I didn’t want to stay in one lane.
I loved growing up in Jamaica, but as a student, I saw a lot of conformity. It was a culture of achievement, about becoming a doctor or a lawyer. Society was more prescriptive. Innovation—thinking differently and doing things differently—was not necessarily encouraged.
When I graduated, I was offered a full scholarship to medical school. I was worried that in medical school, I couldn’t take philosophy or economics. I didn’t want to stay in one lane, because to me the best ideas come from many experiences and connection points. I wanted to explore those connections between my multiple interests. After two weeks of orientation at medical school, I decided it wasn’t the right fit for me, and I turned down the scholarship.
I saw fashion as an expression of creativity and diversity.
I took a gap year to explore what I really wanted to do. I was drawn to the parts of Jamaican society where innovation was celebrated, in music and dance. I took lessons to learn the style of Jamaican Dancehall.
Moreover, Jamaica has a big fashion culture, and I was drawn in. Fashion to me is an expression of creativity and diversity. It was a release for me.
I couldn’t ignore my passion for learning new and unexpected things, so I decided to pursue a liberal arts education. I applied to Harvard University and was accepted for the fall of 2015.
Joining Harvard’s legendary Eleganza Show.
I quickly discovered the fashion culture at Harvard. Every year since the 1990s, there’s been a campus show called Eleganza that celebrates fashion, dance, music, and diversity. I had no choice but to audition. After making the team and living out my dreams in freshman year, I joined the board to help shape the future of the organization.
Turns out, Eleganza had grown into the largest student-run production of its kind in the U.S., with 50 board members, 50 models/dancers, and sold-out crowds of 2,000 every year. I experienced accomplishing something incredibly electric and innovative.
Learning to build an innovation ecosystem
During summers back home, I was eager to apply innovative thinking at jobs and internships. I worked for a commercial bank the first summer, and the next year was selected for the Branson Centre for Entrepreneurship, which has a location in Kingston.
I had the pleasure of meeting the icon of innovation himself, Sir Richard Branson, who visited us. I had the chance to collaborate with more than a dozen entrepreneurs and Virgin executives. What it really taught me was that there was a pathway to building an innovation capability inside a company and an innovation ecosystem across an industry.
Putting innovation capabilities into practice.
When I graduated, I landed a position at a global retail real estate conglomerate based in Paris that is best known in the U.S. for its Westfield shopping malls. This was a chance to put the innovation capabilities I learned into practice at scale.
By my second year, I was reporting to the executive vice president leading new ventures and strategic partnerships. I was put in charge of conceiving the first US-wide think tank, analyzing investment opportunities, and driving unique collaborations with non-traditional partners.
Innosight is the best of both worlds for me.
I first learned about Innosight through speaking with alumni at Innosight about the work they were doing. I learned about the late Harvard Business School professor Clay Christiansen and became especially interested in his “Jobs to Be Done” theory of innovation.
I needed to be in a creative space that was also a place where you can have a big impact on the world. That is why Innosight is the best of both worlds to me.
After joining in September of 2021, my first client was a Jobs to Be Done case for a major social media company. This was an amazing opportunity to help a leading social network push the IP forward into new territory that could help hundreds of millions of professionals.
So, I found that innovation is where I get my energy from. Whether it’s for consumer, retail, fashion, or healthcare clients, we have the chance to collaborate with the biggest innovation players. There’s a shared language and shared approaches. I can see the real-world impact that we have, and that’s what motivates me.