February - Diana Burgess
Diana Burgess’s story is one of determination, faith and courage. Her life’s journey has been replete with her defying the odds in order to cross the finish line victorious. Diana’s fighting spirit was evident at an early age, with her mother being hospitalized 2 months early to ensure her safe delivery. Her equilibrium was to be further interrupted when she moved from her home in St. Mary to live in the depressed community of 77 Lane in Kingston at age 6; where she later suffered sexual abuse, trauma and being bullied at school. It is no wonder that at the end her years at Tarrant High School, she left with only basic skills, which resulted in her doing a series of low paying jobs, including being a messenger, babysitter and office clerk.
Powered by Faith
“Eventually,” Diana admits, “I had a sense that I wanted to do more - I really wanted to work at American Airlines - this is where faith started to raise itself in a real way in my life. I was praying for this job. Through a series of divine interventions, I was able to secure a job at American Airlines.” Little did she know then, that it was her stint at American Airline that would prepare her to transition to her role at JMMB, where she was charged with the task of steering the organisation’s unique culture, built on its Vision of Love. Although this new role would prove challenging for Diana, she was not deterred by the challenge; and sought to bolster herself by researching and reading widely about the development of strong cultures within organizations. Her legacy of helping to lay the foundation of JMMB’s culture, is evidence of her determination to make a vision a reality.
But just as Diana’s life was in its ascendancy, chaos threatened to descend when she narrowly escaped death, due to an undiagnosed heart condition and subsequently underwent emergency open heart surgery in 2010. The diagnosis came as a shock to Diana who, for years, had been treated for asthma and had become a regular staple at local and international 5K and half marathons, participating in Reggae Marathon from 2004 to 2009, prior to surgery.
In explaining her experience, Diana notes, “That I didn’t die is an absolute miracle. Looking at the surgeon’s report, anyone without any knowledge of medicine would still be astonished that I survived.”
Having endured her surgery, Diana was ready to resume her life of running, and although the journey back to participating in road races was sometimes painful and slow, she proudly completed the half marathon leg of the Reggae Marathon in December 2010 (the same year as her surgery). Burgess has stayed the course, running half marathons in Jamaica and around the world, beating the odds and demonstrating not only her physical strength, but strength of mind and will power. She proudly announced that, “The half marathon in San Diego, I finished in 2 hours and 45 minutes; I think that’s my best time to date. Running has become my passion and the lessons learned from running are amazing.”
Diana’s Passion & Purpose for Empowering Others
Diana’s passion for running is only outpaced by her appetite for positively impacting the lives of others. This passion has led Diana to her true purpose as an empowerment coach and founder/president of Much More Development Limited, a company she envisioned back in 2006 and decided to establish it, along with a few friends, in 2010. The company seeks to empower persons through life coaching. She is committed to unearthing the greatness in herself and supporting others to unearth their greatness, even as she balances her responsibilities at JMMB, as group talent management and cultural development consultant.
Formal education came later for her, and she now holds diplomas in Counselling and Psychology, from the UWI Open Campus, and Human Resource and Organizational Development, from University Associates in the United States. She also boasts certification from American Society of Quality (ASQ) as a Manager of Quality/Organizational Excellence, in addition to the wealth of certifications she has amassed.
Burgess is an avid reader and has uncovered the artist within, boasting a catalogue of art that has been displayed in regional offices of JMMB. She is also a true animal lover, confessing, “some people have children, I have my dogs.”
She has come a far way from being the little girl from 77 Lane, in a depressed community off Waltham Park Avenue, in Kingston, to living a life of possibilities; undergirded by a positive mindset and a passion to empower others to be more than their circumstances, whether good or challenging.
Her life’s philosophy captures her passion and serves as her guiding force for the way she lives her life, “In the end, it only matters if the 'dash' (-) between your birth and your death, was lived to add value to wherever life took you.”