Business

Thalia Lyn inducted to PSOJ Hall of Fame

Friday, November 01, 2019

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Founder and CEO of Island Grill Thalia Lyn was formally inducted into the Privaate Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) Hall of Fame on Tuesday, at the 27th PSOJ Hall of Fame Banquet

Almost 500 members of the Jamaican business community, family and members of the media, came out to celebrate the life and accomplishments of the ionic Jamaican businesswoman at the iconic Jamaica Pegasus in New Kingston on Tuesday night.

The award, is a significant honour, as she is only the second woman to ever be inducted in the PSOJ Hall of Fame of the 27 total inductees.

The award, founded in 1992, is given to a business person that the PSOJ committee finds to have contributed significantly to the Jamaican private sector and the nation.

At the ceremony, Chief Executive Officer of the PSOJ Makeba Bennett Easy, stated, “Thalia... I feel a sense of pride with the strides you and other Jamaican women are making in business enabling female empowerment and leadership, in forming the basis for sustainability and inclusion.…after assessing nominees based on requirements for sound character, unquestionable integrity and at least 25 years in the private sector, you emerged as the clear, unquestionable winner when all the nominations were reviewed and the votes were cast.”

Lyn expressed her initial gratitude, in an acceptance letter to the PSOJ, which was read by Keith Duncan, president of the PSOJ.

“First of all I would like to thank the officers and Selection Committee of the PSOJ Hall of Fame for the distinct honour of being the 27th business leader to be inducted. Being only the second woman to be welcomed into this prestigious group is significantm and overwhelming! I know in future years, more deserving women leaders in our country will be recognised…”

From a family of 12 children, Lyn was no stranger to business, having grown up in an entrepreneurial family with her father Gladstone running a bakery.

She moved to the US to study at Manhattanville College in New York and upon her return to Jamaica, she married Captain Michael Lyn and took a job as a teacher at her alma mater Immaculate Conception High School.

She later moved to Canada to work in the financial sector, then returned home once again in 1971, when her husband joined Air Jamaica.

Her first local venture was Dairy Castle located in the Manor Park Plaza, which she started with her husband and partner David McRae.

Chicken Supreme followed in 1991, a company which did well, but truly flourished after a rebrand in 1998, when she opted for a more authentic, Jamaican, flavour and style — thus birthing the Island Grill restaurants that many today have come to know and love.

Island Grill, is now a multibillion-dollar local fast food chain, with more than 18 locations nationally and one in Barbados.

In 21 years, the company has created jobs for almost 900 Jamaicans, of which the majority are female.

The company has also notably been a leader in sustainability, employing environmentally sound practices such as serving food in paper boxes, long before governmental pressure or local trends.

The company has also embarked upon charitable projects such as the 'Soupaah Pot of Love' feeding programme and providing education for team members and their children.

“Through Thalia's conviction in doing what's right, Island Grill has made it possible to eat good and live good by offering home cooked meals away from home,” according to the citation by Howard Mitchell past president of the PSOJ and chairman of Island Grill.

PILANATHROPY AND SERVICE

At the event tributes were sung of not only Lyn's business accumen, but her humanity and philanthropy.

Lyn is the chair of the NCB Foundation and sits on the board of the Mustard Seed Communities, helping to lead programmes on poverty reduction, residential programmes for the disabled, preteen mothers and those suffering from HIV/AIDS, along with other nutritional, training, educational, and sustainable agricultural programmes.

Lyn also serves on the board of the St Patrick Foundation which serves the people of the West Kingston inner city communities.

Lyn is a member of the United Way, Women's Leadership Initiative, the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA), the International Women's Forum, the Consular Corps of Jamaica, and the Immaculate Conception High School Alumni Association. She serves on numerous boards, including Island Catering (Jamaica and Barbados), the NCB Financial Group, Port Royal Patties (UK) , Jamaica Macaroni Factory, the Gastronomy Network and the Devon House Development Company.

EQAULITY AND OPPORTUNITIES

Lyn is also passionate about equality and opportunities for women and has served as a member of the PSOJ on the Gender and Disabilities Affairs Committee and as patron on three occasions for the United Nations (UN) Womens Entreprenurship day.

The diplomatic community was also out in support as Lyn has been the honorary consul general in Jamaica to the Kingdom of Thailand since 2003. In 2004 she was bestowed with Commander of the Most Noble Order to the Crown of Thailand in thanks for her work in promoting relations between both countries.

In 2012, Lyn was conferred with the Order of Distinction for exemplary citizenship in rendering significant and outstanding service to Jamaica. She has also been inducted into Immaculate Conception High School (ICHS) Hall of Fame as an Outstanding Business Leader, received the American Friends of Jamaica International Humanitarian Award and the Mustard Seed Communities Spirit Award.

In her speech, Lyn thanked her business partner, family and the Island Grill staff for their support over the years.

“It has been an amazing journey with my Island Grill team, with a number of my long-time team members, including one of 27 years, Beverly Foote, here tonight. It is entirely to the credit to my Supaah- Island Grill family, that this beloved Jamaican brand is such a success. If our goodwill could be monetised, the banks would need bigger vaults. I thank my team, and my managers who lead from the front. Thank you to my business partner from Dairy Castle days and enduring friend, Captain David McRae, whose encouragement and humour helped lead to this evening, along with Director Alva Anderson, and our chair from day one —Howard Mitchell”, she said.

“As with any flight on an airplane, you have turbulence and storms as well as clear blue skies ahead. We both fastened our seat belts and buckled in, and stayed the course for 52 years. Thank you Capt Lyn, aka Big Mike, aka Hon.”


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