EASY MAGAZINE: Maria likes to play
MARIA LYNCH knows all work and no play makes Maria a dull girl. So she tries to balance work and social life as much as she can.
And “play” is important to Maria, not only as an activity but because of her job.
You see, Maria, 36, is the senior sales manager of Digicel Play, having been promoted to that position last November.
Maria has been steadily climbing the ladder at Digicel, a company she joined in January 2006.
The past student of Louis Lynch Secondary always thought she would end up as an entrepreneur, having been groomed in the family business.
“My uncle owns C&I Hardware and as far back as I can remember I worked every summer as a teen there. He was very instrumental in my foundation in regards with interacting with customers, suppliers . . . . He would take me into his office and explain stuff to me.”
Maria, did law and politics at the Barbados Community College and then went to the University of the West Indies to pursue her bachelor of science degree in economics and management.
She gained further work experience for five years at Accra Beach Hotel, while still studying.
“I was at the front desk where I learnt the importance of customer service and attention to details and people under the guidance of Jon Martineau and Sabia Cherubin. We had a lot of corporate clients staying at the hotel so we had to keep a high standard of performance,” she said.
Maria then worked with a cousin for a year in 2005, helping him to start up his company. In 2006, she was employed by Digicel as a corporate account executive, managing a portfolio of leading corporate clients accounts.
“This was the stepping-stone for me. This allowed me to maintain and build some key clients. It was a tasking job in terms of making sure everyone was taken care of. With these clients they can call you at various hours to help solve a problem.”
Around early 2009 Maria was promoted to to business development executive when Digicel started expanding into becoming a complete telecommunications company.
Maria is not one to back down from a challenge.
“It was an interesting time as the company was rolling out a new suite of products and services. We started this department from the ground up. It was long hours and demanding, but I revelled in the fact that I was the first employee in the beginning phase of a new project. Even though I was accountable to Tim Myers, he saw me as a colleague.”
Maria spent two and half years there, using her corporate clients to help build the department. She was then promoted to corporate sales executive, a lateral move, negotiating, closing and securing key corporate accounts.
In 2015 Digicel was still expanding and growing and the company was looking at being a full telecommunications entity – branching out into residential fixed line, Internet, TV content and so on.
“Digicel Play came about to satisfy the needs of the residential customers. I was called into the human resource department in November 2015 and was told ‘this is a position we think you will be good at. And we want you to take on this role’.”
Maria said she was caught off guard with the offer.
“I was given a week to make my decision. I went home and read all the information on what targets they expected from me and then I said yes.”
Maria hit the ground running as senior sales manager of Digicel Play. She was challenged by Play Barbados CEO Charlie Clementson to set up the entire sales department, hire new staff, implement systems and create sales strategies.
“It was working 14 to 18 hours days to meet these deadlines. As a female boss you have to be fair but firm. I struggle with dealing and understanding various personalities but I have a wonderful and amazing support management team in sales managers Nisha Craigwell, Susan Licorish and Sharon Hinds and my rock, sales operations executive Shernell Cumberbatch.”
Maria is in charge of 55 people and says the journey has been “interesting”.
“No two days are alike. I have to stay on top of things. There have been many mess-ups and corrections, but my team knows that I don’t ask for less than what is expected to meet our targets. There are also meetings everyday, not just here but with Jamaica and Trinidad. My phone also never stops ringing,” she said, laughing.
Maria says she sets goals every day for her team.
“For me it is for us to get to those goals together. I want my staff to feel comfortable with me. We know when to joke and we know when play time is over.”
Maria smiled as she recalled their celebrations when they hit their 10 000th customer in less than a year.
“I am extremely happy with my team. There is so much more we have to achieve.”
While calling the Digicel team her family, Maria is very much into her own family.
“My dad died last year and he and I were very close. We grew up in Wildey Terrace and my mum lives in St Philip so I am between both places. I have an older brother so I am auntie to niece Elena and nephew Logan. I also have a huge family in New York who I see twice a year.”
Maria’s job is high-paced and challenging so she needs to unwind. How?
She is big into spin, going at least three to four days a week; golf that she has taken up for the past three years and she is in an adult swim club.
Maria says she was raised by her parents to be independent and to take accountability for her actions.
“I strongly believe one must try to improve on oneself each year, always look back and see growth and development. I believe my mentors also played a major part in my development and I would advise everyone to seek out a good mentor to help you on your journey, both personally and professionally.
“It is how you look at the glass if it is half-full or half-empty. I love a challenge and look forward to the next one.”