Cheriese Walcott’s sound leadership
Cheriese Walcott (Photo: Joseph Wellington)

ONCE solving problems and offering a helping hand are involved in anything that she does, Cheriese Walcott would always be eager to take on those opportunities.

That’s why it was easy for the 42-year-old to love her job as chief executive officer and commissioner of lands at the National Land Agency (NLA).

“I am determined to get things done. Most of my life, I have always been very goal-oriented even as a child, setting my own targets. I like to solve the puzzle and get a solution and I think that is one of the things that has really followed me from high school to college, to the working world,” she told All Woman.

Admitting that she was fixed on working and gaining experience at the agency for three years then moving on, Walcott ended up being there for 17 years.

She earned a spot at the agency in 2005 as a legal officer two, then climbed up the ladder to the post of legal officer four in 2009. In 2013, Walcott became a manager and registrar of titles before acting in her current position.

“It was a combination of hard work and taking advantage of opportunities that came up because if people didn’t move on there wouldn’t be any position for me to move up in. It was all about being there at the right time and working hard to get those opportunities,” she said.

Dubbing herself as a ‘NHT baby’ since she was exposed to her mother’s work at National Housing Trust (NHT) for over 30 years, Walcott said she knew any job dealing with land was always her passion.

“My mom worked in the Clarendon Branch Office at NHT, so I grew up around housing and land and I saw how important it was to the average person to own a piece a land and to own a home,” she said.

“For most people, buying a house is one of the greatest transactions they would do in their entire life, whereas for me and the knowledge I garnered at the titles office, it was a simple matter, but it is to help them to make sense of that. I do take joy and satisfaction in being of service and helping people and as CEO, it gave me a wider platform to continue that,” she added.

Noting that her role as CEO is not only about overseeing the titles office, Walcott said she also takes pleasure in delivering good service.

“For my day to day life here it is far more administrative. It consists of Zoom meetings morning to evening, a lot of e-mails — on average I am responding to 500+ e-mails in a week. It’s also about having that collaboration [with people] and I do enjoy that as well. As CEO, part of my duties is to reach out to other CEOs at other entities to form partnerships,” she explained.

And when the job gets extremely difficult, Walcott said her attitude of optimism and great team members always helps to manage the stress.

“You know when you have those days when everything seems to go wrong? I think what helps me to manage it is having people I can rely on. So picking the team around me that will support me and they are there for me and knowing how to stand quickly on my feet and manage crisis helps. You have to be very good at that and I think because I think quickly on my feet, and I don’t allow the pressures of work to crush me — if something happens, in my view there is always a solution and so I am going to find it,” she said.

Additionally, family life contributed to her development throughout her career.

Walcott grew up in Lionel Town, Clarendon, then moved to Old Harbour with her parents in order to complete secondary education at Clarendon College.

That was before she went on to study for two years at UWI’s Cave Hill campus in Barbados, one year at UWI’s Mona campus and two years at Norman Manley Law School to complete her Bachelor of Laws degree.

She said she and her brother were always encouraged to achieve success.

“We have a very tight-knit family. We are very close to our parents, we speak everyday, we have that family support,” she said.

“I also think my mother has set my work ethic. Even how she operated between home and work and balancing both, inspired me to do the same. So having that support at home gave me the confidence to basically go for what I want. Seeing how my mom handles that work and home life inspired me, they accept me for who I am and I think that support is what gives me the confidence to go out there and do the best I can,” she said.

Amid the demanding work hours in ensuring she gets the job done, Walcott said she always looks forward to spending time with her six-year-old daughter and relaxing for fun.

“She is my boss, she likes her own way but it’s wonderful because she is her own little person and enjoys that family life. I enjoy being at home with her in the evenings and on weekends and I also enjoy my KFC, watching TV and being a homebody. I think that ability to step away from the role and the title is what keeps me grounded,” she said.

Brittny Hutchinson

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