We assisted Amanda to make her move back home to Barbados after finishing a contract in the Cayman Islands. Recently, we got in touch to ask her more about her native island and the Cayman Islands.
Why did you originally decide to move to Barbados?
“I am actually a Barbadian but I was in the Cayman Islands at the time, so it was an actual move home for me after my contract had ended. It was good though because obviously, you presented me with many opportunities overseas that searching alone I would not have found. After staying in that role for a few years I went out of assurance and into fulltime accounting and became a Director of Finance for a big local company.
I have a bit of a biased view because I am a Barbadian so there were a lot of people of my age who I already knew or went to school with, so the transition was very smooth. But the expats I have worked with here blend in very smoothly with the culture and the island.”
So what is it like living in Barbados?
“Barbados is very rich in culture and there is a lot of diversity in terms of entertainment. For an island our size, it’s chock-full of things to do every single weekend and even during the week. Even if you’ve just moved as an Expat, you’ll always find something exciting and a circle of friends to easily join. The island is much bigger than the Cayman Islands, so there is more in terms of beaches and the beautiful landscape. We have more to offer like surfing because of the landscape, having an island that’s actually surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Caribbean Sea on the other. An adventurous person can do they can do their surfing, kite surfing and then there are beach parties that happen all the time. If I was an Expat I would take that into consideration because it helps when you first move over to an island where all of that is going on.
In terms of island differences, to be honest, I think it’s the people that make it so special. The nature, the history and of course, it’s a larger island with a larger population all make it very appealing. We have people that have moved over here from the other islands like St Lucia, St Vincent etc. just because of the activities. We also have malls and other amenities that other islands do not have but I would put it down to the history and people.
In terms of the entertainment, there is a festival for everyone. If I start at the top of the year, there is a Gospel Festival which is one of the largest ones within the region. Then there is the long-running local festival which is called Crop Over Festival which is a lot like the Brazilian and Trinidadian Festivals. Even our local girl, Rihanna, comes home for Crop Over so it’s very big deal. It’s like a huge street party but leading up to it there are various local parties. It’s one of our main tourist attractions and it’s a really big deal. Unlike many other places where you might find that things only happen at a certain time of year it’s not like that here. There is there is always something to do. We just had Sol Rally (race car rally) I’m not into rallies but there’s a lot of things going on like horse racing. If you are making a move you know you don’t want to be there just for the financial benefits. Whether you’re here with your family or by yourself you want to have exposure to the culture and fun activities and not have to fly off the island constantly to find something that attracts you.”
Are there any noticeable accounting differences between Barbados and other countries?
“In terms of accountants, globalisation has really standardised the profession. If I’m an accountant in New York or Cayman or wherever, it has now transcended locations. I think the norms have become standardised if I compare my experiences working between the two islands with people who are from the UK for example and who fly in they will all have similar expectations. I have never heard of anyone say that this is different or that is different.
In Barbados in particular, we are truly blessed because in terms of assurance we have a really wide array of Industry that we cover. I found with my European counterparts and even in the Cayman Islands that they tend to specialise early. So for other locations, if you come into Assurance and you get put into Financial Services and you might work on Assets, so you might work on fixed assets, and because you’re dealing with a smallish company you tend to specialise very early. That doesn’t happen in Barbados. What happens is that you learn Manufacturing, you learn Retail, you learn Financial Services, and once you have shown yourself to be proficient, then you choose your speciality. It doesn’t mean that you never work on other industries it means you have a predominant industry that you work on. That means when you go out of assurance and go into Industry you have a plethora of choices because you have worked on many of these sectors before. That has been a big blessing for me personally and I know for some of my other colleagues as well.”
What, in your opinion, are the advantages of working overseas in terms of gaining future employment?
“In the Cayman Islands, it was great having the experience of working with a diverse group of people and it really broadens your horizons. There are so many nationalities and people from different backgrounds. It gives you far greater knowledge of different nationalities and cultures. That is definitely a plus. Obviously, it also helps with your credentials by proving that you are able to be a dynamic part of a team. It really shows that you have an understanding of other people, that you are someone that can work within different teams. To be able to be in a place with diverse cultures and still be performing professionally, it means that you have a good team understanding of team dynamics.”
What advice would you offer to Accountants thinking about working in Barbados?
“Come prepared to work hard, but also be prepared to play hard. Even within the firms they’ll have their own street party bands. There is a strong work ethic, but the two will come together to make for a really rich experience.”
What would you say to people who were considering going to the Cayman Islands?
“I would encourage people to definitely also consider the Cayman Islands. It can be great financially because in that market there is greater opportunity for accountants to earn more. After gaining experience in Assurance there and moving into different fields meant that there are great opportunities for earning higher salaries. Also, in terms of opportunities, after you have gained experience there you can have a more balanced lifestyle roles.”
How did Think Global Recruitment assist you in securing your job overseas?
“Having had other experiences after leaving Assurance, I can see the value of having a recruitment team behind me because you guys have more feelers out there in terms of opportunities rather than to rely on a limited network of friends. So, I thought it was really beneficial at the time. You have a lot of corporate contacts that I wouldn’t have had otherwise and I was able to choose from a pool of different firms for where I wanted to go. After moving into other positions, I can really see how much you helped me out.”
We would like to thank Amanda for sharing her story and pictures and wish her all the best for the future!
FIn the second of our webinar series, we will be discussing living and working in a region that offers some of the best experience in Financial Services, brimming sandy white beaches, island lifestyles and year-round tropical climates.