Cable and Wireless puts J’can in frontline position
Grace Silvera now world spokesperson for telecoms giant
by Desmond Allen Executive Editor - Special Assignment firstname.lastname@example.org
Phil Bentley who turned British Gas around in a tenure marked by unprecedented profits, is at it again, this time as CEO of Cable and Wireless Communications, parent company of LIME Jamaica.
As part of his arsenal, Bentley has brought back Jamaican Grace Silvera who was previously the LIME regional vice-president, marketing and corporate communications, to be his key spokesperson for the Cable and Wireless Communications Group.
Silvera who played an integral role in the team that drove through regulatory change in Jamaica, which started the current turnaround at LIME, will answer directly to Bentley and will be based in CWC's Miami head office, Florida, freshly relocated from its spiritual home in London. Her appointment takes effect today.
Silvera successfully led the fierce marketing and public relations battle with formidable telecoms competitor, Digicel, notably through the 'win back campaign' that changed LIME's fortunes and saw the company's share of the mobile market jump from 12 per cent to 20 per cent. The company also reported a profit during the campaign's third quarter, a first in many years. She left LIME to focus on her doctoral studies in transformational leadership at a United States-based university.
Bentley announced early May that Silvera would be rejoining the CWC family as director of communications and culture.
“I'm delighted that Grace is joining us and will be a part of taking this business forward. Grace will be our key external spokesperson and her experience and knowledge of the Caribbean and Latin American marketplace will be invaluable,” said the CWC boss.
Silvera will be responsible for all Group communications, both internal and external, as well as digital communications. “She will also take responsibility for leading the Group's new culture programme, which is charged with empowering CWC's colleague base to better serve its customers,” the announcement said.
She succeeds Lachlan Johnston, the Australian who was Group Director of brand and communications for the past five years. Johnston opted not to relocate to Miami, where the communications function will now be based.
In recent times, Silvera has been gaining a reputation as a transformational leader after a string of big successes at Diageo-owned Red Stripe, where she became the first woman director in the company's history; Jamaica Cultural Development Commission, which drew in unprecedented sponsorship for its cultural events under her watch; and LIME, where she was responsible for marketing and communications for 13 Caribbean territories.
Silvera, who typically refers to her team members as "passionate ambassadors", told the Jamaica Observer in an interview: “There are few things in life that I have looked forward to as much as this new assignment. Part of my role entails engaging with the press and social media audiences, something I have enjoyed immensely over the years.”
Cable & Wireless Communications describes itself as a full-service communications business offering mobile, broadband and domestic and international fixed line services in most of its markets, as well as pay TV, data centre and hosting, carrier and managed service solutions.
Silvera had her first taste of media when she landed a job as a summer intern at the now-defunct Jamaica Daily News newspaper. She was later offered a permanent position by top editor at the time, Carl Wint, becoming at age 19 the paper's Youth Page editor.
Following the demise of the newspaper in 1983, she spent 10 years with the national airline, Air Jamaica, in Montego Bay, substantially as a customer service supervisor and later as station services director.
She later spent 13 years at Red Stripe, rising to become global marketing director and the first woman director of the Irish-owned company. While there she made a name for herself as a marketing whiz but confesses: “My most enjoyable years were that of communications director with responsibility for the company's philanthropy. It afforded my team and me the privilege of changing people's lives, communities and the country.”
Silvera served on the board of RISE Life Management Services, a non-government organisation (NGO) whose acronym spells Reaching Individuals through Skills and Education.
“My duties at RISE took me into some of the most volatile inner-city communities in Jamaica, something I enjoyed more than being the global marketing director for one of Jamaica's most successful companies,” Silvera confesses.
She believes that she is well fitted for the job as director of communications and culture at CWC because: “I find my greatest joy in serving, helping, coaching and simply touching the lives of other people. I derive great satisfaction from going the extra mile to meet or exceed someone's need,
“I find unspeakable delight in helping others realise their full potential. Give me the employee who others thought was destined to fail, who may not make it beyond probation, who could not master all six areas of the Customer Service Department, who had a negative attitude or whom my colleagues just did not want working on their shift.
“The world of modern communications and the cut and thrust of media represent great advancement for mankind by providing tools of information hitherto unavailable to us. What we do in our business is integral to the progress of our customers in their businesses and daily lives. I am certainly looking forward to my tenure at CWC.”