After a brief hiatus my #OneOne series is back. When you think of a #bossislandchic the first person who should come to mind is Nikima Royer-Jno Baptiste. Having worked under her I had the pleasure of seeing her in action first hand and was thoroughly impressed.
- What was your first thought when you found out that you were the first female and Dominican-national to ever be appointed in the role of Chief Executive Officer for Digicel Dominica’s operations?
Thank you for inviting me to do this interview—I’m honored to be featured on your phenomenal blog.
It was an amazing feeling when I learnt that I would be appointed to the role of CEO for Digicel Dominica. To see that a hard day’s work and commitment are rewarded in the end made me very happy and indeed proud to be the first female and Dominican-national to take the role.
I am indeed honoured to join the ranks of several other outstanding female CEOs across the business including Janice Sutherland in Antigua, Siobhan James-Alexander in St. Lucia and regional CEO Sinead O’Marcaigh. And let’s not forget Vanessa Slowey, who sits at the helm of our Caribbean and Central American markets.
A huge focus for Digicel has been bridging the gender gap across all our markets. As such, several promising women across the business have been identified and groomed for key leadership roles in our Women in Leadership programme, and I’m happy to have been one of them. Digicel is also quite keen on involving local talent in each of our markets, as they are best placed to leverage their insights into the values, passions and culture of the market to deliver the best customer experience.
- I would definitely call you a #GirlBoss due to your extensive experience as a former Customer Care Operations Manager; Head of Marketing and Deputy Chairman of the Board of Directors for Discover Dominica Authority; General Manager for Rainforest Aerial Tram and Vice President for the Dominica Hotel and Tourism Association. To what do you contribute your success in so many of these roles?
What I’ve achieved to this day is due to a number of factors and support systems in my life—I didn’t do it all by myself. But I’ll tell you something very important; it must begin with you. So for me, I live by the mantra ‘…sacrifice today for a better tomorrow.’ This means always looking for ways to improve ourselves and being open and willing to change and constructive criticism. You never stop growing, no matter how much you achieve.
Leaning on a strong professional network is also crucial and key to growth as these are the persons who can give you a solid advice and feedback. There are several other personal attributes that I’d say have led me to where I am today—these include a strong work-ethic, determination, commitment and professionalism.
Finally, in anything we do in our lives, it’s important to have the support of our loved ones. My family and friends are always there for me, and I can lean on them when I need to.
- How did you manage work plus an active social life?
Managing work and your personal life comes down to two things—striking a balance and setting your priorities. Thankfully, I have a very understanding family and they support me when I have to be away for work. But no matter how hard or how much I work, I always make time for my family.
- Many people consider you a role model for your work ethic and professionalism…what does that mean to you?
To be considered a role model is an immense honour but, more importantly, it’s a huge responsibility. Growing up, there were so many people who inspired me and I want to do the same for others, especially young women.
I want to show them that no matter what their circumstances are, they can achieve whatever they set their minds to, with a little hard work and the right attitude. How will I inspire people? I want to be a living example so people can be motivated by the things that I do and not just what I say.
- How did you deal with some of the sexism that sometimes come up as a woman in charge in the work place?
One of the great things about my company [Digicel] is that it creates equal opportunities for everyone and we’re big on respect for all. These are some of the values that we live by and what makes us such a dynamic brand. But of course, sexism still remains an issue in our wider society and we all have a part to play in helping to change this.
- What would you say was the biggest challenge that you had to overcome so far in your life?
Last year, I had a very traumatic experience that could have been fatal, which made me very withdrawn. But remember that support system I mentioned earlier? My family, friends and even my extended family at Digicel were all very supportive and this helped me to get through it all. But for me, the key to really overcoming this was believing that God had a bigger plan for my life, even though I didn’t see it right away.
- Who would you consider as someone who has had a significant impact on your life?
Entrepreneur and sustainable development activist, Sam Raphael, is someone that I truly admire. I’ve known him for over 15 years, and in that time, he’s taught me so much.
For example, he always said, ‘If you are early, you are on time; if you are on time, you are late and if you are late, don’t bother’ and this is something I believe in to this day. One of the best things about Sam is his willingness to share what he knows without expecting anything in return. So, I’m very appreciative of his friendship and happy to have him in my corner.
- If you had to give advice to a young Nikima what would it be?
If I could give any advice to my younger self, I’d tell her to believe in herself and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes but it’s how you apply what you learn from those mistakes that will help to build your character. I’d also point her to Psalms 23 and 121 in the Bible, which remind you that you have nothing to fear as you never walk alone.
- Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?
Ten years is a long time, but it’s also a great opportunity to develop many more skills and experience. For me, I hope to spend the next decade growing from strength to strength and so far, Digicel has been a great place to do this. There’s no limit to what you can achieve.
- Can you give three facts about yourself that people would be surprised to know?
- I was captain of my school’s Flag Football team, which is quite similar to American football but not as rough.
- I’m fluent in French, which I learnt while going to school in Toronto, Canada.
- I volunteered with the Red Cross