Observer Business Leader nominees hailed for entrepreneurial excellence

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The 12 nominees for the Jamaica Observer Business Leader Award 2016 were yesterday praised for their entrepreneurial excellence and for redefining the mission of their companies.

The accolades were showered on the nominees by Moses Jackson, conceptualiser of the award programme and chair of the selection committee, at a luncheon hosted by Observer Chairman Gordon “Butch” Stewart at the newspaper's Beechwood Avenue headquarters in Kingston.

“What surprised me was the way in which the CEOs here today were able to redefine the mission of the companies, even though the board members were resistant in moving in a particular direction,” Jackson said, adding that the directors eventually gave the CEOs latitude because of the confidence that they had developed in them over time.

Nominee Richard Byles, agreed with Jackson's observation.

“I think you really put your finger on it, because for a CEO to be really successful he has to step into the shoes of the owner, and that's what entrepreneurism and group work is all about,” Byles said.

He congratulated the Observer and Jackson for the award programme, describing it as “very innovative”.

Another nominee, Marlene Street-Forrest concurred, and pointed out that the growth of the Jamaica Stock Exchange was achieved primarily from listening to its internal customers and the market.

“The fact is that when you look at persons wanting more from an economy, from saving, from investing, we felt that it was important to listen, but it was also very important to educate,” Street-Forrest said.

“As a team, we set out to democratise the market, and that is what we are still trying to do, because at one point when we looked at it persons felt that it was for the rich, and actually it was not so. And so all our efforts to date are really [about] educating the common man, the students, all the persons who we felt would be important, not only to the growth of the exchange, but the growth of the nation,” she explained.

Street-Forrest said that the fact that she and her team had been given latitude enabled them to reach the market and ensure that the market benefits from the stock exchange.

The award programme, now in its 20th year, will recognise chief executive officers who, by the tenor and unqualified success of their stewardship, have become publicly synonymous with the companies they run.

Scheduled for Sunday, December 10 at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston, the award is being held under the theme 'Business Leader: Executive Steward'.

The nominees are:

• Marlene Street-Forrest, managing director, Jamaica Stock Exchange;

• Christopher Williams, president and CEO of PROVEN;

• Gary Peart, CEO, Mayberry Investments

• Patrick Hylton, CEO of NCB Group;

• Richard Byles, chairman and former CEO, Sagicor Group Jamaica

• Jeffrey Hall, CEO, Jamaica Producers Group;

• Sharon Donaldson, managing director, General Accident Insurance Co Ja Ltd

• Don Wehby, CEO, GraceKennedy Group;

• Earl Jarrett, CEO, Jamaica National Group

• Odetta Rockhead-Kerr, country head of Sutherland Global;

• Josef Fortsmayr, managing director, Round Hill Hotel; and

• Peter Moses, retired head of Citibank in Jamaica.