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Digital Technology Has Redefined How We Live And Work: NCB 2.0 IS DIGITAL

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Digital technology has redefined how we live and work. It has enhanced our lives by providing access to information and services once only enjoyed by a small percentage of the global population. Like education, I view digital technology as a great equalizer of which we can all take advantage to improve our personal lives, our companies and our nations. At NCB, we take many lessons from digital technology companies – such as Amazon, Google and Uber – that have developed simple mobile and web applications to enhance the lives of people across the globe. They have raised the bar for customer centricity – a bar that we at NCB are eager to meet because we are nothing without our customers. It is with this in mind that we launched the first known Agile Lab in the English-speaking Caribbean in 2017 to begin the transition to a way of working long adopted by digital technology companies that has contributed to customer centric solutions, efficient product development, employee engagement and growth.

Through our Agile Lab, we were able to launch and pilot our first working software solution for account opening in 22 weeks which reduced wait times to open new deposit accounts by over 50%. We will begin full rollout of this solution in the 2018 financial year. We will also continue to work on additional digital solutions to make banking and money management simpler, easier, more secure and more delightful for each and every customer. When customers are able to make their money work for them, they are able to live their best lives. This is our greatest desire.

The following quotes synthesize what’s ingrained in our DNA:

“Aspiration is the main fuel for progress. Aspirations transform a set of ordinary people into extraordinary achievers.” —Narayana Murthy (Infosys)

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” —George Bernard Shaw

“It is not the strongest of species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.” —Charles Darwin

Patrick A. Hylton, CD President and Group Chief Executive Officer NCB Financial Group Limited

Source: NCB ANNUAL REPORT 2016/17

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Should Jamaica Abandon Its 2030 Vision?

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As a Jamaican employed in an organisation, you are worried about the future of our nation. It appears as if our country is stumbling along, barely keeping its head above water. At the same time, you are aware of the power of a corporate vision.
Why hasn’t someone done the same for our 2.8 million people on the island, and the other 2+ million in the Diaspora?

The good news is that something is already in place in the form of Vision 2030. But why isn’t it changing your everyday experience?

The truth is that we need help. The two main things Jamaicans care most about – economy and crime – seem not to have progressed for decades. Instead, we want the hyper-growth of Trinidad-2004 and Guyana-2023. Or maybe even the steady high performance of the Bahamas.

Or perhaps more importantly, we envy the low crime rates of Barbados or Cayman (formerly a Jamaican protectorate.) At some point, we led all these countries in these areas.

Today, we are working hard not to slip into the same zone as Haiti.

If our leading companies can accomplish so much long-term success, why can’t our country, we wonder? While a direct comparison is unfair, maybe there are a few things we can learn from best practices accepted in your organisation.

A Joined Up, Far-Away Future

A “joined-up” future is one that lots of stakeholders contribute to creating. In a company, it means engaging the board, executives, staff, customers, suppliers, regulators, local communities and more.

Shouldn’t our country do the same?

Based on my experience and queries of colleagues outside government…we don’t know that we already have a joined-up faraway future…at least on paper. In fact, the process used to create Vision 2030 Jamaica from 2003-9 is a world-class model. As such, I have shared it at in-person and online strategy conferences as a case study.

Perhaps you recognise the summary statement: “the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business.” In times gone, it was the tagline of speeches given by the Governor General, Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition and many others.

But I looked over the recent Budget Debate notes. I struggled to find much of a mention. A Google search didn’t help. Here are a few ways business people at all levels could intervene now to prevent what former leaders of our country seem to be telling us…this is too important to allow it to be eaten up in regular chakka-chakka.

Why the urgency?

With six or so years remaining until we cross the finish line in 2030, we can’t afford to waste a single moment in mid-race. Remember when Miller-Uibo glanced up at the screen and lost her lead in the 400m final of the 2017 World Championships? We are likely to stumble into defeat also as a nation, unless we pay attention to the following.

