Carol Robertson thrives on change
Her warm eyes and disarming voice (marked with an unmistakable north London accent), belies the lifetime of sudden changes and "unexpected disruptions" that Carol Robertson has weathered on her journey to becoming the woman she is today.
As a leading IT professional, Robertson is, and has always been, 'that girl' with the screwdriver and gadgets who makes some of her male counterparts uncomfortable when she shows up for work.
Originally from Wembley, England, the first major change for Robertson came when at the vulnerable age of 17, she was "shipped off to Jamaica" with her family, by virtue of a decision taken by her father.
Resistant, but with no choice but to comply, she packed her bags and headed to the great unknown in Jamaica - a place she only knew as a tourist when she visited in the summer of 1976.
In the beginning, she and her family were "cotching" at a family friend's home off Manning's Hill Road in St Andrew. In the shadow of her father's failed minibus business and deteriorating family relations, Robertson soon realised that a better life was some way off.
"I can confirm for anyone in doubt, (that growing up) there was poverty, abuse, and just general hard life, both in and outside of Jamaica," she told Outlook.
"Coming here taught me about people and how to appreciate diverse and insincere personalities, which helped me to become more adaptable and excited by change. Now, change for me is a good thing. When things are changing, I'm at my best!" she said.
Robertson's best now includes achievements such as pioneering work in transitioning sign-making technology in Jamaica, along with leading the movement of payroll and general ledger systems at several entities from manual systems to a computerised environment. Her latest success included leading IT and telephony solutions for some of Jamaica's largest enterprises and organisations in her current role as director of sales - government, enterprise and IT solutions, for CW Business.
"My mission is to transform the Jamaican IT space with innovation and a consultative and strategic premier sales force, as I get up to go to work each morning," she said.
Robertson said her faith always instructs her that God's perfect plan is in motion. Because of her faith, she said, she is never deterred during tough times. "Call me naÔve, but I seldom accept the term 'stress'. I really enjoy everything I do. So, what I find is that sometimes I have to tell myself to take a break or to just stop." she said.
Robertson has also found success in her personal life. She is noticeably happy talking about her husband, David, and daughter, Nicole, whom she adopted at age 10.
Mothering was another adjustment she had to make quickly, particularly as she was raising a child who was "differently-abled". Her daughter has a hearing impairment, so Robertson had to learn sign language to communicate with her.
"For two years, I left work and went to Edna Manley College so that I could interpret her lessons," she shared.
The aspiring fashion designer has been a mainstay of motivation for her mother. "Nicole is the most pleasant and genuine person you would ever meet," Robertson revealed. Robertson also uses her sign language skills to assist members of the deaf community, and also lectures on the manual method of communication at the tertiary level.
She describes herself as "very meticulous".
"I think I got that because I am a stickler for getting things right the first time, which has really become a survival skill for me," she laughed.
For Robertson, family comes second only to God and everything she does, she says she does for them. "They have my complete devotion and each member gets their allotted share of my daily schedule, including JoJo (her Shih Tzu poodle)."
Robertson is vice-president of the women's fellowship at her church and, last January, she started a programme called the Red Shoe Mission which seeks to guide and support young women between the ages of 15 and 25.
"What surprises me is that when I speak to Jamaican youngsters, they say, 'Miss, I wish I was born in another country because ...'. This is usually followed by an explanation that it would result in better life chances. I flatly reject that notion. Where you are coming from has absolutely nothing to do with the life you will have in the future. My successes, to date, have been secured through hard work, consistently high-quality output, humility, and integrity, all enabled by God. This has enabled me to go toe-to-toe with my male counterparts and, in many situations, surpass them," said Robertson.