Beaches Negril's Imari Dawes overcomes odds, gains respect and admiration

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Beaches Negril's Imari Dawes overcomes odds, gains respect and admiration

Thursday, October 15, 2020

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NEGRIL, Westmoreland - Two promotions in quick succession, one of the most coveted awards given to employees at Beaches Negril — the Diamond Team Member of the Year — and the respect and admiration of many are now a part of the story of a once shy and harshly bullied Imari Dawes.

A native of Cooke Street in Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland, the 25- year-old graduate of Savanna-la-Mar and Frome Technical high schools did not have it easy growing up. “I am and was always overweight. That, coupled with a major speech impediment, made me the source of laughter throughout primary and high school. I remember being constantly referred to as fat boy or stammer,” shared Dawes.

This incessant bullying created a very shy young man, who would stay in the shadows and never participate in activities or events for fear of being laughed at.

But that was then, as the now more confident receiving clerk at Beaches Negril has continued to grow into his own since his journey began as a hospitality trainee at the resort.

“I still experience some level of anxiety if I have to speak in a space with a lot of people, but I have come a far way. Believe me,” said Dawes.

He was encouraged to shed his introverted and timid persona when his job demanded of him to be in constant interaction with others, and now Dawes finds himself communicating with a host of people, ranging from suppliers, managers and team members.

“During my six weeks of the hospitality training programme, I had to answer phone calls and talk to a lot of internal and external customers. I was afraid to, but the then senior cost control clerk and my mentor Dennis Hendricks kept telling me I had to and I could do it. This helped me to start feeling comfortable and confident in my social abilities,” Dawes shared.

“Imari was really shy. I remember him being afraid to take on any major tasks and responsibilities. He was the trainee who needed a lot of attention, especially due to his fear of speaking, which led to him stuttering even more, but we never gave in,” revealed his former trainer Dennis Hendricks.

“He had such great potential and he was willing, just afraid. After a while he started accepting responsibilities and no longer needed supervision. Imari meets every single deadline, and if you show him a particular way to get something done, he will find an easier and smarter way to do it, and it is being done to the absolute best of his ability,” continued Hendricks.

Following his six weeks of training, Dawes was offered the opportunity to fill in for a cost control team member who was away from work. He then worked as the store room clerk before being promoted to his current role as receiving clerk.

Not only has Dawes worked towards overcoming the harsh effects of bullying, he was also forced to prove to himself that he wasn't a failure. This, after missing his chance of attending the University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech), because he wasn't able to pass mathematics at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) level.

“I received conditional acceptance at UTech to pursue my degree in business administration but I failed math twice. I was good at the subject, but I had a bad case of exam nerves and could never get past that. Now I look at how ironic it is that I have a career in the accounting field and I do a very good job at it,” he explained.

Beaches Negril finance manager Loy Samuels-Landells described Dawes as a diligent and attentive member of the team who does an exceptional job in his current role.

“He is always willing and flexible. You can always count on him to ensure his area is covered, even if he has to come in on his day off to do it, he will without being asked to. He definitely has a bright future ahead of him,” said Samuels-Landells.

Dawes still has a deep desire to continue his education, but doesn't intend to leave his job. “I love what I do and how much I have grown in this company. I also appreciate being able to continue working as this COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted so many plans, but I am enrolled in the Sandals Corporate University to achieve my dream for higher learning and that is what I plan to do,” he noted.

Dawes shares that his appreciation for tourism has increased significantly, especially after being forced to stay home for some time due to the pandemic.

“The closure of our hotels affected me financially and emotionally. I remember being so worried because this is my bread and butter and I felt burdened with so many thoughts. Thoughts of how I would manage if I lost my job and concerns about how soon the country and tourism sector would reopen. I can tell you that after being called back to work a few days a week on a small team, while we were closed, was a blessing. I was so thankful for my earnings then, even though it was less than I was used to, I was overcome with gratitude for still being able to earn something,” he explained.

Dawes is happy that he is now back to work on a full-time basis and shares that although the new protocols implemented have been somewhat of a learning curve for him, he has adjusted quite well and is satisfied with how invested the company is in guest and team member safety.

For the former Diamond Team Member of the Year for Beaches Negril, his hope is to join the company's revered Management Training Programme and continue on his path of personal and professional development.


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