Retirement Function For Ms Margaret Rose Barrett

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Retirement Function For Ms Margaret Rose Barrett

General Manager, Jamaica National Building Society
To address the
Retirement Function for Ms Margaret Rose Barrett
JN Representative, Tamarac, Florida, USA
Friday, September 10, 2010


Tonight we are here to celebrate with…and pay tribute to our colleague and friend, Margaret Barrett, who has given almost a quarter century of her life in loyal and faithful service to the Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) in our homeland, Jamaica, and here in the United States of America.


Margaret, you have helped to guide our organisation through more than two decades of steady growth and development; and I am sure that there are many people in this audience who are not happy to see you go; but, at the same time, they envy the fact that your time is now your own…and you can do all those things that you promised yourself to do, “when you find the time.”

We are happy that many of your relatives, associates and friends are here tonight…and we invite you, your son Bertrand, and other relatives, to stand…and be recognised by your associates and friends. (Lead applause)

Margaret joined Jamaica National at the Chief Office in Kingston in 1987, as Manager of Personnel and Training. Our Assistant General Manager, Llew Bailey…who is here tonight… interviewed her for that post…and was impressed with her gentle, but total command and ease…at taking on the responsibility to guide and shape the development of the human resources in our organisation.

It was a time when the Society was expanding…and we wanted to ensure that we had the right people in place to continue to move our operations forward.

At Jamaica National we recognise that ‘people are our greatest asset,’ hence the Society’s commitment to the building of social capital; and empowering our people to find their way, with the help of scholarships, book grants and bursaries.  And, we encourage our employees to pursue continuing education…to ensure that they can contribute to enhancing the products and services of the organisation.

Margaret brought all the right skill sets to her position in the Society; and was, therefore, able to design and conduct Training Needs Surveys; as well as to implement a variety of skill training programmes.

Based on her work with the Society, she was subsequently elected Chairperson of the Training Committee of the former Building Societies Association of Jamaica’s Training Committee; and became a very active member of the Jamaica Association of Training and Development (JATAD).

Over the years, she has been highly commended for organising excellent staff awards functions; and for her contribution to the official opening of our main office at Half-Way-Tree.  In fact, the story is told that some time in 1990, after returning from her vacation, Margaret received a memo from the then Finance Manager, who reminded her, that, “there was no gas allowance while on vacation…”

In her reply, she advised the Finance Manager as follows:  “I proceeded on two weeks’ vacation leave; and, during the first week, I spent every day on the road in connection with the staff awards function.”  And, that was the end of that matter.

Prior to joining the Jamaica National, Margaret held many senior positions in the Jamaican Civil Service. She was Senior Personnel Officer at the Ministry of Education; and later, Senior Conciliation Officer in the Ministry of Labour, to name a few.

She also brought a wealth of experience in the area of adult learning to the Society, having devised content, and lectured at training courses and seminars conducted by the Civil Service, the Jamaica Police Academy, the 4-H Clubs, Jaycees of Jamaica, and the College of Arts, Science and Technology, now the University of Technology.

And, she played an integral role in piloting training programmes under the auspices of the then Building Societies Association of Jamaica; as well as, many programmes conducted internally by Jamaica National.

Employees in our organisation attest to her capacity for hard work, her diligence in training, and willingness to go that extra mile to achieve targets; as well as, to help them to understand and meet the increasing demands of our expanding organisation.

Two years after she joined Jamaica National, Margaret Barrett completed her BSc. degree in Social Work at The University of the West Indies; and in 1998 she achieved her Masters in Human Resources at that same institution. Naturally, her own matriculation at the graduate level served to enhance her performance in the workplace.

Some of the people in this room may recall that the era of the 1980s was not too dissimilar to this post-Jamaica Debt Exchange, JDX, period. Indeed, it was a time when bauxite production in Jamaica declined, even as tourism emerged to become the second most important sector in our economy.

However, the country could not escape the structural economic problems, which was affecting other developing countries…and by the end of 1986 Jamaica had compiled a very large external debt.

In that same period our Building Society…which had already completed several mergers with other parish building societies; and had followed Jamaicans in the Diaspora, to establish Representatives Offices in the United Kingdom, Canada and subsequently in the US.

