanding that had not been fully cultivated prior to my being afforded the opportunity to travel and experience the world beyond Bermuda.”

As for her future, Simons intends to be in a senior management role within the next five years, in a senior leadership role within the next ten years and ultimately a partner or CEO/CFO within a company.