The smile on her face, the sparkle in her eyes and the enthusiasm dripping from her voice tell you that Althea West-Myers loves her job as Business Advisory Services Manager at the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC).
“Entrepreneurship and business development are my passion and I have not been able to leave for the past 10 years. I feel like I have a mandate to equip entrepreneurs,” she tells the Jamaica Observer.
But business wasn’t her first love; it was writing. So much so that she dreamed of becoming a journalist or a lawyer.
“I never realised I had an interest in business. I had finished my first degree in psychology and grown an interest in human resource development. While working at JPS (Jamaica Public Service Company Ltd), I accompanied a friend of mine to register for a Master’s programme at UWI (The University of the West Indies) and I enquired about the MSc in Human Resource Development. However, that programme was closed and they advised me to pursue the MBA instead,” she said.
Armed with a Master’s in Business Administration, West-Myers had her sights set on forming her own company to focus on organisational development. However, she responded to a vacancy advertisement for a business development officer at JBDC and landed the manager’s position instead. Thus begun her journey as a business development expert. West-Myers knew she had to learn the discipline quickly, so she took advantage of every opportunity to develop her skills by constantly researching markets and attending global conferences in countries like America and India. Benchmarking soon became her mission; comparing whatever was being done in Jamaica to what was happening overseas.
“Knowing has always been my competitive advantage. I tend to know more than the average person in whatever I’m involved in because I’m always studying and researching. The more I learned, the more I applied, and the more relevant JBDC’S services became. I recognised that thought leadership was critical and once I got into that habit, I knew we could lead the sector in things like the entrepreneurial mindset; the difference between entrepreneurship and self-employment, incubators, clustering, and so on. JBDC led those conversations in the early years,” she said.
As JBDC grew, so did West-Myers.
Althea West-Myers is a MSBM alum, she holds an MBA with a specialization in Human Resource Management.