“Ah links run Jamaica” is a commonly-used and likely-accurate phrase describing the importance that social connections seemingly have over factors such as job performance and academic qualifications regarding upward mobility in the country.
It can lead to a lack of fairness in hiring and promotion processes and underqualified individuals being given positions they are not suited for. It can also create a toxic work environment for employees who may feel they are not valued for their ability and hard work.
It is important to acknowledge that being able to ensure that the family is provided for, even after one has passed is the entire point of working for most people; the notion that someone’s work should not benefit their loved ones is preposterous.
In most societies, it’s natural for people in leadership positions to often install people they know into elevated positions.
Today, many human resource departments put in place practices to guard against conflicts of interest laws and nepotism.
It’s also relevant to note that due to Jamaica’s small size, it’s not uncommon that multiple candidates for top positions have their own “links” as well.
What are nepo-babies?
A nepotism baby, or nepo-baby, is someone born with advantages in a certain field due to their familial connections. It’s usually in entertainment spaces, but can be applied to other fields such as business.
There is a difference that needs to be acknowledged between someone who was given a job purely because of who their parents are, and someone who has spent hard years under mentorship to learn how to operate in the role from an early age.
Here are some Jamaicans that could be considered by some as nepo-babies due to the privilege bestowed upon them but nevertheless have applied themselves and done outstanding work in their own right.
Born in 1981, the same year as the founding of Sandals Resorts International (SRI), Adam Stewart would seem destined from birth to one day take over Sandals from his late father, Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart.
In addition to maintaining the name and standards of SRI, Stewart has used his acquired acumen to bring to Jamaica luxury offerings such as AC Hotel, Porsche, and Starbucks as well as the master dealership for BMW in the Caribbean.
Damian “Jr Gong” Marley
Born the youngest son of the most famous reggae artist Bob Marley and a former Miss World Cynthia Breakspeare, Reggae artiste Damian “Jr Gong” Marley whose nickname is a reference to his father’s nickname “Tuff Gong” has spent his life forging his own path with much success in reggae music.
Marley is a four-time grammy winner – Halfway Tree in 2002, Welcome to Jamrock in 2005, Distant Relatives in 2010 and Stony Hill in 2017 and he is also credited for the production of 2023 reggae album of the year The Kalling by Kabaka Pyramid.
Kamina Johnson Smith
Daughter of deceased Jamaican politician, diplomat, economist and university lecturer Anthony Johnson. Kamina Johnson Smith has followed in her late father’s footsteps as a member of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP). She is the current minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade.
Johnson Smith has carved out a reputation for professionalism and reliability. She is the epitome of diplomatic prowess. Her dad would be very proud of her as Jamaica’s first female Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, and leader of Government Business in the Senate.
Born the first son of two medical doctors, it would have been perfectly within expectation for David Walcott to become a medical professional. However, he decided to take his background and upbringing a step further with his company Novamed—a healthcare firm designed to drive world-class healthcare resources into emerging markets.
The daughter of Dr Ingrid McLaren, retired head of department in the Department of Language, Linguistics and Philosophy at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona and Captain Louis McLaren, formerly of the JDF Air Wing and the Sandals Group, Nicole McLaren-Campbell has a stellar reputation in the education sector.
McLaren-Campbell in her own right as an educator founded AIM Educational Services a consulting company that provides comprehensive admissions advisory and test prep services, helping students to attend their ivy league schools of choice.
William David McConnell
William David McConnell, son of deceased Billy McConnell, who was managing director of Lascelles and also known as the “King of Rum”. His career path took him on a similar journey towards spirits as he began his career as the managing director of sales and marketing for J. Wray and Nephew Limited.
In 2011, He co-founded Select Brands Limited a leading Wines and Spirits Company and operates as its co-managing director. He also serves as a director at Scotia Investments and Iron Rock Insurance and sits on the board of directors at Supreme Ventures Limited.
Daughter of Charles Ross, who is Sterling Asset Management’s chairman and former executive director of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), Marian Ross-Ammar has also been making a name for herself in the investment banking world. She started her career as a credit analyst in Investment Banking at First Citizens Bank, Trinidad. She joined Sterling in 2010 and is now a director at the company.
Son of Jamaican billionaire, Michael Lee-Chin, who is chairman and majority shareholder of NCB Group and chairman of Portland Holdings Inc, Adrian Lee-Chin began his career in 1996 at a company majority-owned by his father, Portland Holdings Inc.
Previously elected and now a resigned director at NCB, Lee-Chin is currently Project Manager at Portland Holdings, a company he has worked at for the past 27 years.
Daughter of Kevin Hendrickson—hotelier behind the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston, and Holiday Inn Resort in Montego Bay—Melissa Hendrikson has been doing great work behind the scenes to continue her father’s legacy as the director of special projects at Courtleigh Hotel & Suites.
Former director and son of the former executive chairman and director of the fraud-hit, 50-year-old investment firm Stocks and Securities Limited (SSL), Mark Croskery has been no stranger to the Jamaican financial sector. He does a good job as the host of Business Live Extra on CVM TV.
Croskery now the founder and CEO of Croskery Capital, according to his website has been known for guiding financial literacy, building strong relationships, and creating many financial firsts in Jamaica, such as equity research for J$ stocks and bringing US$ stocks or trading in US$ stocks to Jamaica for Jamaicans. Croskery was central in taking the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) public in June 2013.