She’s Claire-ly not all about numbers
ONE LOOK AT Claire Odle and she is the epitome of professionalism. However, she is a firm believer of there being a time and place for everything under the sun, and when warranted can let her hair down to enjoy life to the fullest.
Born to Barbadian parents, Claire migrated to Guyana at the age of five, where she spent 12 years before returning to these shores to attend the University of the West Indies to pursue undergraduate studies in economics and management.
The 25-year-old then left the island again; this time for England, to complete her master’s degree in banking and finance before returning home in 2012.
Admitting that she had a culture shock and was still adjusting to life on the rock, she said she has enjoyed experiencing different cultures.
“Travelling and living in other countries has been good. I love the fact that I grew up in Guyana. Coming back to Barbados was a huge culture shock because despite it is home, and having returned each year on vacation, it was different from what I thought it would be.
“I love the foundation I had growing up in Guyana. The year in England gave me a chance to meet people from different cultures. I love differences as it gives me the opportunity to sit and ask people questions all day, not because I am malicious, but just because I like to find out about people and what makes them different. So my year in England I was able to meet people from all over the world, experience different cultures and broaden my horizons,” she said.
Upon her return from England and ready to take on the corporate world, Claire had difficulty finding a job.
In the end she made a living by selling cupcakes for her cousin before finally landing her current job at Prism Services Inc.
“When I came back here my aim was to get into banking or asset management. While working with my cousin I was hired by a renowned insurance company, but they had a hiring freeze, and so I was eventually back to square one when my temporary assignment ended.
“I found myself again unemployed, and someone recommended me to Prism Services where I was hired in another temporary position. While I was here the insurance company made me a permanent offer, and as luck would have it so did Prism.
“In the end I chose Prism, because although it is smaller I felt that I would be able to get more experience, the exposure would be greater and I would see my contribution more and my role would make a difference,” she said.
The transaction processing and business development officer, who has worked with the company for the last three years, described her job as dynamic, and contrary to popular belief not always about numbers despite being in the financial sector.
“It’s hard to explain to people exactly what it is I do because saying my title does not encompass all that I do. We support the financial sector in the back end supporting financial systems,” she said. “I work with all the financial institutions in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean on payment systems. I hardly deal with numbers, but more with project management, documentation and operations. I sit in a lot of board meetings and help to resolve issues, and procedures.”
If Claire wasn’t in the financial sector, her dream job would be a race car driver.
“I love to drive and enjoy going to Bushy Park to watch the races. Realistically if I weren’t doing this, I would probably be in something relating to my economics background. When I came out of school I loved seeing how money works, how money systems work and the dynamics of it all. Outside of that I would probably be spending more time trying to get into my own business,” she confided.
Asked what was her inspiration, she said family support is what got her this far, and will see her through in whichever direction she may be headed.
“My younger sister Renee, who is very artistic, is quite like my best friend. She is very mature for her age, and really inspires me. She is more of an out-of-the-box thinker, and encourages me to be myself. I also have an older brother Jared. He’s married with one child, and for my sister and me growing up he was the smartest person in the family; the one who made us all proud and we aspired to get straight As like him.
“I also couldn’t ask for more supportive parents. The kind of person I am, and the successes I’ve gained along the way, is largely due to the way they raised me, and I am so thankful for that. I am truly blessed to be surrounded by wonderful people in general; the people in my church family, at work, my extended family and even the people I train with,” she said.
The burning question throughout the interview however was what this business professional did in her spare time.
With a huge smile on her face and a twinkle in her eyes she said: “After work every evening I train in Muay Thai, which is a kick boxing martial arts discipline. If it’s not Muay Thai I’m out kayaking. Each year I participate in the Variety Children’s Charity rowing race, so I would either train with them or with a friend if they are not training during competition time.”
Coincidentally, Claire, who has no favourite genre of music, plays the piano and a bit of guitar. She said her repertoire was dictated by her mood.
As for future plans, the sushi and cheesecake lover said she didn’t have any solid plans for the future.
“Not because I’m short-sighted nor have no vision, but rather than planning too much I try to just take each day at a time because life and circumstances are always changing. Therefore, things seldom or almost never work out according to plan. I leave the future in God’s hands as He knows best. I’m just trying to learn and grow from what’s in front of me now,” she said confidently.
Before parting ways with EASY, Claire had this piece of advice to offer to those looking to get into her field.
“People like to focus a lot on academics and what to study, but I think it has more to do with skills and how you approach problems. Things don’t always go the way you plan them. I would advise people to focus on solving problems, look at your attitude toward things, don’t be easily frustrated and think on your feet, be calm in stressful situations. I think those attributes in a person would help them to succeed. It’s not just about the education; it’s about knowing how to work with people, adapt to situations and solve problems,” she said.