Climbing The Construction Ladder
Brick by brick, Charlene Narcisse built a career in telecommunications, and now in construction and design.
Breaking down barriers and charting a path on her own terms has kept this 'woman of worth' on the main street of success.
She's one half of property development company Narcisse Holdings Limited, which has projects, employees, and offices in Jamaica and the United Kingdom.
She was comfortably climbing the corporate ladder in her management position at UK mobile service conglomerate Vodafone, but encouraged by the response in Jamaica to a new style of housing development, she decided to trade in the boardroom for a hard hat with hammers and nails.
The ardour of Jamaican labour mixed with the flair and finish of heavy European influence was to be the beginning of their success story.
Narcisse recalls deciding to return to Jamaica from the UK to partner with her husband as they converted their first home in Red Hills in St Andrew into four apartments in 2006.
Since then, Narcisse Holdings has delivered 138 top-quality residences in some of Kingston's most desired neighbourhoods over the past 11 years, cementing itself as a sought-after developer.
Residential developments have been completed by the company in Stony Hill, Kingsway, Red Hills, Half-Way Tree and in the Barbican area.
"Fulfilling our clients' needs with quality, beauty, and service is what we do best. We learn and improve with each project we undertake," said Narcisse.
Driven by a company tagline of 'Construction, Design, and Decor, Narcisse underscores that the journey from concept to completion requires intricate planning and execution with practical construction management, hands-on expertise and a keen eye for detail and style. She strongly believes that building relationships and being able to deliver her clients' dreams is the best part of what she does.
"You really have to be committed to more than just the end product of a beautiful building. You have got to really understand the business. There is no room to pretend."
Narcisse oversees all aspects of the business and admits that her favourite part though is the aesthetic inspection. She has built and developed a reputation for impeccable finishes. She is proud of her ability to easily identify and rectify production flaws.
With her degree in business management and professional administration, Narcisse admits to always striving for excellence and requiring the same from her team.
"Hiring staff who can give the final finish worthy of our excellent reputation requires 're-culturising' the traditional Jamaican labourer who comes with a 'dat can live wid' attitude. Too often, new employees attempt to cut corners, until they realise that our standards at Narcisse Holdings are high and non-negotiable. I expect my mason and plumber to be as excellent as my engineer and architect. We cultivate a culture of excellence, and excellence is no respecter of roles - it demands 100% regardless of what is being done and who is doing it," she said.
Her communication skills, positive attitude and the ability to command respect from all of her team members is a feat not easily achieved by even some of the most experienced foremen.
"Once people recognise that you are knowledgeable, the respect comes. If I ever have to raise my voice on site, my workmen know that something is terribly wrong."
Narcisse is a strong advocate of mentoring programmes for many of the young men in her employ, noting that she believes in building lives and not just buildings.
Her charity arm, OneHundredBoys, sends 100 young men each year into both traditional and informal educational systems where they have the opportunity to build solid foundations for their future in and outside of the construction industry.