Ms. Barrett, who had established herself as a vital person and reliable manager in our operations, was in the vanguard of this outward movement. In 2003, she started the New Year right, as on January 1, she was appointed Chief Representative Officer for the newly established Jamaica National Florida Representative Office, now located in Tamarac – Fort Lauderdale, here in Florida.

Our objective was to offer sound financial advice about saving and home ownership to our nationals who had come to the US to improve their economic status and seek a better life and to help their families back in Jamaica.  The members of the Jamaican Diaspora here in South Florida, based on their proximity to their homeland, continue to support the idea of returning to Jamaica and making a contribution to the development of our country.

And, for many, this is realised through their investments in home ownership, businesses; returning to the island to live; sending remittances to support their families; as well as, encouraging their American friends and relatives to visit the island.

Despite this, it is apparent that, even today, while living in US and making significant contributions to their families in Jamaica, some persons in the Diaspora have not been able to properly establish themselves either as US citizens and take advantage of opportunities here; or not being able to fully exploit their Jamaican citizenship and take advantage of  opportunities there.

The transition to United States of America gave Margaret the opportunity to carry the Jamaican flag further afield; and to carve out a niche for Jamaica National, in the ever-expanding Jamaican Diaspora community, here in South Florida.

During the past seven years, as our Chief Representative Officer, she has fostered mortgage brokerage and refinancing in accordance with the rules and regulations governing our operations, here in the USA.  And, we have experienced a steady growth in the number of our people who save their hard earned funds in US or Jamaican currency back in Jamaica.

Most of all, Margaret has maintained critical links with Jamaicans who reside in this ‘Sunshine State’, through the many events such as our hosting of our Outlook for the Future series of social and economic forums; and the mounting of specific events, such as the Economic Seminar that was held earlier this year at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. And, while these events have served to provide some solutions; we also know that they are but the tip of the iceberg…and can help people to find their way.

Over the years, Margret has also made significant contributions to her Alma Mata, The University of the West Indies, serving that educational institution as President of the Florida Chapter of the Alumni Association.

And, in May of this year, she was recognised by the Florida Chapter of the Association with the Leadership Award, for “her exemplary example to others…”

Ms Barrett represented Jamaica National on the Greater Tamarac Chamber of Commerce; and, through that entity, was instrumental in positioning ‘Brand Jamaica’ not only to Jamaicans overseas; but, also to Americans and persons of other nationalities, here in South Florida.

In May 2005, Emile Spence, her then supervisor, commended Ms. Barrett, with the following words, “Margaret has carried out her functions and responsibilities proficiently and achieved all, but one of her targets.”  He went on to say “…she had an excellent year and involved her team in all areas of operation.  Her interpersonal abilities have benefited the organisation, and she continues to promote the awareness of JN Florida through her community efforts.”

On the personal side, Margaret is a music enthusiast, who enjoys listening to jazz and the classics…in the company of close friends…and enjoys a good party. Her choice of music reveals her own acceptance of traditional forms, the ability to accept change, and the desire to enjoy the resonance of sounds, which brings harmony into one’s life.

Ms Barrett worked in the capacity of Chief Representative Officer in Florida from January 2003 to July 30, 2010; and during that time she has contributed to improving the experiences of Jamaicans in the Diaspora; while paving the way for our country to benefit from the tremendous intellectual, cultural and financial wealth of our people in the Diaspora.

Throughout these many years, her life has touched the lives of many people helping them to achieve their goals and objectives, as she in turn fulfilled her personal ambition to accomplish a job well done, on behalf of Jamaica National.

Her training skills were always present in the workplace, and those who came under her sphere of influence speak kindly about her own capacity for work, even as she inspired them to excel.

It is our hope that Margaret will continue to consider herself a valued member of the Jamaica National Building Society…and that she will continue to visit our offices here in the US and Jamaica, and become a member of the Jamaica National Pensioners’ Association… an organisation she envisioned and worked hard with others to put in place.

Margaret is indeed the type of person for whom retirement is not the end; but a beginning. And we wish her well in all her future endeavours.

Margaret, in the words of our own cultural icon, Miss Lou, “Walk good!”

I thank you…

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