Secretarial Services Limited
is celebrating its 50th anniversary!

The Business and Employment Centre (B&EC) has survived several recessions and is surviving the current one thanks to its very strong dedicated team and the value of the services it provides to the business community.

We have learned to adapt to the changing economic pressures and needs of our clients by diversifying and customizing our service to suit individual needs and their pockets!

Now more than ever, companies need to save on payroll and hiring costs. The B&EC can help them do this and that is why we continue to be successful when companies are not hiring. If you want to find out what we can do for you, contact Catherine Impey on 436-7243 and check the information on our website.


Secretarial Services Limited was established by Jill Hamilton in 1964. Sonya Lawrence purchased the business in 1971, then in 1991 Catherine Impey and Marcia Ishmael became the new owners. In 1995, it was decided to use the trading name of The Business and Employment Centre to better reflect the activities of the company.

From the large typing pools of the 60's and early 70's we have become the leading Temporary Staffing company in Barbados AND we STILL provide secretarial services.

How It All Started

Secretarial Services Limited (SSL) was set up in 1964 through the initiative of Jill Hamilton (also author of "Women of Barbados" and "Taste of Barbados"). Her husband, Gordon, who was in commerce, realised the need for a secretarial agency after facing a shortage of secretaries at his company and suggested Jill start an agency for part-time secretaries. This was a new concept at the time in Barbados and they took the lead in filling this void.

At that time it was particularly aimed at housewives who could not go out to work every day and students who wished to earn extra money during the holidays to find temporary work. Work was carried out at our office or the workers were assigned to the clients. People who could not type themselves, small entrepreneurs, students who needed theses typed and big business all welcomed the introduction of Secretarial Services. This was the first and only service of its kind in Barbados.

How It Continued

In due course, SSL also offered permanent placements for job seekers, but the "Temp" department was the busiest section of the agency as it still is today.

In 1971 Jill Hamilton felt the time had come for a more energetic person to be at the helm and Sonya Lawrence (then Jordan) who had worked for a similar organisation in Canada and as a roving secretary with SSL, jumped at the offer. In those days there was still a large typing pool, but the main focus was temporary workers and job placements.

Many people will still remember the late Jean Thirkell who retired from SSL in 1992 and had been responsible for staff placements during Sonya's time.

Introduction of Computers

The candidates were mainly women for secretarial work and Sonya made sure this changed to include men especially in the clerical and accounting fields. When word processors first came to Barbados in the early 70's, they cost the exorbitant sum of $35,000! However, the transition eventually became necessary and Secretarial Services Limited invested and then added desktop publishing to its list of services.

The College of Business Technology (CBT)

Dr. Bill Sherratt shares his knowledge during the comptuer training workshop.

The CBT, that started as the Secretarial Services Training Division, was created by Sonya Lawrence with Felicite Lynton as Principal.

Courses were in Administration and Business and included computer skills which were examined by Pitman, London Chamber of Commerce and Association of Business Executive examining boards.

Changing Hands

In 1990, Sonya Lawrence made the decision to concentrate on the training division and sell the employment agency. She looked for a buyer who would continue the business with the same efficiency and integrity and to maintain the high standards she had set.

In 1991, the company was sold to Catherine Impey and Marcia Ishmael, (sister of Felicite Lynton already running the training division and who later joined the B&EC team).

Managing Director, Catherine Impey, now a Barbadian Citizen, is British born but brought up in France where her family still resides. She studied in the UK in the late 60's, where she met lifelong friends Marcia Ishmael, Felicite Lynton and Mervin Ishmael. One at a time they moved to Barbados, their home country, and this close tie in turn brought her to Barbados. This was just at the right time, when Sonya Lawrence was looking for a new owner.

Mervin Ishmael worked in Marketing and communications with the B&EC for a few years eventually returning to the UK. He is still remembered by many of our clients today for his friendly and cheerful personality.

Felicité Lynton, a Director of B&EC and the Head of Staffing Services for several years until 2001 when she became unable to work for health reasons. Although no longer able to work, she remains part of the Team in spirit and stays in close contact with her former colleagues.

In 1995, to reflect the changing dynamics in commerce, it was agreed to operate under the trading name of The Business and Employment Centre.

How It Is Today

In 2010 we moved from Beckwith Mall in the City to Kensington Court in Fontabelle to a more spacious office with convenient parking for our clients.

Despite ups and downs over the years with difficult economic times and the present recession, the services of The Business and Employment Centre are still in high demand, especially the temporary help services, an indispensable tool for a flexible staffing strategy.

Paper files and card indexes are replaced with specialized Staffing software, internet based skills testing and a database for job seeker applications via the website.

Yes, the typing pools have disappeared, but The Business Centre is still busy preparing reports, quotations, letters, spreadsheets and other documents, proof reading, editing and translations for busy entrepreneurs or large organisations wishing to outsource secretarial work.

From its beginnings in a small office at Balmoral Gap in Hastings, this company has become known in the business community as a reliable resource for providing competent and efficient staff at short notice. The Business and Employment Centre has many faithful customers who have continued to use its services from its modest beginnings to the present day.


