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C&W CEO underscores “Our People are our Greatest Asset” at CANTO

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The 36th annual CANTO Trade and Virtual Exhibition kicked-off on Wednesday, July 28th with Headline Sponsor, C&W Communications (CWC), hosting the first day of the three-day virtual event. Held under the theme, ‘The New Digital Reality – 2021 and Beyond’, the event was formally opened by David Cox, Senior Director, Regulatory, CWC and current Chairman of CANTO who welcomed participants and panelists to CANTO’s first ever virtual trade event.

CWC put together an impressive line-up of discussion panels on the first day that focused on topical issues faced by the sector in the wake of an ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic. In the first session of the day, CANTO Chairman David Cox spoke with CWC CEO, Inge Smidts, in a candid and insightful virtual fireside chat.  Smidts detailed how the regional communications and entertainment provider has been able to navigate through the challenges of the pandemic and put a uniquely ‘human’ face on the company’s commitment to keep its employees working and its customers connected.

Smidts said passionately, “with the onset of COVID-19 we focused on our two (2) ‘Whys’: taking care of our people and keeping our customers connected. My philosophy is that our people are our biggest asset. Having the network capacity to meet the demands of our customers is important but having the right people to take care of our customers is even more important”. Smidts attributed the company’s ability to continue to meet those ‘whys’ on the resilience of its employees and their willingness to face the challenges head on to ensure they continued to find ways to keep customers connected.

As the Region’s only female CEO running a full-service telecommunications company, she offered the virtual audience some personal insights into her management style and leadership approach during the pandemic. Smidts said, “the pandemic induced a period of ‘unlearning’, forcing companies, including CWC, to find new ways to meet the needs of their customers and employees, and to embrace change”.

Other virtual sessions held included:

The ‘Women in ICT Leadership Panel Discussion’ adeptly hosted by Wendy McDonald, C&W Senior Director – Communications and Stakeholder Relations for the Caribbean. McDonald’s guests included: Daysi Andrades, Advisor to the Chief Information Officer at the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, DC; Monica Desai, Global Head, Connectivity and Access Policy at Facebook; and Vice President of People at CWC, Sonali Dighe. This panel took an intense look at how the pandemic brought unique challenges for women in the workplace, particularly in leadership roles. In host McDonald’s preamble she spoke to the additional challenges imposed on women in the workplace who were forced to suddenly and unexpectedly manage competing and overlapping work and family commitments on a scale and with a level of urgency many women had never encountered before, a situation that in some cases is causing women to leave the workforce. CWC’s Sonali Dighe impressed upon the audience the need for companies in the region to focus on their leadership pipelines and to implement succession planning programs with a focus on moving more women into leadership positions.

Later in the program, ‘The Parenting and Education in the Digital Age’ discussion panel saw an equally impressive list of panelists which included: Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of Education, Dr. the Honorable Nyan Gadsby-Dolly; Sherra Carrington-James, President of both the Caribbean Association of Principals of Secondary Schools and the Trinidad & Tobago Association of Principals of Secondary Schools. Also bringing a wealth of knowledge on human capital in the region was Dominic Boon, Vice President of Talent and Organizational Development at CWC’s parent company, Liberty Latin America. The panel was expertly moderated by Simone Martin-Sulgan, Vice President for CWC’s Operations in Trinidad and Tobago, who as a mother of two herself, was deeply connected to the panel’s in-depth look at how parents have been searching for new, engaging, and innovative means to support their children through this new normal of the COVID-19 pandemic. The panelists sought to address the issues facing the education sector and in keeping with the overall conference theme, using our “New Digital Reality” to determine where the opportunities for intelligent collective collaboration exist and do our best to exploit them to our and our children’s advantage.

C&W Communications has been a long-standing partner of CANTO and through its Corporate Social Responsibility programs, and the work of its C&W Charitable Foundation, continues to invest in and advocate for greater digital access for the region’s children. CWC is committed to working with governments and industry stakeholders towards this goal.

Caribbean News

CDB Approves Millions for Regional Improvement such as Health, Education and Poverty

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Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer 

#RegionalDevelopment#CDB, February 28th, 2024 – Projects for the improvement of water, renewable energy, education, health as well as budgetary support for governments in the region, are being financed with an approved USD$461 million by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). Included in the approval are The Bahamas with USD$125 million and Saint Lucia with 43 million. Additionally, as announced in a release from the Bank, climate resilience and poverty reduction will also be prioritized through the funding. 

