Gloria Henry cops prestigious award
Montego Bay’s Gloria Henry has been named Nearshore Americas Nexus Illuminate Award – Executive of the Year 2022 for her role in sustaining the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.
During her five-year tenure as president of the Global Services Association of Jamaica (GSAJ), employment in the industry moved from 25,000 to 56,000, and facing COVID-19 head-on, Henry decided that the sector had to remain open, despite other industries such as tourism and entertainment being shuttered.
Some 16,000 new jobs were created during the pandemic owing to her intervention. “Few did more for the economic growth of her country and for the development of the BPO industry during the pandemic than Gloria Henry,” Kirk Laughlin, chief executive officer, Nearshore Americas, stated, while lauding her during the awards ceremony in New York two weeks ago.
Henry, who is a vice-president in charge of logistics and BPO at the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ), shared the spotlight with Mario Chaves, president of Americas at Encora, who was named Entrepreneur of the Year; Adriana Llorenz, executive director at Mexicalli EDC, who copped the award for Nearshore Promotions Professional of the Year; and Bogota, Colombia, which was named the City of the Year.
Revealing how she was able to manage while other sectors were decimated, Henry told The Gleaner they pivoted to the work-at-home arrangement during the temporary lockdown in April 2020 and quickly became the new business continuity strategy for Jamaica. “The cooperation and support from [the] Government, resilience and success of our efforts to not just pivot, but continue along our growth path, became very attractive to new investors,” she explained.
Henry was nominated by the GSAJ members and voted for by others to receive the award. She was unaware she was in the running until days before the award presentations, she told The Gleaner.
“I am very honoured to receive the award. The early period of the pandemic was the most difficult and trying times of my tenure,” she reminisced, adding that dealing with the fear and the panic, and an outbreak in a BPO centre that soon became a national newsmaker, was not easy.
Despite the challenges and lots of misunderstandings about why they could not close down call centres, she said she found energy from the many workers who were calling to say they were now breadwinners in their households because other family members worked in sectors that had shuttered their doors, and had lost their jobs.
“I soon realised that I was not just serving my members, but the entire country and economy of Jamaica. As I understood this truth, wading through the challenges became more purposeful and doable,” she related.
Global Services Sector Jamaica was resilient and steadfast, she added, pointing out that they decelerated in the early months due to some lockdown. But she was early out of the block with some of the team members to develop protocols; securing essential services status under the Disaster Risk Management Act, even while striving and growing to the realisation of 12 new sites and 16,000 new jobs to reach 56,000 jobs as at May 2022.
Established in 2009, Nearshores Americas stimulates engagement between customers, investors, service providers, regional and country-based investment agencies and other stakeholders in the ‘nearshore’ technology-services industry.
They have supported over 100 organisations during the last 11 years, producing specialised market consulting and analysis, brand-building and lead-generation programmes, live events and matchmaking forums, country-focused missions, and a variety of other advisory projects throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.