Diving Into Directorship
~Michael Clarke Achieves Aquatic Heights at Sandals Resorts International~
November 2, 2022 – It was a dive in waters near Discovery Bay — something Michael Clarke had done a thousand times before. But little did he know that this particular plunge was one he’d never forget. As he explored those endless blue waters, a large shadow appeared in the sea, shifting his gaze to what he then discovered to be the gentle majesty of a whale shark — the largest of any fish alive today. It’s moments like those that continue to remind him of his passion for the water.
Even as a toddler, Clarke immersed himself in the sea – or any body of water actually – something he only enjoyed as a pastime. Today, however, this veteran has emerged as the highest certified Watersports Specialist in the Caribbean, and the man charged with spearheading the entire water sporting operations for Sandals and Beaches resorts across the region.
Raised on the northern coastal area of Jamaica, Clarke, like the tourists who visit regularly, was drawn to the island’s inviting waters — a grip from which he could hardly be pulled away. No one knows this truth better than Clarke’s own mother who quickly learned of her son’s aquaphilia.
“My mother would eventually have to find someone to leave me with for the rest of the day each time we visited a body of water because it was always a fight when it was time to leave,” Clarke recalls of his childhood.
His early training in watersports was nurtured by his brother Clifton Miller, who exposed Clarke to skiing, operating boats, snorkeling, among other things. The young aquaphile attended college while working part-time until he completed his studies and started his first job in watersports where he was introduced to diving and the opportunity to earn his first certification.
Before long, Clarke started his own business which he operated for many years; and overtime, he took his skills and his personal love for the water and wove them into a story of resiliency, hard work, inspiration and opportunity. Perhaps, though, it was in 2002 when he joined Beaches Ocho Rios (formerly Beaches Boscobel) under the Sandals Resorts International banner that he was presented with his greatest opportunity yet. It widened his appetite for personal development. But more importantly than that, Clarke joining the Sandals family was the alchemy needed for further development of dive instruction training programmes in the Caribbean and its islands that richly depend on the blue economy.
As Clarke would tell it, back then, instructors would have to come from other parts of the world just to administer training and exams to those interested in becoming certified dive instructors. He recalls one occasion when he had to travel to the Cayman Islands to complete his dive instructor certification course because there were not enough persons to sit the exam in Jamaica; especially since the instructor had to travel from the United States to oversee it. Getting to that point wasn’t at all easy, as Clarke had to train and complete various levels of rigorous certification processes to become a dive instructor. He first had to get certified in Open-Water Diving – beginner and advanced – and master the tools needed to get certified as a Rescue Diver as well as a PADI Divemaster.
Long before sitting his exam, Clarke began making waves at Sandals, and those splashes made their way to the company’s late Chairman, Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart who then deployed Clarke to Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort to implement changes in the watersports division there.
“Turks was my first overseas assignment and such a great opportunity to broaden my horizons. Back then, the resort team and I had six dive boats and were training and facilitating dive sessions with up to 150 guests per day. We worked to empower the team members and in turn, it made for the best experiences for the guests,” said Clarke who spent seven years there.
He undertook additional assignments at resorts across the region to further enhance and promote their respective watersports divisions. He said, “Travelling to the various resorts opened my eyes to the possibilities of synchronizing the division as one regional operation in an effort to make watersports one of the main reasons our guests come to visit Sandals each year… With the support of the Sandals leadership team, I was determined to do all I could to promote watersports and make people fall in love with it, especially diving.”
He returned to Jamaica in 2014 where he was appointed the Director of Watersports for the entire Sandals chain of resorts; a position he has used to foster the existing partnership between Sandals and the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI).
But that was not to be the last directorship Clarke earned in his professional pursuits. He aspired to achieve what could be described as the ultimate accreditation in his profession — becoming a PADI Course Director as this post would provide easier access to certifications in the Caribbean without trainees having to rely on the availability of instructors travelling from abroad to facilitate the exams.
“The [PADI Director] exam period lasted for approximately two weeks and was absolutely nerve-racking,” Clarke mused. “I, along with 29 other persons, some from as far away as Egypt, Thailand and Japan; along with their translators, all gathered in the Dominican Republic to sit the exams in 2017. I’m glad I was brave enough to pursue it to that level, with the full backing of Adam Stewart, now Executive Chairman of SRI. I have been all the better for it and I am now certified to ensure other persons within the Caribbean, who aspire to sit the dive instructor exam, have easier access and no longer have to face the challenges I did.”