A Divisive Election – You and I watch the bitter combat underway in the USA. It appears that cooperation towards common goals is impossible. Within a year, our political parties will try to win the next election by emphasising their differences. This is natural. But it’s the opposite of the intent of Vision 2030 Jamaica. Just imagine if the board of your company were divided into opposing camps. Let’s intervene so that their attention remains on what is most important.

Continuous Inspiration – Your ability to recite our National Pledge and Anthem were picked up as a child. We could elevate Vision 2030 Jamaica to that level of importance, starting with the Forward by Dr. Wesley Hughes, which states in part:

“Today, our children, from the tiny boy in Aboukir, St. Ann, to the teenage girl in Cave, Westmoreland, have access to technologies that were once considered science fiction. They seek opportunities to realise their full potential. This Plan (vision) is to ensure that, as a society, we do not fail them. “

Updated Business-like Measures – How can we know the progress we have made from 2009-2023? Are the measurable results listed in the document beyond reach? Do we deserve an A-? or a D+?

How about fresh, intuitive measures of success which tell us whether or not Jamaica is becoming “the place of choice”? Let’s measure the length of lines outside the US and Canadian Embassies for those seeking permanent residency and how they are growing or shrinking.

Wheeling and Coming Again – Companies have no problem resetting fresh objectives when the old ones no longer do the job. In business, a strategy that is not working is replaced as soon as it’s found to be lacking.

We can do the same for Vision 2030 Jamaica to keep it relevant. This is the beauty of long-term strategic planning.

An honest read of the original document reveals that certain assumptions about the government’s capacity to lead the effort were unquestioned. Today, after over a decade of effort, we have learned much. For example, it’s hard to argue that the planning done in 2009 was enough.

While we once led the world in long-term national planning, we aren’t doing the same in the more difficult world of national strategizing and execution. But there’s time.

As the clock ticks down to 2030, things are likely to become more awkward for all of us. As you may imagine,. the human tendency is to avoid the issue entirely, hoping it goes away.

That may yet happen. But if we don’t confront the gaps in our initial attempt to create a joined-up, faraway vision, we’ll block our citizens from ever believing in a national vision again.

In fact, it would be better if it were declared null and void, than ignored. At least that would have some integrity and enable us to move on to a better national vision, lessons earned.

Better National Strategic Planning

And that is perhaps the biggest lesson for all concerned. We Jamaicans say that we are great starters, but poor finishers. In other words, we know how to kick things off. But when the going gets tough, we aren’t strong at bringing them to fruition.

Said differently, we don’t know how to keep promises just because we made them.

The point here is that Vision 2030, with some five to six years remaining, puts us in an awkward spot. But that’s a lie. We have put ourselves in an awkward spot.

At some point we were strong in envisioning great things. Like a company who creates BHAGs, our executive team gave its sacred honor to accomplish a great thing, like the framers of the Declaration of Independence.

However, we haven’t put in place mechanisms sufficient to rescue our current situation. At the current rate, we won’t be closer to being a “place of choice” than we were in 2009.

In a company it’s easier to find individuals or a team of leaders who may hold themselves accountable for a game-changing result. Often, the metrics are clear.

Unfortunately, no such clarity exists around Vision 2030. And given our impending election fever, it may not come from politicians. Instead, it’s time for business to step up and bring sound strategic planning to the accomplishment of the most important outcomes of our national lifetimes.

Let’s inspire each other to intervene so we can have what we already
know we want. It won’t happen any other way.

Francis Wade is the founder of the Jump Leap Long-Term Strategy newsletter and podcast, and operates a management consulting firm.

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Jamaica Is Pursuing The Strategy Of Mix Development Modalities

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“Tourism is a wealth creation and economic enrichment activity driven by the consumption and production patterns of people!”

“The strategy for destination exploitation of tourism is a composite of many modalities including business models and investment opportunities and not to be viewed through a myopic lenses.

Small highly service dependent economies such as ours must rely heavily on consumption to sustain economic growth, and expansion and Tourism has become the most effective way of achieving this as the propensity to CONSUME of the Tourist is 3-5 times that of the local! It means therefore that the expansion of the local market by increasing tourist arrivals creating a ‘critical mass’ is essential.

