Manager of Human Resources and Administration at the National Export-Import (EXIM) Bank of Jamaica, Mrs. Stephanie Murdock, having dedicated 17 years of her life to the public sector, wanted to transition to the next level of leadership.
This was what motivated her to be a part of the 2015 iteration of the Caribbean-Canada Emerging Leaders’ Dialogue (CCELD), a programme which ran from September 20 to October 4.
The CCELD was geared at building the capacity of leaders selected from business, Government, labour and civil society across the Caribbean and Canada and was done under the theme: ‘Leading through Innovation and Transformation’. Sixty participants, including nine Jamaicans, went on study tours which allowed them to gain practical knowledge and insight from successful leaders across the regions.
In an interview with JIS News following the closing ceremony of the programme, held at the Pegasus Hotel in Kingston, on October 2, Mrs. Murdock said she embarked on the tour as a way of determining how she could enable her agency to make a significant contribution to the ongoing public sector transformation process.
“What I have learnt on the study tour, which we know at EXIM but which I am now in a position to reinforce, is the importance of innovation, creativity and the ability to be flexible to ensure that we continue to meet our development mandate,” she said.
EXIM is Jamaica’s premier trade financing institution and the Caribbean’s first Export-Import Bank. It plays a fundamental role in national development by providing a wide range of financing instruments at competitive interest rates for the country’s productive sector.
“It’s a crowded financial space out there so for EXIM to continue to strive and do even better than we are doing now, it’s important that we find our niche,” she said.
She further noted that for her particular division, the programme reinforced the importance of developing subordinates through mentoring and coaching and the value of not only building capacity, but also fostering a level of trust.
“When you go and meet the leaders, it validates what you already know and it reinforces the information and you feel re-energized and you just want to go back into the organisation and do better and do more and (build) leaders,” she said.
Participants in the tour were separated into five groups, with 12 persons to each group. Mrs. Murdock’s group travelled to Ottawa in Canada, and then to Barbados.
Other groups travelled between Ontario and Grenada, Quebec and Dominican Republic, Nova Scotia and Trinidad and Tobago and Ontario and Bahamas. They all met in Jamaica for the Closing Ceremony, which was hosted by the Patron of the CCELD, Her Royal Highness, Princess Royal, Princess Anne, who was on a three-day official visit to the island.
Topics discussed during the study tour included: Best Practices in Ethics and Good Governance, Social and Economic Inclusion through Meaningful Citizenship Engagement and Participation and The Future of Leadership. A workshop on collaborative leadership was also done.
Mrs. Murdock describes the experience as having been “fabulous”, despite a hectic schedule. She said the lessons from the CCELD drove home the need to have transformational leadership within the public sector.
“As a public servant, right now, the focus is on efficiency, accountability and transparency and these things will only happen if you have solid, visionary leadership,” she said.
She noted that she had an appreciation for the approach the programme took, which served to make it relevant to the needs of the region at this time.
“It’s the true essence of a Dialogue. Just sitting down, having that discussion and coming away thinking, what can I do better in my organisation, in my community or in my church? That’s what leadership is all about, the ability to drive change, the ability to transform and the ability to be a visionary,” she said.
Acting General Secretary of the Jamaica Civil Service Association (JCSA), Ms. Tifonie Powell, also described her participation in the programme as being engaging.
The JCSA represents the interests of public sector workers in salary and other work conditions negotiations.
Ms. Powell said her takeaway from the CCELD, is that her Association must take the lead to engage the membership for a movement towards high quality leadership
“We have been having these collaborative efforts with the government as the employer, the trade union, private sector and civil society in how we can help to create sustainable environment for the people and the union needs to play that proactive role,” she said.
She further stated that being able to interact with participants from a range of different Caribbean countries, such as Dominican Republic and Haiti, and to understand the particular cultures, allowed for a deeper appreciation of varying leadership styles.
She said the programme not only afforded a vast opportunity for networking, but also addressed a crisis among emerging leaders in the region.
“(They) used the opportunity to engage persons to find out what they are doing and how they believe that the challenges can be addressed,” Ms. Powell said.
Other Jamaican participants in the programme were: Head of Business Information Services at Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), Delaine Morgan; Regional Director of Retail Distribution at Scotiabank, Maya Johnston; Legal, Regulatory and Company Secretary at Cable & Wireless (LIME), Rochelle Cameron; Team Leader in the Infrastructure and Professional Services Department at Massy Technologies (Infocam) Jamaica, Shane Barnes; Senior Policy Research Officer at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Jermaine Nairne; Manager of Palmer Jamaica Inc, Adrian Bailey-Hay; and Commanding Officer in the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Coast Guard, Cdr. Antonette Wemyss-Gorman.