Family means everything to Atlantis Submarines general manager and Barbados Hotel
ROSEANNE MYERS is the first non-hotelier to head the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association, (BHTA) but when it comes to the business of tourism she is definitely no neophyte.
The general manager of Atlantis Submarines which falls into the BHTA category of direct tourism services, is finally at the helm of the organisation in which direct services representatives at one time did not even have a vote.
But for all 29 years that Atlantis has been a member of the BHTA, Myers has been in the vanguard of ensuring that the direct tourism services sector had a voice.
She told the SUNDAY SUN about the “tooth and nail” fight waged by late direct services stalwart Basil Forbes whose activism influenced her to join the movement for change because, like Forbes, she felt “we have a significant contribution to make”.
And when she finally assumed the BHTA chairmanship last month, it was with a clear vision for the way forward for all sections of the BHTA membership.
“I believe that the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association has a very key role to play in the development of the country in the next 50 years. We have work to do. We are going to be very pivotal,” Myers said.
She credits the name change from the Barbados Hotel Association to the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association for opening up the widely representative tourism body, paving the way for a member in the tourism services sector to now hold the top position.
During all those years she prepared herself for the day leadership of the tourism body would be possible for someone from the tourism services category. “There was so much work to do. I chaired the environmental committee, the product clubs, the romance committee . . . wherever there was a requirement for help. Any time they called me for something I was there because you don’t necessarily have to hold the position to be able to participate.”
This has therefore become a fundamental part of her message to young people and to young professionals. “Get involved and make a contribution. You get more by being involved than the association gets from you because it is learning.
“You have to also recognise where in the industry you are and how best to take advantage of these people who you are now associating with in this particular industry. That’s what I did.”
Her new assignment may be her immediate challenge but the mother of two and wife of Dr Donovan Myers also intends to continue to make family “my first priority”.
“That balancing, prioritising and having the family support is absolutely critical,” she insists. “I never missed any major events with the children whether they were at school or at university or wherever.”
Today wherever her actor son Marcus is performing or whatever her daughter Dr Alanna Myers is doing to develop her veterinarian practice, you can be sure Myers will be there to support them.
Atlantis is regarded as “my family outside of my immediate family” but always at the top of Myers’ priority list is her husband, their children, her mother and her siblings.
“My husband and I started out in a situation where he was a young intern so I needed to support him through his internship, and I was a young manager trying to balance with the children, so he supported me. We had a clear understanding.”
She is not shy to give herself a pat on the back for the way she has succeeded in managing that work-life balance. “I think I have done it quite well.”
She said: “You have to prioritise early. You have to say, ‘my family is going to be first even if to the detriment of what may be perceived as my job or performance’.”
It is an example she holds up to Atlantis staff for emulation.
“The same way I want to take care of my children and be at every graduation, I respect the fact that you do as well and if we work together, it can happen. I encourage the staff to not only participate in their children’s lives but also take advantage of the tourism sector and go out and see and experience the lovely industry you are in.”
Turning back to her own family she said: “We try to schedule family time to keep connected and we enjoy each other now as four adults in the house.”
The “born, bred and very nationalistic Barbadian” started out thinking she wanted to do medicine when she began pursuing studies in biochemistry and chemistry at the Cave Hill and Mona campuses of the University of the West Indies. But she returned to Barbados after graduating and joined Intel Corporation as a process engineer. She holds a Bachelor of Science honours degree in chemistry and biochemistry and a Master of Science in tourism and hospitality with distinction.
It was at Intel that she fell in love with people management and ended up managing the company’s quality assurance department until it closed its Barbados operations.
Based on the Intel experience, Myers continues to live by the principle of management by objectives. “You set clear objectives. There is only one way to implement anything – you must have goal posts; you must have measurement; you must allocate resources and if it is not written down, it will not happen,” she said.
She loves to travel, something she has been doing with her husband since their fifth year of marriage. “We do not ever skip going on holiday whether separately or with the children, since we got married 29 years ago.”
Back then they plotted a route around the world, starting out in South America. To date they have traversed North America, the Canadian Rockies, Europe and are continuing the trek.
Apart from the sightseeing, travelling affords shopping and seeking out bargain finds for this fashionista with a distinctly personal sense of fashion. “I love to keep a close eye on what’s trendy and adjust it to what suits me.”
“I am very conscious of my shape so I try to always wear things that suit my shape rather than things that are in fashion.” Hence, you will always see Myers wearing stylishly cut clothes in the vibrant colours she likes.
“If it is not tailored, I don’t want it because when you tend to be hippy, if your clothes don’t fit properly, you tend to look a little untidy.” With her sense of style, nothing beats a good fit.
Just about a month into her term as BHTA chairman, Myers says: “I am quite enjoying it already since it gives me the opportunity to lead the industry at a time where it is facing a number of challenges.
“I feel I have something to contribute and I give it willingly and always.”