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Sheldon Powe — POWERHOUSE

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

SHELDON Powe is driven by the realisation that efforts to convert thousands of rolling fields into high-quality food crops to feed our national appetites could be compared to the urgent requirement to transform our national landscape into a technology oasis. “We must have a deliberate strategy to nurture and grow our tech talent, capacity and experience in digital technology. If we do not focus on critical objectives around this we will continue to be consumers of technology and not the creators, where we know the money is in the digital value chain,” cautions Powe.

His vision, matched by his dedication to the task of transformation, sees him forging into areas which not long ago required more face-to-face transactions. Going boldly, Powe created a team for success by setting high goals and instilling an ethos of responsibility for and accountability to all.

“My latest initiative is bringing new, cost-effective solutions to SMEs to sell goods and services online,” he told Jamaica Observer's Digital Life.

“I started Innovate 10x in September 2018 and within the first year, and even under three years, we were profitable. If you go into business believing within the first three years you will lose money, then you will. I paint a picture of 10X's growth and results and [set a] target to achieve the same.” Powe adds.

That confidence to pursue a high level of excellence is born of experience at significant enterprises such as JMMB, where Powe emerged as the chief information officer. This role grounded him in the requirements for a first class combination of people and machinery, lessons which he has used to offer upgraded services in areas beyond banking and finance. One new area is that of real estate in which Powe has led the move to online auctions, a significant addition to the sales effort and enhanced recently by virtual tours and the completion of purchases at buyers' convenience.

Innovation has also led Powe to push for change in transactions and the building of human infrastructure for these changing times. “The universities and technical institutions need to rethink their curriculum and how digital transformation is taught. In digital, hands-on guided experience is the best way to learn,” advises Powe.

At the heart of his observations about the current situation is recognising that a radical transformation of business approaches is required to make that quantum leap so long sought. “As many as 99 per cent of companies needs must be digitally transformed. Therefore, we should focus on enabling the new and the current workforce to utilise digital tools for operational efficiency, customer service, product development, and service delivery. We must find economical ways to put all our people to work since they now know how to work from home. Most people own a tablet or a laptop and can add value to any organisation if trained on digital skills. It may not be full-time work, but everyone can have a chance to contribute to digital transformation.”

Powe spends as much time as he can offering advice and guidance to companies and institutions as an evangelist for the transformation of Jamaica and the Caribbean. But it is his company which remains his test bed. He is both a driver and one driven, sharing successes and failures and effecting remedies when things go off the rail. “I spend an over-abundance of time with my team so they understand and own the company vision; so even when I am not around, it is alive and being well executed. I believe in empowering my team by allowing them to have their say and make the call, in some instances, on which way we go. If it fails and we have to pivot we all know it was a team decision, so it is as a team [that] we will recover,” reasons Powe.

It's the kind of thinking and effort which could help achieve that scene of rolling acres of food crops and a technology landscape where equity means no one is left behind.