In celebration of Cayman women

International Women’s Day took place on 8 March with a number of events held across the Island in celebration of women, marking March as International Women’s Month. Women have traditionally been the backbone of industry in Cayman, from decades ago when Caymanian men went to sea and women were left holding the fort at home and in the workplace. Nowadays Cayman still has more than its fair share of strong, independent women who have played a major role in the business world and are role models for young women today.

Shruty Garrison, owner Icoa and Gawk & Leer

Who were your earliest influences career-wise and how did they help you shape your career?

My mom was a huge influence, she is very creative and always focused on quality of things, this became a natural path for me to follow.

What drives you to achieve every day?

I guess the sense of accomplishing something that did not exist until you create it.

What advice would you give young women at the beginning of their careers today?

Take pride in what you do – it represents who are you are on the inside.

Focus on quality – you will attract the right clientele.

Appreciate your mistakes – they are invaluable lessons.

Jennifer Dilbert, information commissioner

Who were your earliest influences career-wise and how did they help you shape your career?

My mother, and my great-aunt Evie (Mary Evelyn Wood, National Hero). They both taught me by example that with hard work and determination I could achieve whatever I set out to do.

What drives you to achieve every day?

As a Caymanian woman, I am passionate about helping my people and my country in whatever way I can. I also want to be able to work to a very high standard in all that I do.

What advice would you give young women at the beginning of their careers today?

Do your very best at all times; be open to learn from others and believe in yourself!

Dr. Sook Yin, Seven Mile Clinic

Who were your earliest influences career-wise and how did they help you shape your career?

As long as I can remember I have always wanted to be a doctor to help and to heal. I have always been very curious on how the body works and how different disease process affects each organ. My family used to despair as I would pick up dying or dead animals and bring them home to treat them and if they didn’t survive I would dissect them to see what brought upon their early demise.

My grandma, who left her family and all her worldly belongings in China to flee the Communist regime of Mao Tse Tung was my earliest influence as she empowered all her children and grandchildren that education and freedom of speech is something that no-one can rob you of as it will always remain with us. She made sure that girls and boys alike in our family were given equal opportunity to receive the highest education that we are capable of.

What drives you to achieve every day?

What drives me to achieve every day is doing the best for my patients! I am very humbled that my patients have this faith in me as their doctor and trust me with their family and their lives. The moment a patient walks into my office, he or she bares their soul to me, seeking advice on their condition and I, as their doctor, am charged with this responsibility to help them and if I find that I don’t have the capability to treat them, I have to make sure I refer them to the right specialist who can. It’s a daunting task and I, as all doctors, take this very seriously when we took the Hippocratic Oath.

What advice would you give young women at the beginning of their careers today?

What I will advise any young lady who will embark in the medical profession is: work hard and go for it. As females, we already possess the nurturing and caring attitude that is so needed to care for people who are ill. As doctors, we are very lucky as I think we have 100 per cent job satisfaction in what we do; there’s never a dull moment as one never knows what the next patient who walks through the door will present with and to be able to diagnose and cure these patients is something that one cannot attach a price tag to. When I went to medical school in the 1970s probably only five to eight per cent of my year were females and I am delighted that 30 years on, there are now more than 40 to 50 per cent of medical students are female.

Monique MacDonald, Insurance Managers Association of Cayman chair and senior vice president, Global Captive Management

Who were your earliest influences career-wise and how did they help you shape your career?

Some of my earliest influences included my mother, Mona Banks-Jackson, who began her career as a postal clerk and retired as the post master general of the Cayman Islands. She taught me the value of hard work and perseverance as well as importance of compassion and honesty in our everyday life. I also was inspired by the successful endeavours of Naul Bodden and Carlyle McLaughlin. Both were former partners at Ernst & Young, where I worked during summer holidays beginning in high school and all throughout my time at Baylor University. I joined E&Y full-time after graduating with a Bachelors in Business Administrative and was employed there for four years. My experience there provided me with the stepping stones to my current career path.

What drives you to achieve every day?

I would say that I am driven to achieve by a strong work ethic instilled in me by my mother as well as my own stubborn determination to succeed in my endeavours.

What advice would you give young women at the beginning of their careers today?

