It wouldn’t be a far stretch to say that Jamesly Pierre is a by-product of Ayiti Nexus, having cut his teeth in the professional world with the boutique consulting firm since its inception in 2012. After having played almost every role within the organization, it is with bittersweet emotions that Ayiti Nexus is saying goodbye to Jamesly as he embarks on a new journey to pursue a graduate degree in Business Strategy and Entrepreneurship in the United Kingdom this coming fall.
At 26 years old, Jamesly has had quite a unique path. When he was two years old, his family migrated to the capital from the North of Haiti, to give their three children at the time a shot at a decent education. Resulting from his academic achievements in secondary school, Jamesly was selected as a scholarship recipient by the Haitian Education & Leadership Program (HELP), enabling him to pursue a dual undergraduate degree in Accounting and Finance -free of charge- at a reputable private university in Port-au-Prince. He quickly positioned himself to expand his educational experience outside of the classroom. A few of his accomplishments include, representing Haiti at the 2012 World Summit for Education in Qatar, collaborating with international peers from top tier schools during workshops at Babson College, at Studio Banana (a Spanish firm based in Madrid), and with the Yale World Fellows. Wrapping up his undergraduate degree in style, he landed a summer internship in 2015 with a luxury boutique hotel in Newport, Rhode Island.
These back-to-back international experiences have opened Jamesly’s eyes over the five years of college on the types of practical skills needed to excel in a variety of careers – something that he had never thought of before. He credits Ayiti Nexus for this inspiration. Through HELP’s Career Development Center Jamesly was placed for a summer internship with Ayiti Nexus in Cap Haitian. Upon hearing about the internship opportunity, Jamesly was delighted to travel back to his home region assisting on a few new projects the young firm secured. The summer proved that Jamesly had the willingness to learn, think fast and think strategically. Jamesly was equally satisfied with the firm’s inclusive and high quality culture. Ayiti Nexus jumped at the opportunity to keep him on board as he returned to Port-au-Prince, offering him a part-time job as an office assistant, while he conducted research for his university thesis.
Jamesly discovered the challenges of a consulting start-up in Haiti, as the firm’s leadership worked hard to position the firm on the market while attempting to find the management systems most appropriate for the size and nature of the company. He also was exposed to fields unknown to him. His daily tasks varied from being asked to conduct desk research; contribute ideas for administrative procedures to be adopted; act as a translator/interpreter; represent the firm at various events -such as book fairs- and training opportunities (such as on environmental compliance and gender mainstreaming); assist in meetings with potential partners and high-profile clients; conduct field visits; and facilitate the recruitment of consultants and interns.
“Since that first summer internship, I saw and understood the opportunity to experience real professional growth at Ayiti Nexus; I thought it would be smart to stay with this firm that’s operating in so many sectors, allowing me to meet many different professionals I aspire to be like,” says Jamesly. “At the end of the day, Ayiti Nexus became home.” Shortly after the yearlong part-time contract ended and Jamesly recouped to write his final thesis, he was proposed his first consulting gig with the firm. That experience led to other short-term opportunities in between his travels, enabling him to develop a reputation as a capable and ambitious young professional. As Ayiti Nexus secured its first long term client as a subcontractor under Konbit, a USAID project managed by Papyrus S.A., Jamesly became the ideal candidate for the Cap Haitien Coordinator position.
“I remember telling him that he can come to me about anything and that my door is always open. The collaborative environment and boutique feel of our work – he quickly grasped, and dove into. We place value on the opinions of our staff and don’t believe in the micro-management system. Jamesly is proof that this works!”
Being exposed to the ins and the outs of the firm’s daily operations gave Jamesly some pause about his career aspirations. Before starting university, he was focused on picking a field of study that would lead to a stable job. Finance and accounting seemed like a good fit however, after working on his first projects with Ayiti Nexus, his mindset changed: why not think more broadly and more strategically about businesses and about his career specifically? Jamesly opened up to the field of organizational management to optimize the firms’ performances. He began forming the idea of someday owning his own firm where he could provide support in organizational management to other organizations and offer growth opportunities to driven youth, similar to the ones Ayiti Nexus offered him. This fall, Jamesly will begin his Master’s Degree program at Cardiff University studying Business Strategy and Entrepreneurship.
