Cocktails With Stacey Halsall-Peart
It's eight in the morning and Stacey Halsall-Peart, chief operating officer at Advanced Integrated Systems (AIS) Limited, is very much bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Entertaining guests aboard her father's boat, Gabby Milan, en route to Maiden Cay, she graciously acquiesces to our good-natured nudge for an interview. Between uncharacteristic sips of Champagne (for her, not us), we gab about the business of family, AIS, and that pesky rising US dollar.
What kind of day are you having?
So far, so good. I entertained 70 people for Christmas and so I am kind of tired, but I foresee this being a very nice, relaxing day on the beach with some good friends.
What are you sipping?
I'm sipping a glass of Moët & Chandon Moët Ice Imperial. I don't usually drink but one of my best friends suggested that I would like this and it's quite nice.
How was your Christmas?
Fantastic. I have three kids — a 10-year-old, an eight-year-old and a two-year-old and they thoroughly enjoy Christmas. The youngest has just figured out what Christmas is about, so it was a delightful experience.
So, is the annual post-Boxing Day Maiden Cay trip always on the social calendar?
Yes. This is the only time I come out on the boat for the entire year.
Who does your hair?
My hairdresser Lois.
Who does your nails?
How would you describe your personal style?
I like to believe I am casually sophisticated. My kids think that I dress like an old lady, but it's all in the perspective.
Flats or stilettos?
Stilettos. I am a sucker for heels. I think it has to do with the fact that I am so short; heels make me feel powerful.
Jeans or a LBD?
A little black dress. I think I missed the whole dressing up part of my youth, but now I really enjoy dressing up and going out.
What are you listening to on your iPod or car stereo?
Unfortunately, my children have taken over my iPod and so right now I am listening to One Direction and Gangnam Style.
What is your exact role at Advanced Integrated Systems (AIS)?
I am the head cook and bottle washer. We are a small, nimble company so you have to do a little bit of everything. We have three divisions, one of which involves the processing of all the electronic health insurance in Jamaica. Our second division is financial transactions and we sell debit and credit cards to the bank and we have a loyalty programme where we are going into mobile money as well as processing any kind of financial transactions that the banks want. Our third division is retail of office products -- photocopiers and high-speed printers, and we are going into posting and mailing systems in the new year.
Tell us more about the"mobile money" aspect AIS is venturing into.
Mobile money is using your telephone to buy things. It's different from mobile banking. Mobile banking is linked to a bank account and you are really doing the transaction on the phone as opposed to on the computer. With mobile money, you are putting money on your phone as an account and using the device to buy things. Our mobile money product is different from others in that, it's not telecom-driven, it's bank-driven, so it doesn't matter what kind of phone you have or which telephone you subscribe to; you can go anywhere that has a point-of-sale terminal and use your phone to buy things as well as from individuals from phone-to-phone cash action. We have everything set up, we're just waiting for the Bank of Jamaica to come out with their legislation and once they are ready to go, we are too.
What's your financial forecast for the United States dollar?
The US dollar unfortunately affects most business, as well as ours. We quote in US dollars and so the price charged to the customer changes in terms of that, but when the dollar is sliding so much, it's hard for the other businesses to find the capital to buy a copier or a high-speed printer, and because of the uncertainty in the economy, a lot of people are putting unnecessary purchases on hold. In our health insurance industry, when we process those transactions, it's a percentage of the transaction so if the cost of the drug or glasses go up, or whatever you are buying under your insurance, our percentage in real terms will go up as well... so that side of the business is not too affected, but when you have to buy the US dollars now from our suppliers, then you really see the impact in dollar value.
What makes your husband the perfect man for you?
I have been married for 13 years. I hate to say it because he will read it, but I honestly think he is the perfect husband because the things that count are where he is strongest. He is excellent with the children, he is excellent in terms of financial planning. I can go away on a business trip and leave my husband and they are thoroughly entertained and he is as well, and I think when you have somebody who you can rely on in that regard, you don't need anything else. So, he may not dress as sophisticated as I do or find those things important, but you know what, he could wear a crappy pair of jeans or a pair shoes with holes, and the oldest T-shirt imaginable, I don't care, what he has is important!
What would be the perfect date for both of you?
A couple years ago I might have said something nice and romantic — dinner for two on the dock with Champagne, candlelight, nice music in the background — but right now the perfect date would probably be a good movie, some home-made popcorn and a snugly pair of socks and a comfy couch.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
I see AIS in the rest of the Caribbean. I see three kids in high school. I see a continued successful company and a successful family.