Ilsa H. duVerney, Contributor
Francis Wade (Framework Consulting Inc.) on the floor addressing consultants of the Institute of Management Consultants of Jamaica (IMCJ) recently. Seated (from left) are Dr. Grace Martin-Hall (GMH Consultants); WInston Adams (CEO - University College of the Caribbean); Dr. Lloyd Eubank-Green - (Lloyd Eubank-Green & Associates); and Howard Cooper (vice-president - IMCJ). - CONTRIBUTED
FOR SOMETIME now, businesses in Jamaica have been getting ready for the CARICOM Single Market (CSM). The Institute of Management Consultants of Jamaica (IMCJ) has planned a series of events around the topic and has indicated that their next upcoming forum will address not only Caribbean competition but global competition as well.
Francis Wade recently addressed the IMCJ's CARICOM Single Market Economy Forum. His presentation was really applicable to almost all business persons and professionals in Jamaica. In summary, these are the thoughts which he shared at the IMCJ forum:
ADVENT OF THE ECONOMY
The advent of a single market economy presents the Jamaican consulting professional with a unique opportunity. Barriers to doing business across the region are gradually being reduced. As the laws are changed to facilitate free movement of labour, new access is opening up to markets that are more than twice the size of the Jamaican market alone (when measured by Gross Domestic Product.)
At the same time, the barriers to doing business in the United States are rising, as post 9-11 legislation and enforcement make it more difficult to travel and do business in the United States of America.
The facts are self-evident - growth in the profession should come from the cross-regional opportunities.
But the Jamaican professional is in a bind, as our focus has historically been more on Miami and New York than it has been on Port-of-Spain and Bridgetown. We are far more likely to have studied, visited friends and relatives and done major business in North America. Trinidad and Barbados are mentally far away, and few of us aspire to be successful in terms of Barbadian or Trinidadian dollars. We take pride in our close association with the continent, and little comfort in the fact that we are actually part of the Caribbean.
However, the very opposite is true for our counterparts across the region. To them, the Caribbean is their home. They frequently intermarry, vacation in each other's countries and are quite likely to have relatives living in another country. To them, Jamaica represents a tremendous untapped opportunity that is only tempered by the high levels of violent crime being reported. One could expect, over time, that that concern will be alleviated as they get over their fears and learn how to navigate a high-crime environment to get business done. It is only a matter of time before they show up in force in the management consulting market.
LEVERAGING THE WAVES
What is the Jamaican consulting professional to do before the next wave of Trinidadian and Barbadian professionals fly in to take advantage of the opportunities that exist?
The first change the professional needs to make is to establish once and for all that he/she is a Caribbean consultant, and not just Jamaican (or even 'Jamerican'.) This reframing or change in mindset is all-important for us all in establishing who we are as professionals, what our market is and where future resources are to come from.
The second change is to define an area of genuine professional interest, and one in which it would be enjoyable and challenging to find out information and develop deep proficiency. A genuine interest is one that speaks to the heart, versus the mind, and comes from authentic commitment, versus logical theorising. If the interest is natural and heartfelt, then expertise in that area will inevitably become real.
The third and final change is to create a professional brand related to the area of interest, and establish oneself as an expert in that area.
Once a unique personal brand has been created, it can then be extended across the region by finding others who share an interest in that same area. Given the distance between our territories and the high cost of travel, technology can be used to create the necessary connections. New technologies such as Voice Over IP can be used to cut communication costs dramatically.
Email, websites and e-Zines can be used as ways to let people know what the consultant is offering. Participative, web 2.0 technologies such as newsgroups, blogs and instant messaging can be used as methods to create different modes for communicating the consultant's brand to executives and their employees across the region.
Consultant Frances Wade explained: "Many of my own potential clients and colleagues across the region are people whom I have never met in person, or will meet. Yet time and again an executive will tell me that they got someone to print every single page from our website - all in order to 'check out the company'.
Others read white papers, or presentations given at regional conferences. Some read my blog, and reply to it with their own idea. Each person chooses his or her level of interaction with the content created by my associates and me, and in so doing gain an understanding of the specific kind of work we do, and why we enjoy doing it."
Wade emphatically stated that the changes which are coming are real, and we in the consulting profession in Jamaica need to equip ourselves with a new mindset and the newest technologies to take full advantage of them.
Ilsa H. duVerney, an HRD/process consultant, is managing director of Productivity Plus Ltd. Email: email@example.com or visit www.frameworkconsulting.com.