As Sandals facilitated his development, Clarke is focused on multiplying those efforts and get more team members and fellow Caribbean nationals trained and certified as dive instructors.
“The Sandals brand offers so many possibilities from a watersports perspective and diving is just one of them. Sandals has over 25 of the best, state-of-the-art dive boats in operation across the region … and they are customized specifically for diving and making the entire process of moving equipment and accessibility easy for our guests. We also have 157 highly experienced diving instructors and, overall, almost 700 staff in watersports. Our guests keep coming back because of the service delivery backed by highly-trained staff, a high safety record, and top-tier equipment that we service. We are amassing over 89,000 dives yearly with over 27,000 persons and it shows that people really enjoy this. It speaks to the fact that we’re doing many things right,” Clarke said proudly.
“I’ve been fortunate and blessed to have so many opportunities presented to me over the years and I never take it for granted,” Clarke added. “I am grateful that I am a part of an organisation that has strong partnerships and that the world-class team members in my division have full access to these certifications. We make sure that our team is able to be trained and re-trained on a consistent basis to provide the most amazing experiences for our visitors while also achieving their own personal goals.”
Wal Registre’s Impressive Rise at BTC
PROVIDENCIALES, Turks & Caicos Islands: When Wal Registre started his career at Beaches Turks and Caicos (BTC) on October 25, 1997 as a bartender, little did he know that 25 years after, he would have risen to the post of payroll administrator within the same organisation.
The Raymond Gardiner High School graduate was always good at accounting and mathematics and had the dream of excelling in the hospitality industry in an area that would best fit his passion and academic strength.
Having been promoted to bar supervisor in 1999, Wal’s vision for growth was still active as he recognised that being a team member at Beaches Turks and Caicos would allow him to excel beyond his comfort zone. Following the completion of a number of courses with the Sandals Corporate University (SCU), he transitioned to the Cost Control unit in the Accounting Department as the cost control clerk.
Wal pointed out that his ability to grow within the company was largely due to his commitment to excellence. The SCU courses that were offered gave him the added training needed to build on what he was able to learn on the job and from his mentors.
“At BTC, training is very important to each employee. There are many opportunities for professional development and with the guidance from the Learning and Development team, and the leaders within the company, team members can truly grow,” Registre added.
One of Wal’s colleagues, Janet King, noted, “Wal’s commitment serves as an example to every team member here. His ability to grow from an entry level position to where he is now shows that everyone can succeed once they put their minds to it.”
While expressing his commitment to his profession, Wal’s dedication and discipline are traits that he values and chooses to pass on to those he leads. In sharing his advice to younger professionals seeking to enter the industry, he noted, “this organisation believes in quality work life balance that will allow each team member valuable time with family. This period helps me to maintain a bond with my family and explore the world. Training within this company is available for everyone and the ability to grow professionally is dependent on each person having the right attitude to grow.”
Header:Wal Registre, Payroll Administrator at Beaches Turks and Caicos makes final checks as he goes through documents at his desk at the resort
Insert: Anna Francis, Accountant in the Finance department at Beaches Turks and Caicos and Wal Registre, Payroll Administrator at the resort pause from discussing work related items to smile for the camera
Special Needs Unit Students at Thelma Lightbourne Primary School recognised by BTC
PROVIDENCIALES, Turks & Caicos Islands – Parents and students from the Special Education Unit at the Thelma Lightbourne Primary School were recently recognized by the Beaches Turks and Caicos team during a special session at the institution as part of autism awareness activities.
Children’s Activities Manager Fedeline Julien shared, “educating students, parents, teachers and other adults about the best practices of dealing with children with autism is needed especially in our homes and schools. Children who are autistic do things differently and should be treated with patience and care.”
Robin Cox Foster, principal of the school said, “the partnership between Beaches Turks and Caicos and our school is always welcome. As the only resort on island that is an autism certified centre, they were readily available to share with our students and their parents. The involvement of the Sesame Street character, the presentations from the Kids Camp team to the parents allowed those present to appreciate their roles in being change agents for autism.”
