Adena D Johnson Principal Trade and Quality Infrastructure Officer, Montserrat
The freedom you get from living on Montserrat is unlike no other.
Tell me anything about yourself
I’ve spent the majority of my years in Montserrat, having grown up primarily in the Northern part of the island.
However, I am an original Easterner of Long Ground where my Johnson genealogy originates. One of the key attributes of many Johnson’s is our musical ability and I was not spared.
I dabble a bit in singing and I find peace in music, be it soul, r&b, gospel and soca.
I consider myself to be a loner. I am an only child for my mother and the last of 4 children for my dad. To this day, I am still connected to my mother at the hip.
I’m not sure if growing up as an only child had any impact on my personality type, but
according to every personality test there is, I am a classic introvert.
I spend the majority of my time away from work enclosed in my room, with a book in my hand or Netflix/YouTube streaming on the TV.
How would you describe your immediate family
My mother and father are by far the most important people in my life. I have witnessed their endless sacrifices in pursuit of giving me the quality of life that they probably never had while growing up.
They are the most loving and supportive parents who have always put me first, and they continue to put me first even at this age.
What does your name mean and do you feel you live up to it
I have no idea what my name means. My mother always tells me the story of how she selected my name from a baby name book.
She highlighted that there were 3 ways to spell my name – Adena, Adeena or Adina. She obviously fell in love with the first one. And I think it looks and reads the best too.
In another life what would you come back as
An IT expert of some sort. I love what technology can do and I love how it simplifies tasks that were once tedious and lengthy.
Technology is gradually changing the world and I would have loved to be someone working behind the scenes, propelling that change.
Tell me something that made you smile or laugh recently
My mother makes me laugh every day. My introversions seemingly bring her distress and she expresses this through mimicking me. She dislikes when I turn down opportunities to sell myself. I suppose as a parent, one of her greatest joys is sharing my accomplishments with the world.
Tell me something that scares you (we won’t tell anyone ssssshhh)
Everything reptilian – they creep me out. Not to mention caterpillars. I’ve recently started a backyard garden and they are everywhere, eating my pepper leaves.
Needless to say that my mother has been the one to rescue my plants from their wrath. It’s still mind-boggling how they transform into butterflies.
When are you at your happiest
In the comfort of my room with my books and TV.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety
I read a lot to detox myself of worries. Books allow me to transcend and escape to another realm.
I have also incorporated journaling as a mechanism for handling anxieties.
I’ve been journaling since 2012 and this is possibly one of the most consistent activities in my life because it has proven to be an effective method for handling stress.
Anxiety is no joke and at times, your only judgment free zone is a pen and paper.
How do you celebrate your achievements
I am the Principal Trade and Quality Infrastructure Officer within the Trade Division, Government of Montserrat. Sadly, I don’t celebrate my achievements enough. It may just be the introvert in me that hates to be the centre of attention.
What made you decide to start your profession
My fascination with a Globalisation module whilst undertaking my BA International Business.
The complexities involved in domestic and external trade intrigued me to pursue an MSc in International Trade Strategy and Operations.
I love to learn and this role is always teaching me or opening my eyes to something new regularly.
What are the typical challenges you face in your role
Being from a small island such as Montserrat with very little outward trade, it limits our input and bargaining power on the regional/international market.
There are many undeveloped and underdeveloped trade legislation and policies which limit our activities.
Would you have done anything differently in your career path
In hindsight, I should have harnessed some external working experience.
Finally this is the moment to shout out to a few people who have really encouraged, supported or even taking a gamble on you to allow your current success
I can’t give my parents enough credit. They have funded all of my academic pursuits and have nurtured me emotionally through each stage of my life.
My closest family members and friends who endured and still continue to endure my many nagging complaints.
How can the skills you’ve acquired help to benefit Montserrat
Many are not aware but I completed a 20k-word research paper on the topic ‘SMEs and Natural Disasters in the Caribbean’ which gained me a distinction for my MSc.
Planning is a critical skill that many people don’t enjoy, but it is one of the most critical life skills that we can ever have.
The many uncertainties which emerged in 2020 have even more so solidified the importance of planning. I’ve gained many skills throughout my academic journey, but I am most proud of my ability to engage in planning.
It is a critical skill that will benefit Montserrat if we are to evolve from aid dependency.
What can we look forward to next from you
Perhaps more visibility. I know I have to break out of my shell a little more and share with the world my take on a lot of issues. I think a lot, I write a lot and I read a lot. It’s now time for me to speak up.
I hope to eventually bring my blog to life soon.
What’s the best thing about Montserrat in your eyes
The freedom you get from living on Montserrat is unlike no other.
It’s the perfect place to live if you’re that carefree type ; it’s the peacefulness of our communities and friendliness of our neighbours.
Montserratians are some of the most giving and thoughtful humans on this earth.
What’s your favourite thing to eat on the weekends
My Saturday soup, of course. When I get tired of that, alternatively, I love me some fish water, goat head/foot souse or goat water.
What would you love to see for Montserrat in 10 years
A thriving private sector underpinned with numerous development opportunities for school leavers and individuals seeking a career change.
Maybe 20 years might be a more realistic number to see this happen though.
What one thing would you do to maintain our culture
Our culture is engrained in the minds and actions of our older generation. Yes, culture, through history is taught on a small scale in the schools, but I believe we are cultured through and by our surroundings.
Most of us learn by sight and actions, and as we boldly take on this technological age, our heritage and traditions must be preserved through those means.
But to preserve, we must first acknowledge or define the scope of our culture; recognise it and give pre-eminence to it in our national decision making; continue to celebrate it in our usual grandiose means; and lastly, teach it.
Much has been done and is currently being undertaken by various Government agencies to promote and recognize aspects of our culture.
We now have the collective responsibility as citizens to teach it, and not solely through the education system, but in our households, social groupings, and churches.
What one behaviour would you wish for us to leave in the past as a people
Let me preface this response by saying that there is not just one behaviour which we need to change.
However, I wish to bring light to the hard working and creative persons within the private sector, who, regardless of the odds and uncertainties surrounding our deprived and sluggish economy, continue to hustle.
My hope is that we stop depending so heavily on the Government to provide jobs, but we embrace the opportunities which surround us globally.
My hope is that we find ways and means of educating ourselves and learning a skill or trade that can bring some economic reward to us.
I wish that we would begin to seek out and create opportunities for ourselves.
Someone has shared a wonderful video of you speaking in a GIU update, really great work. Could you share more on the hopes for this and how more people can support and watch
This was no doing of mine. It is a monthly programme organised by the GIU, of which I was politely asked to be the face. I think it is an amazing idea and it brings the affairs of government to the fore in a short video.
Sometimes, we wonder what civil servants are up to, and Government in Focus provides the platform whereby that information is visually presented to an online audience in a summarised format.
We can only hope that it would be a point of reference for persons seeking to know about activities, projects, plans and programmes occurring within the public service. Check out Government Of Montserrat Information Unit You Tube Channel
Give me your aspirational date of when you think Montserrat will be independent if ever
Finally, when you think of Montserrat, how does it make you feel
It gives me that tingly and warm feeling on the inside.