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Celebrating Dedicated and Devoted dads - Part 2 - All Woman - Jamaica Observer
All Woman

Celebrating Dedicated and Devoted dads - Part 2

 

Ryan Chung, manager - debt, Capital Markets Unit, JMMB Group – Jamaica

Child: Max, two

How have you had to shift gears to navigate your roles as a dad and a professional this year?

Even though my work environment provides flexibility, there are circumstances which require long and dedicated hours. I am therefore thankful I have a good support system at home, with my wife, Desiree, who also balances the role of mother and professional with me, allowing me to focus on work in a dedicated way, when necessary, without worrying about Max's well-being. Navigating through this new paradigm of working from home, I find it increasingly important to differentiate between working hours and family time to ensure that I can be my best in each area. I therefore try to keep these times separate.

No doubt, the pandemic would have made you spend more time with your kid/s over the past year and a half. What's one parenting/life lesson that you've taken from the experience?

I have learned to slow down and make every moment count. The pandemic has changed life in ways we never thought possible. It has definitely increased family time and I have enjoyed spending this extra time with my family and making memorable moments with my son. I may not have been afforded the opportunity if the world had not forced us to slow down. I am grateful for this silver lining.

What's your daily work schedule like, and how is your son incorporated?

Fortunately, I am blessed to have a good support system, in the form of grandparents and aunts, from both sides, as they assist during the work week with caring for Max, allowing me to focus during work hours on the task at hand. I have an extremely active son so I give thanks for their support. On some days, my wife Desiree, and I tag team to ensure we can both get work done while seeing to Max's needs.

How would you describe yourself now as a dad, compared to the man you were in 2019?

My son was born in 2019 so it was all new to me and a different ball game, having only played the role of a father figure or older brother as a mentor at my alma mater, Wolmer's Boys'. Since then I have had to learn and develop as a dad; it is ever evolving as he also develops. Given his dependence on me, it has made me more responsible and mindful of my actions, especially with COVID-19 lurking.

What's the biggest change that has happened in your professional life, and as a dad, because of the pandemic?

Generally, I have had to balance my work life and personal life in a more deliberate way, ensuring that quality time is spent with the family since work life has shifted to the home. I have had to find innovative ways and methods of socialisation for my son. He loves the outdoors and it has been difficult in this 'new norm' so we have had to socialise within our trusted “bubble”, ie, play dates, learning activities, walks on the lawn, out-of-town getaways, to name a few.

How has your JMMB work environment helped you to navigate your role as father and team member in the pandemic?

JMMB provides great flexibility and support throughout the organisation. JMMB has done as much as possible to ensure their team members are mentally, physically and emotionally equipped to manage during this unprecedented times. From inception, JMMB has been proactive in implementing the work-from-home initiative, provided access to counselling for team members, and most recently implemented the required COVID protocols for the reopening of the nursery. Kudos to the team.

What would you say makes you qualified to be described as a dedicated and devoted dad?

It's simple, just show up – show up as a dad, show up as a playmate, show up as a friend, show up as a provider and, most importantly, show up as a role model.

 

Steven Whittingham, chief operating officer, GraceKennedy Financial Group

Children: Leah, 10, James, seven; Adam, four

The last 15 months were defined by work from home and no business travel. Well-established routines changed overnight and as a family, the Whittinghams had to create new ones. But Steven Whittingham says he has enjoyed getting the opportunity to spend more time with his children as they attended classes online from home.

“Unexpectedly, working from home resulted in longer working hours, but just being able to see the kids throughout the day, sometimes only for a few minutes, made the experience very manageable,” he shared.

“I count each minute I get to spend with my kids as a blessing; the last year has taught me not to take my time with them for granted.”

Fir this dad, his day starts really early in the mornings, usually by 4:00 am. This allows him to spend time with his children before school.

“During the day, the kids are welcome to come into my home office if they need to and yes, they have interrupted many meetings … especially Adam! Since I start early, it usually means that I'm able to get through my workday and finish at a reasonable hour so I can spend time with them in the evenings. It also means that sometimes I fall asleep before they do!”

Asked how he would describe himself now as a dad, compared to the man he was in 2019, Whittingham said his approach as a dad hasn't changed.

“But I'm much more in tuned with my kids now than I was in 2019 because of all the time we've been able to spend together,” he said.

Professionally, learning how to effectively manage teams remotely was the biggest change that has happened in his professional life because of the pandemic.

“And as a dad, the biggest change has been offering the additional support that the kids needed while going to school online. It's not easy to get a three-year-old to sit in a Zoom session for five hours and I certainly don't recall the coursework in grade four being so challenging!”