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Ali Addresses the Issue of Violent Music in the Region

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Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer

#CaribbeanMusic#Violence#IrfaanAli, February 28th, 2024 – “As Leaders of this region, we have to take this situation very seriously, and ensure the lyrics of the region, is the lyrics of Bob Marley, the lyrics of positivity and the lyrics of positive living and positive change,” said the president of Guyana Irfaan Ali at the 46th CARICOM Heads of Government Meeting on February 25th, addressing the issue of violent music in the Caribbean region and the influence it has on people’s action.

 

He speaks against violent lyrics, adding that the region is more than capable of producing music that positively influences people. 

 

According to the American Psychological Association, in reference to a study published in the journal of Personality and Social Psychology, violent  lyrics are linked to increased negative emotions and thoughts that can lead to aggression.

 

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Saunders “surprised” by move to Backbench; promises to address the nation this week

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Dana Malcolm 

Staff Writer 

#TurksandCaicosIslands, February 28, 2023 – Surprise was one of the main emotions rolling off of  E. Jay Sauders, All Island Elected Member, when he spoke to Magnetic Media Tuesday afternoon. The brief phone interview came only minutes after he confirmed to the media around 3 p.m. that he had been removed from his post as Deputy Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands by Washington Misick, TCI Premier. 

“I am a bit surprised– I sit here at the pleasure of the Premier, the Premier acted in a certain way and it is his right to decide who he wants and doesn’t want in his cabinet and that’s the position that he took.”

The biggest question now is who will replace Saunders as the Premier’s right hand man, Magnetic Media spoke to a high-profile source around 3:30 pm who told us: “The Premier hasn’t made a decision in that regard as yet so there’s nothing yet to announce.” 

It’s likely, the source told us, that the Premier will take on the Ministry of Finance himself, having had experience with that ministry in the past. 

Sure enough minutes after that conversation a press release came from the Office of the Premier announcing that he is the new Minister of Finance, Investment and Trade; the statement also bid Saunders goodbye.

I wish to thank Honourable Saunders for his service these past three years as my Deputy and for his stewardship in the ministries he served,” Misick said.

It comes as no surprise to residents however and a firestorm of comments followed the announcement,

“This is so wrong!!!” said one resident. 

It was a sentiment fielded by Magnetic Media over a dozen times.

“He is running this country and this party with his silly feelings.  And with Washy age, he need to relax himself.”

Another predicted, “This will hurt the PNP in the next election for sure, plus with the current conflict of interest matter pending with Washy and the Integrity Commission, this was not the best move at this time for him to be both Premier and Minister of Finance.”

The booting is the second high-profile shuffle in the Washington Misick-led PNP Administration following the removal of Akierra Missick, Elected Member for Leeward from her post as Minister of Physical Planning and Infrastructure Development in 2023. 

That shakeup went totally without explanation, similarly, no explanation has come from the Premier’s office this time either, but it follows a leadership challenge at the party’s national convention just days prior. 

Saunders had attempted to go against Misick for the head of the PNP party but could not get enough votes to push the challenge through. 

As a former CEO of DigicelTCI, E. Saunders initially served as the Health and Human Services minister as the country clawed its way back to health after a brutal Coronavirus Pandemic.  He was then appointed, by Misick, to the ministry for Finance, Investment and Trade, setting and achieving lofty goals including the achievement of a $400 million yearly revenue two years into his tenure and the removal of the Turks and Caicos from the EU Blacklist of non-compliant tax jurisdictions. 

Now with one year left before a new general election is called, Saunders, in his own words, will join the rest of the backbench of politicians. 

Also feeling the “stick” is reported to be Jas Walkin, the man Washington Misick appointed to lead his winning general election campaign in 2021.  Walkin had put his name forward for party leader but hurriedly withdrew it. Reports of a suspension have been shared via social media with residents expressing disdain at the possibility.

The consensus from many, they’re not surprised and also not happy about the removal of Jas. 

For now, Saunders is focused on moving, 

“Depending on how quickly I can get through the packing up of my office, I’ll do a Public Address tomorrow, but no later than Wednesday,” he promised. 

The demotion also means a significant pay cut for Saunders from the Deputy Premier’s $175,000 base salary and $60,000 in allowances to the $97,000 base salary and $10,200 in allowances which is paid out to Members of the House of Assembly, where he will continue to serve as an All Island Elected member.

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