Ajago Sawyers: A journey through the arts and towards leadership
IT is said that the desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul, and 24-year-old entertainment supervisor at Beaches Negril, Ajago Sawyers has yielded to the call to create.
Starting his Sandals journey as an animator at Beaches Ocho Rios at the young age of 18, the Heart Trust College of Hospitality Services graduate shares that he always knew a career in the arts was his heart’s greatest desire.
Looking back, Sawyers admits that at the start of his career he was always holding back from showing his true potential. However his ambition, propelled by his constant growth as a team member with the Sandals and Beaches brands, gradually manifested and saw him furthering his youthful dreams. Back then, orchestrating outreach projects in his community of Stewart Town in the parish of St Ann, Sawyers organised an entertainment events team for other community youth which offered job experiences in the field. This later became a stepping stone for the youngsters who wanted careers in the tourism industry, many of whom have themselves become Sandals and Beaches Resorts team members.
“Growing up, my community was known for various crimes and I wanted to shed a positive light on my hometown. I would often sit with the youngsters and motivate them to aim for the best. Determined to keep the momentum going even after I started working with Sandals and Beaches, I started initiatives such as the Ms Stewart Town Pageant and other activities where I would get influential community individuals to be involved,” Sawyers shared.
Even with such initiatives under his belt, Sawyers maintained that he was still somewhat shy but with a burning desire to grow, he leaped at the opportunity to apply and join the entertainment department at Beaches Ocho Rios in 2018. Although many saw his potential and offered roles in other departments, Sawyers declined, noting that he knew performing and the arts were where his soul felt most fulfilled. In the same spirit of self-fulfillment he once again dove deeper into his calling when he was given the opportunity to transfer to Sandals Ochi Beach Resort.
For Sawyers, though he was in the same position at his new resort, the transfer was a push in the right direction. “It was this transition that boosted the confidence in my leadership skills, and with the encouragement from my senior department managers I enrolled in the supervisors’ training offered through the Sandals Corporate University at the resort,” Sawyers shared.
Becoming more comfortable in his job, Sawyers was then tasked with the responsibility of make-up and costume maintenance when he joined the brand’s task force team during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. This gave him more exposure as he was able to work at various Sandals and Beaches resorts across Jamaica.
“When I received this new assignment I was in awe of how much I had learned and grown with the company. It was such a great feeling to know I was being given the opportunity to build on my skill set. One of the highlights for me happened during the pandemic when I was placed in charge of doing the make-up for all the performers in a video shoot. Seeing my name in the credits was definitely a defining moment for me,” a beaming Sawyers reflected.
With this added boost in his confidence Sawyers returned to Sandals Ochi in 2020 as entertainment supervisor, assisting with leading the team in their day-to-day on-resort activities while still deeply involved in youth initiatives in his community. Reaching what he would have then considered a comfortable point in his career, little did Sawyers know his life would be severely impacted by what he considers a life-changing experience.
Venturing out to procure items in preparation for one of his nightly resort shows, Sawyers was abducted and robbed and in that moment, feared that he would not make it out alive.
“When they decided to let me go I was robbed of everything, including clothes. I was assisted to the police station and when I got back to the resort I remember all I wanted to do was to perform. For me, the stage was my safe place and that was the only thing I felt could help me through that time,” Sawyers added.
“Following that incident, the support I received from my resort and corporate office family to ensure I was doing well both mentally and physically was constant, but I also felt I was ready for a change. This change came when I accepted the offer to transfer to Beaches Negril as the entertainment supervisor, where I have made my home since 2020,” Sawyers shared.
Now a force to be reckoned with on his resort, he has admitted that his time with the organisation has presented him with opportunities to bridge the gap between that reserved young man who started with the company in 2016 and the man with vigour who now assists in leading the Beaches Negril entertainment team diligently.
“I believe I am known for keeping the team sharp, not only where their duties are concerned but in the way they present themselves. I also spend a lot of my time designing and making the costumes they wear for events and performances. I also always keep my team involved in the decision-making process and ensure they are comfortable with letting their own voices be heard; giving them the same outlets I desired when I was younger and received when I started with the company,” Sawyers added.
Specially mentioning his previous managers, Nakoy Asher and Sasha Lynch, Sawyers added that they were pivotal in his professional and personal growth. When asked what is the one thing he would share with his 18-year-old self, Sawyers said, “I would encourage my younger self to continue pushing, believing in myself, and staying true to who I am.”