CARAIFA - Caribbean Association Of Insurance & Financial Advisors

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CARAIFA Hall of Fame Hall of Fame 2008

Hall of Fame 2008

Oliver E. Jones

Oliver E. Jones has enjoyed the sort of career thus far that, in this era of wavering and instability, can only be described as extraordinary. Over the past five decades, Mr. Jones has risen through the ranks of life insurance, beginning as a salesman with Manufacturers Life in 1953 to his current position as Chairman of Zenith Insurance Brokers. He has served as President of the  Jamaica Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (JAIFA) as well as the Insurance Association of Jamaica (IAJ).

In addition, Mr. Jones spearheaded the information of the Island Life Insurance Company, thereby acquiring the Manulife portfolio in Jamaica and absorbing the Dominion Life’s Jamaica operations into Island Life for which he served as President and CEO as well as Chairman of the Board.  With all of these accolades, it is easy to understand why he was JAIFA’s first joint-selectee for that Association’s Man of the Year Award in 1973 and more recently, the Jamaica Institute of Management’s Most Outstanding Manager of the Year Award in 1993.  But his accomplishments have been hard-won and accompanied by a fair share of setbacks, which were always met with deep rooted tenacity and conviction.  “There are no big problems in the world,” Mr. Jones has said, “only an amalgam of micro problems left uncared for.  The key is to deal with issues, no matter their size, as soon as they happen.”

Mr. Jones has also shown great success outside the world of insurance as chairman of both the Banana Company of Jamaica (1978 to 1980) and the National Housing Trust (1980 to 1989).  But perhaps more important to this profile of a man who has weathered some of the life insurance industry’s stormiest years are the forces that lie behind his incredible success.  Among them, you’ll find the traits that usually mark the world’s most successful individuals: integrity, discipline, drive, and an ability to take control of the present while always managing to look ahead to the future. Of no little help were his humble beginnings as one of twelve children in a small St. Elizabeth district. Some would say that it was there that his trademark qualities of determination and persistence took root and also where his career as a salesman really began— selling his own garlic and tomatoes to local markets (the profits from which he used to pay for his first term at Excelsior High School in Kingston). But none of these can compare to what Oliver Jones points to as his greatest source of pride. That is his family—his wife, Sonia and two sons, Stewart and Lawrence. “When I started out in this business, it was to reach the top of my career,” says Mr. Jones. “That was my only focus until my children came. Whatever happens to me will never be as important as the future of my children.”

With every position that he has held, including those of President of Excelsior’s Old Student Association and the Kiwanis Club of Downtown Kingston, Jones has acted in a way that would make his family proud. And their achievements, in turn, have been his greatest pride.

So to look at Oliver E. Jones is not to look at a recipient of the National Honour of Commander of Distinction (CD) or even someone who has spent a great portion of his life dedicated to public service. One needs to see him the way he has come to see himself: as a father, son, husband and friend. For him, the person that he is in his family life and business life are inseparable.  His achievements and continued success is not a solo project - no true success story ever is.

Antoinette P. Thompson (posthumously)

In 2007, the Insurance Fraternity said a sad farewell to Antoinette P. Thompson, one of the most innovative and stalwart women the insurance world has seen.   It may come as a surprise then to learn that Mrs. Thompson’s career began elsewhere—in banking—and only turned to insurance after much persuasion to serve one of The Barbados Mutual’s agencies as a manager for just over ten years.

Her career spanned a period of almost six decades and featured numerous production, quality and star awards for her contributions to the local insurance industry and several international quality awards.   It was also marked by a steady attention to education as well as personal and professional development which led her to conceive of the initiative to have the Introduction to Life Underwriting Course as the examination for licensing in Barbados in addition to producing the 5 Year Development Plan for educational and professional development in the Region.  Her dedication was rewarded with the professional designations of Associate in Customer Service (ACS) and Insurance Agency Administration (IAA) as well as Fellow of the Life Management Institute (FLMI).  In addition, she held the Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) and Chartered Financial Consultant (CH.F.C.) designations. She also gained the Barbados Stock Exchange Mutual Funds Certificate.

For some, Antoinette Thompson’s accomplishments appear even greater when one considers that she became a widow at the age of thirty and raised two daughters who have gone on to incredible success of their own—Nicole is an orthodontist practicing in Houston, Texas and Simone is a mechanical engineer specializing in manufacturing at General Motors Corporation in Detroit, Michigan.  Mrs. Thompson certainly proved more than apt as a model of what a woman can achieve in business and life in general.  In 1988, she became the first winner of the Young Career Women’s Competition sponsored by the Barbados Business and Professional Women’s Club; and was a member of the Board of the Life Underwriters of Barbados (LUAB) for fourteen years, becoming its president for three consecutive years beginning in 1989.  In addition, she served on the Board of the Caribbean Association of Life Underwriters (CALU, now CARAIFA), reaching the office of Assistant Vice President and was a founding member of its Education Management Committee.

Mrs. Thompson enjoyed success outside of insurance as a resolute advocate, convincing the Government of Barbados to choose the LUAB to sit on the Economic Consultative Council advising government on strategies to stabilize the economy.

During her stint in the Senate, she persuaded government to review the Social Security Scheme via national broadcast and campaigned to have non-contributory pensioners removed from the National Insurance Fund and paid from the Consolidated Fund.

Though she is dearly missed,  her many achievements have left an indelible impression, not only on those who had the pleasure of knowing and working with her, but those who are now making their way to and through an industry that was only made better by Antoinette Thompson.