Krysta Anderson, Gleaner Writer
Successful businessman Donald Trump once said, "If you're interested in balancing work and pleasure, stop trying to balance them. Instead, make your work more pleasurable." Businessman and family man Edward Gabbidon, can definitely relate.
Now the vice-president of Corporate and SME (small and medium enterprise) sales at LIME Jamaica, Gabbidon started out from humble beginnings. He was born and raised in the inner-city community of Olympic Gardens where he learnt some fundamental lifelong values. "I was fortunate to grow up with both parents. My father was a workaholic. My mother created the steady hand - instilling God in me - bringing me to church, and telling me: 'you can do anything you put your mind to'." This stayed with him and made a tremendous impact on his life.
After switching from Kingston College to St Andrew Technical High School for a year, his lifelong passion of being a pilot took flight. He progressed to the highest level of air proficiency that the school could take him. He obtained a private pilot licence. But that was not enough, Gabbidon wanted to go even higher and obtain his commercial licence.
In order to pay for flying school, he worked at Life of Jamaica (LOJ) in the premium accounts department as a cashier. This helped him to achieve his goal of obtaining a United States commercial multi-instrument pilot licence.
From there he decided to chase the forward-thinking world of information technology. This was the turning point for his career, as he had to make a downward shift to achieve this new goal. "It was just becoming the wave of the future at the time, so I transferred there. I could not naturally shift from being a cashier to working in IT, so I transitioned to sorting reports before becoming a computer operator trainee," Gabbidon told Flair.
He went on to work with LOJ's parent company, Citizens Bank, as a computer operator, and was eventually promoted to assistant general manager in charge of infrastructure when it became RBTT.
Wherever opportunities presented themselves, he accepted them wholeheartedly and rose to the occasion, "I did a stint at Jamaica Network Access Point before moving to Jamaica Public Service (JPS) where I was in charge of infrastructure," he revealed. He then set his eyes on telecommunications mogul Cable and Wireless Jamaica, "I was recruited from JPS to LIME to head their product division. The transition from banking to power then communications was all different for me, but it was something new and challenging to do and I liked it." LIME, he says, is like a university on steroids - fast-paced, requires decision day in day out, but is very rewarding - you learn something new every day.
He worked as the assistant vice-president in products before landing his current post. He also presently holds a double hat, being the general manager of Jamaica Digiport as well.
With a degree in project management practices and principles from the University of New Orleans and a masters in business administration from the University of the West Indies, Mona, under his belt, he attributes the secret of all his accomplishments to his mother who he says, "Provided strength for me. She was only four feet 11 inches tall, but she stood out as a strong woman. The strength I received from my mother growing up gave me the confidence to do just about anything, overcoming any obstacle, and be personable with just about everyone. That applies to staff at all levels. They can come to me at anytime - my door is always open to them."
The road to success is not an easy one, but he would have it no other way. "The lower you bend the higher you jump, so my biggest obstacle isn't external, it's internal - you have to fight for what you want at all cost. The key is to stay calm. Treat people fairly with a certain level of respect, because everybody plays a role in the organisation. No role is more powerful than the next man, so as long as you stay grounded, you're good," he said.
He told Flair that his success could not be possible without the love and support he receives from his family. The husband and father of two teenagers, beamed with pride as he spoke of his family. "In the mornings, I make breakfast for everyone. My daughter makes coffee, and that's when we all get to bond. I pack their lunches. They get a cooked meal every day and I take them to school - another bonding moment."
He highlights that he shares similar interests with his children and that gives him even more time to spend with them. On Saturday's he takes his daughter to ballet and golf lessons where he sometimes get to play with her, while he takes his son to piano and tae kwan do classes.
Married for 17 years and counting, he confessed that his wife has kept him grounded, "My wife keeps me grounded and focused. She pays attention to details, while I look at the bigger picture. In this busy world, any little time we get we treasure, but our life is centered on our two children."
With his son, David, being autistic, all members of the family play a supporting role is making everything flow smoothly. While most parents might dwell on the negativity of having an autistic child, that is not the case for Gabbidon. The proud father confessed that the experience has made him a better man, "Raising David has taught me patience, how to remain calm, and I have developed a thick skin."
Gabbidon would like to spend the limited free time he does have sleeping and catching up on his reading. He would also like to incorporate more golf into his life - his daughter is now better at the sport than he is, and he would like to provide some competition for her.
Making the commitment to climb the career ladder, and performing above and beyond in all his respective roles, the composed Gabbidon affirms, "In life you're going to make mistakes. If you dwell on them, it hurts more than it helps. Every mistake you make leads you down a path and what you learn it them makes you a better person. It is very important to have mentors who you can sit and talk to, and bounce ideas off and have a good rapport with." For him, that person was R. Danny Williams who helped him in his earlier years as a budding businessman.
His words of advice? "Life is a journey, so once you embrace the good with the bad, you can accomplish anything. Follow what is the right path for you and always stay focused and true to yourself."