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Sueann’s byte of world

Natanga Smith

Sueann’s byte of world

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Sueann Tannis was always drawn to media and communications, spending most of her younger life wanting to be a linguist, imagining herself  being a translator for the United Nations or some other international development organisation.
During her late teenage years, after a chat with one of her mentors she applied to Howard University to pursue an undergraduate degree in journalism after leaving Harrison College, the school where dad Lloyd Nurse and sister Rosanne attended.
Sueann was an ace student at Howard, switching from the journalism major to communication and culture, with a minor in public relations.
“It was the best decision I ever made. I graduated from Howard summa cum laude, 0.04 points shy of a 4.0 GPA, and picked up a few scholarships along the way, which I was grateful for. I moved back to Barbados feeling ready to take on the world,” she said laughing.
Settling back home, the Christ Church resident started to put out feelers, landing some jobs doing PR work for a broad spectrum of clients, even juggling a blog she started in 2007 – sharing fashion trends and beauty news.
“I got into this line of work very organically. I never actively pitched for business but through referrals and previous professional interactions, I walked right into a consultancy role without even noticing it. I work with diverse organisations and brands, from international development to fitness and wellness to retail. They count on me to provide them with sound counsel on public relations and marketing, and to help them navigate the challenges that come with building a brand online.
“In the simplest of terms, I help them communicate who they are and what they do more compellingly and come up with strategies to help them manage and protect their reputations.”
The 29-year-old has recently added digital strategy to her list of skills, which is a rapidly developing field that builds and manages brands in the online world. Seven years after completing her undergraduate degree, Sueann applied for a National Development Scholarship to study digital strategy and was successful. She headed back to Washington, DC to Georgetown University, graduating in December with  a master’s degree.
“It was a remarkable experience I am truly, truly thankful for. Education is so valuable; it has opened doors for me, helped me see the world differently, and has empowered me to help change the world around me. . . . Not a day goes by without me feeling a great sense of thankfulness for the education I have been blessed to receive. I never, ever take that for granted.”
Sueann also credited her time in part-time work and 9-5,  for instilling a work ethic she lives by every day.
“When I first arrived at Georgetown, the first thing I did was look for a job on campus. I found a part-time position at the university. During my time away, a few startups and young brands reached out to me for marketing and PR advice, and I was happy to help. It was quite the balancing act, with late nights and very early mornings. The beautiful thing about it is that I learned discipline and time management, and along the way, discovered that I was more resilient and capable than I thought myself to be.”
Sueann is back in Washington, working on some projects for a couple of months. Her day begin around 5:30 a.m., catching up on the news and then answering emails. After that, it’s a bit of a whirlwind and lots of Skype calls, writing, and creating content for and monitoring online platforms. Also, because the communications world changes so much, there’s always a new industry publication to read, or a new set of trends to get caught up on, seeing her day end sometime around 11 p.m.
Sueann says time is what she has to work on and with so much to do she misses spending with family and friends: “There are times when I simply long for the old days: hanging out with my dad on the East Coast, getting sewing lessons from mum Pamela, or having a fun night out with friends. Recently, I lost a few important women in my family and I wish I had spent more time with them, heard more about their experiences, and gleaned more wisdom from them.”
So said, Sueann is looking forward to having her own children and sharing memories with them.
“I would like to have at least one child after I get married. Until then, I’m working on being the best woman I can possibly be. Throughout life, I’ve always aimed to be excellent at whatever I do, and I love to do quality work, so I am constantly challenging myself to do better and be better.”
Sueann hopes to accomplish plenty with the national development scholarship in the area of digital strategy.
“ I want to use what I’ve learned to help enrich Barbados. In my own way, I’m doing a bit of that in my small corner. I’ve always been passionate about working with young people and entrepreneurs, so this degree isn’t just about me. I’d really love to teach the youth, Government officials, and business owners how to harness the online world.”
Sueann’s advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to “work hard. Pray harder. Never miss an opportunity to say thank you, to apologise, to pay a compliment, or to forgive. Never mete out the kind of treatment you wouldn’t want you or your loved ones to receive. Be bold; ask for what you want. Resist the urge to be mediocre, in spite of how accepted mediocrity might be.
“Do not procrastinate! If you have a business idea, get up and run with it. Start where you are. Don’t be fearful about what other people may think or about the criticisms they might have. If you do nothing, people will talk. If you get up and do something, they’ll still talk. But what you will have is the satisfaction of having tried and having followed your heart.”