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Q&A: Chamber of reflections...business leaders look back (Part 3)

Q&A: Chamber of reflections...business leaders look back (Part 3)

Friday 26 February 2021

Q&A: Chamber of reflections...business leaders look back (Part 3)


Gagging a Constable over his "misogynistic" comments on breastfeeding, curbing the hiring of offshore suppliers and creating a renewable energy research centre are just some of the things these business lobby leaders past and present would do if they had the power.

100 editions (and nearly 10 years) have now passed since Bailiwick Publishing launched Connect magazine in April 2011 - always independently owned and edited, it was originally (and is again now) endorsed by the Jersey Chamber of Commerce.

To celebrate this milestone edition, we asked the Chamber Presidents covering the lifetime of the magazine so far, to give us their take on the last decade, which has seen the way we do business change so much.

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Pictured: Express is asking former Chamber presidents to give their insights into the evolution of island business.

We'll be sharing their answers across this week. We've already heard from Ray Shead, Cooper and Co's David Warr, Express Editor James Filleul and Amaizin' Adventures' Kristina Le Feuvre, who responded to the following questions:

  1. We’re presuming your predecessor in the role didn’t leave a note in your desk drawer with a message on it (maybe they did?)... But if they had done that, what would it have said?
  2. Going into the role, you must have had a shortlist of ‘must-tackle’, ‘mission-critical’ issues... What was it?
  3. All senior public roles have their highs/lows, triumphs/frustrations... If you had to pick a defining image from yours, what was it?
  4. Looking in from the outside, what do you think the public would be most surprised about, if they knew it?
  5. You have two gifts to award: a gag and a loud-hailer... During your term of office, who would you give each to, and why?
  6. Imagine you have a free rein to produce and implement just one policy decision... What is it, and what will it achieve?

Here's what they had to say...

Eliot Lincoln – Chamber President, 2017 to 2019

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1. Unfortunately, there was no desk drawer to leave a note in, but Kristina would have written something like, “It’s been fun, enjoyed working with you and I’m looking forward to not having to drive into town and park twice a week! Good luck seeing in the 250th Anniversary!”

2. First of all, it was securing a Vice President! There’s so much that Chamber does, it’s really important to have the air-cover that a Vice President provides. I tried to do this for Kris and I think I managed to provide all the support she needed – and knew that I would need the same.

Secondly, I wanted to create a forum, and a group, to help attract and retain the younger business talent in the island, so worked with the team to instigate a committee to do just that.

I also had the honour of presiding over Chamber during its 250th anniversary, so worked closely with the executive to get the plans in place and deliver an amazing celebration.

But the primary aim was not to break things! The committee structure worked so well and delivered so much good work, that I wanted to ensure I didn’t change things just for the sake of it. And I was delighted to hand the organisation over to Jennifer in what I hope was a reasonable state!

3. Like many businesses and governments over the last few years, the uncertainty about Brexit was a defining aspect of my whole Presidency and a fair chunk of my Vice Presidency prior to that also. The referendum took place in May 2016 with the withdrawal process kicking off a couple of months before I took over as President. I’ve got to say, the level of interaction and co-operation with the Government of Jersey was fantastic, with us working together on gathering, publishing and communicating information for Chamber Members throughout the time of my Presidency.

4. The sheer amount of effort that went in to making chamber run, with only three full-time members of staff. The executive team were amazing, but managing upwards of 50 volunteers who are meeting a couple of times a month across probably a dozen different meetings and committees is a significant challenge. This coupled with organising a monthly lunch, attracting and retaining sponsors and keeping a close eye on the goings on within government makes for an interesting and exhausting organisation to be a part of.

5. Not that he needs it, but I would have given the loud-hailer to Murray Norton. Murray and I worked really closely during my Presidency. It was an appointment that raised some eyebrows given his time as a politician, but I have to say, the insight that Murray provided into the workings of the Government and our States Chamber, coupled with his dedication to the island and his excellent communication skills was a massive boon to Jersey Chamber of Commerce and his work to this day in developing and improving Chamber during a dark period for our local businesses is something that he should be congratulated for.

In terms of a gag during my term of office, I’ve got to say that it has to go to Constable Le Bailly. His misogynistic comments in 2019 about breastfeeding being a fad and the jobs that women can’t do (such as building and roofing) were frankly astounding in this day and age. I met with the Constable in the Chamber Office early in my Presidency and the presence of two women in the office did nothing to prevent him making similarly ill-judged comments. It’s been a while since I last heard such nonsense from him, so I’m hoping that he learned from the significant amount of negative feedback he received.

6. I would look to instigate a renewable energy research centre here in Jersey, seeking to attract the brightest minds to develop and implement technology that would allow Jersey to be self-sufficient from an energy point of view. We have some of the highest and strongest tides in the world here as well as access to miles of open water around us – producing clean energy such as from wind or tides and developing better and more efficient technology could make us a world technology leader, just like we were when JT implemented the world’s first full fibre network, which was a decade ahead of its time when you see similar programmes of work running across the world right now. 

Jennifer Carnegie – Chamber President, 2019 to 2021

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1. Well, Eliot did actually! He is one of the most organised people I have met and the handover was no exception. His advice has been invaluable and the team he developed are excellent.

2. Sunday trading, Brexit and GST de minimus were on the list, and we have moved the needle on all of those.  My main priority was to reset the relationship between the Chamber and Government.  Frustration was running high on both sides, through nobody’s fault, and I felt it needed a different approach. I think we now have a more collaborative and influential relationship which is more fitting for the 2020’s than confrontation, and it has helped us to make progress on our key issues during the covid crisis.

3. This has been a really positive experience for me. I have been well supported, I’m thoroughly enjoying what I’m doing and I hope it’s useful for our members.

At first, I found the engagement with the media quite a challenge because I didn’t have an in-depth understanding of the broad range of issues. I now feel much more able to represent the Chamber and its members effectively on TV, radio and in articles, and get our points across.

4. I think an outsider would be very surprised at the degree of expertise that the Chamber can bring to bear through its committee structure and the talents across our members. We really can marshal sophisticated solutions to complex problems pretty quickly from these resources and I would love us to have more opportunity to use this capability in the best interests of both Jersey businesses and the island economy.

5. I would give the loud-hailer to the Government to encourage them to share information loudly and widely. I’d keep back the gag for myself, for those moments when I can get a bit animated, and exercised, on those things I feel passionately about.   

6. Wherever possible, use local talent and capability rather than hiring in offshore suppliers at the expensive of Jersey businesses. It will have a direct impact on employment, the economy and the tax take and, over time, the capabilities available to us in the island. It will make us more resilient and self-sufficient as well as keeping more of our tax payers’ money in the island. What’s not to like?

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