Career & Education

From inner-city kid to management trainee

Carnel Smith makes the cut

Sunday, February 17, 2019

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WHITEHOUSE, Westmoreland — Each year, hundreds of intelligent young people from all walks of life, with stars in their eyes and fire in their hearts, apply for the Sandals Resorts International Management Trainee Programme. Only a select few, those with that special something, are chosen.

The programme is an intense, two-year undertaking that allows young professionals an opportunity to be fully immersed in hotel operations and be trained in their chosen area. During the period they work in various hotels within the group, after which they are called upon to fill management positions within the company.

Among those recently selected is 22-year-old Carnel Smith, a senior sales executive from Sandals South Coast who has been steadily working his way up the career ladder.

When Front Office Manager Paulette Lewis came across Smith, then an Amway sales representative working on a road show in Savanna-la-Mar, she knew she had struck gold. The seasoned hospitality professional was so enthralled was with the bright -eyed, super convincing salesman that she immediately invited him to join her team.

“I'm not one to be easily convinced, but Carnel managed to do just that,” lewis told the Jamaica Observer recently.

“I felt there was something special about him and I knew that if placed in the right environment, there would be no telling how far he could go.”

That is how Smith came to be part of the Sandals team.

“Actually, at the time when I did the interview there were no vacancies at the front desk and I started as a bellman,” he said. “I didn't mind being placed at the bell desk because it was more important to get my foot in the door. At the bell desk is where I discovered my passion and love for serving people and, as they say, the rest is history,” he added.

Speaking of history, Smith's isn't much different from that of many young men growing up in Jamaica today. He was raised in a single-parent household, with his mother trying her best to make ends meet. They lived in the Dalling Street area of Savanna-la-Mar, which has a high crime toll.

Where Smith was different however, is that he managed to avoid the wrong side of the law, even while several of his peers did not.

“Life was difficult, but my mother did an amazing job, and she made many sacrifices to ensure that my siblings and I never missed a meal or school. She taught us to always stand-out by being honest and dedicated to each task set before us,” the young man said.

He pointed out, however, that while his life experiences have taught him to be humble, the urge to be the standout best has never failed to manifest itself in his life.

“I don't like comfort zones,” he says, ”I'm interested in growth and development and if that means moving out or on, that's fine as long as I'm moving forward.”

Not only did he move on to the front desk, he was eager to learn all the responsibilities of his new department, and then some.

He soon became a first class front office agent, then later transitioned into the thing he loved the most — sales

“I love sales and I love Sandals Resorts International and the opportunities they afford young people like me,” Smith told Career & Education. “Ultimately, I want to become a business development manager, and I figured that the best way to get there is by becoming a part of the world's best sales team — to gain the knowledge, exposure and experiences that any sales-savvy individual should possess.”

As a senior sales executive at Sandals South Coast, Smith has gained tremendous exposure in not only maximising on-resort sales but also in building strong relationships with travel partners. With his outstanding performance and support from the tutelage of award-winning Resort Sales Manager Simone Grey, Carnel has also helped his team become resort sales team of the year.

“Now it's time for me to challenge myself even more ,” said Smith.

As a management trainee, he will soak up a holistic learning experience that encapsulates the varying cultures of the Caribbean, as well as a broad spectrum overview of hotel operations, from teams of seasoned hospitality professionals.

“I believe that if you want to become the best, you have to align yourself with the best,” he said. “So I'm in this programme to learn everything I possibly can, and to garner the necessary skills I need to become not only an avid hospitality professional but a great leader.”

More than the need to fulfil professional goals, Smith has a few things to prove: “Imagine being told over and over again that 'Yu nah come to nutten'. That, above all else, has been my greatest motivation, and I'm on a mission to prove all my naysayers wrong, while aspiring to inspire.”



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