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The Ricardo Forbes Story: From Security Guard to Bank Employee

Thu 26 Oct, 2017

Ricardo Forbes left Mona High School in 1995 with a pass in only one subject in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) exams.  

“I basically wasted my time. I wasn’t focused; I did not have much interest in school.  Every day I sat at the back of the class and did not pay attention,” the member service representative at the JN Bank's Portmore Pines Branch, disclosed. 

Growing up in the privileged home of a close family member, after the migration of his mother, Ricardo recalled not feeling accountable to anyone regarding his school work.

“My mother migrated when I was in Grade Five at St. Aloysius Primary.  When I lived with her, she would ensure that I did my school work.  Her absence, therefore, made me want to become my own boss, although she kept in touch with me by telephone at least three times per week,” he explained, adding “my father never played a role in my upbringing.”

Despite the nonchalant approach to his school work, Ricardo was widely known by the moniker "Doctor" because of his expressed desire to work in the field of medicine. He possessed commendable leadership skills, was well-behaved, always punctual for school and never missed a class.  As a result of these admirable qualities, he was appointed a Prefect in Fifth Form.

Ricardo sat five CSEC subjects; however, he attained only one pass in Electrical Technology.  Although he was not surprised at his failure, the results brought him back to reality, as he realised that a good education was needed for him to get through life.

“My examination results were a wakeup call.  I started to regret not taking my school work seriously.”

With a seemingly bleak future ahead, Ricardo was not prepared to go through the rest of his life as he did while in school. Deep within was the desire to achieve a good life.  To make a fresh start, he enrolled at Portmore Community College to re-sit four CSEC subjects.  He passed two of the subjects; and spent another year to re-sit the other subjects, which he subsequently passed.  

On leaving school, he worked in a warehouse at a department store for two years before quitting due to dissatisfaction with his pay.  Hoping for better opportunities, he approached the Jamaica Constabulary Force. He passed the entrance test and was interviewed.  Months later, he contacted the training school after not hearing from them, and was advised that his file was incomplete.

“They explained that because of the length of time that had elapsed, I would need to repeat the application process, but I wasn’t prepared to do that,” he declared.

In 2000, he gained employment with Guardsman Security as a guard; and two years later, was assigned to the New Kingston Branch of the former Jamaica National Building Society, now JN Bank.

While working at the location, he taught himself Principles of Accounts in one year, earning a grade two in the CSEC examination. Soon after, he started to take keen interest in learning about the Society’s products and services.

“I would often ask the staff members to explain the various banking procedures.  As a result, I was able to answer queries from customers; and I began to like working at the bank,” he related.

When the JN MoneyShop Xpress outlets were introduced in 2008, he applied for a cashier position at the Ruthven Road location and was successful.

“I worked there for a year and was promoted to senior cashier. Then I was transferred to the East Parade location where I was in charge of five cashiers. When the Xpress locations were discontinued in 2010, I was hired at the JN Portmore Pines Branch as a Member Service Officer,” he related.

Charnet Blair, acting operations officer, formerly of the JN Bank Portmore Pines Branch, who was recently transferred to the Spanish Town Branch, disclosed that Ricardo is an excellent team player.

“He is very customer focused and would often receive commendations from customers.  He is respectful, punctual, dependable and helpful,” she said.

His fiancée, Lisa Campbell, a student teacher at the Gregory Park Primary School, is proud of Ricardo.

“We have been together for 20 years. He struggled a lot in his early years.  However, he is determined and works hard for what he wants. He is also ambitious and supportive of his family.  Every year, he takes his vacation leave in September, to ensure that the children get settled at school and he meets with their teachers,” she revealed.

Similarly Delorn Dixon, a lottery terminal technician, and childhood friend, is pleased with the progress that Ricardo has made in his life.

“We went to high school and college together.  He is a good friend.  He is a down-to-earth, no-nonsense person, who loves to laugh. I often use his story to motivate young boys so that they can also turn their lives around,” Mr Dixon pointed out.

A father of two boys, aged six and nine, Ricardo continues to improve his academic qualifications; and, he is currently teaching himself all three units of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants Level One, which he plans to sit in December.

“I like figures and working things out. My dream is to be transferred to the Auditing Department at JN Bank,” he affirms.