As Jamesly leaves for his studies soon, he will undoubtedly carry with him the lessons that he’s learned from Ayiti Nexus. “I am looking forward to coming back to Haiti equipped with the skills I’ve built from my time with Ayiti Nexus and the knowledge I will learn from Cardiff,” Jamesly shared. Ayiti Nexus has also learned from this experience with Jamesly. The firm’s internship program – now more structured and specific than when Jamesly started – offers diverse experiences to young professionals that are not available at most enterprises in Haiti.
For more information about Ayiti Nexus’ internship program, please visit our opportunities page at www.ayitinexus.com
We met in our teens at an all-girls high school run by Catholic nuns, and today we are women with gratifying careers. One of us is a partner in a prominent Haitian law firm owned by women; the other is a high-ranking diplomat based in Asia; and I am the co-owner of Ayiti Nexus. We keep in touch via a group chat where we regularly share jokes and our life episodes. We were recently prompted upon reading a newspaper article to exchange our thoughts on gender discrimination within our fields and discuss how we experience it from opposite sides of the world. We agreed that gender imbalance remains an issue everywhere and I came to the realization that the early start of my contribution to society led to my fulfillment as a woman in the workplace, and to the success of my company.
«An increasing number of men who feel intimidated by the success of women in society are suffering from burn-out syndrome », reported the Taipei Times under the title “Strong Women Irk ‘Maladjusted Men’”. While it is commonly known that gender imbalance in the workplace remains a serious challenge in most countries, we were stunned that it is considered a clinical illness in one of the most progressive societies- one where a “single” woman was just elected president and where the numbers of men and women in Parliament are equal.
We evaluated our professional positions in relation to the article. In Haiti, women are insufficiently represented in the public sector and shockingly absent from politics. Currently, zero women sit among the 122 Parliament elects and female staff typically hold low-level positions, with no decision making power. In my years of experience, I’ve noticed an increasing number of women active in the realm of international development; however, they tend to hold executive or low-level positions. Harder to find, are women in middle management positions.
My friend, the corporate lawyer, reflected that she is often the only woman at the negotiating table. Nevertheless, she believes that her clients, partners and third parties tend to give more weight to her opinion over the men’s and it does not affect her self-esteem, but rather gives her a platform to build her leadership skills. The diplomat noted that while we have become comfortable in the male dominated environments of our professions, the men around us do not necessarily feel the same, as evidenced by the newspaper article and based on her experience. She also expressed that more women would balance the outcome of certain issues, but a higher quota of women can only be beneficial if the women are able to express their womanhood and assert their complementary roles. A colleague of hers admitted that she feels pressured to “act like a man” in the testosterone-filled workplace.
My friends and I shamelessly join conversations with men about serious topics such as business or politics that women in our own social circles frequently avoid. Our comfort to sit at the same table as men prompted us to ponder: what makes us capable to do so when the majority of women does not dare to stand anywhere near the table? Last month, The New York Times reported the results of a study suggesting that values of management need to be established as early as childhood and serve as an answer to our wonderment. The three of us attended a high school where female values were nurtured and our upbringing was undoubtedly key to our success. In my immediate family, every woman has been a contributor to the household income; the women do not hesitate to voice their opinions and convictions. They play equal roles in the decision-making process at home, are very engaged in their communities and show concern for matters of the state. Similarly, I was taught that I could influence my country’s development at a young age. I attended a political rally for the first time with my parents at the age of 14 and I have voted in every national election since turning of age. My level of engagement in decision-making platforms and the example from women in my life clearly translated into an unconscious decision to hold positions of leadership in my own field. As a business owner today, I am committed to empowering women I work with in the same way.
