Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 21st 2013 Contents July 21, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
She was born in Trinidad and went to school here, but
migrated to Canada very early on to pursue a degree in
journalism at Ryerson University and eventually stayed to
raise her own family.
We sat down for an interview shortly before her depar-
ture for SA.
WW: What did you do before you became CEO at Meil-
SC: I studied to be a journalist, but life steered my ca-
reer to the fields Public Relations and Marketing
from early on. Before taking a hiatus from full-time
work to raise my family I was PRO at Canadian
Tyre, one of the biggest department stores chains
in Canada. I maintained my work skills while at
home though (something I strongly advise women
to do all the time) and when I sought to resume my
career I was hired as Executive Director for a Cana-
dian college foundation. That was my last job be-
fore I returned to Trinidad.
WW: What led you to return here?
SC: Meiling is actually my family, and we always spoke
of working together 'some day', but there was
never any solid idea of when, or even how. However,
in my job at the foundation I collaborated frequently
with one of the biggest event planners in Montreal
for our fundraising events, and my own event plan-
ning and management skills were honed to the
point where that same planner began to call on my
help in managing other projects. That in turn led to
Meiling asking me to coordinate a major regional
project she was working on. That was in early 2010
and was supposed to last 4 months but, in true
'Trini timing', it's still going on! Anyway, it gave me
time to fall in love with T&T again and I decided to
stay. The project morphed into a New Business De-
velopment role, which then solidified into my cur-
WW: From where do you draw inspiration and support?
SC: Meiling, actually, has always been an inspiration to
me... independent and uncompromising, and I
greatly admire that. And my mother (now de-
ceased) was always one of my greatest supports.
One thing though, that I can NEVER stress enough
is the value of an active network, for both personal
and professional support... to me it's one of the
greatest assets one can have. But there is a third
lady, Anne Hewitt, who inspired me from very early
on to always trust my instincts and stay true to
who I am, and that lesson has never left me.
WW: Who is Anne Hewitt?
SC: She was the HR Manager at a company in Barba-
dos that I once worked with. On my first day I was
shown to a desk and, to my absolute horror, a type-
writer! It was 1984 and no one in the company yet
had a computer. I had just come from a job at one of
the most progressive companies in Canada, where
every employee was proficient in Word Processing
and already had their own desktop computer, and
there was just no way I could go back to working on
a typewriter. I summoned up the courage to tell her
but really didn't know what to expect. She didn't
just listen but facilitated getting me a properly
equipped office, and before long the entire company
was computerized. And throughout my time there
she remained open to my ideas and innovation and
inspired my confidence and my own instincts.
WW: Have you played an 'Anne Hewitt' role to others?
SC: I've always played an 'informal' mentorship role but
this year I had the opportunity to do it in a more
formal capacity. I spearheaded the participation of
three emerging designers in the International Fash-
ion Showcase at London Fashion Week (under the
auspices of FATT and UTT). They were humbled
but extremely inspired by the experience and I
know it was a tremendous learning opportunity for
WW: What has been your greatest challenge thus far?
SC: Definitely that would be my son, who is develop-
mentally challenged. Again, having a great network
proved invaluable, as through that I was able to get
him the best care, but this experience taught me
that nothing is impossible once you are determined
to find a way to make it happen. A lot of times the
first response is 'no' but the next step is finding a
way to turn that into a 'yes'. Today my son is at uni-
versity, doing a major in history and a minor in edu-
cation, pursuing his dream of becoming a history
WW: Any words of advice for other young people pur-
suing successful careers of their own?
SC: Yes... it's important to remember that there's a dif-
ference between confidence and courage. Confi-
dence is a quality you gain from previous life
successes. Courage is stepping out on a limb when
you don't have the experience or assurance of out-
come. Courage is what will take you to the level of
success that is reserved for a special few.
Sharleen Chin, CEO at Meiling Inc. Ltd.,
recently won a very prestigious prize from the Women
Innovators Network in the Caribbean to attend the 5th
infoDev Global Forum on Innovation and Technology En-
trepreneurship in South Africa. Several hundred highly-
achieved female entrepreneurs from Antigua, Bahamas,
Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, St
Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent, Trinidad & Tobago,
Belize, Guyana and Suriname entered the competition
and out of those came just four eventual winners, so she
is justifiably proud of this achievement.
Bertrand De Peaza
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