- Mr. Hylton was acknowledged for his considerable achievements in the public and private sectors.
- He joined the public sector in 1975 as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the PAJ.
- Mr. Hylton’s newly appointed successor at the PAJ, Professor Gordon Shirley, noted that he was “a very calming influence”.
Rousing speeches and soothing entertainment filled the air as some of the country’s most influential individuals bade farewell to retiring Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ), Noel ‘Tony’ Hylton, at a reception held at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston on Thursday, October 31.
Being the head of the nation’s port facilities and shipping industry is no easy feat, but based on the glowing tributes that flowed, Mr. Hylton steered the ship at the PAJ, effortlessly and superbly.
Born in 1931 and an accountant by profession, Mr. Hylton was acknowledged for his considerable achievements in the public and private sectors which span more than 40 years.
He joined the public sector in 1975 as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the PAJ, and has been influential in the development of the modern container terminal at the Port of Kingston, as well as the development of Jamaica’s first export free zone.
Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, headed the list of dignitaries at the function which also included former Prime Ministers, the Most Hon. Edward Seaga; the Most Hon. P.J Patterson; and the Hon. Bruce Golding. The event was hosted by the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing which has portfolio responsibility for the PAJ.
Reflecting on the extraordinary contribution of Mr. Hylton to the public service, the Prime Minister, in her tribute, said he has left a stellar record of service, commitment, dedication, passion and achievement.
“He stamped his indelible mark on the PAJ, and has chalked up an impressive and enviable record of public service, a testimony to his quest for excellence… He has served with equal distinction under no fewer than six Prime Ministers, spanning both political administrations,” Mrs. Simpson Miller noted.
Reading an abridged version of a citation, Minister of Transport, Works and Housing, Dr. the Hon. Omar Davies, said during the tenure of Mr. Hylton, he fostered the evolution of the country’s vital port infrastructure and is responsible for moving the port into the 21st century.
“His astute appreciation for the intricacies of international shipping resulted in some 20 major shipping lines including ZIM, Evergreen, Mersck, MCS, CMA-CGM and Seaboard accessing the facilities of the Kingston Container Terminal,” Dr. Davies said.
“A dynamic, yet quiet and unassuming individual, the expertise of this man for all seasons was sought by successive Governments and major private sector entities,” the Minster continued, adding that the savvy Jamaican has contributed to the lives of many.
In his comments, Mr. Hylton’s newly appointed successor at the PAJ, Professor Gordon Shirley, noted that he was “a very calming influence” in one of the most turbulent areas of our society down at the port in the 1970s.
“It is there that he met Hugh Shearer, Michael Manley, Reg Ennis and made good friends of them. He learnt a lot from them but he also was able to take the lessons that he had gained from his exposure abroad and his understanding of the importance of being able to walk among kings and retain the common touch, to work with those persons he had to negotiate, but also to stand for the small man,” Professor Shirley said.
Describing Mr. Hylton as a visionary, he noted that during his tenure there were no major industrial conflict, “in fact he has won the loyalty of a vast number of persons who have worked in that industry.”
“He took the shipping industry in Jamaica from those finger piers… and converted it into one of the most modern transhipment terminals anywhere in the Caribbean. He led the process by which a labour intensive process was not just transformed and mechanized, but using the most modern technologies. It is under his watch that the Port of Kingston has become the most important port in the Caribbean,” he praised.
Professor Shirley also noted that Mr. Hylton played a seminal role in the development of the Falmouth Pier, the ports in Ocho Rios and Montego Bay and the cruise shipping industry.
Opposition Spokesperson on Transports, Karl Samuda, who represented the Leader of the Opposition, said Mr. Hylton “distinguished himself in no uncertain way,” through his commitment to his work and the development of the areas in which he worked.
“Tony has represented Jamaica throughout the world, he has met with Heads of Government and Corporations…and he did it with great distinction and a sense of panache. It could never be said of Tony Hylton that he was a man to be taken for granted or that you would not immediately recognise that he carried with him a sense of dignity and class in the execution of his tasks,” he reminisced.
Mr. Samuda suggested that even though Mr. Hylton is retiring from his current post, he still has a lot in which he can contribute to the continued development of the country and the logistics hub initiative.
“Now that we are embarking on perhaps one of our most exciting opportunities, it is my humble opinion that a man of this vast experience, working together with Professor Gordon Shirley at the helm, will make a tremendous partnership in leading the way to succeeding in this venture,” he said.
In his response, Mr. Hylton expressed gratitude for the recognition of his stewardship of the organisation. He noted that he was always motivated throughout his tenure by a desire to serve his country.
“My contribution is to my country. I have had several offers… but I never considered private sector…I wanted to serve my country, and to serve it to the best of my ability. And I thank God tonight that I believe I have done so, and I will continue to do so with the help and guidance of all the people I admire,” Mr. Hylton said.
Other guests at the function included: Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips; Minister with responsibility for Housing, Hon. Dr. Morais Guy; Opposition Members of Parliament, Michael Henry and Edmund Bartlett; and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, Audrey Sewell, among others.
During his years of service, Mr. Hylton received many awards. He was made a member of the Order of Distinction (Commander Class) for service to the shipping industry in 1979, before he received the nation’s fourth highest honour – membership in the Order of Jamaica.
Over the course of his life he has also served as a Past Chairman of the Police Services Commission; member of the Royal Commission of Enquiry in the Fiji Islands in 1970; and General Manager of the Shipping Association of Jamaica between 1970 and 1981, while he was Chairman and CEO of the Port Authority. He was also appointed President and Managing Director of Air Jamaica for two years in 2004.