THERE has been lots of talk about ‘building back better’.
Even when we were in the middle of the pandemic, at its worst, we recognised that this was an opportunity to reset. I was honoured to be a part of the Economic Council, the group of independent, but highly experienced, Island leaders drawn from all sectors of the economy and brought together by government to inform the debate on what came next.
The council’s report, entitled New Perspectives, which was issued in December 2020, is still highly relevant. As we head towards next year’s elections, I wholeheartedly believe that this really is an opportunity for us all to design the future Jersey we all want and need.
We’ve all proven how adaptable we can be over the past 18 months. We have seen how changing operational practices and digitising processes is not impossible or expensive. In fact, it has enabled boosts in productivity and opened eyes to potential that couldn’t have been seen before. Sticking to ‘the way we’ve always done it’ is no longer an option. The world has changed, and we have a lot to offer it.
That belief isn’t just held by me, but by many leaders across the Island. It is one of the reasons that IoD Jersey decided to launch the campaign to encourage a more diverse and experienced range of high-calibre candidates to stand in June’s elections. We need the right leaders in place to take us forward. At the same time, we want to encourage all Islanders who are eligible to do so to get out and vote. Every single vote really does matter. With our first-past-the-post system, it could be the difference between your candidate winning or losing.
For this year’s annual Leaders’ Lunch at The Royal Yacht on 25 November, we have a panel of former, current and future leaders of Jersey who, with the input of the audience, will discuss the vision for the Island. We will be asking whether we have the right foundations in place to flourish, or whether we should be doing something different.
The pandemic is still causing challenges and this winter is likely to see various issues with supply chains and labour, exacerbated by Brexit. We are not looking for a big ‘whingeing session’, or the bemoaning of what we had and used to do.
Instead, we are looking forward to see what we can all collectively do to overcome some of the hurdles and challenges. This is our opportunity to work collaboratively together and set the agenda for using Jersey’s unique and asset-rich attributes, but ensuring they are fit for purpose in today and tomorrow’s world.
On the panel is former Chief Minister and chairman of Digital Jersey Frank Walker, Chamber of Commerce president and chairwoman of Jersey Business Jennifer Carnegie, Youth Parliament member Henry Humpleby and Michael Oliver, an economist and former economic policy adviser to the government. The event will be moderated by BBC News presenter Eliza Philippidis.
Kindly sponsored by HSBC, the lunch is an opportunity for all attendees to join in the debate and inform those who are going to stand as candidates next year what the needs of our island are in order to sustain the economy and protect our way of life.
Ahead of that debate, over the next few weeks in the JEP business pages, we are talking to various sector leaders and asking them to share their thoughts on what is needed to ensure success. We will be hearing from hospitality and tourism, agriculture, construction and retail. All of these sectors are facing their own challenges, but they also all recognise that this is a time of opportunity.
A good leader does not just see the obstacles or the rewards. The kind of leaders who we want to be sitting in the States Chamber next year are those who listen and act on behalf of us all. Those with a passion for our island, no matter what their backgrounds, and those with the life experience to understand that being the best is about working together. This is not just about business and the economy: this is about protecting jobs, lifestyles and the unique character of our island.
I hope that over the coming few weeks and months, those who are thinking of standing next year, will listen to the various voices of our island and that others will be moved to stand for election. I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible on 25 November.
The IoD Jersey Leaders’ Lunch, sponsored by HSBC, takes place from noon until 2pm on Thursday 25 November at The Royal Yacht hotel.
The lunch is expected to sell out quickly. Tickets, which will include lunch, can be purchased at iod.je/news-and-events/events. Members and non-members are both welcome.
The Economic Council Report can be read at gov.je/news/2020/pages/EconomicCouncilReport.aspx.