Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 3rd 2014 Contents Scientist Suzetta Ali has been
elected to lead the Employers
Consultative Association (ECA)
as chair for the next two years.
She is the first female to lead the associ-
Ali has a major in chemistry and minors in
analytical chemistry and biochemistry from
the University of the West Indies, St Augustine
campus. She also has a masters in production
Though science and the corporate world
are worlds apart, Ali believes it is the human
being behind them that makes the link, as
"not all scientists can be leaders and not all
scientists can make the transition from being
a lab rat to sitting in a suit and doing an inter-
view," she said.
The Naparima Girls High School graduate
leads the association at a time when increased
demand is being made on employers for higher
wages and employers are demanding increased
productivity from their workers.
Productivity for Ali is more than the bottom
line. She thinks it should take into consideration
workers effort in generating revenue for a
"It is a combination of several things. There
is no measurement of human emotion or emo-
tional intelligence, so that has to be taken into
consideration. Productivity, in most cases,
usually means revenue for most businesses,
but what generates your revenue? The business
does not run by itself. It s your human capital
that generates the revenue for you, or at least
contributes to the generation of revenue. Pro-
ductivity should not just be taken as a math-
ematical equation of output over input."
Confident she has "big shoes to fill" in suc-
ceeding Keston Nancoo, Ali said: "He s a pro-
fessional in his own right. He has certainly
set the tone for the next two years. While put-
ting my own spin on things (at the ECA), the
mandate remains the same on what we are
And as the issue of whether the minimum
wage should go up---as Prime Minister Kamla
Persad-Bissessar promised if her government
is returned to office for a second term---Ali
said any increase must take place in the context
of inflation and productivity.
Overall, Ali perceives the labour market as
a "tough one."
In January, tripartite discussions among
such stakeholders as the ECA, Ministry of
Labour and the unions resumed. Commenting
on this, Ali said: "All three parties in the tri-
partite discussions have to be emotionally
intelligent about the discussions. We cannot
allow emotions to get the better of us. We
need to see things from a realistic point of
Ali is familiar with the concept of leader-
She holds the position of general manager,
Coates Brothers (Caribbean) Ltd and chair for
the board of directors of that company. Ali is
also vice president of the Printing and Pack-
aging Association of T&T.
With more than a decade of experience in
a top line position, Ali said the lessons learnt
are plenty, but the one which stands out most
for her is that leaders should not get carried
away by their emotions, but stay focused.
It takes understanding employees to master
this technique, she said.
"I have a great group of people working
with me and they ve been there much longer
than I have been, so it was really a baptism
by fire coming as the young person and
ascending through the ranks. Now I am in
charge of the very people I met. You have to
treat people with respect and understanding
and stay focused. Time management and dis-
cipline are also key to that."
Her strategy for leading people who knew
more than she did was "to learn from them
(since) it s a collaborative effort."
A leader must rely on expertise from people
in different areas.
"With a science background and one of the
first on the board to come from that kind of
background, we don t see things as emotionally
as others. We like to be analytical, we like to
see the process flow, we like to see what
expected outcomes are and chart a course to
get there," Ali said.
Staying competitive is one of the items on
the agenda for discussion as she prepares to
channel the ECA forward.
"As a manufacturer, I am very interested
in remaining ahead of the game."
Coates Brothers (Caribbean) Ltd is a Sun
Chemical company, the world s largest pro-
ducer of printing inks and pigments and a
leading provider of materials to packaging,
publication, and other markets. The Sun
Chemical Corporation is based in New Jersey,
Ali said she brings global thinking to the
association, which could be an asset and may
help organisations to do things differently.
"The same way I am doing in my personal
mandate to educate the printing industry, it
is the same I want to do with the ECA. That s
a lot of training and exposure, international
standards. How do you do things differently?
What is your best practice in certain things?
That is my mandate for the ECA."
The ECA does not operate as an entity
unto itself but meets with sections of the
business community, such as the T&T
Chamber of Industry and Commerce to dis-
cuss industrial relations.
"There is a common understanding and
a common ground on certain issues that
they come together and discuss and then
taken to a different level if necessary. Every-
body understands the need to get together
and discuss certain issues."
As the Government continues to explore
ways in which diversification from oil and
gas can take place, Ali said the printing and
packaging industry can only assist in a small
way to diversify the economy away from its
reliance on energy.
"It (printing and packaging) is just one
segment, the problem we face is that the
demon of globalisation does not offer any
protection, so how do we compete? Books
are a classic example of that. We know that
textbooks have been printed outside of the
region and the question is: why not here?
It is always a question of price and efficiency,
moreso price. My mandate for that would
be to continue educating the printing and
packaging industry from a supplier s point
of view on how do we come up to interna-
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt APRIL 2014 • WEEK ONE
Suzetta Ali, chair, Employers' Consultative Association.
PHOTO: MARYANN AUGUSTE
to ECA email@example.com
According to the ECA 2013 annual
report and the Employer's Solution
Centre for the period 2011 to 2013,
revenues have grown seven per
cent compounded annually from
$7.7 million in 2011 to $8.9 million in
2013. Assets have grown 32 per
cent compounded annually from
$3.8 million in 2011 to $6.6 million in
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