Jewel Reid's prescription

FOR Jewel Reid, every day is a new challenge as she leads her team with integrity, love, and respect for all.

"It is never the same each day," the licensed pharmacist tells All Woman, even while expounding on the importance of women building careers such as hers.

"Women are now breaking professional barriers. Like most professions, pharmacy was once a male-dominated field. It is important for us as women to take great pride in what we do, ensuring that every task completed reflects the quality of our personal brand. It is important as a young leader for me to set an example for others to come."

The 33-year-old St Jago High School alumna grew up in Spanish Town, St Catherine, and knew from high school that she wanted to pursue a career in the medical field. Now celebrating 10 years in the pharmaceutical distribution business, after starting with only one product and now offering over 140 products to treat a wide range of medical conditions, the life of the chief operations officer at pharmaceutical powerhouse RA Williams Distributors Limited has come full circle.

"At St Jago I developed a love for the sciences, especially chemistry, and I knew then that I wanted to pursue a career in the field of medicine," she explained. "At the time I had two career choices — dentistry or pharmacy. In 2008 I moved on to The University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech), where I completed my degree in pharmacy."

Jewel Reid with her brother Audley, CEO at RA Williams.

A self-confessed introvert, she said success for her is peace of mind.

"This is when I have truly fulfilled my purpose, knowing that whatever I have done, I did it with excellence and I've made a positive impact in the lives of others."

But it wasn't all a bed of roses for Reid — that climb to the top — in fact, she said two things helped strengthen her resilience: growing up with a single mother (Evelyn Williams, founder of RA Williams) and failing many times in school.

"I've watched her [mom] work long hours each day just to provide for myself and my brothers. She ensured that we had food on our table, a roof over our heads, and access to quality education," Reid shared.

"[At school], with each failure, I reflected on why I failed and how I could improve going forward."

After completing her studies at UTech, Reid went on to complete 12 months of internship, which would be her first time entering the working world. The first six months were spent at HD Hopwood, now Massy Distributors, and the second half of internship at the University Hospital of the West Indies. Throughout internship she was juggling at RA Williams, doing deliveries after work, collecting payments from some of the customers, and doing telesales in-between.

Humble and compassionate, Reid said motivation came from an unlikely place.

"I remember my first day in the field doing sales, a particular individual turned to me and said, 'Yuh can leave pharmacy school and gone work fi dat deh company deh?' At the time, the comment brought tears to my eyes. I felt defeated, but then I quickly brushed it off and moved on to the next client. Oftentimes I reflect and this incident keeps coming back, and suddenly I'm reminded about why we started. Now being able to witness first-hand, through working in retail pharmacies across the island, the impact the work we have done has had on patients, it is a huge source of motivation to see people being able to access the brands we source and distribute in pharmacies."

She said she worked the hardest in the first several years of the business.

"The first five years of being in business, this was truly a test of my faith," she said. "At times I would have questioned if it was truly worth it. Today I can smile when I look back at where we were and how far we have come."

On what sets her apart from others in the field, she lists patience.

"I'm patient and I listen attentively to come up with solutions. These are not necessarily unique to me; however, these qualities are important attributes that have helped me to achieve all that I have thus far," she explained.

"Ensuring that patients have access to quality and affordable drug therapy through my pharmacy practice [pharmaceutical distributor] is my greatest contribution to the world."

When not working, the sports fanatic — she loves cricket and track and field — may most likely be found in the kitchen.

"I like to cook, so you'll find me in the kitchen. I also like to binge watch a good series. Work or no work you can find me listening to Buju Banton's album Til Shiloh or 438 by Masicka," she shared.

Unwinding for her is also a road trip with friends — "Portland is one of my favourite places to be, with fresh air, beautiful beaches, and rivers…"

For young women wanting to enter the field, Reid advises that it's a dynamic profession in which they're sure to find success.

"There are many ways to contribute to the well-being of our nation through pharmacy practice. If this is truly your passion, pursue it," she said.


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