Ian Neita leads Global Directories to new frontiers
Global Directories, which operates the iconic Jamaica Yellow Pages (JYP), has been a staple in Jamaican households for years.
But like all entities, the company is going through a transformation to a more digital platform. Tasked with taking the company into this new, exciting world is CEO Ian Neita. Neita believes his track record across various industries has prepared him for this new challenge as it has given him tremendous confidence.
"I've been through a lot of transformational experiences, so I've learned that life is about change," he said. "I don't try to prevent life from changing or try and go back to where we were. What we have to do is make ourselves tolerant of change."
Neita noted there were many players in the digital market and this would make the task of bringing Global Directories fully into the market a challenging one.
"Our strategy is one where we are going to preserve the print for as long as we can because we find that there is still a strong demand," he said. "In fact, we've even had growth in some economies in the print last year." But he said there is a whole generation that has grown up with the Internet, and they must appeal to them.
"And so we're investing heavily as well in the digital space, and we don't necessarily see them as competing. We see it as expanding our market because there are people out there who are not using the book, who we can now bring into the fold by giving them an attractive online experience," Neita said.
Global Directories' focus is on growth, both from acquisitions and what he calls organic growth.
"Organic growth is going to come from the digital side of the business," he said. "It's going to see us, internally, changing the culture, because you know people who are in the digital business think differently than when you're in the publishing business. In the digital space, it's almost instantaneous."
He noted that JYP had become a tradition Jamaicans are not about to let go. "Not having a directory in your house, that's just not allowed," he said. "It has also transformed into a sort of lifestyle magazine. It has a national-interest effect. It is now becoming a part of your everyday life."
Neita said the goal is to see how Global Directories, in the various markets in which it operates, can drive economies and stimulate businesses.
"It's a lot bigger than making profit. It's about 'how do we encourage business transactions?" he said. "In so doing, we have to understand the businesses that are advertising with us," he reasoned. "One of the reasons we do ads ourselves is because we want it to be the best. We want you to have the best impact because when you have the best impact, you will continue to do business with us."
As CEO, Neita oversees 16 markets in the Caribbean, including Belize. He said the company is also seeking to venture into Central and South America. It's a tough road to navigate the different cultures and economic activities of each territory, but looking ahead to his first year, Neita hopes to see people seeing digital as a way of life.
But he also wants to break new ground.
"It is my expectation that, come January, we will have added another territory," he said, while also promising exciting new products and more digital marketing. "You're going to see a Global Directories becoming an expert on targeting your best customers."