Monique Hamaty-Simmonds

You are on the eve of an important deadline, the kids are bouncing off the walls and everything you thought you knew about success and time management is being quickly revised. The fact of the matter is that this may sound like all too familiar territory for many in today’s workforce.

So how do the ultra success stories happen in a world as chaotic as ours? And who are those who don’t seem to be bothered by the throws of modern existence?

Assistant Managing Director of Tortuga Rum Monique Hamaty-Simmonds was asked about her experiences and what formula she relied on to become one of the Top 50 Women Business Leaders in the State of Florida chosen by the Commonwealth Institute and Florida International University.

In answering, Mrs. Hamaty-Simmonds wasted no time cutting to the chase: “Having a good education is vital to anyone, not just because it equips you with knowledge but because it teaches you discipline and time management.” She joked that with the speed information flows today, it would be a priceless asset to have a school that specifically offered a course on this most challenging of topics: “I would be the first to enrol,” she remarked.

Monique said she was fortunate to come from a family of leaders and knew at a young age that she also wanted to mirror the success of her relatives.
She started her own business at 14 by combining her talent in art and natural business acumen to sell T-shirts that she made exclusively.

While doing this, she said she realised she still had time on her hands and wanted to do more- a trait for restlessness that most successful people exhibit, according to experts.

This led her to begin a job at Wendy’s, which caused her friends to wonder why she was working so hard but Monique says even then, she knew she wanted to be independent.

During university the aspiring entrepreneur also managed to land a job at Jamaica Air Freighters, which was the No. 1 air cargo carrier to Jamaica out of Miami.

She managed in her time in this position to work from receptionist all the way up to lead cargo agent and was able to obtain a vast reference of the importing and exporting business.

Following this job and subsequent graduation from university, Monique decided she wanted to own her own business.

She said, “Being able to communicate your vision is essential and I shared my intentions with my father (Mr. Robert Hamaty-Tortuga Rum Company Owner) and we decided that the company needed a freight forwarder and distributor for the Tortuga rum cakes.      
Fifteen years later Tortuga Imports Inc. (USA) employs 12 people and purchases supplies in order for Cayman, Jamaica, Barbados and the Bahamas to be able to manufacture the now world famous rum cakes.

“I now reside in Grand Cayman with my husband and three children but the business in Miami is still owned by us and we have come to Cayman to improve upon a business started by my father and his wife 25 years ago,” said Monique, who added that change in inevitable in any business because of the new and refreshing ideas that are born.

Mrs. Hamaty-Simmonds reflected about reading an article in a magazine that referred to mothers as CEO’s and explained that to her this meant “Chief Everything Officer.”

She elaborated: “It is no secret to working moms that you have to be able to juggle it all but my advice would be to continue to be the best at everything you can and when you find yourself becoming overwhelmed, be sure to take a little time for yourself.

All working parents need an outlet and mine happens to be exercise and having my nails done.”

 With regard to the apathy that many Caymanians say they are feeling and the everyday financial pressures Mrs. Hamaty-Simmonds said, “I realise that the economy has contracted and people may feel disappointed, especially with the options for jobs. However, I also see young Caymanians with drive, determination and creativity being able to start new businesses and careers, which shows hope for a brighter future.”

People should never give up, no matter how menial the task said Hamaty-Simmonds. “Work to the best of your ability, as you never know who may be on the receiving end of the good job/deed,” she encouraged.

She advised that there was more than one way to do things and that people should dare to do things differently.

“Have a plan and always keep yourself informed and you will persevere. The only place you will find success before work is in the dictionary,” she joked.