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Transforming Jamaica's retail space — as told by Sterling Hawkins

Sunday, March 03, 2019

Retail used to be different when Sterling Hawkins was growing up in his family's supermarket — it was all about customers and the community. But Hawkins had a vision of transforming how people fulfilled their wants and needs.

In the minds of many, traditional retail was dead. But instead of wishing for the industry issues to go away, Hawkins knew that he had to get comfortable with being uncomfortable and create a culture free to innovate at his family's store. Hawkins empowered his team to use technology to unify experiences and redefine retail.

Today, a fifth-generation retailer and still very active in retail innovation, Hawkins has worked with the likes of Stanford, Cornell and the University of Texas to create the future of commerce.

An avid believer that entrepreneurship and innovation are the greatest enablers of economic growth and development, Hawkins evaluates more than 1,000 innovative technologies annually, aimed at transforming the global retail industry to shape emerging technologies such as robots, drones and artificial intelligence.

Living at the intersection of in-store, online and the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Hawkins is actively shaping the future in a number of global markets by helping others create and respond to innovation in a way that betters businesses, communities, and the human condition.

How does an organisation anticipate the needs of, engage with and adapt to a customer base that doesn't yet realise the changes they'll desire?

The future of work, commerce and retail will look very different from what we see today. Companies in Jamaica and the Caribbean must prepare for transformation and innovate to become or remain globally competitive.

Jamaican financial institutions especially seem to recognise the urgency but like many globally are often challenged in deciding how to navigate the unknown. The world is starting to talk about humans working alongside robots and other machines, and this is already becoming reality in some markets. What's interesting is that we seem to be building machines that aren't just automating routine tasks, but instead we're getting at things that look like tacit knowledge, tasks that look like they're cognitive tasks.

Hawkins is a renowned speaker on transformational leadership and innovation and has worked with countless start-ups, investment groups, retailers, brands and Fortune 500 companies including P&G and Mitsubishi to ignite innovation and innovation thinking inside their organisations. Hawkins' story has also been told in Inc. Magazine, The New York Times, Fast Company, Forbes and other major media outlets.

Hawkins' impactful keynote presentations have so far proven to be a hands-on roadmap of what technologies will be part of the future, who is using them already, and how to inspire a culture that embraces change.

Jamaica is next on the list of countries to work with Hawkins on embracing the technologies of the fourth Industrial Revolution. Telling his life story of how he became a master of innovation through massive changes and obstacles he has overcome growing up, he is among a list of more than 20 international and local speakers who will present at the annual Destination Experience Visionaries' Summit April 4 -6 at the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston.

A product of entrepreneurship and global influence, the Destination Experience Visionaries' Summit offers a multi-stakeholder environment for decision makers from around the world to connect and collaborate with their peers in untapped markets in a bid to drive economic growth and transformation.

Hawkins will present as an innovation and transformational leadership expert with a focus on digital transformation and the future of commerce. The summit has partnered with Microsoft and Intcomex to drive the efforts on this focus area.

This year the Destination Visionaries' Summit will be held in Kingston under the theme 'Capitalism, Inclusiveness, and Innovation in The Fourth Industrial Revolution', uncovering trending globally relevant subject matter aimed at transforming the way Jamaican Business Leaders approach business and how they look at the future of the world.



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