MICHELE ENGLISH came to Jamaica from Canada to lead the team at Columbus Communications Jamaica Limited (operators of the Flow and Columbus Business Solutions brands) charged with building out the country's first islandwide fibre-optic network. Today, Columbus delivers the best of broadband technology and has positioned Jamaica as having ICT infrastructure rivalling First-World nations.
Michele and her team have built a network that while positioning Jamaica as a strong and viable business destination, has also had a profound impact on transforming lives by leveraging the infrastructure to deliver a range of innovative products and services that have changed the way Jamaicans work, learn and play.
For English, while being selected as one of the 50UnderFifty business leaders in Jamaica is personally rewarding, to her the real value in the selection lies in the recognition and impact on the company's employees. Michele describes her team at Columbus as "a dedicated staff of about 600 people who all believe in the vision and feel that they really are a part of something bigger".
The greatest reward comes from being able to give back in the communities in which Columbus serves. Michele has made corporate social responsibility a priority of the business. She is particularly proud of the impact that Columbus' technology has on transforming education, by providing Internet and cable services to schools in Jamaica through its Building Leaders Through Technology programme. "It is very important to us that our programmes in education, culture and sports have a transformative effect on the lives of young Jamaicans, helping them to build the critical skills and enable their efforts as they work towards being future leaders of Jamaica," she says.
Before coming to Jamaica, English worked at Persona Communications where she gained experience in planning and executing large-scale telecommunications projects, including several educational and community networks in rural Newfoundland. The similarities of characteristics of that market to Jamaica provided great preparation for her role here.
Leading a telecommunications firm in Jamaica's fiercely competitive market is a challenge she welcomes and has proven the mettle to handle. Her training as a figure skater provided early experience in the challenges of competition and helped to develop her strong ethos of hard work.