The long and winding road to Polaris Holdings
Warren Jones had a dream. But when it came true, it did not turn out quite the way he expected.
Long before he became CEO of Polaris Holdings, he spent 15 years as a music teacher and then went back to school for his masters in educational services.
When he returned he could not believe his luck. He landed his dream job as acting principal. He wanted to be an actual school principal, but this was close enough. However, Mr Jones did not stick to the script.
Northlands Secondary was a school that was under the axe as part of a new, incoming education restructuring.
“I was sent there to close it down,” he now says with resignation.
But by media accounts of the day, he took a poorly functioning school and made it better – so much better, parents objected to its closure. Except, that is not the way it was supposed to be.
The controversy resulted in Northlands staying open, no longer as a secondary school, but a primary school.
However, there was no room for Warren Jones, at least not as a principal. He was crushed. He politely declined the job the Education Ministry offered.
He recalled: “Being a principal had always been my dream job. That was what I really wanted to do. The ministry decided I was no longer needed. I was very disappointed.
“They offered me a job becoming a music teacher again, which I refused. I walked away from education and went to work for the Bermuda Telephone Company.”
After five years there, starting as assistant VP Human Resources, he joined the government as Assistant Cabinet Secretary for Policy heading the new Central Policy Unit. Four years later in 2003, he was moved to his first CEO job – Permanent Secretary for the sprawling Ministry of Health, the island’s largest and costliest ministry.
And later, he returned to education as Permanent Secretary, another expensive and controversial ministry, where he remained until 2013, when he took the job at Polaris.
“I didn’t choose to go into Education. I would have never chosen to go back to Education. I just didn’t even think it was in the cards, until I joked one day that it was where I would probably end up. Next thing you know….”
But the public-sector experience, he said, helped develop many of the tools he needed for the private sector.
“In government, I learnt to keep things short. Be direct and to the point. Don’t waste words, don’t waste time.
“Ministers don’t have time to read ten to 15 pages. You have to be concise to get your message across.
“Same thing with my (Polaris) board. They are important people with other jobs and other commitments. So, similarly they need to get the message and you have to be to the point.”
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