Career & Education

Microsoft gifts Sutherland employees

BY FALON FOLKES
Career & Education reporter
folkesf@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, April 15, 2018

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Four Sutherland employees received a pleasant surprise on Thursday when they were each presented with a US$1,500 scholarship, courtesy of Microsoft to assist with their university tuition.

The special announcement was made at Sutherland Community Technology Centre's (CTC) graduation at Mona Baptist Church in St Andrew.

The Jamaica Observer spoke with Alex Henry, one of the recipients who was forced to take a leave of absence from his general management studies at the University of the West Indies due to financial constraints.

“The scholarship is just giving me a boost to continue where I've left off. I thank Sutherland and the Microsoft staff for giving us the opportunity to do that,” he said.

The young man, a customer care specialist for Sutherland, said the company has provided him with the tools and skills needed to move forward in life.

“[Being part of the Sutherland family has improved my life,” he said.

“The CTC graduate programme allowed me to change my mindset about personal development. I found out about the programme in 2017 through social media [and] what I realise is that sometimes we don't really understand the opportunity, but we (need to) just grab it as it comes, and see how best it pushes you,” he continued.

The other scholarship recipients are Rohanya Gordon, Jamar Mowatt and Kadiann Edwards-Pryce.

Sutherland CTC Manager, Paula Hurlock told Career and Education that Microsoft offered the scholarships because some of its representatives, while on a visit to its office, were impressed with the progress of the programme and its graduates.

“The visitors came and they saw the impact and the effort that these young people were struggling with. They shared their dreams in a face-to-face meeting. These guys went back and three weeks later they called us back and said, 'Listen man, we want to give them',” she said.

“Not many of our CTC graduates have the qualifications or the nerve to apply to a tertiary institution. These three did. They did not know where the money was coming from; they applied in complete faith. I think that's what influenced Microsoft to say, 'Wow, let's help to make their dream come true'.”

Also Thursday, Sutherland announced plans for new partnerships with 360Recycle Manufacturing and Agency for Inner City Renewal (AIR).

“Sutherland is big on partnerships. We forge partnerships of all kinds to be able to advance our agenda, which is to reach as many youths as possible to have as great a social impact as we can. Our social impact usually focuses on empowering youth and providing certification, and providing job opportunities for them. So we've now taken it one step further in that we want our social impact to now be impacting the environment while providing employment opportunities,” Hurlock explained.

She said the organisation is still in talks with AIR, but shared a few details about the arrangement with 360Recyle.

“360Recycle Manufacturing is a social enterprise. That means they were geared specifically to have a social impact. They've created a technique to convert plastic bottles and styrofoam into beautiful pieces that are saleable. They also do outdoor furniture. In supporting this company, we are also impacting the environment in a favourable way, providing and impacting the ability of marginalised youth to generate an income,” said Hurlock.

As part of the partnership agreement, Hurlock said Sutherland will loan their employees to do voluntary work with 360Recycle.

“In fact, Earth Day is coming up, and we are looking to get a set of volunteers going down there. We have to support initiatives like that which are impacting the environment socially.”

Sutherland is a business process outsourcing company with more than 60,000 employees worldwide. It started operations in Jamaica in December 2012, and has locations at The University of the West Indies, Mona Technology Park, New Kingston, and Mandeville. Its CTC programme

Microsoft Digital Certification trains previously unattached youth in personal development and offers Microsoft digital certification. Several are later placed in internship positions at Sutherland.

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