Mon | Aug 26, 2019

Marsha Norman: Turning failure into success

Published:Sunday | March 18, 2018 | 12:00 AMRocheda Bartley
After becoming unemployed, Norman turned to what always brought her comfort – writing.
Having read countless books while she was growing up, Norman now has her own.

If you were to ask successful persons about their journey, some would likely tell you their life was like a roller coaster, often spiralling out of control, taking on sharp curves and going down steep inclines.

There were likely times when it appeared as if all was lost. This was the case for Marsha Norman, an author with an unending love for human resource management.

Growing up in Essex Hall, St Andrew, Norman has fond memories of playing with her cousins, god sisters and friends. While in her formative, she grew to appreciate the benefits of reading.

"My love for reading was fostered by my mother, who bought countless books for me. She would laughingly say to me, 'Marsha, you can open a library now!'" Norman recounted to Outlook.

As a child, Norman would eagerly dream of becoming a clever lawyer and embarked on her law journey early. She performed well in her Common Entrance Examination, which brought her to The Queen's School, where she mastered subjects such as history and English literature. During high school, her writing skills began developing. She wrote her first poem when she was 16 years old, but did not envision that she would have made this skill her bread.

After high school, she enrolled in the University of the West Indies (UWI) in 1992 to pursue her first degree in history, after falling short of being accepted to the faculty of law. Her plan was to enrol in law school after completing the degree.

"Much to my chagrin, some persons would ask, 'Marsha, what are you going to do with a history degree?' But I was to learn that my first degree simply prepared me to adequately navigate the work environment. Generally speaking, I think any first degree would help us to meet deadlines, sharpen analytical skills and helps our teamwork capacity," Norman said.

In 1995, Norman left the UWI with a bachelor of arts in arts and general studies with upper second class honours.

Her interest in human resources found her and gradually grew while she was working in the public sector, until it became irresistible. She started out by planning training sessions then progressively doing the training herself.

"After a few years on the job in the public sector, I was able to combine both passions - human resources and writing. After realising that HR is my true professional calling, in 2000 I went back to UWI to complete a master's degree in human resource development."

She has served in the public sector and private sectors in Jamaica and other Caribbean territories such as St Kitts and Nevis. In Jamaica, she worked diligently to contribute to strengthening the Ministries of Labour, Agriculture and Fisheries, and the Ministry of Local Government.




Ever since she discovered her writing skills, Norman created a bucket list including writing many books, and directing documentaries and movies. It's a list she unwillingly abandoned because of her workload and other commitments that rendered her too busy to pursue it. However, in 2013, she began to follow her dream again when she was faced with what was then her greatest obstacle - she became unemployed.

"Looking back now, after one month drifted to one year and four months, I can honestly say it was not necessarily a good time, but God worked it out for my good! At first, it seemed like an extended vacation, but after a month at home it became quite disconcerting. I applied for various jobs, got some interviews, but nothing seemed to work," Norman recalled.

Between her two loves, writing and human resource, Norman explained that the former allows her to express herself more. For her, the greatest challenges in writing are editing and rereading her work. Norman has written three books A Love Like This, Managing People, and Get On The Bike books that guide her readers towards achieving success.

She believes that everything she does will turn out well. It's a belief she wants others to own, too.