Jeneifer Price (20 years) is Staffing Consultant in charge of Temporary Help Services. This is a very specialized task that involves in-depth assessment of candidates to match them to the specific requirements of each assignment and the client's preferences. This takes years of practice and her regular clients know they can rely on her to find just the right people at short notice. Jeneifer also has an experienced hand on the recruitment side and takes over the general management of the company while the MD is out of office.

Monica Murrell-Jones (15 years) is Staffing Consultant in charge of the extremely important tasks involved in the assessment and selection process of candidates for permanent or fixed term recruitment. With her friendly guidance based on years of experience, candidates can rely on her to help them find employment. Companies can rely on this reservoir of experience to find them just the right candidates. Monica is also experienced with Temporary Help services and fills in for Jeneifer when on leave.

Andria Cumberbatch (18 years) is Staffing Assistant, responsible for the management of the company's specialized electronic records and filing and one of the most cheerful people you will see in any company. She is extremely efficient, will track down a Candidate if needs be and make sure time sheets are received on time and assist in the payroll processing. With her many years' experience, she is familiar with many facets of the business and is an invaluable assistant to the Staffing Consultants.

Valerie Ward (9 years) is Administrative and Marketing Assistant. She is always eager to assist any customer and is very knowledgeable on all aspects of the business. She helps out in both the Staffing and Secretarial departments while staying on top of her main duties in Marketing and General Business Administration by assisting the Managing Director who finds it hard to do without her. A real office professional!

Marcia Payne (7 years) joined the company in a temporary capacity in May 2007 as Secretary/Front Desk Administrative Assistant, to become a short time later a full time staff member. Marcia carries out most of the secretarial work for our regular or walk-in customers. Always helpful, you are made to feel welcome from the moment she greets you at the office. Her clients rely on her to draft a variety of professional documents and she assists in other areas such as candidate registration procedures, US VISA and passport on line applications.

We are lucky to be among the clients of Liz Husbands (20 years). She is a wiz in the Accounts & Payroll department and unbelievably fast paced in every segment of her work. She will meet the various payroll deadlines whatever it takes. She will even work from home when sick! Financial Statements also are ready in record time and "try to find any errors if you can"!

Edwardine Belgrave (7 years) is office helper and messenger, always willing to help out with anything. She is a pleasure to have around and sometimes even quite entertaining! "We miss her when she is not present, she brings a loving, sensitive home feel to the office and can be the element of relief from stressful situations," said one of the staff members.

Catherine Impey (23 years) is the Managing Director ensuring that the organisation flows effectively. She has full confidence in the staff, without having to overlook every minor detail. This allows her to focus on the company's performance, marketing, innovation and development of services and processes, meeting the Clients or resolving any problems and, with the input of her team, making sure everything is in place to maintain and continually improve the quality and speed of service.

Marcia Ishmael-Hammans (23 years) is Company Director and contributes to the main decision making and strategy of the business. While being the "silent partner" she nevertheless participates when necessary and takes great interest in the development of the company and the well being of the staff.

Philmore Alleyne PhD FCCA (22 years) is our Company Secretary and Accountant. He is an invaluable business advisor and mentor, and has helped the company and its directors pull through the toughest times. He has his own accounting firm, Philmore Alleyne & Co. Chartered Accountants.

Swinburne Charles MCTS (7 years) is our ICT Consultant. He is founder and CEO of Checksum Systems Inc and has taken B&EC from a break-fix model to a 100% Cloud Based Solutions and IT Managed Services company within 10 years. Mr Charles' team of experienced service Technicians has been invaluable in ensuring that our Network is protected and monitored around-the-clock.

What Makes Us Different?

"Proud to be different", the company screens the candidates before the job request actually comes in. This screening, testing and assessment process puts the candidates into a category and level of work according to the person's academic achievements, experience and skills as well as taking their personal attributes into consideration. We are therefore ready in anticipation of any job requests being made.

Clients usually need a "Temp" at short notice and being "candidate ready" helps dramatically in reducing the time it takes to complete the task. This means that the business is ready to assign candidates almost instantly and constantly. As a result we already have pre-assessed candidates for permanent positions. This cuts down the recruitment process to a minimum for our clients making the whole process very easy."

Many other recruitment firms usually wait for the job offer to be made, then start the screening process of existing applicants and advertise the vacancy in the press for additional applicants. This is very costly and time consuming and gives B&EC a clear time and cost efficiency advantage. When a position does need advertising, B&EC has a reliable network and will use less costly and wider reaching electronic media.

Skills assessment software has become indispensible to today's Staffing providers and the B&EC boasts of having over 300 internet-based tests. These are available in the latest software packages, from word processing and accounts to customer care and business etiquette.

Candidates taking the tests can receive a detailed report of their results and, when recruiting with our agency, employers can use this software in their own office for extra testing at no cost.

A Final Note

Thank you again to all our clients and candidates for taking our company to where it is today. It is your participation and ideas that have contributed to the development of our services and our continued success.

We would be very happy to hear your comments and, with your input, continue to innovate, develop and customise our services to suit the current economical climate and the changing face of business.

Whether a past, current or future Client we look forward to hearing from you. Just call Tel: 436-7243 or email