The proliferation of boutique hotels is not the answer when physical resources are limited. The strategy of Mix development modalities as Jamaica is pursuing, with mega hotels, boutique and sharing accommodation i.e. Airbnb etc is the most effective way forward.

The essential element of the strategy though is the production/Supply side of the wealth development equation! Jamaica’s focus must be on providing the goods and services that the Tourists demand to satisfy their consumption patterns! THATS WHERE THE REAL WEALTH OF TOURISM RESIDES! Agriculture, manufacturing, Creative Industries, Energy, Construction etc Then SERVICES; medical, financial, legal, entertainment, Restaurants, Shopping, transportation etc.

Please team let’s take a deeper dive in the confluence of economic moving parts that constitutes Tourism and recognize its elongated and expensive value chain so we can truly embrace the wealth it brings!”

Edmund Bartlett – Minister of Tourism Jamaica

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A Legacy of Leadership: Dr. Marlene Street Forrest and the Future of the Jamaica Stock Exchange

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“As the JSE looks to the future, it will be crucial to find a leader who can match, if not exceed, Dr. Street Forrest’s impressive legacy.”

Introduction
Dr. Marlene Street Forrest, who has led the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) for nearly two decades, is set to retire, leaving behind a legacy of innovation and resilience. Her tenure has been marked by significant achievements and overcoming challenges in a male-dominated field, setting a high bar for her successor.

Accomplishments and Achievements
Dr. Street Forrest’s tenure at the JSE has been transformative. Under her leadership, the JSE has seen a notable increase in market activity, listings, and the introduction of new financial instruments.

She spearheaded the launch of corporate secretarial services to assist smaller companies in maintaining compliance and accurate reporting, which is crucial for their growth and sustainability​​.

In recognition of her outstanding leadership, Dr. Street Forrest received several prestigious awards, including the Order of Distinction in the Rank of Commander (CD) in 2016 and the Afroglobal Excellence Award for Global Impact from Canada the same year​.

Her efforts have not only enhanced the visibility and credibility of the JSE but have also contributed significantly to Jamaica’s economic resilience and development.

Overcoming Challenges
Leading the JSE in a male-dominated industry came with its challenges. Dr. Street Forrest often had to navigate skepticism and bias, proving her competence through relentless hard work and strategic vision.

The global financial crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic posed additional challenges, yet she successfully steered the JSE through these turbulent times by promoting market stability and investor confidence​.

Her focus on digital transformation and enhancing regulatory compliance helped the JSE remain a pivotal player in Jamaica’s economic strategy. She emphasized the importance of high-quality, timely financial information and investor education, which are critical for maintaining market integrity and attracting capital​​.

The Road Ahead: What Her Successor Needs
As the search for Dr. Street Forrest’s successor begins, the JSE requires a leader who can build on her legacy of innovation and resilience. Key characteristics for the next managing director include:

Visionary Leadership: The ability to foresee and adapt to market trends and technological advancements.
Strong Regulatory Knowledge: Ensuring compliance and fostering investor trust through transparent practices.
Commitment to Digital Transformation: Embracing new technologies to enhance market operations and accessibility.
Economic Insight: Understanding market dynamics and economic policies to drive growth and stability.
Collaboration Skills: Building strong relationships with stakeholders, including regulators, investors, and listed companies.

Benchmarking against global stock exchange leaders, the new head of the JSE should embody a blend of strategic foresight, regulatory acumen, and innovative thinking. Leaders like Adena Friedman of Nasdaq and David Schwimmer of the London Stock Exchange exemplify these traits, balancing market growth with robust governance.

Conclusion
Dr. Marlene Street Forrest’s leadership at the JSE has set a high standard, marked by significant achievements and resilience in the face of challenges. Her successor will need to bring a mix of visionary leadership, regulatory knowledge, and a commitment to digital transformation to continue driving the JSE’s growth and success. As the JSE looks to the future, it will be crucial to find a leader who can match, if not exceed, Dr. Street Forrest’s impressive legacy.

