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Tuesday Transformation - Shakira Simmons

Customer Service Representative, Hyuna International Ltd

Who is Shakira Simmons?

I am a very soft spoken person who loves to see others excel. I am always looking to move up to the next level, this can be life challenges or education.

What does a typical day for Shakira look like?

I work as a Customer Service Representative on the grave yard shift. My time is spent assisting customers with their queries and concerns. This involves finding the best resolution for the customer.

We know that you lead a busy life, please share 2 time management strategies you utilize.

In my very busy life as a single mother and balancing work, the two time management strategies I use are prioritizing my time to make sure the activities I have set for the day are done and organization.

Name 2-3 people who have been the most influential to you and why.

Mrs. Melissa Millar. She was the first manager in my life who showed me the value of great ethics and uplifted me through some of my personal life challenges.

Michelle Obama who shows me why you should not limit yourself as a black woman.

Did you encounter any stumbling blocks during you career journey?

At age 17 I started my career path fresh out of secondary school. You may ask so why not go to university or college or any of the career institutions and grow from there. Well, life has a way of taking you through another course of life rather than the traditional way.

I started as an intern at a well known event facility, where I got a hands on look into the operations of various departments: Sales and Marketing, IT, Accounts, Human Resource, House Keeping and Administration. While there, it allowed me to explore the field of work and I felt a passion for Administration.

After there I went into government where I gained most of my experience in Administration and growth in the work environment. But unfortunately this came to an end in 2013 when government made their first retrenchment. I was part of that group, what a sore and heartbreaking experience. So I was home for awhile and depressed because during that time a lot of businesses were not hiring and when I did come across a position, it required xyz years of experience and xyz qualifications. My years of experience in the Administrative field was not enough and neither were my qualifications.

So I went to the Barbados Community College (BCC) and applied for an Associate Degree in Office Administration and Management. During the application period I got pregnant, so that was put on pause until the baby came. I thought my career path came to a permanent halt due to having a baby. At this point I was having sleepless nights and depressed because I was unemployed with a baby.

Later on I was given an opportunity in Retail Sales. I was very nervous because at that time I had no knowledge of sales and this was a complete twist. It certainly was not the career path I had in mind at all. I worked in this industry for almost 3 years and found a love and passion for it. I loved assisting my customers, learning about new products and creating team work with some of the best colleagues I worked with. Although this was a different path in my journey, it did not stop me from pursuing my associate degree at BCC which I did while working. But this path in the retail industry came to an ugly end where it appears my hard work and time was not good enough even though I felt in my soul I was giving 101% and more.

However, this did not stop me from once again looking for another job in the area of Administration - believing that my chances would be better since I had the qualification and experience. But this too was very depressing - sending numerous applications, no responses no call backs and a lot of "We found someone for the position". Ahhhhh, I felt like I was going mad and just wanted to give up.

Then an opportunity opened as Customer Service Representative (CSR) which I did not prefer but these were desperate times due to finances. So I took it and made the best out of it. While there I was still searching, yes I had this job, but I was not happy. With my skills, knowledge and experience I was not able to show none of what I could offer at that establishment. After applying while there, within 6 months I found a great opportunity within the same field of Customer Service (where I am now); but it gives me the opportunity to show what I can offer. I am currently happy where I am right now.

In life things may look down and nothing is happening in your favour. If my departure at the retail store did not happen, I wouldn't be where I am today. Also, if I was at either of these 2 establishments I would have been laid off based on the COVID-19 pandemic. Thank God that where I am, we are given the opportunity to work from home and still have an income.

My advice to you is to never give up. You may feel like you're at the end and just want to quit, but hang in there. Keep going, keep pushing, keep exploring other options. You just need that foot in. Once you're in, shine above all obstacles and move up the ladder, do not look back. It may take you places that you never thought of.

What keeps you motivated?

The future for my daughter keeps me motivated because I want to give her a better life.


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