‘I was raised to be fearless’
“Making a plan and taking the right actions to achieve it is important to your success. Ensure to equip yourself with the knowledge and requisite skills of your chosen career path because you are not just competing with Jamaicans; we exist in a global space. Always bring your A game!” These are the words of encouragement that Nariesha Murray-Graham, logistics and supply chain manager at the Jamaica Biscuit Company (JAMBISCO), gives to any individuals pursuing their passion.
In commemoration of Women’s History Month, ‘Hear Me Out’ hosts Sashelle Gooden and Antonette Newell identified Murray-Graham as one of the women dominating in a career traditionally considered to be ‘a man’s job’.
Born and raised in Spanish Town, St Catherine, Murray-Graham spent her formative years at Westwood High School, which prepared her for the many experiences she would later encounter in life. Being so far away from home at the tender age of 11, she had to quickly develop a sense of responsibility, coupled with survival instincts, managing her allowance and doing her schoolwork without supervision. “I always saw myself as someone who would be successful, and was determined from an early age not to be a statistic of my circumstance and surroundings.”
Murray-Graham considered herself an average student, but made sure to do well when it mattered. She held many leadership roles in school, including vice-president of the Student Council, and student representative on the school’s board.
“While in high school, I wanted to be a lawyer, but those dreams were hampered by my family’s financial circumstances. I entered the work world at 18 years, and thankfully, I has never been unemployed since.
“I had a knack for assessing situations and offering ideas for improvement. Whatever area I went in, I found ways to improve it. I started out in the financial sector in both the public and private sectors. I even had a brief stint at a call centre. In 2003, an opportunity to work in retail presented itself. That was the beginning of my love relationship with logistics and supply chain.”
NOT AN EASY ROAD
Murray-Graham admits that it was not an easy road, but over time, and by pushing herself to learn the skills for success, as well as trusting her instincts in various aspects of logistics, she has carved out a comfortable and successful space for herself.
Murray-Graham’s first job was as a procurement officer at Singer. She describes her proudest memory in that role as being part of the team that brought the internationally renowned brands Ashley, LG, and Woodhouse to the Jamaican consumer, as well as helping to change the company’s image from being merely a sewing machine store.
Although that job was rewarding, Murray-Graham wanted more as she was determined to be the first in her family to attain a bachelor of science degree. She thought of studying psychology, but the taste of success in procurement had left her wanting more, and as such, she decided to embark on pursuing a first degree while juggling her full-time job. Naturally, she made a switch from studying psychology to doing a degree in business management with a concentration on operations.
VALUABLE TO EVERYONE
So impressive were her achievements that she was soon sought out by, and spent nine years of her professional career with, Unicomer Jamaica, helping to reshape the Cash N Go, among other successful projects. The value of her contributions can be attested to by the fact that she was initially recruited on a contract, but was soon offered full-time employment after just a couple of months. Murray-Graham is known in her field as someone who gets things done and drives a hard bargain, while always achieving a win-win outcome.
Fast-forward to 2015, when Murray-Graham stepped out on her own to start her concierge logistics business, specialising in sourcing of promotional items, electronics, appliances, etc, for both individuals and companies. She watched through the ups and downs, as the company slowly started to blossomed.
“I was also able to, during this time, share my experiences and knowledge through teaching business logistics at the Excelsior Community College. This was truly enjoyable for me to help to groom and prepare the next generation of logisticians. I will always treasure this opportunity as I am always looking for ways to give back in my field.”
In 2017, Murray-Graham had a tough decision to make. She was offered an opportunity to work for one of the largest manufacturing companies in the Caribbean as head of logistics. She was aware that accepting this position would possibly compromise the steady growth of her own business, as well as take more time away from her family. As a newly-wed and mother of two teenagers, Murray-Graham, with the support of her husband Ethan, made the decision to take up the job offer.
“Admittedly, when I started there was mixed reception as my team did not know what to expect, and neither did I. However, I took the time to observe and carefully assess the flow of the operations with a view to making any necessary improvements. I received full support from management, which made things a little easier. I ensured to be fully transparent, sharing my vision and having constant and open communication with the staff. Things began to improve, and there was camaraderie.” Murray-Graham shared how she was able to, in short order, build trust with her team and forged ahead to increasing productivity for JAMBISCO.
“No job is too small. That is my genuine belief, and that is the reason every person on my team is treated with equal importance. It’s a chain, and having a weak link in the chain spells disaster. I remind the team of the importance of building and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships as this is critical to success in our field.
“I was raised to be fearless. The women in my family, especially my mom, feared nothing; and my Dad was always my biggest cheerleader, who supported anything I wanted to do. I was always encouraged to go for what I wanted. I was never taught limits. Many times on the journey, I’ve seen many challenges that, of myself, I could not see a solution, but only through God a way was found. I spend hours in the morning in prayer and devotion. When you have faith in a power stronger than you, nothing is impossible.”
“I encourage all, especially women, to let’s continue to work to break the glass ceiling, as only you can stop you.”