The People Who Stay
“Even in England, I classed myself as a Jamaican with an English accent,” says Lorraine Givans, the chief support officer at Destiny Achieved Coaching based in Ocho Rios, St. Ann, Jamaica. It’s been seven years since the business coach relocated to Jamaica in tow of her parents who retired to the island a few years earlier.
Although born and raised in England, Lorraine maintains, “I always felt freer here.”
That intangible was probably the most significant in her choice to leave a successful career she was fully invested in for 22 years in London, sell her home and re-establish herself in a place she had only vacationed.
“As they say in Jamaica, “From I born and have sense” I was never ‘for’ England, the culture nor the climate. I love heat. I love nature and being in the greenery,” she said.
“As a child I had hay fever and I remember that it never bothered me when we visited Jamaica, but the moment I had to return to England, I dreaded the thought of the [constant] itching and sneezing,” she recounted.
“We’ve been coming to Jamaica from I was two years old. This is home for my mom and dad and they wanted us to come and see where they were raised,” she explained.
Her mom, a British Airways employee then, enjoyed complimentary travel, which afforded the family annual trips that fostered the strong bond Lorraine developed with the island.
Of the memories she cherished on those annual visits, Lorraine says gleefully, “I remember us getting to the airport, hoping and keeping our fingers crossed that there was a seat for all of us on the plane. Then landing in Kingston was always special, because, as you got off the plane you got that heat and then that natural smell. Because I didn’t eat plane food, our first stop was always KFC, then getting to my aunt and it was always night when we arrived so there was the sound of the crickets and bugs. That for me meant that I was home.”
Those prized moments for Loraine were trumped only by the late night chatting with her Jamaican family and spending time with the neighbours.
“In the morning my neighbour would come to the bathroom window and ask, “are you up now?” I would quickly have breakfast and then I was gone for the day,” Lorraine reminisced.
Traveling from Kingston to see her grandparents in Clarendon on the market bus with all the produce and the livestock with the people was another fun adventure that made an indelible mark on Lorraine because of what she describes as the “togetherness of the people”— something else that influenced how she matured as an adult.
“I remember literally sitting on the gear stick once. Sometimes mom would put you on somebody’s lap and felt safe doing that. Looking back, it was a blessing. It showed the difference in culture and just that togetherness of the people.
“As I got older it became more and more depressing to leave. That moment of having to check for your passport and pack your bags for the return [to England] always brought on anxiety,” says Lorraine who seems to be the polar opposite of her brother whom she describes as the ‘typical English man’.
“He enjoyed the freedom and adventures in Jamaica, but when it was time to leave he was ready to go home,” Lorraine quips.
On her 40th, the senior manager celebrated her birthday in Jamaica, had a romantic connection and decided this is it. Lucky for her, her new beau had no desire to move to England. After two years of long-distance dating, she was ready to move permanently to Jamaica and build her dream home on the beach.
A restructuring exercise at her company made the decision that much easier. But her organization was not as eager to sever ties and it took 18 months before they finally accepted her application for voluntary redundancy and bade her goodbye.
“That was humbling in that they saw the value of my work and contribution,” shared Lorraine who rose through the managerial ranks, leading change management and ultimately running a unit at the time of her departure.
Significant to her professional success was her care for people and the priority she gave to ensuring her staff succeeded personally and professionally, something the senior management appreciated, having witnessed the multiplier effect on clients.
Finding Her Place
This passion to help people be true to themselves, develop their strengths and align with their goals and calling is what Lorraine knew she would continue to do wherever she landed.
Relocating to Jamaica where this passion was initially stoked and enriched by her many childhood experiences of the togetherness of the Jamaican people was simply surreal.
On finding her place in Jamaica, she said she began with a review of Vision 2030 to identify the priorities for the country’s development and how it aligned with her passion to coach others. Recognizing some of the operational gaps and challenges for entrepreneurs and organizations on the island, she focused on serving this audience.
Her practice, Destiny Achieved Coaching, now offers customized solutions for Performance Management, Supervision Management, Change Management, Team Building and Personal Life Coaching.
“I help business owners put their vision at the forefront of their lives and use the constant image of their vision as impetus for making their goals and visions a reality,” outlines her website.
“The biggest thing with Jamaica overall in relation to business organizations is accountability or the lack of accountability. It is very easy to pass blame,” Lorraine observed. To remedy this, she advocates “real change has to start at the top and bring people back into alignment with their vision so it can trickle down below and remain authentic throughout the organization.”
Reflecting on her move to Jamaica she shakes her head and says, “I wouldn’t change anything. If I were to have listened to friends and family I would not have come. But I look at the bigger picture; crime is everywhere, every city, every country has its bits but once you have ambition and approach it [the move] with an open mind, there is so much that can be achieved here.”
The key to making the transition she advises for anyone interested to followsuit,is managing expectations by “preparing yourself for whatever may come and embrace that [you] may have to ‘batter batter’ from time-to-time. That alone will carry [you] through.
“I could be having a challenging time and I sit and look out at the sea in the front or the dogs in my backyard and it makes it all worth it. I wake up every day and I count my blessings,” mused Lorraine who admits she still enjoys cross country trips on the bus to visit friends and family and “feels totally safe doing it.”