Saturday, August 29, 2009

Not just athletics putting Jamaica ahead

Something good is in the state of Jamaica.

Yesterday I attended a function at Jamalco attended by senior executives of the parent company, Alcoa. They came to congratulate their Jamaican staff on overcoming a monumental task.

Two years ago it seemed as if the 50-year old company was going to be closed as the refinery had been scraping the bottom of the Alcoa barrell in many key business indices. Bad luck they say is worse than obeah, and nature added its own calamity by sending storms that ravaged the already inefficient production facilities. Add global downturn to that and it seemed only a matter of mere months to turning off the lights.

The mandate from head office was clear: give us a plan that will work. A new management team did what it had to do and Jamalco leapt from 9th to 4th place and is aiming to dethrone Western Australia where three refineries, some with the most modern practices and recent investments, lead the pack.

Responsible mining practices include robust communications strategies that must involve community relations. The Jamalco tradition remains strong in this area currently headed by PRSJ Member Leo Lambert with PRSJ Past President, Ealane Livingston Smith and PRSJ Member Pamella White anchoring key portfolios .

Among their strategies is a measurable staff volunteer programme. Currently 88 staff members have committed to giving 50 hours of volunteer service per year allowing them to earn US$250 for a project. This programme is making an impact on 60 communities in three parishes. The Jamalco management team also meets with business stakeholders every quarter, ensuring that those relationships are kept solid.

Jamalco shows that Jamaica not only leads in the sprints, but can chase in a marathon.