The influences from my upbringing motivated the culture of Ayiti Nexus. My business partner and I believe in gender equity and implement a gender centric model. It’s not about filling a quota, even though 62% of our consultants and staff are women. It’s about nurturing talent equally, giving an equal voice to men and women onboard, and empowering ourselves, as women, to boldly face anyone and every situation. In the end, it’s about learning through a Fair environment where a woman’s potential begins.
Written by: Nathalie Brunet
Scuba diving along the picturesque coasts of Haiti might not seem like a path to economic recovery. However, a member of our team met one ambitious student who proves just the opposite.
Environmental degradation remains a pressing issue in Haiti. Much of its mountainous surfaces are deforested, causing soil erosion, which also effects agricultural productivity. What many of us often overlook is that the island country’s marine eco-system has a direct impact on its food production, the job market, and believe it or not, its vulnerability to natural disasters. The colorful species gleaming from the crystal blue waters actually protect coastal cities from storms by acting as a buffer against waves and floods. Corals also harbor many fish species and create white sand beaches.
The impacts of waste pollution and over fishing on our marine environment have been confirmed. Reef Check, a non-governmental organization that aims to preserve reefs and oceans in 90 countries, conducted a reef survey in 2011 revealing that 85% of Haiti’s coral reefs have died mostly from human activity. The organization took action by recruiting local university students to participate in its Eco-Diver Program, teaching them to dive in order to monitor reef.
Two months ago, one of our consultants met one Eco-Diver with an exceptional story of transformation. Dimitri Napoléon once dreamed of a traditional career path as a computer engineer. But life threw many obstacles his way, leading him to discover the impactful skill of being an internationally certified diver in his country.
Q: When were you introduced to diving? Had you given it any thought before hearing about the Eco-Diver Training program? What motivated you to apply?
A: My father has been a fishing agent for the government for the past 25 years so I fell in love with the ocean at a young age. In the beginning of 2013, a relative of my High School teacher encouraged me to apply for the Reef Check Eco-Diver training. When I heard what the program was about, I became eager to discover the underwater world, and I enrolled right away. I knew how to swim but had never dove.
Q: Other than obtaining your PADI certification,what did you gain from the Eco-Diver Training?
A: Coming from such a poor country, we don’t easily learn the things that I was taught in the Reef Check training. The Eco-Diver program teaches you the importance of the marine life, of the reefs and of the algae, both for the human population and the country’s sustainability. I understood that some rocks we consider rocks are actually corals, and yes, they are alive! They harbor many species of fish and protect us from natural disasters such as tsunami; the algae are a source of food for marine animals and humans, are used in modern medicine, and are a source of energy.
Q: Tell us about your diving experiences in Haiti.
A: In the past two years, I dove in many different areas but mostly on the northern coast. In Labadee (onsite and offsite), Ducroix, Il-a-Rat, and at a reef across Bordemer de Limonade, which is actually a long reef extending from (Print Sable) to the Dominican Republic. The latter is my favorite because it is more alive; it has the richest biodiversity.
First EcoDiver Haiti team in training Photo Credit: Reef Check
Q: Has your certification opened any personal or professional doors for you
A: Personally, I have met a lot of great divers here – Haitians and foreigners – who are also interesting people in the society. Through them, I have discovered beautiful dive spots I wouldn’t have discovered alone. I am now a member of that community. Professionally, it has opened new career doors for me. Initially after high school, I had begun studying for a degree in Computer Science in the Dominican Republic, but was unable to complete my degree due to family difficulties. I tried to continue with my studies in Haiti but the earthquake struck mid-year, placing a hold on the goals I was trying to accomplish. I didn’t have strong credentials for work either. After the training with Reef Check, I was very fortunate to find a good job as an Assistant Manager for a tour company located at Cormier Plage. My days consist of managing boat tours to the beautiful Amiga Island and assisting cruise ship passengers who want to go snorkeling. I am now working on becoming a dive instructor so that we can offer that additional activity to the tourists. It’s an amazing opportunity to pair my love for diving with a promising future.
Written By: Brittani Marie