Careers & Education

Nichola Simmonds Gordon makes corporate climb

From financial advisor to unit manager

BY PETRE WILLIAMS-RAYNOR Career & Education editor williamsp@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, September 09, 2012    

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NICHOLA Simmonds Gordon joined the staff at Sagicor Life in 2005 as a financial advisor. Fast-forward seven years and she's been promoted to unit manager at the insurance company's Ocho Rios branch.

The 32-year-old Marymount High School graduate, who holds certification in computer technology and supervisory management, has credited, among other things, her commitment to realising targets for her promotion.

"In one of our one-on-one discussions, my branch manager, Mavis Ferguson, thought I was suited for this position because of my leadership, results-oriented, interpersonal, and conflict resolution skills," Simmonds Gordon told Career & Education.

The confident young woman believes she brings to the position — which she officially assumed on August 1 — her "managerial skills, charismatic personality and a wealth of experience in the insurance industry".

Simmonds Gordon, who admitted to being excited about the promotion, said her new duties include recruiting and supervising members of her unit; assisting with branch operations, including keeping track of the branch production figures; social development; and "co-ordinating activities that foster camaraderie".

Although her responsibilities have increased, the married mother of one relishes the challenge.

"[As a financial advisor], I was assisting clients to develop a rounded financial portfolio. I provided them with financial solutions as it relates to life insurance and investment products offered by Sagicor," Simmonds Gordon said.

The Highgate, St Mary native said she eagerly anticipates the hurdles that will have to be crossed in the coming months as she seeks to add value to her company.

"I look forward to developing the agents under my supervision so that they will continue to be ranked among the leaders in the industry," said Simmonds Gordon, who will monitor the work of six employees in her new role. "[I also want] to foster a driven and sociable work environment [thus] creating a more motivated team."

Ultimately, she sees herself in senior management in the company.

"That is, I am currently the unit manager, so my goal is to move to the agency manager and ultimately the branch manager," Simmonds Gordon noted.

A former Courts Jamaica and Sanson's Realty employee, she said she has long been attracted to the insurance sector.

"I have always been the kind of person who wants to assist people and this industry gives me the opportunity to do just that, that is, provide people with a positive solution in challenging times," she said.

Simmonds Gordon has advised others striving for a promotion to "work hard, be focused, have a positive attitude and love what [they] do".

"I would not say I was working for an appointment per sé; however, when I was elected, I was grateful for the opportunity," she added of her own move up the ranks.

In reflecting on her journey to date, Simmonds Gordon said she is pleased with her progress.

"The road has not always been easy, but having a strong Christian beliefs makes it easier. I have enjoyed wonderful moments, such as qualifying for The Million Dollar Round Table as well as Sagicor Century Club. Also, last year when our branch won the President's Trophy, just being part of a successful, hardworking team made it very memorable,' she said.

"I have no regrets. If the experience was a bad one, I try to learn from adversity," Simmonds Gordon added.

At the same time, while not discounting the value of academic qualifications to success in the workplace, she noted that there is much to be said for having a positive attitude. Simmonds Gordon has urged youths to take a cue from that.

"I feel your attitude will always determine your altitude. Being successful is much more than academics, it's knowing what you want in life and working hard to achieve it; it's going the extra mile and being a team player. Most importantly, you also have to love your career and be passionate about what you do," she said.

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