The Mona School of Business and Management (MSBM) at The University of the West Indies in Jamaica recently launched the MSBM Business Review Media Series — a collection of podcasts and webinars featuring insightful, thought-provoking and forward-thinking conversations and presentations that highlight major trends and developments in business.
The first podcast in the series, which launched on June 11 with the title ‘Getting Back to Business’, focused on the volatility and complexity that emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic and which have affected the areas of business and education.
During the podcast, Executive Director of MSBM Dr David McBean, and James Moss-Solomon, executive-in-residence, MSBM, explored the challenges that both the education and business sectors are currently facing due to the virus.
A week later, on Thursday, June 18 , the MSBM hosted its first webinar in the series, Local and International Supply Chain & Logistics during COVID Times, with a view to provide an understanding of the tools to build resilience and sustainability in supply chain logistics, as well as the critical success factors to optimise supply chain and logistics.
Under the guidance of moderator Dr Lawrence Nicholson, head of the Decision Sciences and Information Systems Unit, MSBM, the panellists provided information on their respective industries and the strategies being used to mitigate the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Members of the panel included: Dianne Robinson, chief supply chain officer, GK Foods; Audley Deidrick, president and CEO of Airports Authority of Jamaica and NMIA Airports Limited; and Vice-President of Business Development — Port Authority of Jamaica Edmond Marsh.
To open the discussion, Robinson shared that GK Foods decided to minimise the negative effects of the disruption in the supply chain by, among other initiatives, moving quickly to secure alternative suppliers at the expense of increased lead times — from 6-12 weeks in some cases — with a reduced period in which to pay for the goods.
“In all of this, one must not lose sight of the fact that COVID-19 has become the ‘great accelerator’, forcing GraceKennedy and other companies to leverage the technology and put long-overdue systems in place,” she noted.
In turn, Diedrick reiterated the need to leverage existing technology, arguing that companies need to focus on the possibilities rather than the problems. He added that amid the negative effects of COVID-19 on the aviation industry, “we must recognise the opportunities for the emergence of technology and increasing efficiency of operations”.
For his part, Marsh highlighted the importance of the activities at ports since, for many across the world, logistics means activities in which water transport is the method used to move the bulk of cargo globally.
He further noted that, as with other industries, the port industry has been affected by the disruption in the supply chain and its fragility has been exposed. In this regard, Marsh suggested that it may be necessary to re-examine elements of globalisation and their effects on countries such as Jamaica.
While pointing out that location is one of Jamaica’s advantages in the movement of cargo — the Port of Kingston being among the top 100 ports in the world, with the most recent upgrading placing it in the category of “Panama-ready” — Marsh emphasized the urgent need to put systems in place to maximise this advantage.
Since its inception, MSBM has not only been the leader in business education in the region. The institution has also been a thought leader in developing and communicating insights to promote efficiency and innovation in both the private and public sectors. As such, the MSBM Business Review Media Series is another medium that supports the school’s advocacy role in facilitating meaningful discourse on topical issues while showcasing the scholarship of its faculty.