Kemar Savoury - Determined to succeed
The popular Jamaican proverb, 'If yuh waan good, yuh nose haffi run', epitomises the life of Kemar Savoury. He is a student at the University College of the Caribbean (UCC), by day, and a security guard by night. This summer, he gave up his nine-to-five to become a summer intern at Jamaica Money Market Brokers (JMMB).
Savoury, who is originally from Portland, travels daily from Yallahs, St Thomas, to attend early-bird classes at UCC, before working a typical 12-hour shift as a security guard, stationed at JMMB's head office on Haughton Avenue, St Andrew. "I decided to go to school after a conversation I had with Donna Duncan-Scott, who asked me what I wanted to do with my life. I realised that she saw something greater in me. Since then, I was motivated and decided to grab it and run."
Savoury said that the JMMB Group has also provided financial support through its foundation to help offset some of the costs of his tuition.
Savoury became a security officer in 2011 after he was unable to find employment for a while. He said that job has afforded him the opportunity to pursue his dream of getting a college education. The seed to further his education was originally planted in his head by his then high school teachers - Elaine Stewart-Sinclair and Kayon Kentish.
From Business Administration to Computers
Having pursued business courses at the CXC level, his natural choice was a bachelor of science degree in business administration. However, after a year in the programme, he decided to follow his passion and choose what he also determined was a more marketable and hands-on area, and more suited for him - information technology.
His love affair with computers began during his years at Paul Bogle High School in St Thomas, and he credits the encouragement of Winston Welsh of the University of the West Indies Open Campus, which was located on the school compound. He explained that Welsh facilitated his natural curiosity for learning by allowing him and his friend, Corrie Smith, access to the computer lab during their free sessions. Savoury noted that watching Corrie fix some of the computer problems that he created, allowed him to also learn along the way. Although not having a computer at home, he was always around computers because of the welcoming environment that Welsh created. He proudly shared that the first computer that he owned in 2012, he built to his own specifications.
This summer, Savoury decided to invest in his future by applying for the JMMB Summer Employment Programme, to work with the company's information technology department. Savoury shared that his transition from security guard to IT intern was possible after a conversation he had with a member of JMMB's Culture, Human Development and Training Team, who told him that he could apply for the internship programme. He admitted that becoming a summer intern came with sacrifices. "In order for me to become an intern, I had to give up working for two and a half months with Ranger Security Company (his current employer). This meant that I will have a pay cut, but I see this as a long-term investment in myself. The trade-off is worth it as I would have gained more experience - it's like paying for my education."
During his internship, Savoury is tasked with daily maintenance, desktop support, basic networking infrastructure duties, while supporting other network-related tasks. He has high praises for the exposure and experience gained during the six weeks, noting: "The internship gives me hands-on experience and helps me to put theory into practice. I have also been exposed to different terminologies and applications. I have learnt about areas that I have not done in school as yet, and so I am now looking forward to doing the theory to reinforce what I have learnt here."
Savoury is now fixated on the pursuit of his degree, as he also sees it as an opportunity to break the status quo and change the mindset of individuals, who typically perceive security guards as being unambitious.
He noted that it is not so much where you are coming from, but where you are going that matters. With this in mind, Savoury is not daunted by the long hours and shared that he makes each hour count. When not busy securing JMMB's premises, he spends all his free time studying and doing assignments. He added: "Technology makes it easier as I can read notes or my books on my phone or tablet during my breaks or at any free time that I have."
The opportunity afforded to Savoury through the more-than-a-decade-old summer employment programme is not quite unique; as the programme has served as a stepping stone for several current JMMB team members. One such team member is, Roberto Kelly, who also previously worked as a security guard at JMMB's head office before joining the JMMB Portmore branch team as an express transaction officer.