Simon Aqui 
Country Leader & Principal Technology Sales Representative - Trinidad and Tobago - IBM

I would like to offer congratulations to AMCHAM Trinidad & Tobago for celebrating 30 years of service to its members and the wider business community, on behalf of IBM and all our employees, past and present. As a founding member company of AMCHAM T&T, IBM continues to support AMCHAM T&T’s vision “to be the preferred private sector business organisation for the stimulation of free and fair trade and investment within the Americas and the Caribbean.”

AMCHAM’s first President was IBM’s former General Manager, Mr. Clyde Alleyne, who together with the founding Board of Directors, set the tone for the culture, values and sustainability of AMCHAM, focusing on integrity, fairness, governance and service. 

IBM has been providing technology solutions globally for over 111 years, with a presence in Trinidad and Tobago for the last 64 years, constantly innovating products, processes and services but maintaining three basic beliefs, which have been more recently reaffirmed as the following values:

1) Dedication to every client's success.

2) Innovation that matters – for our company and for the world.
3) Trust and personal responsibility in all relationships.

These values are the foundation of IBM’s culture which guide every employee’s work, decisions and relationships, however, leaders at all levels of the company are responsible for ensuring the consistency and compliance of the policies that define these values. Consistent with these values are progressive policies that IBM have implemented over its long history, such as hiring its first disabled employee in 1914, 76 years before the Americans with Disabilities Act was created. By 1953, IBM published its first equal opportunity policy letter, 11 years before the Civil Rights Act and, in 1984, non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation was added to IBM's equal opportunity policy.

AMCHAM has set itself apart from other Business Support Organisations in Trinidad and Tobago by promoting many of these values, not just because it makes economic sense, but also as a commitment to health, safety, fairness and inclusion. Among the major events on the AMCHAM annual calendar is the AMCHAM Health, Safety, Security and Environment (HSSE) Conference (26th) and Women in Leadership (8th) Conference and Mentorship Programme, alongside regular meetings to discuss current business topics.

And like IBM, AMCHAM is committed to sustainability and good governance, promoted by the hard-working members of the Transparency, Accountability, Governance (TAG) Committee and the recently formed Environment, Social & Governance (ESG) Committee.

People Managers play an essential role in the performance of an organisation, by inspiring employees so they can thrive and deliver, amplifying performance so employees can grow and make an impact, and building talent for the sustainability of the organisation.

But what are the attributes of a successful manager? Here are a few critical ones:
Building Trust:A team is not a group of people that work together. A team is a group of people that trust each other.” – Simon Sinek 

Trust is a complex theme. It is hard to build and easy to lose. To achieve it we must first understand what the component parts of trust are; how we achieve it, or create strategies to achieve it; why it matters and how it underpins successful performance.

Communication:“Communication is a skill that you can learn. It's like riding a bicycle or typing. If you're willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life.” – Brian Tracy 

The ability to effectively communicate and persuade others is a key leadership skill. It’s not just about speaking and writing in a clear concise manner and listening actively to ensure understanding with empathy, but also conveying messages with clarity, consistency and purpose. 

Leading Change:“Change is hard because people overestimate the value of what they have and underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving that up.” – James Belasco & Ralph Stayer 

The need to effectively lead change affects every organisation. As leaders of change, managers have a critical role to play in ensuring that the change process is followed, and the effects of the human impact are correctly estimated.

Managing Talent:“Talent must be viewed as the most indispensable ingredient for success, but success also depends on how that talent is managed.” – Allan Schweyer 

Managers need to help team members develop their skills to be more effective in their current roles and prepare for future ones. This includes giving visibility of their team's skills to others, as well as understanding their career ambitions and interests. And they may need to do a bit of coaching with their employees to help crystallise these thoughts. 

Coaching:“Coaching is unlocking people’s potential to maximise their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them.” – Sir John Whitmore 

Coaching others is a powerful technique to help others achieve their goals. The key to successful coaching is asking instead of telling.

Continuously Improving:“We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are.” – Max DePree 

We can all improve ourselves. Driving continuous improvement involves seeking ways to improve skills, performance and outcomes. Everyone should seek continuous feedback to challenge the status quo. 

Activating Diverse Networks:“Networking is not about just connecting people. It’s about connecting people with people, people with ideas, and people with opportunities.” – Michele Jennae 

Developing, leveraging and nurturing your network is essential to success. Your network enables you to help others, connect you and your team to experts in other fields, and provides a potential source of career growth opportunities for you or your team. Most of us use our network each day without thinking too much about it. By focusing on effective development and utilisation of our network, we have the opportunity to do so much more.

Consider joining one of AMCHAM’s various Committees to represent your company’s views, and to provide feedback for its lobbying efforts and education. But also, to network and develop your managerial skills through the sharing of invaluable experience from a diverse group of member companies. 

Our collective efforts are needed to help improve the economic prospects and sustainability of Trinidad and Tobago, and indeed the world, for our future generations.