Scroll to the end for my professional bio.
I used to think that designing a life meant maximizing on salary, or job title, or intellectual challenge. But maximizing on those things led to emptiness, and feeling that I was living someone else’s life. To design a life that reflected my true self, I had to start with understanding what made me come alive.
I moved back to Jamaica right after Harvard Business School and took 3 jobs in 3 years. I was 28 years old and just starting to experiment with what I liked and didn’t like. Did I like big companies or small teams? Did I like financial services – what I was bred to do – or was I more creative? Why did I feel so different from my peers? Was something wrong with me?
Like so many others, I was searching for meaning with a capital M, and I didn’t know where to start.
I had to start with understanding what made me come alive.
I went on a journey of countless psychometric tests, “discover your passion” worksheets, journaling, and reading. In the end, I accidentally bumped into my path of fulfillment. Or put more eloquently, the universe rewarded my efforts at self-discovery by unveiling a new path to me at just the right time.
I joined the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship – Caribbean in 2013 as a part-time trainer for entrepreneurs. It was the first job I had where I was matched to my role based on a psychometric test, and I loved it. I loved interacting with passionate, high-performing people all day. I loved the freedom and flexibility of remote working. I loved hearing my entrepreneurs tell stories of how we impacted their lives.
I became CEO in December 2016, and it has been a whirlwind! We moved the Centre from Montego Bay to Kingston, hired a Kingston-based team, changed our strategy from targeting startups to scaleups, and brought 7 new corporate donors on board. And we’re just getting started!
I’ve learnt so much about myself since taking on this role, and I’m still learning a lot.
I’ve learnt so much about myself on this journey and I’m still learning a lot. I’m excited to share my story with you.
Lisandra Rickards is Chief Entrepreneurship Officer at the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship – Caribbean, where she has developed and delivered scaled initiatives to thousands of Caribbean entrepreneurs. As CEO, she spearheaded the Centre’s strategy to support growth-stage entrepreneurs towards investment, raised funding for the expansion of the Centre’s mission, and relocated its headquarters from Montego Bay to Kingston.
She previously headed the Programmes department – developing equity, loan, crowdfunding and grant opportunities, designing and developing the core content for the Centre’s free and open on-line platform, helping to launch the Alpha Angels Network of business angels in Jamaica, as well as impact analysis and reporting.
Before joining the Branson Centre, Lisandra conducted economic and statistical research for the best-selling books Freakonomics and Superfreakonomics; consulted for the Ministry of Finance in Jamaica; worked at Bain & Company in New York City; and has helped develop a global brand strategy for Caribbean conglomerate GraceKennedy. She was previously a Director of Business Development at the RMP Group, a private investment firm based in Orlando, Florida that targeted businesses in the United States currently servicing Fortune 1000 clients for investments of growth capital.
Lisandra has an MBA with First-Year Honors from Harvard Business School, and a B.A. in Economics from the University of Chicago, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Student Marshal. In 2008, she was featured in the CNBC documentary The Money Chase: Inside Harvard Business School.