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Jean's journey to the boardroom

Published:Sunday | May 2, 2010 | 12:00 AM
Jean Lowrie-Chin, founder and chief executive officer, Caribbean Community of Retired Persons, outlines the organisation's plans to Pan Caribbean's Managing Director Philip Armstrong at the launch on April 13.

Barbara Ellington, Lifestyle Editor

The name Jean Lowrie-Chin is synonymous with excellence in the marketing and public-relations business. Founder/managing director PRO Communications Ltd, this little dynamo has led many excellent public relations campaigns for corporate giants including Digicel, Lasco, the Norwegian Seafood Export Council (NORGE) and the Electoral Commission of Jamaica.

Lowrie-Chin, JP, holds a BA (Hons) and an MA. She started PRO Communications Limited in December 1978. Previously, she held posts in the media and advertising, taught at Calabar High School and, most recently, she launched her latest initiative, Caribbean Community of Retired Persons (CCRP). She is its founder and chief executive officer.

Lowrie-Chin is a former president of the Public Relations Society of Jamaica and chairs the Advertising Agencies Association of Jamaica (AAAJ) media awards committee. She is a life member of Women's Media Watch and a member of the Press Association of Jamaica.

Lowrie-Chin's voluntary contributions include former chairman of the Stella Maris Foundation, board member of St George's College, Food For The Poor and the Women's Centre Foundation of Jamaica.

She created Flair magazine for The Gleaner and is now a weekly newspaper columnist. The author of a book of poems titled Souldance, she is generous with her knowledge, always has a ready smile and listening ear and has taken to modern technological advances like a fish to water.

So it was no surprise that Lowrie-Chin was recently asked to serve as a director of FirstCaribbean International Bank (FCIB). She is married to Hubie Chin and they have two children. Outlook asked Lowrie-Chin to reflect on her appointment and its implications for business and future.

What does the recent board appointment mean to you?

It means that more women are being given the opportunity to serve at the highest levels in corporate Jamaica.

Another high-profile Jamaican woman told me recently that after hearing her speak at a recent luncheon, a male executive of one of the island's largest group of companies invited her to join one of their subsidiary boards. Are you satisfied with the relatively small number of women on such boards to date? Bear in mind that more women are graduating at the tertiary level and, therefore, far more qualified than men!

Well, that experience tells me that more women should step up to the plate when invited to address such functions. Perhaps if more of us would do this, there would be less of an imbalance. We should also try to mentor our fellow women. I am encouraged by the increase in the number of women on private- and public-sector boards.

What do you hope to achieve with the appointment and, overall, what are would you like to gain from the experience?

I am hoping that I can bring to bear my experience as the head of a small to medium-size business and my experience in marketing. I know I will gain a lot from serving alongside some of the country's and region's most distinguished business leaders.

You have a long history/record of doing volunteer work with organisations such as the Church in Jamaica. Why do you do so?

We actually gain more from volunteerism than we give. It is probably the most rewarding thing that we can do in this life. I have found that there is nothing more joyful than seeing a fellow human being advance because of our contribution, whether in time, talent or treasure.

You have one of the most successful public-relations companies in Jamaica. What's your secret?

The 'secret' is really in our slogan 'Follow-through sets us apart'. We have learned to be not just thinkers but doers, and we also look at the bigger picture of seeing the success of our clients as being the success of our beloved Jamaica. We are energised by the vision and commitment of our clients.

What else are you hoping to achieve in business and for your company?

We are hoping to expand further into advertising and training so that we can provide more employment opportunities and empower more Jamaicans.

You are very busy, yet you are actively engaged in social networking through your blog, weekly newspaper column and family and social life. How do you balance them all?

I balance these various activities because of the unwavering support of my husband, Hubie, the PROComm team and the network of friends who help me not to take myself too seriously. I am grateful for the technology that helps me to manage my time.

Young girls look at accomplished women such as yourself and dream of emulating you. What advice would you give them?

My advice to young women is that they should educate themselves thoroughly in the field that they love and be courageous in going after their goals. They should volunteer in these areas and join social clubs so that their good deeds and excellence can be seen. I would also advise them to look out for their families and to stay connected with the Almighty. 'More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of'.