Newly elected president of the Jamaica Exporters’ Association (JEA) Michelle Chong is adamant that growing Jamaica’s economy will require less discourse on the problems and a more ‘progressive’, solution-based approach.
At the JEA’s Talking Export Speaker Series held last Thursday at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston, under the theme ‘Let’s Think Bigger. Together”, the JEA president stated, “We don’t need to hear anymore about what our problems are! We already know them… Let us see how many progressive ideas we can engage each minute.”
Chong noted that bureacracy across governmental agencies was one of the challenges faced by the Jamaican exporter, among others, as already outlined in the National Export Strategy II which was rolled out in August of last year by Jampro.
“Last year Jampro consulted a team to develop the National Export Strategy II to review the role of 36 public private and government agencies… With 36 organisations we also stand the risk of duplication of responsibilities, confusion of our customers, lack of coordination, lack of leadership, too many meetings, too many poorly attended meetings or no meetings at all,” she said.
Arguing that though all the agencies, including Customs and the Trade Board, share one single vision, Chong explained that it has become necessary for her to enage in dialogue with all involved in order to “simplify our engagement”, which will result in “accountability of our primary duty”.
She then illustrated this point using an example of operations conducted at Honey Bun, the company for which she is the chief executive officer.
“At Honey Bun, we talk about how many buns we can pack in a minute. We know the standard. We know that 40 a minute is slow, but can get the job done on time, leaving little room for error. We know that 60 put a strain on our machinery. We know our optimum is 50 buns,” Chong explained.
The JEA president pointed out that as part of her expression of leadership for the nation’s exporting lobby group, she would like to share standards to reinforce the theme of thinking bigger together.
“We start on time — every time!” she asserted, adding: “We use positive, encouraging words whenever we speak… We don’t need to talk about things; we need to do the things we talk about and get results.”
“Think way out of the box and engage the creation of new ideas that will create huge opportunities for continuous improvement,” Chong continued.
By adopting this new ethos, she explained that Jamaica can become an example of productivity.
“Let us become the productive engine we call our members to become,” the JEA president said, appealing to the gathering. “Let us endeavour [to]…push each other beyond our comfort zone and create solutions.”