A 'Paramount' conversation with Hugh Graham

A 'Paramount' conversation with Hugh Graham

...Miss Linda's one son affectionately called 'Bob'

Sunday, January 17, 2021

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“The great beauty of life is its mystery, the inability to know what course our life will take, and diligently work to transmute into our final form based upon a lifetime of constant discovery and enterprising effort. Accepting the unknown and unknowable eliminates regret”— a quote by Kilroy J Oldster, author of Dead Toad Scrolls and one which best sums up the journey of this week's Q10 guest.

Emerging from very humble beginnings having grown up in the inner city communties of Kingston, this individual cites empathy as being his greatest strength. A 'mama's boy' and family man who spends quality time with his mother, four children (Anna, Kiy, Joshua and Jean Loius), he simply revels in the joys of the freedom to live in his country. A political neophyte who was last year elected Member of Parliament for St Catherine North Eastern for the People's National Party (PNP), he ably manages the affairs of his now-dual roles. When he is not busy with matters concerning the factory plant at his production company or tending to meetings at Gordon House, having been recently tasked as Opposition spokesperson for the industry, investment and commerce porfolio in the shadow cabinet, this man just loves himself some Formula 1 racing. A lover of grilled salmon, raw vegetables and grilled sweet potatoes especially from Uncorked! restaurant, which is his favourite place to dine, Q10 this week unpacks the enigmatic character of Hugh Graham, chief executive officer (CEO) and managing director of Paramount Trading Jamaica Limited.

Q10. What was your growing up experience like?

GRAHAM: I grew up as a poor boy and this fuelled my creativity and rich imagination. As a child I enjoyed making toys from juice boxes with flattened bottle stoppers, with the wheels and the stick axles made from stripped coconut leaves. It was then connected to a string in order for it to be pulled, and that was my toy truck. I also remember playing with a spring made from the stick of a stripped coconut leaf to catch lizards and that was great fun for me.

Another grounding childhood experience was learning to ride my mother's ladies' wheel bicycle without shirt and shoes, sometimes having to use my bare feet for emergency brake. I also remember helping mama to make covered buttons for my mother [“mama”] when she dabbled in dressmaking. I would get “a likkle” money from that.

Q10. How do you define success and how has this helped to shape your character?

GRAHAM: For me, success is simply the ability to help mama. My mother is my prayer warrior and my ethos.

Q10. What were some of the greatest challenges encountered in business and how did you overcome them?

GRAHAM: In the embryonic years of business I had one staff member who decided to migrate to the United States. She was so good at her job that when she left I thought of giving up, as I didn't think I would know how to go on. I had to call on my then wife to come and help me, which took a lot of convincing in order for her to leave her prestigious job at the bank. I however remained committed to achieving my dreams, which eventually led to the successful growth of my company over the years.

Q10. Of your accomplishments to date, what do you feel most proud of and why?

GRAHAM: Becoming a Member of Parliament (MP), as 99 per cent of persons said I couldn't do it but I proved them wrong.

Q10. How would you describe yourself?

GRAHAM: One word... ENIGMATIC!

Q10. How do you navigate between being the boss of a demanding business and providing representation for a constituency?

GRAHAM: I am blessed with a strong and dedicated team at Paramount Trading, and a competent administrative and management team in the constituency. In order to efficiently manage my time, I have dedicated one day per week to see constituents at the constituency office. Time is also dedicated each day to support both business and political activities. This has helped me to ensure that the quality of work in both areas is of a high standard and that my level of commitment remains balanced.

Q10. How do you unwind and relax after a long day of work?

GRAHAM: I'm into fitness so I go to the gym often. I also enjoy playing tennis or otherwise just drive around and listen to music.

Q10. If you could only speak one word today, what would that one word be and why?

GRAHAM: That one word would definitely be 'Care' because it involves people on the receiving end.

Q10. Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

GRAHAM: Five years' time I hope to continue in sharing my knowledge and experiences [with] as many persons through the available channels open to me.

Q10. What do you love most about your life right now?

GRAHAM: I love the fact that while life seems never enough for many people, for me it is always enough to share.

— Compiled by Kellaray Miles


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