Growing up, Tracey-Knight Lloyd was always passionate about serving others. Today, whether she’s at home tickling her beloved, autistic son Ade during playtime, or in the boardroom designing strategies to satisfy customers and clients, she’s making it happen.
This International Women’s Day, the 39-year-old newly appointed Vice President of Customer Experience at Sagicor Insurance General tells women everywhere to work hard, love people and be authentic.
In fact, these are among the principles Tracey lives by as she continues to make her way up the corporate ladder.
“I am a fair person and I also believe in hard work. I believe in being your authentic self, and strong ethics. You have to have faith and you have to believe that things will go the way you want them to go and things will work out for you.”
The tenacity Tracey displays, inside and outside the boardroom, was nurtured by her parents who refused to let her escape hard work.
“I often say my mum and dad were my career coaches. My mom and dad would insist that I have a summer job and I remember working doing a little volunteer work. Even if I wasn’t getting paid, they made sure that I put in the work and even when I pushed back on them and I would say, ‘but mum, I am not getting paid’, she would say, ‘well, you don’t know anything’ and my dad would say ‘you may have this degree but you really don’t know anything, you don’t how to work, you now have to understand’.”
With a chuckle, she remembers her introduction into the world of work at JER Associates, under the guidance of Ricardo Blackman and Reudon Eversley.
Her summer jobs extended as far as Jamaica, at one of the leading media companies, the RJR Group where she did her internship, a requirement of the Mass Communications programme at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus.
“It was pretty much a fantastic foundation.”
Tracey successfully completed her Bachelor’s degree with Upper Second Class Honours and returned home where she reluctantly took up the post of reporter at the state-owned Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).
“I did not want to work at CBC; I will be honest about that. My parents took a picture of me the first day and if you see that picture, I was so depressed but CBC turned out to be one of the best things that could have happened to my career. It was an excellent foundation in terms of everything that I do now. You see how one should treat people; you understand the culture of Barbados and good communication. I think CBC was one of the best things that happened at the end of the day for me as a young woman,” she said.
This was only the beginning for the determined young woman who wrapped up her media career and took her skills to Sagicor for six years where she served as a Brand Specialist before breaking away from the insurance industry to join Duty Free Caribbean, which trades as Cave Shepherd, as Director of Marketing.
“That was an amazing experience for me because I felt I needed to have another industry experience as a marketer . . . Retail and financial services are really different and it was good for me to have that exposure, but I went back home, as people would say, to Sagicor and it is a company I have grown to love. I am very comfortable with the brand. I believe in what Sagicor stands for and what Sagicor represents, not only here in Barbados but across the Caribbean and that is where I am now.”
After serving as Assistant Vice-President of Marketing for just over three years, Tracey was promoted in January and became Sagicor’s youngest vice president in Barbados.
“I am learning, observing and listening at this stage, and we are looking to make sure that we have the best customer experience ever. We are doing a pretty good job but we want to improve and those are some of the things that I have to look at now. So my career has been a learning curve in every sense. I’ve tried wherever possible to learn new things in the position and open up myself to new experiences. I’ll never stop learning.”
Tracey says she’s been fortunate enough not to face pressure in the male dominated sector, particularly since quite a few women hold prominent positions at Sagicor. But she acknowledges that it remains a challenge for other women.
“I know that sometimes in an organisation you may see a woman being assertive and it is called aggressive and it’s not so for men. But personally I have not experienced any gender biases at Sagicor.”
On the job, she focuses on keeping the company on a competitive edge and developing and mentoring others to excel.
“Anyone who has worked for me or worked along with me would know that I share openly, I encourage people, and I motivate people. I am that type of person both in my personal and professional life. I believe in sharing and assisting people wherever possible and helping them to reach their potential,” the executive says.
Tracey insists that success is within the reach of any woman who is willing to learn the business she enters and nurture strong partnerships.
“You need to know your industry, you need to know the business you are in and you have to pay close attention to relationship building because you don’t know where your next opportunity is going to come from. So good, old hard work accounts for everything and be mindful of how you treat people.”
But even with her impressive rise in the corporate world, and an enviable resume that includes a Master’s degree in Marketing Management from the University of Surrey, Tracey does not hesitate to say none of those is her greatest accomplishment.
At the center of her world, is her son Ade whom she describes as her blessing.
“I am very aware of what the requirements are for me as a single mother with a child with autism. I think that has defined me a lot and it has made me even more ambitious than I would have been before,” she says.
The proud mother admits that caring for an autistic child is anything but easy, but she makes it happen by embracing the support of family and friends.
“I had to let go of the sense that I am not being a good mother because I am reaching out for help; that’s not true. People want to help you and I would say that I have an amazing village. I have my parents, my relatives, Ade has a great therapist and teachers and everybody chips in for Ade’s development. Ade is at the center of the village and everybody assists me. I have tremendous support.”
This experience is nudging Tracey to add another project to an already busy lifestyle, but there’s no stopping this powerhouse who wants to help families living with autism.
“One of the things I would like to do is to form a support group for moms of children with autism. It is something that Barbados needs and I know I just have to make it happen. “
In the meantime, Tracey, who is a member of the Rotary Club, is continuing efforts to raise awareness about autism. She is presently leading a project which will be launched May.
She encourages all women to use their abilities in whatever area they choose to make life happen by working hard, believing in themselves and taking care of both body and soul.
“One of the things that Barbadian women do is that they sacrifice so much that they tend to forget about themselves. I want Bajan women to stop that. Self-care is self-preservation; it is not being selfish because if you are not happy within yourself, you can’t be a good mom, you can’t be a good employee. From the time you believe that your world is open, from the time you believe that you can create the type of world that you want, everything falls into place. That, and a lot of faith and prayer and you are moving forward.”
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