GRACEKENNEDY Group CEO Don Wehby has announced changes at the company’s senior management level to take effect on April 1, 2019. The changes are part of an ongoing transformation process to streamline the company’s structure in alignment with its 100th anniversary objectives. The centennial anniversary will be celebrated in 2022.
“In this constantly changing operating environment, our goal is to create an agile, efficient and high performing company in order to deliver on our vision of becoming a Global Consumer Group,” Wehby said. “We have taken a long, critical look at our structure, and are confident that these changes are in the best interest of the GraceKennedy Group, and will position us for sustainable revenue growth and significant profitability.”
GK’s current Group Comptroller, Andrew Messado, will be appointed group chief financial officer (CFO). Messado has been working with GraceKennedy for 20 years and is a fellow and lifetime member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Jamaica (ICAJ).
Current group CFO, Frank James, will assume the role of CEO, Domestic Foods Division. He will have responsibility for GK’s manufacturing, distribution and retail markets in Jamaica, spanning Grace Foods & Services, World Brands, Consumer Brands, Hi-Lo Food Stores and GK’s six factories island-wide.
James joined GraceKennedy in 2005 after having previously worked with Red Stripe and PricewaterhouseCoopers Jamaica. His first role was as vice-president, Strategic Planning & Corporate Development in the Information Services Division. In 2011 he was appointed deputy chief financial officer before assuming the position of group Chief Financial Officer in 2012.
James will replace Ryan Mack who retires in March.
“Ryan has served GraceKennedy with commitment and distinction,” Wehby said. “We’re really grateful to him for his contribution to building and growing the Grace brand both locally and overseas.”
Lee-Anne Bruce will be appointed chief compliance officer for the GraceKennedy Group and will report to the Group CEO.
Bruce who has an MBA in finance and management from Hofstra University in New York joined GraceKennedy in that 2003 as project manager, international markets. She became compliance manager in 2008, group compliance, risk and security manager in 2014 and acting chief risk officer in April of 2017.
Along with Frank James’ appointment as head of domestic foods, other senior management changes will be affected both locally and in the overseas food division.
Tamara Thompson, current general manager (GM) for both world brands services and consumer brands, will be appointed general manager for Grace Foods & Services (GFS), while Magion Stephenson will be appointed deputy general manager.
Thompson will retain responsibility for Consumer Brands Limited, while current general manager of Hi Lo, Renee Nathan will replace her as GM of world brands.
Nathan will be succeeded by Catherine Kennedy, who is being appointed GM for the company’s chain of 13 supermarkets island-wide. Kennedy’s experience with GK includes positions as head of business intelligence and cross-selling and group chief risk officer. She is also a director of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce.
In the overseas market, in addition to retaining his position as president, Grace Foods — Canada, Lucky Lankage will be appointed chief operating officer (COO) for international foods, and will continue to report to international foods CEO, Andrea Coy. Lankage will also assume responsibility for Belize, and Latin America and the Caribbean (LACA).
Over at the financial division, in addition to her current role as the CEO of the GraceKennedy Financial Group (GKFG), Grace Burnett will assume the position of president and CEO of GraceKennedy Money Services (GKMS), which encompasses the brands Western Union (WU), Bill Express and FX Trader.
Burnett who serves as director of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce has more than 20 years of experience in the insurance industry, having served in related positions for GraceKennedy including CEO, Insurance Segment and managing director of GK General Insurance Company Ltd.
Mariame McIntosh Robinson, president & CEO of First Global Bank, will now report to Burnett. Robinson is a Young Global Leader with the World Economic Forum and was a partner with Portland Private Equity, before joining GK in 2016. She is a graduate of the Harvard Business School, the University of Oxford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Current GKMS head, Michelle Allen, will retire at the end of March. Wehby praised her far-reaching contribution to the company. “Michelle has given loyal and outstanding service to GK for over 20 years, contributing significantly to the growth of the Money Services businesses.” he said.
Steven Whittingham will be appointed COO of GKFG, and assumes direct responsibility for GK’s insurance business locally and region-wide, while retaining responsibility for GK Capital Management.
Prior to joining GraceKennedy Whittingham served as managing director for TAG Petroleum, CEO of Island Ice & Beverage Co Ltd and as an associate with BlackRock. He is a graduate of the Harvard Business School and the University of Pennsylvania.
Current general manager of GK General Insurance (GKI), Andrew Leo-Rhynie, will be appointed managing director for GK Capital Management, with Chaluk Richards assuming the GM position at GKI.
Tammara Glaves-Hucey, whilst retaining her current role at GKI, will also assume the role of GM of GKI Eastern Caribbean. All three have extensive experience in Jamaica’s insurance industry.
“It’s a very positive and exciting time in GK’s history, and we are ensuring that the company is well-poised to take its operations to the next level in the years ahead,” Wehby said. “We are extremely optimistic about the future of this great company, and are confident that we have the right strategy, resources and most importantly, the people to achieve our goal of being a J$100 billion company by 2022, while remaining true to our values of honesty, integrity and trust.”
— Alexis Monteith