Growing up in the farming community of Comma Pen in St Elizabeth, Shaquina Francis had medicine on her mind.
A twist of fate, however, placed her among only three women now working in the male-dominated Quality, Quarry and Environment Department at the Rockfort-based Caribbean Cement Company Limited.
The other 23 employees in that department are men.
More women should venture into industry or manufacturing and assert themselves as leaders in those fields, Francis advised.
She further reasoned: “The manufacturing industry is historically a male-dominated one; Caribbean Cement is no exception.
“The roles within the industry are not gender specific, therefore more women undertaking them is needed, especially in leadership. That would demonstrate a forward movement against the historical norm, bridging the gap towards gender equality in the work environment,” Francis added.
The 29-year-old is a product of Bishop Gibson High School in Manchester.
She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Chemistry, with a minor in Food Processing from the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI).
“While at UWI, I developed this passion for industry or manufacturing, and I fell in love with the idea of having to wear boots and hard hats and to solve industrial problems,” said Francis.
She has four years’ experience under her belt at the island’s sole producer of cement.
She was promoted from a technician in 2018 to a trainee quality coordinator in 2020 and then to her current role as quality specialist.
“Working in this company has allowed me to grow both professionally and personally as each day presents different learning experiences, which challenge me to expand and extend my capabilities,” Francis said.
She relies on her commitment to excellence to ensure that good quality materials from the quarry are in the right amounts, and that high standards are adhered to regarding certain chemistry specifications, before the product reaches the public as bagged cement.
On this International Women’s Day, Francis encourages women to continue being resilient and to embrace challenges.
“Learn from all your experiences and never be afraid to ask for help,” she advised. “Ensure that you also take time out for yourselves and continue to be the nurturing warriors you are.”
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