The Business and Employment Centre
is celebrating its 45th anniversary and marching towards its 50th!

A very big thank you to our Clients and Candidates from The B&EC Team for your loyal patronage over the years. This landmark anniversary would not be possible without you!

Left to right front row: Jeneifer Price, Marcia Payne and Andria Cumberbatch
Left to Right Standing: Catherine Impey, Hugh Husbands, Liz Husbands and Valerie Ward
(Not in Photo: Monica Murrell-Jones and Edwardine Belgrave)


Through the years we have been dedicated to the provision of a diversified and high quality service by adapting to the changing requirements of our clients. In 1995, it was decided to use the trading name of The Business and Employment Centre to better reflect the activities of the company.

Even during a recession, our services are in demand as we provide cost effective staffing solutions and "value for money". We have the advantage of providing "Temps" (temporary workers) on a flexible basis, saving on hiring and payroll costs and carrying out a recruitment process that could otherwise involve high expenses. The money and time saved by the client can then be used to more benefit elsewhere within the organisation. The Business and Employment Centre is willing to negotiate staffing transactions to accommodate Clients during difficult economic times.


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.

Jill Hamilton
1964 - 1970

Sonya Lawrence
1971 - 1990

Catherine Impey
1991 - Present

Marcia Ishmael
1991 - Present

From the large typing pools of the 60's and early 70's we have become the leading Temporary Staffing company in Barbados. We still provide secretarial services when needed along with many other services.
(Click here for more history)

Call Us Before You Feel Like This!


We realise that selection and hiring of Staff is a particularly challenging and time consuming activity. The Business and Employment Centre views it as paramount that the best is done for the Clients, both the persons seeking new jobs and the companies seeking new employees, to make sure the right people are in the right jobs.


"Despite the harsh economic times we are nevertheless constantly searching for experienced top-quality candidates, from receptionists to senior accountants, "said Catherine Impey.


"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."

Marcia with a client
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.

In keeping with the topic of difference, internet based skills assessment is relatively recent to the Staffing market and the B&EC boasts of having it at their disposal. Tests 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.


Left To Right:
Liz Husbands, Jenifer Price, Andria Cumberbatch, Edwardine Belgrave, Catherine Impey, Valerie Ward, Marcia Payne and Hugh Husbands.

You will not be answered by a machine when calling during office hours, but by a person ready, willing and able to assist you. Let us introduce you to our Team:

Marcia Payne is Secretary and Front Desk Assistant who carries out most of the secretarial work for walk-in customers. Always helpful, you are made to feel welcome from her first words via telephone or when she greets you at the office in Beckwith Mall.
Valerie Ward 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 the general business administration.
Andria Cumberbatch is Staffing Assistant, responsible for the management of the company's 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 for payrolls. With her many years' experience, she is a valuable assistant to the Staffing Consultants.
Jeneifer Price and Monica Murrell-Jones are the Staffing Consultants in charge of the extremely important tasks involved in the assessment and selection process for the temporary assignments and permanent placements respectively. They have been working with the company for more than a decade and, with friendly guidance based on years of experience, candidates can rely on them to help them find employment. Companies can rely on this reservoir of experience to find them just the right candidates.
Edwardine Belgrave 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.
B&EC is lucky to be counted among the clients of Liz Husbands. 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"!
Catherine Impey 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 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.


Don't Let This Happen
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 everyday 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 only service of its kind in Barbados.


Typing Pool of 1970's

Introduction of Computers
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

Jean Thirkell
remember Jean Thirkell (now deceased) who was responsible for staff placements during Sonya's time before she retired in 1992.

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.

Felicite Lynton
A training division was created with Felicite Lynton as Principal, to teach Administrative and Business courses including computer skills which were examined by Pitman, London Chamber of Commerce and Association of Business Executive examining boards.

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, 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.

Coming from a family business background and with her experience working in England and France in the Secretarial Field including "Temping" with agencies, this was a golden opportunity. From the first difficult years coping with recession, the company has steamed ahead and kept abreast with the ever changing demands of business.

Mervin Ishmael worked in Marketing and communications with the B&EC for a few years eventually returning to the UK. Felicite Lynton, a Director of B&EC became unable to work for health reasons in 2001. 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.

Our Offices


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 indispensible 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 small 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.


We would be very happy to hear your comments and, with your input, continue to innovate, develop and customise our services to suit your requirements. Whether a past, current or future Client we look forward to hearing from you. Just call Tel: 436-7243

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Tel: 436-7243 Email: -
Offices at: Beckwith Mall, Lower Broad Street, Bridgetown.