Juanita Neil October 06, 2023

CEO Tribute to Dr. the Hon Danny Williams

Behind The Curtain
Team News

Sir R. Danny Williams, affectionately known as Sir D. by our founder Ricardo Allen, contributed to One on One's growth in two fundamental ways. First, he guided Ricardo to the opportunities he needed to complete his secondary and tertiary education. Second, he provided business mentorship throughout One on One's growth.

This article is Ricardo's tribute to a man who wasn't only his mentor and friend, but also a powerful father figure. Continue reading to learn more about the impact Sir. D had on Ricardo and the One on One journey

It All Started With a Piece of Paper

You may have known him as R. Danny Williams, but for me, he was Sir D, and he played an irreplaceable role in the heart of One on One and in my journey from boyhood to manhood.

In 2005, I found myself as a fifth-form student at Jamaica College, deep in preparation for my upcoming exams. This was a journey six years removed from my original home in rural Calabar, Trelawny. I had migrated to Kingston in search of better opportunities and had even done menial jobs—working as a janitor and bag packer at various supermarkets in and around town. A year prior, my biological father had made it unambiguously clear that he wouldn’t finance my CXC exams since he and my mother were no longer together.

As summer approached, a unique opportunity presented itself. A schoolmate informed me that an alumnus, known to us as an “Old Boy,” was seeking names of students in need of summer jobs. Discovering that it was Danny, I made it a point to personally hand him my resume at 7 pm as he was leaving the office. My thought process was simple: if my resume came through another person, it would not hold the same weight. I wanted Danny to know me, to understand that my request was born out of need, not mere want.

Our relationship took off from there. Sir D, as I began calling him, effectively became my “adopted” father. He was the first man to ever call me “Son,” at least to my recollection. By the time I completed sixth form, I had performed admirably in my CAPE exams. However, the obstacle of university tuition loomed large. Fortunately, I had just won J$60K from a Bank of Jamaica essay competition. Sir D put me in touch with Tony Ray from JPS and encouraged me to seek scholarship opportunities from Donovan Perkins at PanCaribbean (now Sagicor) and Janet Sharp from Sagicor. I was fortunate enough to secure not one but three scholarships, which not only funded my Actuarial Sciences studies but also allowed me to relocate my entire family from Trelawny to Kingston.

One on One’s Early Days

Throughout my university years, Sir D continued to be my guiding force. He emphasized the importance of being bold, fearless, and unrelenting in the pursuit of my dreams. He didn’t just offer words; he showed me how to be a responsible elder sibling and how to take care of my mother. He taught me the importance of budgeting, and during one of our budgeting sessions, he made me realize that my weekend tutoring gigs for nearly 100 students were actually a budding business that I needed to cultivate.

In 2010, I found myself nominated for a Rhodes Scholarship. In preparation for a formal dinner associated with the interview process, Sir D and Aunt Shirley took it upon themselves to teach me table etiquette—a skill I had never been taught growing up.

Fast-forward to 2011, and I was hit with a new crisis: my mother was nearing homelessness. Emotionally paralysed and physically exhausted, I was virtually immobilised on my university hall floor. Sir D and Aunt Shirley took time off their vacation to come to my aid. They helped me establish a budget and a plan of action, pulling me out of a dangerous emotional rut.

In 2013, another pivotal decision lay before me: to accept a Fulbright Scholarship or continue to expand my company, which by then had nearly 1,000 students. Sir D’s counsel was decisive. He stressed the importance of focus, execution, and stakeholder communication. I opted to forgo the scholarship and focus on my company, One on One.

When I proposed taking One on One online, Sir D issued me a challenge: convince the head of investment at Sagicor. Meeting that challenge, he invested J$1M in One on One. With his support and connections, I managed to raise over J$5M to kickstart the company.
Throughout all these life-changing moments, Sir D never once stepped back. Whether it was attending my graduation in 2011, my wedding in 2017, or helping furnish my first home, he was there. His consistent level of care and regular check-ins were something entirely new for me.

In 2018, he even suggested that the company might need to shut down if we couldn’t improve performance. Knowing my nature, this pushed me into what I call “dark mode.” We re-engineered our technology, took on new clients, and the business bounced back dramatically.

Final Words

Sir D’s indelible values—punctuality, planning, and unfaltering commitment—fuel the ethos of not only me, but the entire team at One on One and our founding Directors/Shareholders. His final words to me about One Academy and our solution to solve massive problems in education echo as a lasting challenge: “If you guys pull this off, you’ll be heroes.” Sir D, thank you for shaping not just me, but the destinies of those we collectively touch. You are irreplaceable and YES, you DID make a difference, now it’s time for US to make our difference.

On behalf of the board of directors, shareholders, team at One on One, I pledge to uphold your ideals and give back though education, just as you have given to me and so many others. Your legacy will endure in the hearts and minds of all who had the privilege of knowing you. Thank you, Sir D, for your boundless grace and love.

With love,
Ricardo D. Allen
President & CEO
One on One Educational Services Limited