Caring for a child with special needs was highlighted as an opportunity to create a closer bond between child and parent/caregivers.
Walter Moore, who has a son on the spectrum shared, “being able to deal with the many challenges of a special needs child will assist parents in being more patient and creative in how they care for a child. My son and I are best friends. He is comfortable talking with me about anything and I have to learn how to respect his likes and dislikes and create an environment that makes him happy.”
Beaches Turks and Caicos’ Kids Camp is an Advanced Certified Autism Centre which ensures that team members have the required knowledge, skills, temperament, and expertise to cater to all children. The resort offers age-specific programmes for infants, toddlers, pre-teens and teens.
Header: Tanya Swann (left), Director of Sales, Groups and Conventions at Beaches Turks and Caicos introduces the team of volunteers who were present while Robin Cox-Foster, school principal looks on
1st Insert: Walter Moore (left) Beaches Turks and Caicos team member shares a moment with his son (right) and Sesame Street character Sesame Street
2nd Insert: Some members of the Beaches Turks and Caicos Sandals Foundation team share a moment at the Thelma Lightbourne Primary School during a presentation to the institution
CARPHA Plans Activities for Caribbean Nutrition Day and Caribbean Nutrition Awareness Month
Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. 1 June 2023. The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) joins the Caribbean Association of Nutritionists and Dietitians (CANDi) and countries in the Caribbean region in commemorating Caribbean Nutrition Day (1 June) and Caribbean Nutrition Awareness Month (June) 2023.
Caribbean Nutrition Day and Awareness Month are annual regional nutrition education and information campaigns that aim to promote healthy eating and active living in populations using a promotion-based approach. To kick-start the month, Caribbean Nutrition Day will be observed under the theme: “Let’s Nourish to Flourish…Your Mental Health Matters.” It was first celebrated on 1 June 2004 and became a month-long observance in response to the growing recognition of nutrition in disease prevention and health promotion. Caribbean Nutrition Awareness Month provides an opportunity to promote and encourage health seeking behaviours on a range of topics and across multiple sections of the population.
“CARPHA has planned a series of activities to commemorate these campaigns, and to raise awareness of the importance of nutrition. This includes the launch of a Diabetes Nutritional Management Toolkit. A social media campaign will also be rolled out to engage the public on nutrition and mental health and nutritional management of NCDs in the region,” said Dr. Joy St. John, Executive Director at CARPHA.
The observance of Caribbean Nutrition Day originated from the former Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute (CFNI); one of five institutions subsumed under the Caribbean Public Health Agency.
- Fifth Meeting of the CARPHA Six Point Policy Package (6-PPP) Inter-Agency Technical Committee (ITC) on Monday 12 June 2023.
The 6-point policy package is a framework instituted in 2017 to promote healthier food environments and food security to address childhood obesity (and non-communicable diseases) through joint policy action. The 6-PPP includes policy recommendations to address: (1) Food Labelling; (2) Nutrition Standards and Guidelines for Schools and other Institutions; (3) Food Marketing; (4) Nutritional Quality of Food Supply; (5) Trade and Fiscal Policies; and (6) Food Chain Incentives. The ITC comprises of CARICOM institutions and other agencies with responsibility for economic and social sectors to collectively monitor and coordinate the implementation of the 6-PPP.
- Webinar to launch the Diabetes Nutritional Management Toolkit on Tuesday 13 June 2023.
The toolkit – comprising of booklets, posters, flyer and recipes for both the health care professional and person with diabetes – will standardise the nutritional management of diabetes in primary care in the Caribbean. The toolkit was developed in 2022 following a Rapid Needs Assessment of Nutrition Services in primary health care in a representative 10 Member States. This initiative was funded by the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) through the CARPHA-led project “Strengthening Strategic Intelligence and Partnership Approaches to Prevent and Control NCDs and Strengthen Regional Health Security in the Caribbean”.
Click here to register in advance for this Webinar
CARPHA will also disseminate an article “Nutrition for Good Mental Health”. The article will highlight the essential role nutrition (nutrients) play in the functioning of the nervous system and key elements of the diet to ensure good mental health.
We encourage persons to follow CARPHA’s social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – for updates and pertinent information on nutrition for good mental health and NCDs management.
CARPHA will also be supporting its Member States in their celebration of Caribbean Nutrition Day and Awareness Month.
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