Two star Junior Achievement alumni, Dr. Ruth Pomares and Christoph Barnett, have seen their careers take off in no small part thanks to their time spent on this vital initiative.
Taking part in the after school Junior Achievement programme while at high school, they said, helped them to prepare for their career paths ahead, having both gone on to pursue two quite separate but equally fulfilling and demanding careers.
Team work, the importance of hard work to achieve goals and learning how to adapt to changes for future success were all life lessons that have stuck with them throughout their lives. In addition, the programme prepared them for the tough world of business in a very real way, they said.
Although it has been 20 years since general practitioner Dr. Pomares was part of the Junior Achievement initiative, she still credits her participation as having an extremely positive and worthwhile effect when it came to her professional life, helping her to prepare for the many important roles she has been required to undertake throughout her career.
“Junior Achievement prepared me for many of the extra roles that I have taken on in my life outside of medicine,” she said, “such as the roles of CINICO board member, Secretary and President of the Cayman Islands Medical and Dental Society and Honourary Medical Counsel for the Cayman Islands Olympic Committee.”
At the age of 37, Dr. Pomares was part of the 1992 programme, working on developing her JA company with a group of other like-minded high school students under the supervision of various mentors and volunteers from the business community. She said the most valuable lesson that she learned from her experience was the importance of teamwork to achieve goals, while on a personal level she confirms that one particular valuable lesson has always stuck with her through the years.
“JA made me aware that one must always have a liability/disclosure clause for any product made or sold.”
Most importantly, Dr. Pomares said the entire experience while participating in Junior Achievement gave her a business approach reflected in the real world, such a clear indicator that the programme is achieving its goals of truly preparing young people for the often tough and competitive business arena. Young people are required to problem solve and develop critical thinking, independence and business acumen, all vital attributes in dealing with the “real world” once they leave school.
Twenty-seven-year-old Christoph Barnett is a more recent graduate of the JA programme, having participated in the company programme during the 2000/2001 school year. Mr. Barnett said he worked in a company called ‘Youths on the Job’ at Texaco and having enjoyed the programme, he said that he learned that to be successful meant working hard and also relying on the hard work of his teammates as well.
“I quickly learned to work with a group of new friends most of whom I had never met before,” he said. “And on a professional level, I learned the importance of adapting to the business environment and taking advantage of opportunities. Once our company saw the demand, we adapted our product mix to focus on the higher volume/higher margin product.”
In particular, Mr. Barnett added that one important lesson that he learned was that the laws of supply and demand really did matter, a crucial business approach taught to him that was reflected in the business world.
Mr. Barnett, who is now an accountant, said he enjoys giving back to the initiative which had served him so well in his own life, and now volunteers for Junior Achievement, working as a company programme adviser.
Mr. Barnett said he remembers mentor Lesley Monico as “dedicated, focused and someone who advised in a way that made the programme enjoyable”. From her days in the programme, Dr. Pomares remembers Fred Spiers as a particular mentor who made a positive difference in her Junior Achievement experience.
Both JA alumni encourage young people to take up the challenge and join Junior Achievement for the tremendous benefits that can be enjoyed and retained throughout their career.
They also confirm that volunteers and mentors will also derive great satisfaction from participating.
“It’s a learning experience for both the students and advisors,” Mr. Barnett said.