My advice for young women today is in the form of a list as there are a number of things that I believe are important in achieving professional and personal success:

Actively pursue opportunities for further education – both in terms of university degrees, professional qualifications, work experience, language courses and world travel.

Cultivate friendships with people who are genuine, kind and supportive – it is true that you are the company that you keep.

Do not take professional criticism negatively, but use it as inspiration to improve.

It is true that opportunity sometimes only knocks once – grab it with both hands.

Nothing in life is free, be prepared for work for your success. And trust me, the sense of accomplishment that you will gain is worth it.

Never give up. To quote Confucius, “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall”.

Cindy Scotland, managing director, the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority

Who were your earliest influences career-wise and how did they help shape your career?

The earliest influences on my career came from my family. I was taught that the key to success is hard work, dedication, loyalty and integrity. My success is directly linked to these traits.

What drives you to achieve every day?

I am driven every day by the desire to ensure that all the children of the Cayman Islands are given hope and afforded every opportunity to ensure they excel. I also feel it is vital that as successful Caymanians we act as role models for our youth. They have greater hope if they know and can relate to the role model.

What advice would you give young women at the beginning of their careers today?

Stay focused and always be confident in yourself. We are blessed in Cayman to have the freedom and opportunities that we have as women but though not as obvious as in some other countries, women in Cayman still face equality challenges. Let your views be known. Do not become intimidated or made to feel less important. Ensure you have a sounding board/support person as it makes some days easier.

Sheena Conolly, owner/broker, Cayman Islands Sotheby’s International Realty

Who were your earliest influences career-wise and how did they help you shape your career?

My father was a well known soccer star and owned a sports business throughout Ireland. I worked with him from a young age.

He represented some very good brands such as Puma & Slazenger. I was very fortunate to attend world class conferences and seminars early in my career. I also visited manufacturing plants and experienced the production of goods from the source to the consumer. I can vividly remember cricket bats being made. We attended sports events such as Wimbledon and visited the corporate booth where we saw the presentation of specific ads that had been created at the marketing session. Tennis balls that were visually made into strawberries and cream! We were sales targeted, my dad was a popular character and his company worked all over Ireland, north and south, which was also rare in those years. Our clients were retailers from different borders with very different views and I had to get along with everyone, which was a lot of fun and a lifetime lesson.

What drives you to achieve every day?

I have always been driven and busy with an immense energy that requires to be challenged. It is in my personality, if I am going to do something, I want to excel -I can’t help myself! I am a workaholic, play-aholic and sports-aholic! I have built my company from scratch in a short time in an extremely competitive and challenging arena and I am proud of that. I have taken a few of the bitter knocks of real estate along the journey. In many ways the business of realty has taught me more about people that I could ever have imagined – I thought I knew that department inside and out!

I am a natural sales person who loves to find the right fit for purpose and thrive on success. Nowadays I am also driven by my overheads which get me up every morning and are staggering!

What advice would you give young women at the beginning of their careers today?

Work hard with integrity, be respectful and creative. Try to experience as many different things as possible within your chosen field and understand how they link together. Push yourself to be the best you can and always dawn a positive attitude. Take advantage of opportunities offered, even if they make you nervous. Believe in yourself and be determined.

Sophia Harris, managing partner, Solomon Harris

Who were your earliest influences career-wise and how did they help you shape your career?

I would have to say my mother was my earliest influence (not working was not an option for her) and both of my parents stressed the importance of education. My principal Bruce Putterill at, what was then Hunter and Hunter, however takes full responsibility for shaping me into a lawyer (with no shortage of perseverance on his part!). The support of my husband and my children however, is invaluable.

What drives you to achieve every day?

There is obviously a vested interest in seeing the firm that one has started from inception, succeed and move from strength to strength. I was fortunate in this regard having received the full support of my husband during the initial formation of the firm. However, equally as important, if not more so, one very much feels the weight of responsibility and obligation to one’s partners and employees.

What advice would you give young women at the beginning of their careers today?

Don’t take your chosen career or any training that you are offered for granted and absorb as much as you can from the outset. No education, in whatever the form, can ever be wasted. If you remain in employment with a firm, such diligence will serve both you and your employer well. If you move on to start up your own firm or business, it will be invaluable and if you decide to stay home and do the hardest job of all i.e. to be a stay at home mother, it will no doubt help to positively shape your children and their lives.

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Shruty Garrison

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