WHEN Kadeon Grant first interviewed to become a data specialist at Digicel in 2012, she did not get the job. The fresh University of Technology graduate was devastated, but not surprised, because she knew she had not done her best in the interview. In a serendipitous turn of events, however, she was called back three weeks later and told that they had reconsidered, and would have her if she was still available. Grant is now the head of business intelligence at the communications company.
“From the junior level as a data specialist, straight to being the head of business intelligence, my focus has always been on manipulating that data for reporting and decision-making,” Grant told All Woman just after International Girls in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Day. Girls in ICT Day is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of April each year, with the purpose of highlighting the need to promote technology career opportunities for girls and women in the world's fastest growing sector.
Grant realised that she had a knack for computing while in upper school at Ardenne High, and has stuck with it ever since.
“At first I thought I wanted to become a lawyer,” the Portmore, St Catherine native shared. “I liked the idea of the courtroom and defending people, especially those who were thought to be guilty, but were innocent. But as I grew up, I moved away from that and started to focus on what I was naturally strong in — computing.”
Grant received the highest grades in subjects such as information technology in high school, and would often help her peers to understand assignments in the subject area. She continued with the course of study throughout sixth form, then attended UTech, where she read for a bachelor's in computing. She would later obtain a master's in business administration from Florida International University.
Since 2012, Grant has been instrumental in the collection, analysis and use of data for Digicel to improve its service to Jamaicans at every level. It's a challenging job, but it's one she thoroughly enjoys.
“The most rewarding part of my job is solving something that people say could not be solved. I get a high from that,” she said excitedly. “For every phone call that you make, every text message that you send, every data session that you have, there is a data record — an actual record that is saved to a database. My job allows us to know the customers better, so that we can suggest offers that are better for them.”
Grant is witnessing the shift in the ICT sector to include more women in real time, as when she started as a data specialist, her department had a 3:1 male to female ratio. Today that same department has five women to three men.
She related that it has not been difficult to establish herself as a female leader in the sector, because of her no-nonsense approach to work.
“I'm very straightforward. I don't beat around the bush, and I always have my proof,” she said matter-of-factly. “You can't step to me with something and expect that I'm going to challenge you with fluff — I'm going to challenge you with facts. In my area, once you stick to the facts, there is not much questioning that anybody can bring to you, regardless of whether you are male or female.”
While she is content with the strides she has made in the field over the last decade, Grant has audacious goals that she intends to achieve in the near future.
“I don't like to stay in a role for more than two years, and I'm coming upon one year in this role. Normally, I evaluate at the end of the first year to see what I need to put in place to make sure that by the end of the following year I'm ready to level up,” she divulged. “I would like to be a CEO by the time I'm 35. I'm 31 now.”
While she remains steadfast on her professional ambitions, however, Grant is keen on making the time for the things that are near and dear to her heart.
“I like to work out. One of my personal goals now is to lose some weight, because I put on a bit,” she chuckled, adding that she also likes to explore the island and try new things. “But because I have a high-stress job, I always have to find ways to decompress. Sometimes I take mental health days, and just disconnect from everything.”
As an ICT professional, Grant noted that COVID-19 hasn't changed much in terms of how her team operates, but it definitely showed her not to take anything or anyone around her for granted.
“Within three weeks, I had three neighbours that passed away, and it really hit me,” she lamented. “So the biggest lesson overall has been to make time for what's important, so I also try to spend a lot of time with my mom.”
Bearing witness to her mom's battle with vascular dementia for the last few years has made her even more cognisant of the need to be mindful of not just her own mental health, but that of those around her.
“It's heartwarming to see just how my family has rallied around my mom to ensure that she is taken care of on a daily basis,” the woman, who also devotes time and resources to charitable ventures, said. “So I try, in everything I do, to be kind, because everything will flow from that. Whether it's me just being pleasant in how I communicate, or just giving someone some advice without expecting anything in return. I just want to be kind.”