PASSIONATE, motivated, confident and team- oriented are a few words that aptly describe one of Sandals Negril's top employees and recently appointed Resort Sales Manager, Afiya Henry. The 27-year-old has made significant strides during her tenure with the company, which has resulted in her transitioning from line team member to middle manager in just a few years.
Henry's journey to becoming one of the hospitality industry's brightest stars started with Sandals Resorts International five years ago when she assumed the position of entertainment coordinator (playmaker) at the then Sandals Dunn's River. She was responsible for coordinating activities for guests on resort, guest engagement, designing and creating pieces for major events. Having only recently read for a degree in psychology at the Wesleyan College in Georgia, the former Titchfield and Meadowbrook High School student says it was psychology and her love for people that drove her into the hotel industry and entertainment.
"This is a people-driven sector and I am very sociable. I also liked the idea of becoming a playmaker because I loved singing, dancing and the arts. I worked in a reggae band as singer and drummer throughout college and I'm also from a very artistic family. I was happy to grab at an opportunity that would allow me to use these assets to continue to delight others," she said.
The well-rounded and creative Scorpio, who is always one to surpass boundaries and embrace new challenges, says after a year in entertainment she felt she "needed to be doing something more". Sales, at the time, presented itself as the perfect avenue for self-actualisation and Henry spent at least four hours each day (outside of her shift) for six months cross training in that department. However, eight months after successfully settling into her new position as a junior sales executive, the resort announced its intention to close.
"At first I felt despondent because I was having a great time with this new opportunity. I didn't know where I would end up or what I was going to do, but I knew that I wanted to stay within the Sandals Group, because there were a lot of possibilities for growth. I kept an open mind and continued to work and train with the senior sales executives. I also looked at new ways to improve my skills, make myself more marketable and come up with creative ideas to revamp and enhance the performance of my department," she shared. This commitment to her job, despite the resort's imminent closure, led to a transfer and promotion to senior sales executive at Sandals Negril.
Today, two years later, in her current capacity as resort sales manager, Henry oversees a department of five and consistently builds and maintains relationships with travel agents and tour operators, plans special events and develops and executes strategic business plans for boosting on-property revenue.
"She's very competent and an excellent performer with the requisite skills, attitude and knowledge... definitely someone that others can emulate," said Sandals Negril general manager Andre Dhanpaul.
Henry's willingness to learn and train other team members has not gone unnoticed by her colleagues and recently, she accepted and added the role of one of Sandals Negril's department trainers under the Sandals Corporate University to her repertoire.
"I am a big advocate for staff development," she said. "I consistently try to bring my team to a certain level where they are more marketable."
The purpose-driven Henry has her sights set on transitioning into executive management in a few years.
"I surround myself with positivity and I have a strong support system at home and at work. I have no doubts that I will hold a senior management position in the Sandals chain one day," she said.