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Master plan for success

Sherie Holder-Olutayo

Master plan for success

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“I am not one who believes that success happens by chance. I believe that when you develop the right habits, you earn the reward.”
This belief system or mantra has been the guiding force behind Jackie Marshall-Clarke’s life. It is a teaching that she not only lives by, but has passed on to her two children.
That’s why it should come as no surprise when Jackie, the communications coordinator at the Barbados Light & Power Company Limited, became the second person in Barbados to earn the Accredited Business Communicator designation from the International Association of Business Communicators.
“They do an accreditation [programme] for their communicators to bring them up to global standards,” she said. “When I first started in 2010 I really wanted to do it to make sure I was doing things right. But I am so glad that I went through those two years because I have grown tremendously.”
While it’s easy now to bask in the accolades of the distinction, Jackie will rightly tell you that getting to this point was no easy feat.
“When I approached the international body about doing this accreditation there was no one to give me as a mentor, and the closest person they could give me as a coach to work with was a lady from Jamaica,” Jackie said. “We didn’t have Skype then so I spent a lot of my time and money on overseas calls for discussions with her as to how we could get it done and to mentor me.  
“In the latter years we then had Skype so we worked by Skype. So achieving this for me was not a simple walk in the park. It took a lot of time, energy and money to get to this point.”
Though Jackie’s programme took two years to complete she did have the option to do the accreditation in one week by compiling and presenting a portfolio of her work, and then doing an exam to earn the accreditation.
“I had applied for the one-week course but I didn’t get on; I cried non-stop,” she said.
Looking back, though, she said that disappointment was the best thing that happened because she worked and really learned the value and importance of communication in the business sector.
Anyone who works and studies knows the difficulties the combination brings. Couple that with being a full-time mother and wife, as Jackie proudly calls herself, and the challenges increase.
“It took a lot of sacrifice. I remember in 2010 being at Disney World and the children were in the pool and park, and I’m in the hotel on the balcony working, preparing all the portfolios I had to do,” she said.
Though Jackie talked about the sacrifices she made, she recognized that it was the right time for her to undertake her course of study.
“This was perfect timing for me. I like planning and I plan my life, of course, with direction from God,” Jackie revealed.
“With my daughter doing CXC and CAPE it was the perfect time for another serious project to be done. So while she was up at night studying I was right next to her with my books.
“When she received her Exhibition two weeks ago she sent me a card telling me she really appreciated the support I gave. Many nights she was up and I was right there. I was there to support her when she had her long nights of study so the timing for this was perfect.”
Jackie admitted that she balanced her studies with so many other things, including caring for her family.
“I am a full-time mother of two children, one 18, one 13. I am a full-time wife so I have my responsibilities to my husband,” she said. “I’m a career woman so I have a full-time job and one that takes my all because at Barbados Light & Power, when anyone calls about the electricity I have to deal with it.
“Then I do broadcasting on the side so I get up at four o’clock on Sunday mornings to get to the studio to do my little Sunday morning stint.
“So when many people would be resting on weekends, it’s church and work. And then my passion is young people, so anytime anyone calls with young people who need mentoring, I will make the time to talk to them. So I’m not asking you if I have a full life, I’m telling you.”
Managing time wisely has become a skill that Jackie is very adept at. She has no misconceptions about the superwoman moniker that many women willingly wear. She is conscious of her limits, though, and says she has learned the art of saying no.
“I tell my children all the time that you have to work for success and I’m happy when I achieve because they recognize that this isn’t just something that mummy says; she practices it as well,” Jackie said.
“Over the years as I’ve shown them how to manage their time, how to position themselves for success, it really was a pleasure to be earning things like this achievement along the way.”
What this achievement also did for Jackie was to give her a greater appreciation for the career that she’s passionate about.
“Internal communications is a big thing as part of the global recognition; how you deal with your staff and how you help your staff deal with the general public. I have to stay calm under pressure at all times because I’m in the middle of several frontiers.
“I’m working with the staff to find out how we deal with this situation and to find out what we say to the general public. There is also dealing with the media and management needs direction on what to say and what messages to give. Communication is the glue that is keeping many organizations together in these times. It’s something that you’ve got to work very hard at,” she said.
Jackie’s hard work and commitment have earned her the Accredited Business Communicator designation and she’s proud. But she’s not done yet.
“My son still has his own CXCs and CAPE to prepare for in a little while, so who knows what project I will tackle then,” she said smiling.