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Destined to Flow

Stephen Price shares his journey to the top of the telecoms company's Jamaica operations

BY DEANDRA MORRISON
Observer staff reporter

Sunday, August 13, 2017

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If anyone was ever destined to fulfil a particular role in their professional life, that person, without any hint of contradiction, would be Stephen Price.

On June 1, 2017 Price officially took over as the managing director of Flow Jamaica, one of the giant telecommunications companies in Jamaica and the Caribbean.

His rise through the ranks of Flow Jamaica, the company that at various times in the past operated under the names Jamaica Telephone Company; Telecommunications of Jamaica Limited (TOJ); and Cable and Wireless (C&W) Jamaica started during the time he was a student at St George's College (STGC).

During the various holidays at STGC, Price started his association with Flow Jamaica and the world of telecommunications as a bright-eyed summer employee, wanting to learn and to achieve.

“My mother instilled in me and my siblings a love for hard work and the need to be self-sufficient so much so that, from third form, every single holiday I was working,” Price told the Jamaica Observer last week.

“I worked at Carousel Jamaica on King's Street in Kingston every summer and every Christmas, and when I hit sixth form I got my first holiday job here at FLOW, which was then Telecommunications of Jamaica,” said the man who is now two months into his job as the managing director of Flow Jamaica.

“After leaving St George's, I attended the College of Arts, Science and Technology (CAST), where I earned a diploma in business.

“I then left CAST and returned when it was the University of Technology, Jamaica(UTech) and completed my degree in business administration and finance.

“After completing my diploma, I had a last summer stint and then it became a permanent job as a query operations clerk at TOJ. It was during the early days of my employment that I had to interact with customers and had to work out solutions for their various problems.

“This interaction with customers had a profound effect on me, and I tried my all to ensure that they were treated well, professionally, and with due respect.

“Even today, as the head of the company, I still remember those days and I continue to work assiduously in meeting the needs of Flow Jamaica customers as well as imparting, as often as I can, the same message to team members,” a confident-sounding Price stated.

In 1998, TOJ was changed to Cable and Wireless Jamaica and the expanding company sought to establish its first call centre in the island. The man chosen to establish and manage this call centre was Stephen Price.

“Keith Smith, head of transformation at the time, was the one who saw me in operations and gave me the next opportunity to take over as system administrator for the contact centre. I was responsible for all major systems and all contact operations and that was a really rewarding job,” Price said, adding that his time at the call centre provided him with a new depth of knowledge which was to prove helpful as he sought to firstly understand the world of telecommunications, which he analysed as a very demanding and rapidly changing industry.

Price then posited that, after being always taught to be cautious by his mother, he did not place his professional life in one basket or entity and although he was moving up the ladder after joining TOJ, he crossed the divide and, ironically, switched from C&W to Mossel Jamaica Limited, which eventually was transformed into Digicel — Flow Jamaica's fiercest rival in Jamaica and the Caribbean.

“In 2000, I started working at Mossel Jamaica. I was actually the 12th local employee at the time and took the position of call centre manager.

“Then the business started to expand and in 2003 I packed my bags and went to St Lucia as project manager for the Caribbean.

“Soon after I was parachuted to Barbados, where I became operations manager, staying for a few months and then I came back to Jamaica where I worked on a few projects such as establishing prepaid roaming for the entire Caribbean,” Price said while indicating that travelling between the isles of the Eastern Caribbean had started to affect him and that was when he decided to venture into unknown territory.

“Chris Dehring brought me on as a project manager for the commercial department of the International Cricket Council (ICC) 2007 World Cup and I was eventually promoted to project director for the event.

“Working on the World Cup opened new vistas for me, and my time there allowed me to advance my scope and development in a significant manner,” he said.

“After the World Cup, I went back to Digicel as operations director, and as the business grew I was called on to lead customer care management across the region,” the Flow Jamaica head revealed.

However, the time was nigh, and as is commonly said in Jamaica, “What is fi yu, can't be unfi yu.” So, the fate saw his return to Flow Jamaica occurred.

The 43-year-old Price has no doubts whatsoever as to who is responsible for his growth and development as a human being as well as his professional life.

“I've had some great mentors like Errald Miller and Keith Smith, and I have always sought the advice of many others, including my wife, Imani, and my siblings Andrew and Sheryl,” he shared.

“I am indeed very grateful for the assistance, counsel and guidance I have received from everyone, but without doubt my mother has had the most profound influence on my life, and now my three children — six-year-old Aidan, four-year-old Marley, and two-year-old Selah — have literally changed my entire perspective on life. It is not about me anymore, it is all about them.

“You must understand that I grew up in a single-parent household with my mother, brother and sister, as my father chose a different path.

“I watched while growing up on Lawrence Avenue off Manning's Hill Road in St Andrew how my mother, Hermin, worked hard, sometimes going to extraordinary lengths to ensure that her children were taken care of.

“She made so many sacrifices for us that, from early in my life, I took the decision to ensure that my children are looked after and are given all the opportunities they could possibly need in their lives,” a visibly emotional Price shared with the Sunday Observer.

The St George's old boy then reminisced on one particular incident that influenced his work ethic for the rest of his life.

“I can vividly remember when I was in fourth form my history teacher said that I needed to buckle down and my teacher went down to Scotiabank on King's Street, the head office of Scotia at the time, where my mother worked and told her.

“With that I got a really good 'fixer-upper', and that really set me on the straight and narrow since then,” he chuckled.

Like most Jamaicans, Price has developed a deep love for sports and dabbled in a bit of everything while at St George's and UTech.

At school, he tried his hand at water polo, Key Club, swimming, and football, but unfortunately for Price he was no “big baller” like his well-known brother Andrew Price, who now coaches Boys' Town Football Club.

He readily admitted that he couldn't play football like Andrew, so he decided to explore other avenues to express his sporting crave and that came in the form of rugby at UTech.

“I played for the joint UTech and UWI rugby team and went on to be captain of the Jamaica rugby team and, in 2000, made the first West Indies rugby team. I almost got a shot at a professional contract at the time, but it was not to be,” a now smiling Price said.

In closing the interview with the Sunday Observer, the Flow Jamaica managing director emphatically announced that his main task now is to increase the market share of the company he now leads, in Jamaica and in all the other areas where they have a commercial interest.

The Catholic former altar boy is very clear as to the modus operandi of achieving this particular company and personal goal: “Respect for our customers, innovative use of technology to always improve our products, respect for team members and the willingness to learn and take advice.”

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