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Erica Taylor: The woman for the job

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Being told “it's a man's world” does not faze Sandals Marine Division's only female shipwright Erica Taylor.

Instead, it motivates her.

Taylor first joined the Sandals team at Sandals Montego Bay in her teenage years as a housekeeper on work experience. She left to complete her exams and moved on to other opportunities but always had a love for auto mechanics.

Having a father who was a mechanic, Erica wanted to learn the trade from an early age but was told, “This a nuh fi woman!”

That however did not deter her. She soon joined her brother-in-law in an auto mechanic shop where she finally learned and eventually mastered the skill.

“I remember when I first went there and told him I was ready to learn. He asked me if I was sure,” Taylor recalled.

“I told him I was so sure that I am ready that I left my job and now wanted to do this fully.”

Taylor mastered her craft in the buffing and polishing of vehicles and went back to work with Sandals in the Marine Division as a spray painter in 2008. She was also tasked with the duty of buffing and polishing the luxury vehicles used for the airport transfer of VIP resort guests. She did not settle there, however, and desired to learn the art of being a shipwright.

Through on-the-job training, and by shadowing her seniors, she quickly learnt the skills needed.

As a shipwright, she is responsible for boat restorations, fibreglass installations, ship hauling, and spray painting the company's land and marine vessels. These responsibilities also require her to be knowledgeable in ship building. Taylor is responsible for ensuring that all boats are in prime condition.

This ambitious young lady still has her sights set on more — she intends to learn how to maintain engines.

“It's hard to survive as a female in a man's world. I have to constantly prove myself so they know I am not here to play,” said Taylor.

The thing she loves most about her job paradoxically is being the only female on the team – a 16-man strong operation she describes as her family.

“Knowing I am the only female amongst all those males and I'm still doing well is definitely what I love most about my job,” she said beaming with pride.

Director of the Marine Division David Bell confirmed Taylor's commendable work ethic and hailed her as a key member of the team. He shared: “Erica is very dependable. I can ask her to do anything and I know it will be done... She is always interested in furthering her knowledge and always jumps at training opportunities. She motivates the rest of the team. I know her capabilities and she's quite well versed in what she's doing. In fact, we're about to give her added responsibilities here at the boatyard.”

Taylor admits that she has learnt a lot since being employed at the Marine Division, including the skill of servicing vehicles, and through the company's cross-training programme, she has even learnt bartending.

“I went to a staff party once at the corporate office and I noticed they could use some help in the bar,” she said. “I went to the event coordinator and I asked him if I could assist and he said, 'Sure.' By the end of the night, he was pushing me to get certified in the area through the cross-training programme because he said I handled myself very well.”

After some consideration, and having enjoyed the time spent in the bar, Taylor decided to get certified in bartending at Sandals Montego Bay.

“I worked at the Marine Division from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm and then I would go over to Sandals Montego Bay and start my training by 4:30 pm until 11:00 pm every day as I needed to complete a total of 180 hours for my certification. Sometimes I didn't get home until midnight, but I didn't mind because I wanted it and they say, 'If yuh want good yuh nose haffi run.' ”

Now a fully trained bartender, she finds joy in providing service from behind the bar, a skill she often demonstrates at corporate events.

Her attitude of determination, diligence, and thirst for knowledge have earned her the respect of her colleagues and superiors alike and she applauds Sandals for the impact it has had on her life and family, revealing that her daughter now also works in the company's procurement division.

A true all-rounder, Taylor is also a member of the company's Environment, Health, and Safety Earth Guardians programme, is an avid Sandals Foundation volunteer, and a certified fire warden and first responder.

She shared, “My plan for the future is to learn, learn, and learn. If I can develop another skill, I want to do it. I don't want to stop learning.”

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