For more than half of her life, she has been tasked with helping to sell Barbados to the rest of the world as a destination of choice. Although in secondary school and at university she studied what she was “good at” – the sciences, Roseanne Myers, 56, knew deep down inside that she wanted a job that would allow her to interact with people, share culture and take on a lot of responsibilities.
So, as fate would have it, Myers went in search of that opportunity the same time Atlantis Submarines decided to set up an operation in Barbados, and the two happened to collide. But that was after the company she was working for at the time decided to pull its Barbados operations.
It was after studying chemistry and bio-chemistry at the University of the West Indies, that Myers started her working life in the field of manufacturing as a process engineer, before moving to quality control manager at the then Intel Corporation’s local plant. But on December 1, 1986, her career path took a turn, and she was hired by Atlantis Submarines Barbados Inc. as the marketing manager, to help lead the charge in growing the new company as a major attraction for tourists and locals.
With a lot of excitement, Myers grabbed the opportunity and started her marketing campaign, knowing this was a first for the island, and an area she was confident would do well for tourism. And once the first vessel arrived in mid-December, Myers was well on her way with introducing the Barbadian population to the new water attraction. “So we have been here for half of the time as Barbados has been established as an independent nation.
And we have helped to fuel that independent spirit to grow and demonstrate that Barbados has the capability to run a product at this level,” she told Barbados TODAY at her Spring Garden office. It was her duty to know all about the vessel in order to sell the concept to people, and while her role has changed to general manager, Myers still believes she has a duty to sell the tourist attraction as well as the island.
Myers, who has been married for over 30 years, said prior to getting involved in the tourism industry, she had no thoughts of it. But once she got her feet wet, she realized it was a perfect fit for her. “When you think of most things in tourism, very few things were new innovations and the submarine was certainly one – designed and manufactured in Vancouver, Canada,” she said.
Describing the tourism industry as an exciting one to be in at the moment, the Christ Church resident said being general manager did not stop her from “taking on many other roles” in the small company, pointing out that a part of her job was to make the company more visible. Myers currently manages 28 staff members. A part of her role is to keep abreast of the key performance indicators, while working closely with all other departments to ensure that the company is operating at its best at all time. For five years in a row, the company received the Green Globe certification, after being the first attraction to receive the Green Globe and Green certification double award in 2009.
“I am very much in touch with my management team with what is happening on the ground. From a marketing perspective, every day I am looking for opportunities. That is what I spend most of my time doing,” said an assertive Myers. “So the involvement is very much hands-on,” she said. She is also the one who interacts with guests online who have had a good or bad experience and choose to share it. “So that is my day, hands-on, to make sure that we are doing what we know we can do best . . . I have some really good people.
They keep everybody safe and really happy,” she said. With signs of renewed confidence in the Barbados tourism product, Myers now spends a lot of her time figuring out how to tweak the product and get more people interested in it. “I love this job, I love the people I work with and I enjoy coming to work. I have, I would say, a pretty good time. I like to keep busy. I am driven by the fact that every day I have productive work to do. I am very goal oriented,” she said.
“I have taken on a couple of other things recently which keeps me a little bit busy. But it means I have to be a little more organized in my personal life in terms of what I do and when I do it. That keeps me driven. I just enjoy it,” said the mother of two – actor Marcus Myers, 24, and Dr Alanna Myers, 26. As for gender parity in Barbados, Myers believes the island is doing exceptionally well when it comes to women in both junior and senior positions in the tourism industry. Her advice for both men and women is the same.
“I am not saying to the young women to go fight for anything more than I am telling the young man he has to fight for. Women need, like men, to go into a workplace or go as a young entrepreneur, set on out on their own, put their best foot forward and do the best they can. They need to take advice, yes, but they also need to follow their gut and do what their instincts tell them,” she said.
“I don’t think 20 years from now we should be dependent only on tourism. I would like to see tourism being maintained as very important and grow in terms of its contribution to GDP, but I would like to see parallel industries come up and triple the benefit, not one taking over from the other,” she said. Focused on doing the best she could at all times in order to “get ahead”, Myers has never known whether others were behaving towards her in any particular way because of her gender. “Any challenges or issues that I have faced because somebody perceives that as a non-male that I should be one way or the other I have really never spent a lot of time thinking about, to be honest, and I believe I have had opportunities driven by many people.
I have been very fortunate in that I have seen support from men and women and continue to see,” she said. “So I look forward in a way that I feel that I have something to offer to young men and young women because it is about being a professional and being the best that you can be in whatever industry. “Discrimination and bias of any kind is something we have to watch for, but I cannot say that anybody has ever tried to hamstring me because I am a woman.
And if that was the case I didn’t notice. No chip on my shoulder. I have had support from both male and female, but I do know that those issues exist,” added Myers. The tourism official, who is a spectator of all sports, said she believed “very strongly” that decisions were better made when there was a mixture of both men and women with equal abilities, who were highly professional and focused. “So I am not necessarily one to say you should throw a woman in or two, because you want gender mix.
If they are not qualified and competent I would prefer you not to put them in. But the truth is Barbados has enough qualified, competent, academic, good practitioners in just about every field that a fairly even mix is very possible,” she said.