THE last time All Woman caught up with Natassia Barrett-Wright, it was the year 2015, and the courageous, God-fearing entrepreneur was talking about the business she co-founded with her husband — Mind Food International Limited — that aimed to encourage, inspire and train people to become leaders.
Fast-forward seven years, and Barrett-Wright believes her greatest contribution to the world thus far is helping the development of leaders both locally and internationally, so that they can be agents of change in their communities, countries and the world.
“It is important to me because I have to blaze the trail for other women to see that it is very much possible, especially having been born and raised in poverty,” she said when asked how important is it to build the type of career and reputation she has, especially as a woman. “It also puts me in a position to influence positive change in the lives of others.”
Mind Food International is now a leadership development institution and human resources (HR) consultation — “We have kept to our core and continue our work,” she said.
“Through the work we have done, we are recognised 2019 Governor General Achievement Awardees in leadership for St Catherine,” she explained. “Both my husband [Jamar] and I are United Nations (UN) ambassadors appointed in 2020; we are international speakers, we have published three books, we have expanded our business into corporate, and have been providing leadership training and conferences locally and overseas. Our flagship event, the Caribbean Leadership Summit, is well known in the Diaspora.”
Born and raised in Allman Town, Kingston, from an early age Barrett-Wright was taught true survival skills as she had to fend for herself after losing both parents before she turned 17.
Her house was destroyed by fire at age 10, and that same year, her father, a police officer, died in the line of duty. While attending Wolmer's Girls' School, her mother died when she was 16 — the weekend before she sat her CXC exams, and after her mother passed she went to live with a grandmother who died from cancer a year later.
The pain of watching her grandmother slowly deteriorating was too much to deal with, but it was at this point that Barrett-Wright, who had also experienced molestation numerous times, said she knew there had to be a purpose in her life and though she didn't quite know what it was, she became determined to find it.
After mustering up the courage to complete her examinations, she enrolled at the University of Technology, Jamaica, where she pursued a bachelor's degree in production and operations management with a minor in international business.
Today she is an internationally known author, leadership practitioner, ordained minister, HR consultant, youth advocate and inspirational speaker.
“My faith keeps me going. I know God has a great plan for me and I know that I must create a legacy for my children's children,” she said when asked what's the root of her resilience. “There is something innate in me that refuses to quit. I know that I am destined to be great, so even when I fail, I know it's only temporary.”
Her typical day is hectic, starting with devotions at 6:00 am, and ending around 9:00 pm after completing consultations, mentorship sessions, meetings and other engagements.
“I love travelling. I love that my work includes helping people change for the better,” she said. “I love speaking and most of all I get to do all these with my husband and my daughter beside me. It's the best of both worlds.”
Indeed, her greatest career achievement to date, she said, is being a HR consultant/recruiter, as since the pandemic she has been able to save many people from being jobless.
“Through helping organisations with restructuring without losing staff as well as recruiting, their families were able to survive,” she said. “While this achievement doesn't come with any accolades or trophies, I get emotional everytime a successful candidate or CEO calls me to say I have assisted them in some way. I believe this gives me the fuel to keep going. To know that a family can eat because the breadwinner can still provide... that's what's amazing to me.”
As a UN Peace Ambassador Barrett-Wright was carefully selected to help focus worldwide attention on the work of the UN. “My assignment is with a special consultative body that works towards furthering socio-economic causes globally,” she said of the esteemed appointment.
And after all she's done, it's not over yet as, “I'm just getting started”.
“I haven't built our Mind Food training institute as yet. We haven't put offices physically to other countries as yet and I certainly haven't employed professionals in the hundreds of thousands. Believe me, I am just starting...” she gushed.
Because for Barrett-Wright it's simple — “I want to be the voice that breaks the status quo.”
“[That's] the voice that tells them to never be normal and don't settle for anything. Also the voice that tells them not to quit and keep God first in everything they do,” she explained.
For Barrett-Wright, success means “fulfilling your purpose, maximising your potential and leaving a legacy for the next generation”, and that's what she's aiming towards.
Her lived experiences help — “they have a kept me grounded”.
“I have sympathy for hurting people because I have lived a hard life. I know pain and I feel for young ladies who struggle with insecurities and shame. My experiences, although so painful, have helped me to remain humble in the face of achievement. I will never forget where I am coming from and what I have been through,” she explained.
And so she specialises in teaching about purpose and destiny as well as how to evolve into the leader one ought to be. She travels the world and shares her story in book form — From Tragedy to Triumph.
The mom of seven-year-old Amiyah lists her favourite quote as, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world” by Mahatma Gandhi, and she advises young ladies, who may be trying to find themselves, like she once did, to trust God.
“He reveals all things in due time. Find your identity in Him and fulfil the assignment that He has laid on your heart to do. While this may be very hard, it is possible. A relationship with God is the start of all things great,” she said.
As she looks back at 2021 — “a year that has taught me to learn to turn my back to the crowd” — and looks to 2022 and all it has to offer, Wright sees this as her “breakout year”.
“I cannot be everyone's cup of tea, nor will I ever be,” she mused, reflecting on last year. “I have learnt to accept that and move on. To achieve anything great, it requires focus and process but it also includes walking my path, even if I do so alone.
“This is my breakout year — breaking away from limitations and things that would subconsciously hold me back from launching out fully. I am approaching the year fearlessly and leaving no stone unturned. Looking forward to the economy bouncing back fully, less crime, more health, wealth and a strong relationship with my maker.”