- Director of Transport Policy in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, Valrie Simpson, has been actively contributing to nation-building through her work in the public sector for more than 30 years.
- Ms. Simpson’s sojourn in the public sector began as a clerk in the Auditor General’s Department - a job she gained directly out of high school.
- In her current position, Ms. Simpson leads her unit in setting goals in keeping with the Government’s overall strategic objectives, particularly as it pertains to the main modes of transport - air, land and maritime.
Director of Transport Policy in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, Valrie Simpson, has been actively contributing to nation-building through her work in the public sector for more than 30 years.
The confident, yet admittedly reserved, Alpha Academy past student, has made her mark on society and the civil service in more ways than one, racking up a number of achievements driven by a profound sense of self and service.
Ms. Simpson’s sojourn in the public sector began as a clerk in the Administrator General’s Department – a job she gained directly out of high school. She quickly worked her way up to an Administrator position, winning the admiration and respect of her colleagues for her hard work and dedication.
“I was never afraid of work. I was very ambitious and was never afraid to do anything that was demanded of me,” she tells JIS News. “If, for example, the telephone operator was sick, I was never afraid to say, ‘okay, let me try my hand at that’.
This commitment to hard-work and dedication to self-development saw Ms. Simpson moving up the ranks of the civil service. She later joined the Ministry of Mining and Energy, where she made significant contributions to the development of an energy policy.
She noted that one of her greatest achievements and best memory there, was being a part of the team that was instrumental in getting the Petroleum (Quality Control Act) passed. This is a key piece of legislation that among other things, ensures the integrity of the fuel that motorists are sold.
In 1998, she took up employment in the Ministry of Transport, where she worked as Senior Director of Transport Monitoring, and Chief Director of Air Transport, before being promoted to Director of Transport Policy (Land, Air and Maritime) in 2004.
In her current position, Ms. Simpson leads her unit in setting goals in keeping with the Government’s overall strategic objectives, particularly as it pertains to the main modes of transport – air, land and maritime.
Her 16 years in the Ministry have seen her negotiating several major agreements, crucial to Jamaica’s development. These include a number of bilateral air traffic agreements between Jamaica and other countries, including the United States, Chile, Brazil, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and Canada.
Ms. Simpson also represented the Ministry on the Government of Jamaica’s (GoJ) Enterprise Team, which successfully concluded the privitisation of the Sangster International Airport in 2003. She places this among her most cherished achievements, pointing out that the deal has been described “as one of the most successful agreements to be signed”.
Ms. Simpson has also participated in facilitating the promulgation of the Airports (Economic Regulation) Act and other policies, which established the regulatory framework for privatised airports, and promote investment in the sector.
Currently, she is a member of the Enterprise Teams overseeing the privitisation of the Norman Manley International Airport, and the Jamaica Railway Corporation. She also participates in the meetings of the Enterprise Team supervising the privitisation of the Kingston Container Terminal (KCT).
The Director points out that the experience of previous public-private agreements, including the privatisation of the Sangster International Airport, has contributed greatly to the expertise of the teams working on the current deals.
“There was no regulatory framework when we were considering the privitisation of Sangster International, now there is the Airport Economic Regulation Act, so we would not be starting from ground zero,” she states.
“Having gone through the process before and having all the lessons learnt, we know what to look out for. We also know what the investor will be looking for and what the people and the Government of Jamaica will be looking to achieve. We have set the ground work and this is very important for us,” Ms. Simpson notes.
She also points to the Public-Private Partnership policy, which was developed by the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), as another major accomplishment in this area for Jamaica.
In addition to her main responsibilities, the Director of Policy also currently acts as Deputy Chairman of the Air Policy Committee, a technical team, which directs policy concerning bilateral services agreements, and other matters relating to air transport.
She also represents the Ministry on the Boards of the Airports Authority of Jamaica, and the Maritime Authority of Jamaica.
With her exemplary work ethic and dedication to nation-building, it is no surprise that Ms. Simpson has won the admiration of her colleagues. In 2013, she was named first runner-up for the Civil Servant of the Year Award, an honour which is dear to her heart.
“I was pleasantly surprised by the nomination,” she tells JIS News.
However, while the nomination was unexpected for Ms. Simpson, it certainly was not a surprise for her colleagues at the Ministry, many of whom consider her a dedicated civil servant and a team player.
Her current supervisor, Chief Technical Director, in the Ministry, Dr. Janine Dawkins, describes her as a “person who is serious about her work”.
“She pays a lot of attention to detail and doesn’t like anything to be out of place or not in accordance with procedure. Because of that she can always be depended on to ‘dot all of the I’s and cross all of the T’s, and go beyond the call of duty if something needs to be done on time, in a short time,” Dr. Dawkins remarks.
Meanwhile, Senior Policy Officer in the Ministry, Joan Wynter, who has known Ms. Simpson since 1995, says she has always admired the Director of Policy.
“She has a very good work ethic. She’s strong and dedicated and she certainly motivates the staff. Whenever there are issues to be dealt with, she is very passionate about following procedures,” she says.
Though it has been a long and often challenging journey, Ms. Simpson, admits that her dedication to the development of her people and country is what keeps her going.
“Times are hard, and sometimes, I think I should have really been in the private sector, but when you sit and think about it, and you realise the impact you have had on the development of your country and your people, and the part you have played in these strategic decisions, you realise that you still have a job to do,” she declares.
The self-proclaimed perfectionist further says she sees much in store for the public sector.
“We have very bright, young men and women on staff, and I am hopeful for them. I know the public sector is in good hands. And I have been doing my part in training them,” she says.
Ms. Simpson holds an Executive Masters in Business Administration (EMBA) from the University of the West Indies, Mona.