Graeme Smith, Chief Executive of Jersey Business, is in the hot seat today, reflecting on how 2020 has been for him both personally and professionally, his idea of a good Christmas and his hopes for 2021.
How has this year been for you personally?
Like no other year I have experienced. Given my background in Finance of more than 30 years and having been through various economic recessions including the near banking collapse in the late 90’s, I thought I’d seen it all.
The pandemic and its impact on our economy and our way of life was something like a fictional novel. But it was real and with hindsight I feel Jersey as a whole adapted quickly and pulled together to ensure we ended up in a place that other countries were not able to. In terms of emotions, we all went through the period of shock, disbelief, frustration and then into planning mode.
How do I feel right now? Proud of what Jersey has been able to achieve and in particular the positive role my team at Jersey Business has played.
How has this year been for you professionally?
I feel that the skills of the team and in a small way myself have been really tested since March and proven to be valuable to the business community and Government in our collective response to this once in a lifetime crisis.
We have shown judgement, drive, adaptability, perseverance, resilience, agility and above all empathy for the business leaders and their teams in order to truly help them manage through this crisis. What a test this has been of our true professionalism and I can say we have come through with ‘flying colours’.
What’s your ‘hot take’ for 2020?
We helped deliver the critical support businesses needed within weeks that in normal times would have taken years. We challenged and supported Government along the way. We genuinely were that much needed ‘sounding board’ to business owners through a period of incredible stress. Through it all we’ve kept to our core vision and values particularly the statement ‘above all we love what we do’.
Tell us your hopes for 2021
To ensure the positive learnings, such as better use of technology, agility and braveness of decision making across Government/ALO’s and the business community are not only retained but built upon. One of Jersey’s key strengths should always be our ability to innovate and pivot far quicker than larger economies. We did this through COVID-19, and we need to retain that drive.
What would you like to see the States of Jersey focus on first in 2021?
The priority is planning and actioning a coherent ‘rebuild strategy’, that builds on the much closer and better-informed relationships with the business community. This strategy needs to value the whole of our community and mobilise the incredible talent we have on this small Island.
We need to be brave. We need to be prepared to accept we will make some mistakes and never afraid to take on balanced risks. COVID-19 has been the world’s ‘burning bridge’ that will drive new innovation and change. We need to take advantage of that, and Government needs to play its key part as it has done so far in this crisis.
What does a perfect Christmas for you look like?
Crisp morning air with blue sky and rising sun as I walk with Linsay, my wife, along St Ouen’s beach, before heading back home where the turkey has been slowly cooking in the oven, with all the veg (dutifully prepared and sat in cold water overnight) ready to put on the heat.
Time for a glass of warm mulled wine – recipe courtesy of Chris, our resident Jersey Business team expert on everything, and a sneaky mince pie baked by Alexia, our resident Jersey Business team chef. All of course in line with the latest COVID-19 guidance/ rules.
Definitely Christmas. Time to be a ‘kid’ again, get out the board games, show how bad I am at Charades and try not to doze off during the Christmas Day film!
What’s your favourite Christmas movie?
Despite what I said above about falling asleep on Christmas Day during the movie, my favourite has to be ‘White Christmas’.
Are you ready for Christmas or do you wait until the last minute to get organised?
I’ll have to check with the ‘boss’ so in reality it’s clearly the latter.
What would you like Santa to leave under the tree for you this year?
Perhaps some tickets for the Queen concert that had to be cancelled earlier this year due to COVID-19.