Nickesha Greenfield, 21-year tourism veteran, has much to celebrate as the decorated resort sales manager at Beaches Negril, even as she pauses to reflect on the setbacks she has encountered on her journey.
Some of these challenges, she admits, were due to her battle with imposter syndrome. But today, thanks to her steady climb up the ranks at Beaches Negril, she’s more than confident that she’s the woman for the job and so much more.
“Growing up, I genuinely considered myself a ‘dunce’. I always knew I was good with my hands, I was confident in my ability to serve and make people happy. I was skilled, but I certainly didn’t think I was bright,” Greenfield explains.
She grew up with her parents, five siblings, many cousins and distant relatives too whom her mother would open her home. This had Greenfield believing she thrived around a large audience. She would later learn that nothing was further from the truth.
Her mother loved to bake and Greenfield would be in the kitchen with her, helping out. From very early on, she saw herself working in the tourism industry. As a teenager she set out to become qualified in food & nutrition and home economics at Frome Technical High School.
Greenfield admits that she didn’t like school, her perception clouded by a bad learning experience that drove fear into her and made the theoretical aspect difficult. As a result, she was adamant that she wanted a career that would be hands-on and had nothing to do with a lot of paper work. Food & beverage, she thought, was perfect.
During her final year of high school she got her chance to experience the working world. She did her work experience in the kitchen department at Sandals Negril — the sister resort to Beaches Negril, where she has been employed now for the past two decades.
“I was such a timid youngster walking into the gates of Sandals Negril. But that resort made me realise how much there was to learn in the kitchen. I soaked it all up. They made me love it even more; everyone was so patient and eager to teach me. My knife and presentation skills learnt from the team impressed my teachers and had me passing with flying colours,” she fondly recalls.
After finishing high school, she landed a job as a waitress at a popular sports bar and restaurant in Negril where she worked for a year and six months. Then she learned from her sister about an opening in the dining room at Beaches Negril.
In 2000, she joined the Beaches Negril team as a server. The shy, yet eager youngster soon made a name for herself, winning numerous awards and even a scholarship to pursue further studies courtesy of the resort.
Passing up on that scholarship offer, Greenfield said, was her first major blunder in her path to growth and greatness. “I got the scholarship and the opportunity to advance myself in the palm of my hands and I didn’t believe in myself enough to even complete the application form,” she shares.
“I knew my general manager and the HR team were disappointed that I didn’t take up the offer and I was disappointed in myself. I knew I failed in that area but I was going to make up for it in what I thought I was good at. So I went full throttle learning everything I needed to learn so I could grow in the dining room. The supervisors saw and felt my passion and they took me under their wings,” Greenfield adds.
She was given a lot of leadership duties and later promoted to hostess, an assistant to the supervisor. During this time she caught the eye of the then sales and weddings manager, Nicole Myers, and the general manager who followed her progress as she left a trail of excellent scores and positively impacted the various restaurants where she worked. In 2003, she was approached by Myers and given the opportunity to transition to her department as a weddings coordinator. Again doubt reared its ugly head and Greenfield was tempted to say no to another great, yet new and unknown territory. But Myers would have none of it and managed to convince her to seize the opportunity.
“I will never forget the impact Nicole Myers had on my career and my character. She invested her time in me. I was placed at a desk with a computer in front of me that I didn’t know how to operate. I learnt right there at that desk how to type on a computer. I moved from stuttering, shivering and sweating when asked to present anything to my team of less than 10 persons to someone who now presents —with ease — in front of hundreds of persons in the travel trade internationally. I host weddings, emcee numerous staff and entertainment events and so much more, all because my manager’s voice in my head kept saying, ‘You can do it!’,” she explains. Greenfield has also gone on to win pageants and also serve as coach to pageant contestants.
Soon she moved from wedding coordinator to wedding planner and had a hand in their department being tasked with training new recruits. Fate would have it that in 2004 another opportunity presented itself by way of a scholarship. This time she did not hesitate to grab it. Through that scholarship from Beaches Negril, she fought her fear of academic failure and went on to receive an associate degree in events and hotel management from the Western Hospitality Institute.
In 2009, Greenfield was promoted to weddings manager. Another period of self-doubt again threatened to derail her career progress. This was her very first stint at leading an entire department and she was gripped by fear. She convinced herself that if she could conquer her dread of the classroom, she could lead her team to success. Soon she became comfortable and confident in her abilities. She was seen as the standard-bearer but also very strict as there was little room for error when planning and executing dream weddings.
“I led as my previous manager did, investing in my team but not giving them the leeway to drop the ball at any time. They thought I was too hard on them, but eventually realised that I was doing it for their own good. I would get the calls later on down the line, thanking me for how I led them and how it impacted their lives positively,” she says.
In 2013 she was named manager of the year at the resort’s Annual Prestige Awards. A year after copping this coveted prize, Greenfield transitioned to the sales department as Resort Sales Manager.
She admits that working in the tourism industry and especially at Beaches Negril for 21 years has been a great building block for her. She’s thankful to the company for all the opportunities she received through training and working alongside some excellent hoteliers.
“I had someone invest a lot in me when I just started working at Beaches Negril and this paved the way for my success. Each time I feel as if I can’t do it, I remember the voice of my former manager in my head telling me that I can . The training team at this awesome resort also invested in me, they took me from a youngster with little qualifications and limited experience and changed my life for the better. This company, Beaches Negril and by extension Sandals Resorts International, has allowed me to travel — at no expense to me — to so many countries. In fact they were responsible for me getting my visa and traveling for the very first time. Being here, investing in others just as hard as my former leaders invested in me is my way of paying homage to this phenomenal brand and to the industry,” she says.