The Junior Achievement of the Cayman Islands initiative has helped positively shape the lives of hundreds of young people, providing them with a valuable platform from which they can make the leap into the corporate environment.
Two star Junior Achievement alumni, Lloyd Barker and Kadi Merren, say that participating in the programme resulted in a clear direction for their career path and a relationship that has lasted far longer than their initial participation.
Lloyd L. Barker Jr., 19, from West Bay, enjoyed four years of participation in the Junior Achievement programme, which focuses on preparing high school students for the business environment by allowing them to establish and run their own companies closely monitored and guided by adult mentors from the business world.
During that time, Lloyd took part in three company programmes, participating in the running of Generation Creations sponsored by Maples Finance, Beyond Ideas sponsored by dms and Cay-Matic sponsored by Marsh.
Lloyd says that he learned valuable lessons while operating these companies.
“In the business world, one will always encounter unusual personalities; however, the manner in which he or she responds to these personalities fosters the results of failure or success,” he says. “On a personal level, Junior Achievement has taught me crucial life lessons that are currently guiding me throughout my adulthood.”
Lloyd says that from the extraordinary experiences he encountered in the programme he has become a well-rounded individual.
“Business leaders never cease to be impressed with my knowledge of the ‘real world’ as a result of my extensive involvement in Junior Achievement,” he confirms. “The education I gained from Junior Achievement has been a major stepping stone for early success in my life.”
Lloyd says his involvement in Junior Achievement fuelled his interest in economics and he is majoring in economics at the University College of the Cayman Islands.
As a member of the Junior Achievement alumni, Lloyd is assisting achievers by providing them tips to make their JA company successful. He also provides marketing strategies and interview tips so “achievers can grasp every opportunity Junior Achievement offers to them,” he says, and confirms that “Junior Achievement has paved significant routes for my life, and I know it can do the same for many others”.
Ten years ago, Kadi Merren, 25, an accountant from George Town participated in the Junior Achievement after-school programme for a year while in high school, and her company, sponsored by PwC, was so successful she was recognised as Female Achiever of the Year.
Kadi says she learned the crucial lesson of the importance of being able to work as a team with common goals and objectives, even when people have different opinions, talents or efforts.
Kadi says she remembers that all of the advisers were willing to help the achievers when they had questions and, at the same time, were willing to stand back and allow them to make decisions as a company.
“Junior Achievement helped me think out of the box and I made friends that I still keep in contact with today,” she said.
Kadi says the experience definitely benefited her on a professional business level. “So much so, that I decided to study accounting and now work for PwC, who had sponsored my JA company at the time,” she says. “I was especially inspired by my advisers taking time out of their busy schedules to help us learn about becoming entrepreneurs and team players.”
Kadi is now a senior associate at PwC and says the JA experience gave her a real world business approach.
“We had to plan out and execute exactly as you would have to in the real world. In fact, in the past few months I started my own business, Tea Time in Cayman, and much of my approach to starting it was influenced by what I learnt from my JA experience as a student and as an adviser,” she confirms.
Appreciating the importance of the programme, Kadi says this is her fourth year as an adviser at PwC for the JA after-school programme.
“I feel that students learn so much through this programme,” she says. “Even if they don’t end up making a profit, they learn how to get along with students who come from different backgrounds, have different ideas and still work together to plan their product, sales and wrapping up of the company. I love to see the change in students’ attitudes from their first week in JA to their last and how excited they are about their achievements and how sad they are when the programme comes to an end.”