Patrica Henry-Hard work is my mantra
She's up by 5 a.m. every morning to enthusiastically run a marathon - the marathon of life.
Patricia Henry, the recently appointed chief financial officer of Tryall Club in Hanover, is the first Jamaican to hold the post.
But Henry's achievements are no surprise to those who know her best. She told Outlook that she always had big dreams and isn't afraid of hard work. She began her professional career as an accounting clerk in 1987. "When I started out as a HEART trainee, I was focused, I worked really hard and within months, I was promoted to accounting clerk. With all of the hard work, I ensured that I got qualified and so I did ACCA and my MBA (Manchester University) at strategic times. Although monetary rewards are important to me, I also want to be respected by my peers, my family, and friends for being the very best at what I do. Hard work has always been my mantra, and maybe that's why I have never been overlooked for a promotion," she said.
Since then, she has worked as accounts manager at Xerox Jamaica, promoted to Finance Manager/Company Secretary in 2000, and most recently, Intcomex.
As a student at Seaforth Secondary (now high) in St Thomas, she was intrigued by the sciences. But because that department wasn't fully developed, her options were business or accounting. "I chose accounting and fell in love immediately with book-keeping. But halfway through exam preparation, I lost my teacher and I was forced to teach myself the subject to CXC level. I was more thinking of becoming an accounts teacher though. I enrolled in the HEART trainee programme after graduation and started work experience at Serge Island Dairies and I knew then that this was my calling."
If Henry wasn't crunching numbers, her crunching would be in the kitchen. "I have become a better cook in recent years by watching the Food Network Channel, and I really enjoy preparing a good meal and entertaining my friends," she said, admitting, "I am a foodie at heart, and I have just started learning about wines and food and wine pairings."
Anyone who knows Henry also knows she takes her health seriously. "I was an athlete in high school and was given the opportunity to attend Morant Bay High School, however, my mother turned down the offer. Running is in my DNA, I'm always doing some sort of physical activity. Academic studies took up a lot of my time then, but after becoming a chartered accountant in 1999, I became more focused in the gym, and changed my eating habits to healthier options as the years progressed. I have continued my fitness routine here at Tryall with daily jogging, weight training in the gym and have even started playing tennis."
Henry loves what she does and thinks there is a misconception of her profession. "People believe that it is hard work and no play. It's up to the individual to manage their time and find a good work/life balance. Believe me, it is not easy,
as there are many times I've had to go to work and missed out on holiday trips with family and friends. However, I always make time to catch up with them to have dinner and cocktails."
How does she do it all? "I milk my day. I start at 4:50 a.m. most mornings, so everything gets done. It is important to enjoy life and breathe in the fresh air!"
She was able to breathe some fresh air raising her two children. "Working, studying, and taking care of children is never an easy feat, but for some reason, I learnt the art of juggling early. I am always fortunate to live close to work or study, and I make use of late nights/early mornings. I missed many parent-teachers meetings and few sports days, but I always maintained communication with the form teachers and kept a special eye out for my son at school as you know how boys can be."
But all the hard work and sacrifices have paid off with seeing her children succeed. "When I moved to Kingston (from St Thomas), my children were 10 and 12 and I enrolled them at Jessie Ripoll since I couldn't afford prep school. My son passed his Common Entrance for KC (KIngston College)and my daughter for Campion College. They got a really good start from Summit Prep in St Thomas! My son Euwan is now a young banker and works at a bank in Kingston and my daughter, Sharawill, graduated from UWI (University of the West Indies) as one of the first cohorts of dentists. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing my children succeed."
seize this opportunity
Her current job isn't something she thought she'd ever be doing. "Actually, I was not looking for a job but via LinkedIn a headhunter invited me for an interview. I never say no to interviews and so I went with the intention to connect with them to explore other opportunities as I couldn't't see myself moving to 'country'. I had a good talk with them about Tryall and my interest was piqued. I then drove to The Tryall Club for another interview and I was blown away by the property and I was even more sure then that I would seize this opportunity," she said.
"If the president of Google calls me for an interview, I will turn up believing that I have the same chance as the guy sitting beside me in the lobby. If I don't get the job, I move on immediately, knowing that's not what God wants for me; something bigger and better is in store. With this positive attitude and determination, I am not surprised that I am the CFO at Tryall!" Henry was recently featured in the HEART annual report as a success story.
Henry believes you should never stop learning new things. "I was studying Spanish at the Venezuelan Institute in Kingston, but have taken a break since I moved to Hanover. I hope to check out similar Spanish programmes here in Montego Bay, when I am settled so that I can complete it. I always aim to finish anything I start. I remember taking Spanish lightly and exams were down on me with failure staring me in the eyes. I realised that I couldn't tell my children that I failed Spanish and I buckled down and passed my exams. I was at level 8 and there are 11 levels to the diploma."
As she settles into her new role, she is learning something new every day. "My senior management experience has always been with multinationals - distribution, gaming, manufacturing, so this is my first stint in European-style resorts. The operations here at Tryall are unique. It is a lot of work, but I am equal to the task and I am confident that I will be able to improve and build upon the department I have inherited. So far, I have been doing well and I have the full support of the board of directors, headed by the president, Julia Utsch. Already, I have learnt a whole lot from some great minds here on property and we really have a solid management team."
So how has she adjusted to living in the 'country'? "Frankly, I don't miss anything in Kingston as my children drive down most weekends because they love the property. Maybe I miss Spartan and the 5 a.m camaraderie I shared with some serious workout buddies. I feel comfortable to run anytime around the property and it helps that the view is breathtaking.
By the end of the year, more miles will be added to the highway and the journey from Montego Bay to Kingston will be even shorter so I can always make a 'quick run' to Kingston.
Through it all, she says, her gender has never been an issue."Gender has never been an issue for me. Women work as hard as or even harder than men. We are very focused and organised. It's good to hire a female CFO," she ended with a laugh!