Address by the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller

Prime Minister of Jamaica


Opening Dinner for the Working Visit to Jamaica of Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal, Princess Anne

And Closing Programme of the

The Caribbean-Canada Emerging Leaders’ Dialogue

Thursday, 1st of October, 2015 at 7:00pm

Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, Kingston



It is my sincere pleasure to join you this evening. Jamaica is pleased to host the closing programme for the Caribbean-Canada Emerging Leaders’ Dialogue. Your organisation has developed a reputation as a prestigious global leadership development initiative. I am delighted that you chose Jamaica as the location for this important occasion.

On behalf of the people and Government of Jamaica, I join you in welcoming to Jamaica, Her Royal Highness, the Princess Royal, Princess Anne. I also thank Her Royal Highness for once again presiding over the 2015 programme in continuation of a tradition of excellence established at the inception of the Commonwealth Study Conferences in 1956 by His Royal Highness, The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

May I also acknowledge the fine work of the co-chairs of this Programme:

  • Bruce Bowen the Senior Vice President Caribbean Region, International Banking, the Bank of Nova Scotia; and
  • Her Excellency Aloun Ndombet-Assamba, Jamaica’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.

Their important leadership has been ably supported by the work of a steering committee of alumni from the Caribbean and Canada led by Mrs. Lisa Bell, Managing Director of Exim Bank, Jamaica.

I therefore commend the collaborative efforts to implement this 2015 Caribbean-Canada Emerging Leaders’ Dialogue.

I take note of your mission of bringing together people who are making, and who can make, a positive difference in their communities and societies through the practical implementation of your theme: “Leading through Innovation and Transformation.”

Innovation is at the heart of creation, growth and success at the level of the firm, major corporation or Government.

In all these spheres, as Steve Jobs, former CEO of Apple reminded us:


I quote: “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” End quote.


 Today, companies are establishing market leadership by mastering digital innovation.

Innovation and transformation are important drivers for the countries of the Caribbean, whose societies and economies are in varying states of transition owing to the impact of globalization.

In this context, as Government, as businesses, as civil society organisations, we must place urgent emphasis on fashioning at every level, dynamic Twenty-First Century Caribbean leadership with the global perspective and confidence to competently tackle and overcome the challenges we face.

I remain confident in our abilities to resolve the challenges of our society. About the survival, renewal and future success of our civilisation, we dare not lose hope.

I take encouragement from the existence of initiatives such as C-C-E-L-D. This programme continues to prove its commitment to strengthening leadership capacity to ensure more sustainable companies, institutions and communities.

In Jamaica, our Government is acutely aware that human capital development is critical for good governance, production, productivity, economic growth and sustainable development.

We embrace the interesting and timeless perspective shared by George Bernard Shaw, who said: – quote:


“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is a about creating yourself.” End quote.


My philosophy of ensuring that our people are at the heart of our strategy for social and economic development, is well known.

Investments by the Government of Jamaica in education, training and innovation have been growing as a direct result of this policy emphasis. These are areas that have also been receiving sustained attention by companies keen on attaining or maintaining profitability and market leadership and honouring their corporate social responsibility.

The development and application of science and technology is also being strategically pursued within the context of the National Commission on Science and Technology, integration into the school curriculum, and various programmes for digital transformation under the auspices of the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining.

The new society, whether of the Caribbean or North America, must create knowledge workers ready for what has largely become a knowledge society:

In this knowledge society, agile minds must be facilitated with a unique capacity to initiate and innovate. In the knowledge society, people are compelled by fast changing circumstances to be always thinking on their feet, adapting and improving.

In Jamaica, our goal is to locate ourselves firmly in this knowledge society with people who are inspired, educated, trained and trainable. People, who are generating new   knowledge, new ideas and adding value to productive efforts at every level. For national development and personal progress, we must have people who are working together to find new ways of getting things done better and faster.

I am convinced that the Caribbean-Canada Emerging Leaders’ Dialogue is advancing this vision not just for the Caribbean and Canada, but for the world.

Rooted in the fact that progress is not possible without change, the Emerging Leaders’ Dialogue continues to create leaders for now and for tomorrow.

I am particularly excited at the prospects that this Dialogue has created for the future, by introducing and reinforcing key elements of dynamic, responsive leadership. The multiplier effect will be the ongoing emergence of community, corporate and national leaders adequately equipped for the tests of their times.

This is so, for as the former CEO of General Electric reminds us: – quote:

“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” End quote.

I note that the Caribbean Emerging Leaders’ Dialogue has brought together a number of female leaders and I pause to commend you.

This is important for us in Jamaica, ranked as we are by the International Labour Organization as the country in the world with the highest proportion of female leaders in management positions in relation to population size.

I believe it is accepted that women bring unique and essential perspectives to leadership across the wide spectrum of business, civil society, government and life in general.

I am encouraged by initiatives, such as yours, which develops leadership expertise in in men and women for the benefit of the wider society.

I commend the partnership across Canada, the Caribbean and the United Kingdom that makes this noble and vital programme possible.

For us in the Caribbean, the creation of the Citizen Worker, remains a powerful motivation for our social and economic development efforts, as reflected in the 1997 Caribbean Community Declaration that: I quote:

“The Caribbean People, due to a multiplicity of historical, sociological, psychological and political factors, are relatively open, spirited and hospitable, tolerant of diverse cultures, ambitious for opportunities for social and economic advancement, inquisitive, creative and energetic, and generally, do well when placed in a context where reward and advancement is based on merit.” It goes on to say: “These characteristics represent the single most important basis for selecting the area of economic activity with the greatest potential for forging globally-competitive advantage and a niche compatible with our people’s innate qualities and abilities.” – End quote.


Capable, inspired and inspiring leadership is essential for realizing this Caribbean vision.

The Caribbean-Canada Emerging Leaders Dialogue is well placed as a catalyst to achieve this transformation.

I wish your organisation well and I commend all the participants of the 2015 programme. Well done.

I thank you.


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