Sutherland Global aims to transform Mandeville

Sutherland Global aims to transform Mandeville

Fortnightly wage bill set to reach $120-million by year end

BY GARFIELD MYERS Editor at Large South Central Bureau

Sunday, May 08, 2016

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester – Sutherland Global Services has already made significant impact with the employment of 800 "professionals" since last October at its business process outsourcing centre on Ward Avenue, in this south central town.

However, Sutherland Global’s country director Odetta Rockhead-Kerr is promising much more. She said that there will be "total transformation of (Mandeville’s) economy" by the end of the year when the company will be hiring 2,300 people here, supported by a fortnightly wage bill of $120 million.

"When we hit capacity here in Mandeville, our fortnightly payroll will be somewhere in the range of $120 million," Rockhead-Kerr told members of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce at their annual general meeting at the Golf View Hotel, last Thursday.

"That’s $120 million every two weeks," she repeated, just for emphasis.

Sutherland Global started business outsourcing operations in Mandeville late last year in response to a concerted push by Manchester’s political, community and business leaders to develop viable alternatives to the fading bauxite/alumina sector. The 70,000-square foot Ward Avenue facility was developed by local construction firm, Black Brothers Inc Ltd which owns the building, with major investment support from the government-owned Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ).

Member of parliament for Manchester Central, Peter Bunting, among others, has consistently described Sutherland Group’s arrival as a cornerstone in the drive to build knowledge-based industries in Mandeville and to diversify/expand business and employment opportunities.

On Thursday, Rockhead-Kerr said the Mandeville project as well as operations in Kingston were set to expand rapidly.

"At capacity, we expect to hire some 2,300 professionals (in Mandeville), which will bring the total number employed by Sutherland in Jamaica to nearly 5,000 (by year end). We intend to grow even more: in the next three to five years we aspire to operate six facilities, with a staff complement of 10,000, and to be recognised universally as the employer of choice in Jamaica," she said.

Soon Sutherland’s operations in Jamaica will be 24 hours daily, seven days per week, she said.

Against a backdrop of reports of violent crime as well as fraud, including lotto scamming, escalating in Mandeville and the wider central Jamaica, Rockhead-Kerr emphasised the importance of security and good order.

"I cannot overstate how important security is for us to function as a business," she told local business leaders.

To underline her point, members of the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency made a special presentation to Thursday evening’s Chamber of Commerce meeting at the request of Rockhead-Kerr.

She also urged the local business community to take advantage of the coming of Sutherland Global by rapidly expanding the availability of high-quality goods and services to meet the needs of employees.

"For every career we create at Sutherland, three more are created in the community, and the scope for entrepreneurship and opportunity is unlimited. Our employees will need personal, professional and financial services, and will likely seek those from the local business community. Immediately and obvious opportunities rest in providing hospitality services: I’m speaking about transportation, accommodation, and meals," Rockhead-Kerr said.

She pointed to "immediate, low-hanging opportunities that can be seized upon by enterprising entrepreneurs. The nature of our (Sutherland Global’s) business means that we serve clients and customers from around the globe, and, on a regular basis, we must entertain them here in Jamaica".

She framed her comments in the context that her company served elite clients, including Fortune 50 and Fortune 500 clients, with sophisticated tastes.

Currently, she said, "visiting clients and our resident staff here in Mandeville have commented that, at the moment, the options for dining (in Mandeville) are very limited, and the quality of food service can be improved. This… is an opportunity to shine. With higher disposable incomes, our staff and clients will not only eat out more, but, in addition to the quality of food, will consider decor, service and cleanliness in selecting where to spend their money. Simply put, Mandeville needs more restaurants, a greater diversity of culinary options, and a higher level of quality in food and service.

"In terms of accommodation, we note that there has been a bit of a real estate rental boom here in Mandeville since we’ve opened, but, as we expand, we need providers of accommodations to up their game.

"We have started a conversation with local transportation providers to improve the availability and quality of transportation available, and we note here that there are opportunities, given that soon our operations will run up to 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including holidays," she said.


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