Friday, January 19, 2018

Don’t be trapped in ordinary thinking

Massy CEO at leaders’ conference:

BE INNOVATIVE: Massy CEO Gervase Warner delivers his presentation at a business leaders’ conference at the Hyatt Regency in Port of Spain yesterday. —Photo: CURTIS CHASE

port of spain
Massy Group CEO Gervase Warner says local businesses need to be unconventional in their thinking and unshakeable, innovative and “unfoolish” in their execution if they are to soar above the current financial recession.
“Nothing can be achieved by ordinary means, so if we want to soar above this recession, we cannot be trapped into ordinary thinking,” he told participants attending a business leaders’ conference, held yesterday at the Hyatt Regency, Port of Spain.
The event was hosted by president and CEO of Imagine Media International Ltd, Lisa Wickham.
Warner identified the foreign exchange shortfall as the major constraint facing businesses, even the Massy Group.
“And so the job of the organisation gets to be almost arithmetic. Remember when you were in school and you got the problem ‘given x and y, solve for z’? That’s what we have to be doing. Given the constraints, given the assets, given the other things that we know, solve Z.”
“How much time are we spending really solving for the problem at hand? Are we just accepting that the topic is a constraint or are we uncovering new and different ways? I can tell you that we have exhausted numerous ways to raise foreign exchange in the Massy group of companies,” he said.
Warner made reference to a meeting he and Massy colleague, David O’Brien, had with the Governor of the Central Bank, in which they tried to convince him that there was a dire need for a greater injection of foreign exchange into the financial system.
He said as a result of that meeting, the group realised that they had to find their own means of generating more US currency, which “unleashed a huge amount of creativity” within the group.
“We spent almost two hours and the Governor of the Central Bank brought out a team of 11 people. We had a great conversation. It was fantastic. We had a really great discussion and he gave us a lot of time, and at the end of it, it was very clear that he was not going to be putting more foreign exchange into the system,” Warner said.
“This was a very, very important milestone for us because we realised that the cavalry was not coming. It was up to us. We have more different kinds of ways to find and bring foreign exchange into our group so our companies can continue to supply supermarkets with goods and products like pharmaceuticals and to buy cars,” he added.
He said now was the right time for businesses to be innovative.
“If you are just doing what you used to do before then you’re going down,” Warner stressed.
Kristine Thompson, the franchise holder of Chuck E Cheese’s in Trinidad and Tobago, told the conference that even her restaurants were taking a hit from the recession.
She said while businesses cannot control the current economic environment, they can control how they excel at their core business, which Chuck E Cheese’s has been doing.
She reminded participants that given the “new normal,” they could not sit and hope for brighter days.
“This is as a result of a structural shift in the oil and gas sector that has to do with production as opposed to price. In the past, we may have been waiting for the oil price to go up, even if it does, that’s not going to help us much,” she pointed out.
Addressing participants at the start of the conference, Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon made a clarion call for entrepreneurs and firms to become more innovative and invest in cutting-edge technology.
She also encouraged them to take risks now for future gains.
“We are particularly buoyed by our private sector, and more so in particular the manufacturers who continue to invest in plant, equipment and staff in carving out niche products and export markets. But more has to be done,” she said.
Gopee-Scoon emphasised that the time was ripe for the country to “buckle up and in a sense take control of ourselves as a nation”.