Getting the proverbial foot in the door was all Denise Watson needed to forge her way in the tourism industry and boost her professional development. When the opening for a sales representative came up at Sandals South Coast more than 15 years ago, she grabbed the opportunity. That start was all that she needed. Today, she leads the team as site manager of Epix Photo at Sandals Ochi Beach Resort.
Watson’s journey from the island’s southern coast to its northern end was not without challenges, but the diminutive dynamo embraced each opportunity which has led to her meteoric growth within the luxury-included resort chain.
“Change is the only thing in life that’s inevitable, and this is a mantra that I hold dear to my heart. Being at Sandals has taught me the purpose of persevering amidst the many challenges that this growth period will provide. Once you get started with Sandals you will get the chance to grow as a professional and experience the best version of yourself,” Watson said.
The Sandals mission is primarily to foster the right attitude in a worker and provide the requisite training needed to produce the best professional version of that team member. Watson, a St Elizabeth native, was the embodiment of this mission.
“When I got introduced to the field of sales in the Epix [formerly Photo Shop] department I had very little experience in this area, but the team leader saw something in me and decided to invest in my talent. This is a focus that I have employed to this day with my team members,” she said.
“Noel Clarke, my first manager who is currently leading the team at Beaches Negril, would have had the greatest impact on me as a leader. He remains my mentor and confidante to this day, and undoubtedly the fuel of my growth within the organisation,” Watson added. “With very little experience in this industry and knowing the standard with which Sandals Resorts operate was sufficient motivation for me to enter the office each day with a purpose for learning.”
In listing the many opportunities she has seized in her professional development, Watson highlighted the level of teamwork needed to thrive within the industry. She emphasised the need for consistency in the field of photography and videography but was also quick to point out that the any revenue-driven area of the industry can be challenging without the right attitude.
“I have learnt through the many courses and training opportunities offered by Sandals, and this has bolstered my positive mindset each day to achieve success. I firmly believe you are as good as your last performance, and if a team member fails to generate the right attitude packaged with determination, they will face the daunting task of achieving any level of success. However, the support is always there and teamwork truly makes the dream work — I see that every day within the Epix department,” said Watson.
In her quest for professional development she has equipped herself with myriad courses offered through the Sandals Corporate University (SCU). Being groomed for leadership, Watson completed with distinction certificates in accountability in the workplace, organisational skills, communication strategies, creative problem-solving, interpersonal skills, women in leadership, sales fundamentals, top 10 sales secrets, supervising others, and customer service and performance management.
While Watson remains confident in her leadership ability to chart the path with her team, she applauds the company’s training offerings through the SCU. “Two of the courses that I have undertaken and still refresh myself with often are marketing basics and motivating your sales team. The task of leading a revenue-generating department motivates me to empower my team daily as the chain is only as strong as its weakest link,” Watson added.
Within any industry, for growth to occur there’s need for guidance and mentorship for new team members. Sandals Resorts epitomises this process as there exists tiered leadership and continuous training to help in the development of each member of staff. Watson concurred: “Keron Pinnock, currently Epix manager at Sandals South Coast, created an atmosphere for growth through her inclusive style of leadership. All ideas matter, and the team-centred approach used by her gave rise to the level of success our division continues to experience,” Watson added.
Even as Watson praised her predecessor and mentors, Nevin Geddes, current supervisor within the Watson-led Epix department at Sandals Ochi, shared, “Denise exemplifies the true mettle of growth and character within the Sandals organisation. Experiencing her passion daily as she leads this team has allowed each team member to feel appreciated and useful. Seeing her professional growth to where she is now is something to emulate. Denise is truly a Sandals ambassador for leadership, growth and motivation to all around her.”