This dedicated and devoted dad says, “I'm not sure I'll ever be fully qualified to take on the awesome responsibility of being a dad, but I just love my kids with all my heart and try to make sure every day that they know how much I love them.”

 

Jeremy Owen, General Manager, Sales and Distribution, Digicel Jamaica

When he's not ensuring that Digicel customers get the best in-store experience while switching to Jamaica's Fastest Network, Jeremy Owen, the company's General Manager for Sales and Distribution, enjoys spending downtime with his two adorable children.

Children: Jared, 11 and Justin, three.

How have you had to shift gears to navigate your roles as a dad and a professional this year?

As both my sons have been doing remote learning or in the case of my youngest son, little or no school at all, I have missed the few times per week I pick them up from school. This meant that I have had to ensure that when I come in from work in the night, I have conversations with them on whatever is on their mind or is the hot topic in Jamaica or worldwide.

No doubt, the pandemic would have made you spend more time with your kids over the past year and a half. What's one parenting/life lesson that you've taken from the experience?

The additional time with my sons has allowed me to appreciate the individuality of their respective personalities, I have more patience, listen more keenly to what they have to tell me, and also the extra time has made me understand and appreciate more the role my wife has played in their development and upbringing.

What's your daily work schedule like, and how are your kids incorporated?

I generally work between 8:00 am and 7:30 pm. I have worked from office during the entire pandemic. Lots of meetings/meeting calls, discussions with both internal and external stakeholders and several reports analysing various KPIs. Usually around lunch time, I will call home and speak to my sons about what they have been up to.

How would you describe yourself now as a dad, compared to the man you were in 2019?

I would say I am for sure a better dad in terms of my communication and time spent with my sons. That being said, I am making it a point of duty to be even more involved and to dedicate more time to outdoor activities as the country begins to open up.

What's the biggest change that has happened in your professional life, and as a dad, because of the pandemic?

The biggest change in both my professional life and as a father as a result of the pandemic would be that I am now more thankful for all my blessings.

What would you say makes you qualified to be described as a Dedicated and Devoted dad?

The life lessons taught, the time taken to explain and describe the simple things of life itself, the encouragement given when the boys doubt themselves, the push in terms of the importance of exercise and being healthy, and the financial planning for their future endeavours.

 

Andrew Nigel Sydney Allen, Best Dressed Chicken Relationship Manager – North Coast

Children: Abigail, 22 and Brandon, 15

How have you had to shift gears to navigate your roles as a dad and a professional this year?

The unique challenge of not being able to interact with my customers face to face has meant shifting to the digital space. Also, while my daughter is a working adult here in Jamaica, my teenage son is overseas with his mom. Of course, the difficulty here is that I am no longer able to travel the way I used to, so I have not physically seen my son in over a year.

What's one parenting/life lesson that you've taken from the experience?

My daughter is now an expert cook because of the pandemic. She now looks forward to going in the kitchen and cooking for dad. One life lesson I have taken from all this is that quality time with your children can bring out talents and strengths that even they did not know they had.

What's your daily work schedule like, and how are your kids incorporated?

My daily work schedule pre-pandemic meant getting out on the road and interacting with my customers. Current pandemic work life has been heavily digital, so I ensure I get my workout in early (around 5:00 am I'll go for a run) followed by a quick breakfast. This gives me the energy I need to settle into work from home life. My daughter is also working and doing school online, but when we both have free time, we find somewhere to go (within the confines of the protocols being observed)… whether up in the hills or to another kind of remote location, that's where we go. We also spend a lot of time in the kitchen. When it comes to my son, we talk frequently online; he updates me on everything that's happening in his life… whether school, track and field or otherwise. I even have to say hi to his dog. We enjoy connecting on FaceTime. The video call has proven to be the most important component of maintaining our long distance relationship.

How would you describe yourself now as a dad, compared to the man you were in 2019?

I'm more creative now. You literally have to think outside of the box to find special ways to connect with your kids. Finding things to talk about that really matter to my teenage son and thinking through the difference of connecting with my adult daughter has become very important. There's a solution to every problem and I believe I have become more creative in staying in touch with my kids.

What's the biggest change that has happened in your professional life, and as a dad, because of the pandemic?

Definitely the shift to digital and in fact, we have been encouraging family and even customers that we have to go this route to stay safe.

What would you say makes you qualified to be described as a Dedicated and Devoted dad?

I think I am just a positive person. This whole thing has proven to be a traumatic experience for most people. A dedicated and devoted dad cannot focus on the negative. This too shall end. There's a problem, let's find a solution.

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READ:

Part 1

Part 3

Part 4

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