Business

William Mahfood to headline ICAJ 2019 Achieving Growth Business seminar

BY KEITH COLLISTER

Sunday, November 03, 2019

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Chairman of Wisynco Group Limited William Mahfood, will give the keynote address at the 2019 Institute of Chartered Accountants of Jamaica (ICAJ) Business Seminar to be held under the theme 'Achieving Growth – Sustaining Viability'” this Friday at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.

As a former President of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), Mahfood is exceptionally well placed to give his perspective on the Jamaican business environment, setting the pace for the day's discussions on how business can achieve long-term growth using lessons from his own Wisynco story.

The seminar's agenda, under the ICAJ's new President Sixto Coy (managing partner of Grant Thornton Jamaica), has been designed to place the spotlight on issues affecting businesses in small, open economies like Jamaica.

It is interesting to note the change in emphasis to focus on the business environment from an ICAC conference (Institute of Chartered Accountants of the Caribbean) in June 2011 under the theme 'Third to First - Going the Distance'.

In addition to drawing inspiration from Jamaicans and other Caribbean nationals' superlative achievements in track and field, it was also a clear reference to former Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew's book From Third World to First: The Singapore Story, which outlined Singapore's achievement in moving out of the ranks of the third world to developed country status in only one generation. The year before that conference, 2010, Singapore had grown an estimated 15 per cent or more in one year, than Jamaica has grown in any decade since the 1960s.

The ICAC conference's keynote speaker in 2011 was economist Henri Ghesquiere, then and now a visiting professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, part of the National University of Singapore, and formerly an International Monetary Fumd (IMF) economist based in Singapore.

In his radio interview at the time, Ghesquiere had observed that economic development is “a marathon and not a sprint”, a point which had also been made by Christine Lagarde on her first trip to Jamaica as IMF head, and aggressively promoted by former IMF representative Constant Lonkeng.

The key, Ghesquiere said, was to forge a national consensus around sound, long-term economic policy issues.

Development, Ghesquiere observed then, requires government commitment to pursue the right policies over a prolonged period of time, necessitating trust and partnership, for example, between employers and unions. Sometimes, he observed, a country such as Jamaica had no good choices, but prevention was better than the cure.

Jamaica's current macroeconomic stability, forged through a consensus on economic policy over the two administrations since 2011, means that now it is very appropriate to shift focus from the macroeconomic issues to the microeconomic issues holding back business growth — as Jamaica has just successfully completed our most recent IMF programme with both local and international stakeholders extremely confident in our ability to make it on our own.

The other key speakers confirmed for the ICAJ 2019 Business Seminar include ICAJ Past President Bruce Scott and Eleanor Jones, chairman and chief executive officer, Environmental Solutions Limited on the topic 'Human Disasters verses Natural Disasters – A race to save the planet'.

Dr Maurice McNaughton, head of the Centre of Excellence and Innovation at Mona Business School will advise on trends in technology affecting consumer behaviour.

Michelle Chong, chief executive officer of Honey Bun Limited and Dean Nevers, managing director of Konnexx Services, and Audrey Richards (in charge of creating the Development Bank of Jamaica's venture capital ecosystem) will speak on 'Entrepreneurship in Jamaica'.

Larren Peart, chief executive officer Blue Dot Data Intelligence and Chukwuemeka Cameron, attorney-at-law and director of Jamaica UAV Limited will speak on everyone's key issue 'Is your data driving growth and sustainability and are you leveraging data analytics', while Proven's Johann Heaven will advise on 'Global turmoil and implications for Jamaica'.

It promises to be an interesting conference.


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