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Who is Leesa Kow? Managing Director, JN Bank and Chairman of the Caribbean Association of Banks (CAB)

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Leesa Kow is a distinguished leader in the financial sector, serving as the Managing Director of JN Bank and the Chairman of the Caribbean Association of Banks (CAB). Her career is marked by strategic vision and a commitment to digital transformation and financial inclusion.

Early Career and Professional Background
Leesa Kow joined JN Bank in 2003 as Senior Manager for Remittances. Her leadership capabilities quickly propelled her through various senior roles, including Executive of Marketing, Sales, and Promotion in 2006, and General Manager of JN Money Services Limited (JNMS) in 2008. At JNMS, Kow oversaw significant expansion, growing the company’s reach from 200 branches and agents to over 8,000 across three continents within three years, cementing JN Money as the largest remittance brand from the Caribbean​​.

Leadership at JN Bank
Kow’s ascent to the role of Managing Director in July 2022 followed her tenure as Deputy Managing Director from November 2017. As Deputy Managing Director, she was instrumental in implementing JN Bank’s digitalisation initiatives, enhancing operational efficiency and customer service. Her strategic focus on technology and innovation has been pivotal in transforming JN Bank into a more agile and customer-centric institution​​.

Contributions to the Financial Industry
Beyond her work at JN Bank, Kow has significantly impacted the broader financial services sector. Her tenure as president of the Jamaica Money Remitters Association from 2012 to 2017 showcased her leadership in advocating for the remittance industry. In October 2022, she was elected Chair of the Caribbean Association of Banks (CAB), where she continues to influence regional banking policies and practices​.

Educational Background
Leesa Kow’s academic credentials are impressive, holding a Bachelor of Science degree in Management Studies and Accounting (First Class Honours) and a Master of Science degree in International Business (Distinction) from The University of the West Indies. These qualifications underscore her strong foundation in business leadership and strategic management​​.

Impact and Vision
Under Kow’s leadership, JN Bank has made significant strides in digital transformation, positioning itself as a forward-thinking financial institution. Her vision for the future includes continued emphasis on innovation, customer service excellence, and financial inclusion. Kow’s influence extends across the Caribbean, as she leverages her roles to advocate for advancements in the banking sector and to support regional economic development.

Leesa Kow’s journey from senior manager to managing director of JN Bank exemplifies her dedication, strategic foresight, and impactful leadership. Her contributions to the financial sector and her role in shaping regional banking policies make her a notable figure in Caribbean banking, inspiring the next generation of female leaders in finance.

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Customised Smart Battery Industry Well-Positioned To Capitalise On Growing Shift Towards Cleaner Energy Solutions….Alexander Melville

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In the last three months, the ustomised smart battery industry has also made significant strides alongside the broader growth observed in the renewable energy and energy storage sectors. This niche within the energy storage market has been gaining momentum, fuelled by technological advancements and increased demand for personalised energy solutions that cater specifically to unique operational needs that benefit us.

The industry’s development is buoyed by the regulatory and financial frameworks propelling the renewable sector, particularly the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). These acts have facilitated a surge in investments to enhance battery technology capabilities, including developing intelligent batteries that are more efficient, durable, and capable of interfacing with various digital management systems.

Customised intelligent batteries are increasingly critical components in integrating renewable energy systems. They offer optimised storage solutions that adapt to different scales and types of renewable energy installations. They are vital in applications requiring high reliability and efficiency, such as utility-scale solar and wind projects, where they help stabilise the grid and manage output variability.

Moreover, the drive towards domestic production emphasised by recent policy initiatives has strengthened the supply chain for intelligent battery components. This domestic focus not only aids in reducing logistic vulnerabilities but also supports the U.S. economy and job creation in the tech and manufacturing sectors. As more companies enter the smart battery market, competition is spurring innovation, leading to rapid advancements in battery technology that could further enhance the performance and cost-effectiveness of these systems.

Customised intelligent batteries are increasingly critical components in integrating renewable energy systems.

The customised smart battery industry is well-positioned to capitalise on the growing shift towards cleaner energy solutions. It will play a pivotal role in the green transition while continuing to evolve in response to technological advances and market demands.

Alexander Melville Chief Executive Officer Tropical Battery Company Limited

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