Supreme Ventures Limited President and CEO Ann-Dawn Young Sang recently took a team of her executives out of the boardroom and to the Courtyard by Marriott Kingston hotel for a lunch date with 10 Wolmer’s Preparatory School students.
The students, many of whom are being prepped for the Primary Exit Profile (PEP), welcomed the Jamaica Observer Applaud It! luncheon which allowed them the opportunity to break bread with executives and pick their brains while they were at it. And this they did, as the enquiring minds certainly held their own while engaging the executives in between a fabulous lunch courtesy of the Courtyard Marriott’s Executive Chef David Wellington.
Wellington welcomed the students with a well-appreciated ‘amuse bouche’ cups of hot chocolate topped with whipped cream and sprinkles. This not only warmed them up but put them in relaxed mode for the fish croquette first course and the start of their etiquette lesson led by Jamaica Observer Senior Associate Editor – Lifestyle & Social Content and Applaud It! conceptualiser Novia McDonald-Whyte, the students got hands-on help with napkin placement, knife and fork use and general table manners. The activity was made fun as the Supreme Ventures team joined in to help the students seated next to them.
As the watermelon and feta salad was served, the youngsters began to share their career choices much to the amazement of the adults at the table. Tonique Rusell said she had her sights set on being a Stem Specialist while Jamaican junior swimmer Xavier Mardner intends to pursue a career in engineering. Wolmer’s Preparatory School Head Girl Rohanna Stanberry shared her dreams of becoming a doctor. “I know I can’t help everyone in the world, but if I can help one person it would mean the world to them,” she explained. In response to the children’s goals and aspirations, Supreme Ventures Vice President – Marketing, Communications and Sponsorship Gail Abrahams encouraged them to choose wisely. “When choosing your career, or a particular job, you need to look at who you are, what gives you that drive and what exactly it is you are passionate about, and then you can align yourself accordingly. If you want to be a doctor, but you don’t like to talk to people, that is definitely not the right job for you. Always try to say ‘this is my personality, this is what I love to do’, and then you choose a career that fits with your personality. You’re going to spend a lot of time at work, so you have to have that passion and drive for it.”
By the time the entrée made its way to the table, the students were fully engaged in more conversation about careers. Future veterinarian Jordan Samuels, when quizzed about his ability to care for pets, shared his experience with his only pet, a goldfish. As he recounted the story of the fish dying, he got into a friendly exchange with McDonald-Whyte which ended in laughter amongst everyone.
Chef David Wellington joined the group for an interactive dessert-making session with the students. In his introduction, the chef revealed that he was one of the youngest executive chefs in Jamaica to rounds of applause from the youngsters. “I started my journey at the age of 17. I left high school and went to the HEART Academy… after about six months in school, I started to work with a chef by the name of Oji Jaja, who instilled a lot of good principles in me,” shared Wellington. The chef, who once worked at Susie’s Bakery and the Knutsford Court Hotel, and was certified overseas at the Culinary Institute of America, finally found a home at the Courtyard by Marriott Kingston, where he started as a sous-chef and quickly moved up the ranks. Students Sameya Parkes and Xavier Mardner filled in as Wellington’s assistants as he prepared the luncheon’s signature dessert, the Sweet Trio, miniature red velvet parfait, traditional bread pudding and white chocolate cheesecake.
As the experience wrapped, Supreme Ventures Co-CEO – Gaming Operations Xesus Johnston said he was impressed by the young men at the table. “On average the graduates from The University of the West Indies, Mona have been 75 – 80% women. So when you think about the odds, chances are at least one or two of the young men here, even if they have dreams of going to university, may not get there or may not graduate… In Jamaica, in particular, our young men are at risk, and we’re at risk for a number of reasons, one, is not having the focus, not knowing what we want to do, not trusting our instincts, not having role models,” he said. “Young men here today, I am proud of you, because each of you had an ideal or a profession and you expressed yourself well, and I hope you achieve your goals. Young men, keep your backs straight, be polite… and be the best that you can be.”
Young-Sang meanwhile charged the young ladies at the table to be fearless in the pursuit of their dreams. “As females, you typically have to fight for what you want and you cannot be afraid,” she pronounced. “Anything is possible, once you set your mind to it…It does not matter where you start in life, you can be anything you want, my area started in finance and accounts, then led to me having IT responsibility. Before coming to Supreme Ventures, I was pursued, aggressively. I came because of the possibility of what I thought the company could do.” Young-Sang concluded, “These are the things that we do in terms of community-level type programmes… I’m giving you an open invitation, at the end of this, come and have a talk with us, I think that it is something that we need to do more and more. It is very self-fulfilling and very enriching.”