Q10: Douglas Halsall

Q10: Douglas Halsall

Taking a journey where there is no path but leaving a trail

Sunday, November 29, 2020

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His wife says he has 10 thumbs, yet this gentleman has been able to carve his way through thick and thin to establish himself as one of the pioneers in Jamaica's business, especially on the technology landscape.

He respects the work of artisans while fully understanding that the days of brawn are over and the days of brain reign supreme.

This week Q10 features the chairman of Advanced Integrated Systems (AIS), Douglas Halsall, who at one stage of his business career headed the Jamaican affiliate of one of the largest computer entities in the world and for sure he has not gone where the path may lead, but instead Halsall has gone where there's no path and he is leaving a trail.

Q10: How has COVID-19 impacted you professionally and your family?

HALSALL: Professionally it has been mixed. The medical community is viewing telemedicine, which we launched with a greater sense of urgency just as the Pharmacy Council with the definition of ePrescription. On the other hand, a great deal of businesses that we have been working on for some time has been deferred. With regards to the family, it has bonded us together even more tightly, and children have become parents in determining where we go and with whom. On the negative side, I haven't been out on my boat in weeks and when I next do, the crew will come under close scrutiny by the “kids”.

Q10: What's your family life like?

HALSALL: I was an only child and whereas that has certain advantages it's essentially lonely, even in a crowd. My wife and I have four children and I make certain they and their children stay close and regard family as all important.

Q10: What are your goals outside of work?

HALSALL: Philanthropy...and particularly in the area of higher education for financially challenged students with superior attitude. We are proudly associated with many such successes in medicine, law, nutrition, pharmacology, among other professions, so permit me to plagiarise my good friend as I've never heard it put better, “Education is the only vaccine against poverty”.

Q10: How do you define success, what drives you to succeed?

HALSALL: Success means many things to many people. To me, mankind needs two things, after their basic needs have been satisfied: someone to love and something to hope for. Life needs purpose, beyond financial security. Success, therefore, is that peace of mind and clear conscience one gets when you have found purpose and have changed the course of life, for the better, for as many as you could. Then you'd have written your epitaph, like my dad's “FEARLESS FOR FAIRNESS.”

Q10: What quote of mantra do you live by?

HALSALL: Go not where the path may lead, go instead where there's no path and leave a trail.

Q10: If you were shipwrecked on a deserted island, but your needs such as food and water were taken care of, what two items would have with you?

HALSALL: Maybe an insatiable pen and a book with countless blank pages.

Q10: What do you feel proudest of thus far in your life and who has been your greatest influence?

HALSALL: Apart from my family, My Order of Distinction for my contribution to technology in Jamaica. At 13, my father, who was inordinately strong and a great sportsman and avid reader, gave me my own room and said, “Son, the days of brawn are over. The days of brains have taken over. Always think of George Bernard Shaw who said, 'Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not'.” I've tried the live by that ever since.

Q10:If you were not the chairman at AIS what would you be doing?

HALSALL: I'd be on my boat thinking of some way to do something more efficiently.

I see myself as an efficiency broker— a disrupter. I was trained as a cost accountant and that experience at Kaiser, combined with an accountant at a bank, mixed with my knowledge of what technology can achieve, has captivated my mind since.

Q10: What lesson in your life has been hardest to learn?

HALSALL: That growth requires a team. That business is analogous to a three-legged stool — marketing, finance and production. No one can be an expert in all three — you've got to be weak at least one. And a stool cannot stand on two legs, or more so one leg. It takes a team with different, but all important skills.

Q10: Everyone knows that you are the head of AIS, is there one thing about you that the public should know?

HALSALL: Yes, that I'm sitting here marvelling at some artisans building a pavilion and water wall that I designed, as I can't even handle a hammer properly with what my dear wife describes as my 10 thumbs.

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