Moving Back to Jamaica

A blog about my Move Back to Jamaica after 20+ years of living in the US. Most of the articles focus on the period from 2005-2009 when the transition was new, and at it's most challenging.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

How Can I Move My Career Back?

Recently, I was asked the following by a reader of this blog:


Although I appreciate everything the states have provided me with in the last 10+ years, in the past year I have been yearning for home. Because of that I have been playing with the idea of moving back to Jamaica however that thought is a little scary. After all, it would be starting my life all over again. Moreover, I have read about the very high crime rate especially with expats so I am sure you can understand my nervousness.

My line of work is banking, right now I am an assistant branch manager with *** bank. I have been scouring the internet and job postings for bank management jobs in Jamaica and have been unsuccessful. Do you have any suggestions as to where I could look to seek and apply for jobs. It seems to me like an impossible task. Additionally... the last time I was in Jamaica over years ago I was a tad bit nervous because of the influx in crime. What are some of the safe places to live that will provide me the convenience of shopping, good schools, and good employment?


It is good to meet you and I hope that I can be helpful.

It wouldn't say that "I left everything behind" -- it was not that dramatic!

Instead, I transitioned myself back to Jamaica over a 15 year period, and each step I took brought me closer to home until eventually it was more difficult to live abroad than it was to stay in Jamaica. It didn't quite work out the way I planned, but overall the plan produced the result I wanted, as here I am living in Kingston.

I think there is a way for you to become acquainted with the banking industry (which is a thriving one) here in Jamaica in a way that allows you to make the transition.

In my case, I had a consulting firm that went from having 0 to 100% Caribbean clients. I deliberately made choices that took the firm into the Caribbean, and also I discovered along the way that I had no appetite for working much in the U.S.

In your case, I would start some heavy-duty research. There is a lot happening in the industry right now, and I believe that someone with your background would be welcome by companies here.

But the way to find out inside knowledge is not through the classified ads.

Instead, if I were you I would foster and use the networks of people that you already know in the industry and in Jamaica. This includes friends, relatives, classmates, colleagues, church-friends... any and everyone. Just ask "who do you know in the banking industry that I could talk to?"

Your job here is to become deeply knowledgeable, and also to let people know that you have experience in the industry, and (hopefully) some unique expertise.

On the internet, there are lots of sources of recent information available via the Gleaner and Observer websites. In Atlanta, there is an ex-senator from Jamaica who works with a prominent bank.

A trip to Jamaica to meet with a few CEO's would also be useful. I have found them willing to meet, and if they cannot, there are always other executives who are willing to meet in each bank.

At this point, you are not looking for a job -- you are looking to create a network. See my companion blog: Chronicles from a Caribbean Cubicle for lots of networking tips. I have given a few speeches recently on the topic of networking.

Once your network gets built to a point, and enough people know what you can do for them, I suspect that it will be much easier to find a job here -- after all, the bulk of business in the region is based on who you know, and who knows you. This is not meant to exclude anyone, but instead is meant to use "mutual trust" as the currency of trade.

With respect to places to live, I would figure that out on your trips home. Kingston is probably the best place to be living while working in the banking industry, and while no-where is 100% safe, there are a range of choices.

I hope this is useful

P.S.

You might start calling yourself a "returning resident" rather than an expat -- it has a nicer ring to it!

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