Team Guardian is again doing well in this year’s CariFin Games and she is an ardent fan of CariFin. It is always a pleasure hearing from her around this time as we try to find out her thoughts on CariFin and health and fitness issues in the industry.
CariFin E-NEWS: How are you today Maria?
Maria Rivas-Mc Millan:
CEN: We last spoke around this time in 2009. How do you like how your team is doing in CariFin 2010?
I’m always proud of all the members of Team Guardian. Win, lose or draw, the real success is in the strength of mind, body and spirit that is the inevitable result of a commitment of this nature. Overall, Team Guardian has given an excellent account.
CEN: Your star athlete won one of the 3 running events so she goes in with the best chance among the women to win the cross country event.
Absolutely! We stand a good chance at winning the Cross Country since Crystal showed strength and endurance in the Chancellor event and the Cross Country is not much different.
CEN: We are seeing a level of consistency in your team members that makes me wonder, there could be a level of dominance if they continue and stay together.
Having a common goal and dedicated, encouraging coaches like Jade Camps and Alfred Patrick continue to play a huge role in their progress to date.
CEN: What kind of standing does CariFin Games have in your institution among events you take part in? I am seeing a bigger role every year?
CariFin Games are a major event in our Employee Calendar – you’ve seen how our team participation has grown and, with it, our role as a corporate sponsor.
CEN: On a more serious note, how has Guardian coped with obesity and inactivity, and the resultant absenteeism caused by these factors?
I should mention that Guardian introduced a Wellness Programme more than a decade ago. Called ‘Life Pulse’, it is managed by an employee committee with the support of Group Human Resources. Life Pulse’s mantra is ‘healthy bodies, healthy minds, healthy lives’.
So both the company and employees are very cognizant of the effect lifestyle choices can have on quality of life. That doesn’t mean we do what we’re supposed to do all the time – it’s a battle on an individual and company basis.
The most important thing is to continue to drive home appropriate messages and to offer opportunities to employees to engage in an active lifestyle.
CEN: What kinds of programmes have you and your department been involved in to bring awareness of better health and the need for individuals to take personal responsibility for their physical fitness.
We work closely with the Life Pulse Committee in their wellness activities. There is the annual fun walk/run; we do lots of hiking and actively encourage people to stop smoking, to take advantage of our discounted gym membership facility and we usually have a health week, where we test our employees’ pressure, cholesterol levels, diabetes, etc
Earlier this year, we gave employees a free Self-Defence class and are considering how we can take this forward.
Employees also have access to a table tennis board, basketball net and a billiards table for after work cool down. This is, of course, in addition to the support we give the Guardian Dragon Boat and CariFin Teams.
CEN: The entire financial services sector seems to be fighting a big battle with obesity and associated diseases; as an industry we are expected to give high levels of performance to world class best practice yet there is the need for work life balance, how do you deal with that?
It’s a challenge and it’s at every level, in every industry. Life is much faster today and more stressful – just think of the effort to get to work, facing hours of traffic going and knowing it’ll be more of the same to get back!
I remember something that Anthony Watkins, well known motivational speaker, told me once when he asked me what I did to relax and for a second, I couldn’t think! He said, ‘always take time for self-care’. That piece of advice I continue to pass along.
CEN: Do you see the things we are doing as being enough to impact our health and fitness problems.
Yes but it is ‘seasonal’. The question is – how do you get the teams to keep training together as a group throughout the year and encouraging others.
CEN: You have seen your team organize themselves, get into training programmes and you have seen the effects of fitter, more energetic people on your staff and the influence that would of have on the other staff, what advice would you give to the rest of financial sector to have similar program or do more to see the effect on a greater percentage of staff.
The core team members are getting fitter and feeling really positive. They are the ones who you see in other company activities and getting others out there as well. We still have a lot to do but, if I were to offer advice to any other teams, I would say, look for an executive or management sponsor – Someone who can drive the message across the organisation. Ask your HR or Communications department to brainstorm ways in which you can do it together. People have different fitness levels and goals. You need to appreciate that and work with it.
CEN: What are your hopes for your team seeing they did so well last year any chance of them repeating or doing better?
We’ll definitely have a good showing overall. The Team is made up of many parts, all pulling together. But it helps that Hollis and Ian continue to excel, both of them recording faster times this year in the walking and running events. Ryan Pierre and Jeneen Salim have also shown marked improvement with Jeneen trimming a total of 7 minutes off her 2009 times in the three events.
We also had a lot of first timers this year and it was great seeing team members going back and helping them to finish in style! That’s true team spirit.
CEN: O.K. Maria thanks for time, it a pleasure sharing this time with you and getting your views and perspective on things health and fitness and CariFin.
Thank you. It’s been a pleasure, as always.