FOR Jewel Reid, every day is a new challenge as she leads her team with integrity, love and respect for all.
“It’s never the same every day,” says the licensed pharmacist All Womanwhile explaining the importance for women to build careers like hers.
“Women are now breaking down professional barriers. Like most professions, pharmacy was once a male-dominated field. It is important for us as women to take great pride in what we do, ensuring that each task performed reflects the quality of our personal brand. As a young leader, it is important for me to set an example for others to come.”
The 33-year-old St Jago High School alumnus grew up in Spanish Town, St Catherine, and knew from high school that she wanted to pursue a career in the medical field. Now celebrating 10 years in the pharmaceutical distribution business, having started with just one product and now offering over 140 products to treat a wide range of medical conditions, the life of Pharmacy Powerhouse Operations Manager RA Williams Distributors Limited has closed the loop.
“At St Jago, I developed a love for science, especially chemistry, and knew then that I wanted to pursue a career in medicine,” she explained. “At the time, I had two career choices – dentistry or pharmacy. In 2008, I switched to Jamaica University of Technology (UTech), where I completed my degree in pharmacy.”
Jewel Reid with her brother Audley, CEO of RA Williams.
An avowed introvert, she said success for her was peace of mind.
“That’s when I truly fulfilled my purpose, knowing that everything I did, I did with excellence and had a positive impact on the lives of others.”
But it wasn’t all a bed of roses for Reid — this rise to the top — in fact, she said two things helped build her resilience: Growing up with a single mom (Evelyn Williams, Founder of RA Williams) and failing school several times.
“I looked at her [mom] working long hours every day just to support myself and my brothers. She made sure we had food on our table, a roof over our heads, and access to a quality education,” Reid explained.
“[At school]with each failure, I reflected on why I had failed and how I could improve in the future.”
After graduating from UTech, Reid completed a 12-month internship, which would be his first entry into the working world. The first six months were spent at HD Hopwood, now Massy Distributors, and the second half of the internship at the CHU des Antilles. Throughout her internship, she juggled at RA Williams, made after-work deliveries, collected payments from some clients, and telesales in between.
Humble and compassionate, Reid said the motivation came from an unlikely place.
“I remember my first day in the field making sales, one particular person turned to me and said, ‘Can you quit pharmacy school and go work in the company deh? ‘ At the time, the comment brought tears to my eyes. I felt defeated, but I quickly brushed it off and moved on to the next customer. Often times I reflect and this incident keeps coming up, and suddenly I remember why we can now see firsthand, working in retail pharmacies across the island, the impact that the work we’ve done has had on patients, that’s a huge source motivation to see people being able to access the brands we buy and distribute in pharmacies.”
She said she worked the hardest during the company’s early years.
“The first five years of being in business, it was really a test of my faith,” she said. “Sometimes I wondered if it was really worth it. Today I can smile when I look at where we have been and how far we have come.”
On what sets her apart from others in the field, she lists patience.
“I am patient and listen carefully to find solutions. These are not necessarily unique to me, but these qualities are important attributes that have helped me achieve everything I have thus far” , she explained.
“Ensuring patients have access to affordable, quality drug therapy through my pharmacy practice [pharmaceutical distributor] is my greatest contribution to the world.”
When not working, the sports fanatic – she loves cricket and athletics – can most likely be found in the kitchen.
“I like to cook, so you will find me in the kitchen. I also like to watch a good series. Work or no work, you can find me listening to Buju Banton’s album To Shiloh Where 438 by Masicka,” she shared.
For her, relaxing is also a road trip with friends — “Portland is one of my favorite places, with fresh air, beautiful beaches and rivers…”
For young women looking to enter the field, Reid advises that it is a dynamic profession in which they are sure to succeed.
“There are many ways to contribute to the well-being of our nation through the practice of pharmacy. If this is truly your passion, pursue it,” she said.