Stacy Kirk believes that a country like Jamaica with a well-known reputation and brand can and should produce technology to enhance the strength of Brand Jamaica.
A firm believer in digital evolution, she has a degree in computer science from Stanford University and in 2010 founded QualityWorks Consultants Group in California, a firm that provides services such as custom development, testing and organisational assessments for cybersecurity, to name a few of its areas of expertise. In 2015 Kirk decided to stay true to her Jamaican roots and expanded her offices to Kingston, Jamaica; it is now one of the fastest-growing tech companies in the Caribbean.
Only a handful of people are lucky enough to know what they want to do for the rest of their lives from an early age; Kirk is one such person. Between helping her Jamaican father at his telecommunications company and her interest piquing in computer programming at age seven, Kirk was sure that a career in technology would be an exciting and secure choice.
“I chose to go to Stanford University because I thought they not only had one of the best computer science programmes, but they produce people broader than engineers, they produce entrepreneurs. I didn’t know exactly what kind of entrepreneur I wanted to be, but I knew I wanted to bring together the rich diversity of the educational foundation that Stanford gives and bring that into technology,” Kirk explained.
She is passionate about Brand Jamaica, and the talent available locally.
“We should drive forward; where we go wrong [is] when we try to replicate what’s being done all over the world. It takes away from the creativity that makes us so unique in the Caribbean when we say, ‘forego our creativity and let’s look at how other people are doing it’,” she argued.
Kirk believes that the entrepreneurial spirit is a vital ingredient in technological innovation and this, along with our famous Brand Jamaica, is a sweet spot for a new digital world. She is also convinced that we could look forward to creating technology that will have the same influence as music and tourism.
“It doesn’t matter where you are, you’re going to find some reggae music, you’re going to find people that love the culture of Jamaica, and it just speaks to the culture, the people, the innovation. It’s the reason I came back to Jamaica because it is what technology is really all about, that entrepreneurial spirit and doing it in a way that has impact across the world,” Kirk said.
The ongoing pandemic, she added, has provided an opportunity to assess Jamaica’s role in meeting the technological needs of the future. COVID-19, she stressed, has highlighted the lack of preparedness in the workforce and industries should heed this wake-up call. Work spaces, she said, had to be re-evaluated by asking questions such as, “Do we need to be in the office?”, and “Who are the people using technology?”. With the increasing reliance on technology, she said, the issue that needs to be explored is whether Jamaica will be able to meet that need.
She believes that if we were to bring together the creatives and the creators, we would achieve greatness.
“If we focus on how we can bring together our strengths and technology,” she urged, “this could be the transformation we need to catapult where we go as a country.”