They call her superwoman; she is revered by them as a female figure and fierce lead, placed amongst a throng of talented, outspoken and strong males who look to her for leadership and guidance.
Karen Palache, the assistant watersports manager at Beaches Negril is not the least bit daunted in her role as second in command to the Watersports Manager, whom she supports, managing a team of 44 males and four females at the resort.
Palache shares that from birth, she has been surrounded by males, “I am the only girl for my father, I have two brothers and I was the true definition of a tomboy growing up.” Fate would also have it that she is also a mother to two boys, currently attending university.
“Many people say to me that it must be difficult managing so many males, and I will admit, that it does have its challenges but I always recall how I’ve done a great job raising my two boys now on the cusp of adulthood.” She further shared that it is important to sometimes be extra firm when the situation calls for it, but also be willing to listen, give advice and show them compassion as well. Knowledge of psychology also goes a very long way. She even gets a good laugh in whenever her team would have their usual ‘man-to-man’ talks with her around; sometimes blurting out after the fact ‘Ms. Karen I forget you are not one of us!”
Working in watersports is the real deal for this scuba instructor-turned- manager who has been in the profession for over 18 years. She has always loved the water, something passed on to her from her German-born stepmother who taught her and her brothers to swim when she was eight years old. Palache recalls the first time getting her toes wet in the field when she was placed second in an environmental competition at age 19. The prize was open-water dive lessons and certification. After this, her career path took a different turn and she was in sales for a few years.
An advertisement in one of the local newspapers seeking persons interested in free dive master training followed by a job offer as Scuba Instructor again whetted her appetite and she dove right in. This was where she learnt that Sandals Resorts had vacancies for female dive instructors. She joined the dive team at Sandals Negril in 2004 and a year later was transferred to Beaches Negril to lead the children’s diving programmes.
“Karen is great at what she does. She has held the team together for quite some time in the absence of a watersports manager. Her tenacity and her commitment amaze me. Throughout each day she is in key locations to ensure that the water sports facilities are 100% safe for all our visiting guests. Her team members respect her and she gets the job done,” shared Beaches Negril’s Hotel Manager Noel Isaacs.
An obvious stickler for everything growth and development, Palache over the years at Beaches Negril has racked up a lot of training hours and numerous certifications, “the training manager here knows me so well, as soon as a new training opportunity becomes available she calls to tell me to come and sign up for it,’ she revealed.
As she continues to make her impact surrounded by her team of male professionals, Palache would have it no other way and dreams of another great promotion in the field, still working amongst her male counterparts.