Alana Lawrence — Success through hard work

All Woman

Alana Lawrence — Success through hard work


Monday, September 21, 2020

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THE impact that parents have on their children's chances of becoming successful should never be taken for granted, and Alana Lawrence is testament to that. Failure was just never an option for the youngest child born to a school principal and a court administrator in Black River, St Elizabeth. Lawrence, who now serves as corporate manager for equity in a leading financial institution, credits her success to her parents' keen attention to her education.

“My father has a love for math, and all of us children adopted that love from him,” Lawrence told All Woman on the eve of her 37th birthday last week. “From an early age, he would have me doing computations — full pages of calculations — helping him to complete things that he had to do for work. I had to solve them and write them out very neatly, with no errors. That helped to develop my skill set and the love for the subject.”

Lawrence's mother also ensured that she and her two older siblings performed well academically, even if it meant they had to spend extra time at the table to complete homework, take extra lessons, or enrol in summer school. Though Lawrence had not the slightest clue what career she wanted to pursue, she knew that the possibilities were endless, with a solid education.

“They drilled in us from an early age that we needed to be independent, and that education is the key to independence,” she said in reflection. “I just knew that I had to do my school work and do it to the best of my ability.”

So after graduating from Manchester High School with excellent grades, especially in mathematics and the business subjects, Lawrence set off to The University of the West Indies (UWI) to read for a degree in actuarial science.

“But while at UWI, without that direct parental supervision, I got lazy,” she snickered. “I was struggling academically, so I changed course and ended up graduating with a degree in mathematics, but I still had aspirations of working in actuarial science.”

She started her first job after university in 2004 as a customer service representative in the claims department of the Insurance Company of The West Indies, where she stayed for six years.

“But I didn't have a sense of accomplishment, and I felt that there was so much more that I could do, so I decided that I wanted to transition into finance,” she related.

So in 2008 she obtained a certificate in Jamaican securities from the Jamaica Institute of Management and soon thereafter landed a job at Mayberry Investments as a research analyst.

“I worked in various capacities in the research department at Mayberry. It was a good experience, and an excellent learning ground for me. Research gave me a good platform to transition into other areas within the financial industry,” she said.

Investment banking was one area that she became exposed to while there, and she soon came to realise that she loved that aspect of finance.

In 2017 she found a new home at Jamaica Money Market Brokers (JMMB), where she still is today. She entered as a senior analyst in the capital markets unit, and has since been promoted to corporate manager, equity. Despite taking the long road after diverting in university, she is back on the path that a degree in actuarial science would have probably taken her.

“But my degree in math has allowed me to explore and discover another path, which I still enjoyed thoroughly,” she said, sharing that she was content with how she has grown. “Sometimes I believe that I haven't grown as quickly as I could, or I hadn't been consistent or disciplined enough at times to position myself to grow as I could, but there are times when I realise that I am getting too comfortable and I need to step out of my comfort zone.”

Having been married for six years, Lawrence, who is pursuing the Chartered Financial Analyst exams, devotes her time to work, church, her studies and her husband Xavier.

“The exams can be really intense, so at times my husband doesn't get a lot of attention, but he holds down the fort and he supports me in whatever I'm doing, so that helps.”

As a sports fanatic, Lawrence tries to get in a healthy dose of play, and standing at 5'10 she is an asset to JMMB's netball team. Now that social distancing has interrupted her game, she unwinds by touring the less popular attractions on her island home.

After her mini birthday staycation on Wednesday, Lawrence said her future plans are not set in stone, but she plans to continue walking any path that allows her to grow.

“I like learning, and I'm in an environment where I'm consistently learning, so that gives me a sense of accomplishment. I'm happy about where I am now, understanding that there is still more for me to do,” she said evenly. “I am looking forward to growing further in the financial industry, particularly in investment banking. It's a very wide area and it can be very dynamic. It forces you to become creative, and that's something I enjoy, and I want to learn as much as possible.”

Lawrence still has the support of both of her parents, who are just entering their 70s, guiding her through adulthood.

“We have a very close relationship, and they are a big part of my support system,” she said proudly. “My mother has set a standard for me. She is a strong woman and she always bounces back from adversity. She is always busy, and she knows how to create something out of what you thought was nothing. In my mind, I have to live up to her standard or even do better.”

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