Diane Edwards — a passion for Jamaica

Business

Diane Edwards — a passion for Jamaica

Q10

Sunday, December 08, 2019

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This week's Q10 features Diane Edwards, president of Jamaica Promotions Corporation (Jampro), a history and theatre lover.

Having spent 22 years outside of Jamaica in New York, Brussels, London and Paris, the quadrilingual describes coming back home with a 'consultant's eyes' — passionate and dedicated to Jamaica's potential to grow.

When she is not strategising on developing Jamaica's economy through growth in investment and export, Diane simply enjoys reading, live music and watching nature documentaries.

Q10: Where's your happy place?

EDWARDS: My happy place is anywhere there is water running, and that goes from my backyard — because I have a pond with two jars so the water trickles down from one to the other and there are a couple of fish in there — to the beach, because I can hear the waves.

Q10: What lesson has been the hardest to learn?

EDWARDS: I think the hardest lesson was learning to rely on other people because I was very self-sufficient as a child. I was the only girl and the eldest, so very self-sufficient and independent. Accepting that you need other people and that you had to depend on them, I think that was a very hard lesson for me to learn, but I think it has also been very rewarding for me, as that process of relying on people has made me realise that if we worked together, we really can do great things. And that for me was one of the challenges of being back in Jamaica, because I find that we still pull against each other way too much.

Q10: What's one common piece of business advice that you oppose?

EDWARDS: At business school, they teach you that everything is about maximising shareholder value and making sure that the stock price goes up continually. It was very interesting to me that CEOs in the US from the business roundtable recently came together and said that's too narrow-minded and we need to expand our focus. We need to create equity for our employees, customers and shareholders. I think it's important to keep your people happy, on sight and on board with [the business'] vision.

Q10: If you weren't the president of Jampro, what would you be doing?

EDWARDS: That's a very tough one because this is actually my dream job. I was with Jampro in my 20s and I left for about 10 years and ran a commercial operation for Wray and Nephew in the UK. Being involved in your country's development is amazing. If I weren't doing this, I would love to be producing theatrical pieces. While I'm not someone who can necessarily write plays, I really like the big dramatic pieces. Jamaica has so many stories to tell, but I think we're not putting together the production that can tell these stories and that's something that I would love to do.

Q10: What is it that you love about your job?

EDWARDS: I love the fact that I feel that I am giving back to Jamaica, which was why I came home. Having lived 16 years in London, while I was achieving things, I felt like just one of a number — I could do more if I came home and tried to help from being here. It's like giving back, and for me that's important. It's about making the business climate friendlier for everybody and being able to develop more businesses to build the economy.

Q10: What do you feel most proud of?

EDWARDS: I am very proud of what I did at Wray and Nephew to actually leave the brand at a place where it was profitable and in most of the stylish bars in London. That was a big source of pride for me. I also feel that people are taking Jampro more seriously and that we are making a difference in the society locally, and the local private sector is reacting more and interacting more with us and that's another source of pride for me.

Q10: What are your goals outside of work?

EDWARDS: I want to keep healthy so I do a lot of yoga and I swim and I try to be rounded so I have a lot of interests in the arts. I go to a lot of movies and plays. I also try to make a difference, so I work with a charity called Chain of Hope which helped to build the cardiac wing at the Bustamante Children's Hospital.

Q10: If you were a superhero, what powers would you want?

EDWARDS: I would love to have the power to neutralise all weapons. So no one would have a weapon that worked and you'd have to resolve your conflicts by talking, discussing, by human interaction instead of reaching for a gun or a knife. For me, actually changing humanity means that we have to be less conflictual. If we eliminated the ability to take someone's life, that would change the whole picture.

Q10: What is that one outstanding characteristic that you believe you possess?

EDWARDS: I think I have had amazing global experiences. I think that I have really been enriched by my period overseas. I have studied in three different cultures – Jamaica, New York and Paris. I have a vast range of experience, I speak three different languages in addition to English so I can fit in a lot of different places and I can pull from all those experiences, but yet I am Jamaican intrinsically and very authentically.

Q10: What's one thing you want people to know about you?

EDWARDS: I am passionate about where Jamaica can go and I want people to share and feel that passion. I think we defeat ourselves too much in Jamaica with our negativity but having lived in the US, France, the UK and in Belgium, I think Jamaica has an amazing quality of life and I think we need to appreciate more of what we have and how we can work together to make that better.


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