Women in Leadership at Mahogany Bay Village
"The question isn't who's going to let me; it's who is going to stop me."
— Ayn Rand
March 8th, 2017 is International Women’s Day — a day to celebrate the social, cultural, economic, and political achievements of women throughout the world. The campaign of 2017 is #BeBoldforChange, supporting a more inclusive and gender-equal workplace.
In acknowledgement of this day, we’d like to introduce you to three women of Mahogany Bay Village who help define perseverance and hard work.
Beth Clifford is the owner, developer, CEO, visionary, and dominate driving force behind Mahogany Bay Village's entire ambitious project. With 12-hour work days commonplace to Beth's schedule, she's able to maintain an active role in her companies to provide the tribal knowledge needed to ensure the original vision does not fall astray from its path.
For the past two decades, Beth has sat at every chair at the development table — project manager, project director, contractor, owner’s representative, construction manager, owner, and finally developer. Beth’s ability to define and see clearly the vision and pull together the team to make that vision a reality is her ability.
"Doing what's right, right." This is Beth's personal motto. Always do what you know deep down to be the right thing, and do it well.
Beth has been involved in entrepreneurial business strategy and implementation for forty years. Just one in her impressive catalog of accomplishments was developing a software team who created the first automated credit scoring system in the United States, that went on to be the backbone of what Americans today know as the FICO score!
After 14 years in the technology industry, Beth shifted her focus into construction and real estate development. This was a move in pursuit of her long-time love of building that was instilled in her during summer vacations as a girl with her grandfather, a home builder in New England. Since then, Beth's experiences in development have spanned the United States and beyond, from small historical preservation projects, residential neighborhood developments, semiconductor and biopharmaceutical developments, and hospitality projects.
Beth Clifford is a woman who personifies hard work, an unwavering vision, and above all — humility. When she entered Belize in 2005 her goal was to create or support the creation of 50 Belizean companies. To date, she has reached 18 and the work will continue until the goal is realized — and if you've been privileged to meet Beth Clifford, you should take that for fact.
Eva Yah is the Construction Project Manager of Caribbean Homes & Exports at Mahogany Bay Village, and has been with the company now for almost three years. She is originally from the Corozal District of Belize, and possesses a Bachelor's Degree in Architecture from Instituto Tecnológico de Chetumal, Mexico. Between her time studying and working in both Mexico and Belize, Eva has been in the architecture and design realm for eight years now.
On a day-to-day basis at Mahogany Bay Village, Eva supervises a construction team of 70 men. She relies on her calm demeanor and resourcefulness to see that orders are carried out from Ken Grissom, principal in Caribbean Homes & Exports and Director of Construction for the entire Mahogany Bay Village project.
Q. How did you get interested in construction and architecture?
A. "My grandfather was an architect, and around the house I was always helping my father with projects — I guess I just don't like to cook!" she laughed.
Q. Construction is no doubt traditionally a male-dominated workforce. What are the challenges you have faced with being a woman in a non-traditional role?
A. "Patience. I've learned a lot of patience," she says with a smirk, "with patience and education everything is possible. If anyone gives me trouble, I just ignore them. At first it was really hard, I cried. But Pete (Pete Davis, Senior Project Manager) and Ken have always been supportive, and at the end of the day it is my job to see that their orders are followed.
When asked if she has ever questioned whether she took the right career path, her answer was a non-hesitant, "No regrets."
Eva's advice for women in non-traditional roles is: "Be strong and don't let anyone lower your self esteem. Ignore those who try to bring you down, don't waste your time on anyone who doesn't believe in you."
Ada Castellanos is the Manager of Housekeeping & Maintenance at Mahogany Bay Village. Before moving to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Ada lived in her hometown of San Ignacio, Belize. Ada chose to pursue a job at Mahogany Bay Village after she realized the large scope of the project and heard that the property is now branded under Hilton, and thought it would be a new and exciting challenge.
For the past 20 years Ada has worked in all facets of managerial hospitality in Belize — food & beverage, sales & marketing, reservations, front desk, and housekeeping. But when it comes down to it, Ada doesn't mind which department she finds herself in. "As long as I get to meet new people and make people happy, I am satisfied," she says with a warm smile.
Although Ada is adaptable to such numerous positions in hospitality, she especially loves joining teams responsible for opening a business for the first time. "Although starting a new place is harder because nothing exists yet, it creates a greater sense of pride and is a richer experience. You take everything you’ve learned and put it all into place to create something new."
Q. What did you want to be when you were little?
A. “Honestly, not too far from what I’m doing right now! I always was writing on the board, playing teacher, directing and delegating. I can basically say I am where I want to be.”
Q. So shall we say you're living the dream?
A. "I am, I am," she says with a laugh and a grin.
Q. Do you have any advice for women on success?
A. "Be independent and be yourself. If you can just be yourself and be honest, it will get you a long way. And be strong. Women must be strong because we play so many roles both at work and at home."
Who are the women in your life that deserve recognition? Offer them a word of gratitude today. Happy International Women's Day!