2022 GKF Lecture Highlights a Century of Excellence

A Century of Excellence. GraceKennedy’s Recipe for Success. aptly described the 2022 GraceKennedy Foundation (GKF) lecture, which provided an insightful look into GraceKennedy’s 100-year journey. The lecture, which took place on Thursday, October 20 at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston, highlighted different periods of the company’s evolution, from its beginnings as a family-owned business to a publicly traded, global consumer group. 

2022 GKF Lecture Highlights a Century of Excellence
Dr. Fred Kennedy (left), author and Chairman of the GraceKennedy Foundation, Hon. Douglas Orane (second left), CD, retired GraceKennedy Chairman and CEO, and moderator Simone Clarke-Cooper (far right), look on, as current GraceKennedy Group CEO Senator Don Wehby responds to a question from the audience, during the annual GraceKennedy Foundation Public Lecture. The lecture took place on Thursday, October 20 at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston and was held under the theme, “A Century of Excellence. GraceKennedy’s Recipe for Success.”

The lecture was presented in three parts by three stalwarts of GraceKennedy – Dr Fred Kennedy,
 educator, author, and Chairman of GK Foundation; Hon. Douglas Orane, CD, retired Chairman and CEO of GraceKennedy; and Senator Don Wehby, CD, the current Group CEO of GraceKennedy.

CEO of the GKF, Caroline Mahfood commented, “As part of GKF’s 40th anniversary celebration, which falls within the year of GraceKennedy’s 100th anniversary, we agreed it would be fitting to present some of the secrets to our company’s longevity at this year’s lecture. Our leaders are often asked ‘How have you managed to survive through such a dynamic and challenging era?’ and this platform provided the perfect opportunity for them to share their thoughts on this.”

The central theme resonating throughout the presentations was the significance of GraceKennedy’s core values – Honesty, Integrity and Trust. These values, the presenters explained, had been established by the company’s founders and have been sustained by subsequent leadership teams over the decades. They are also subsumed under GraceKennedy’s We Care mantra, which embodies its relationships with its team, customers, business partners and other stakeholders in the communities the company serves around the world.

Dr Fred Kennedy’s presentation clearly traced the evolution of the company from a family-owned, managed and operated business to one being readied for public listing. He provided fascinating portraits of the men at the helm in the early years, Dr John Grace, Fred W. Kennedy James Moss-Solomon Sr, and Luis Fred Kennedy, who collectively steered the company for over 50 years; and Hon. S. Carlton Alexander and A. Rafael Diaz, who led the company in the latter part of the twentieth century.

The baton was passed by Dr Kennedy to Hon. Douglas Orane who highlighted the challenges, failures and successes during his tenure as Chairman and CEO of GraceKennedy as it transitioned into the twenty-first century. Orane singled out leadership succession as being critical to the company’s growth and resilience, underscoring the role of mentorship as he traced the transition to each successive leader of GraceKennedy.

Orane noted that although failure was inevitable, the important thing was to keep going. “The people who have many failures are often the ones who have the most success, as they never stop trying,” he said.

Senator Don Wehby’s presentation shared GraceKennedy’s vision for its future which aims to see the company earning US$2.1 billion in revenue and US$250 million in profits by 2030. “Our plan is to grow the Grace Brand by increasing our global distribution footprint. We are also focused on digital transformation and will continue our accelerated programme of mergers and acquisitions. Our Environmental Social Governance (ESG) agenda, which aligns with select UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), will see us expanding our investment in our communities,” he said.

He explained that GraceKennedy is also pursuing listing the company on regional and international stock exchanges.

Underscoring the importance of an engaged and motivated team in achieving these targets, Wehby stated, “A company’s most important asset is not found on its balance sheet. Its most important asset is its staff.” He closed, with the promise that for GraceKennedy, the best is yet to come.

The 2022 GKF Lecture can be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tX5Bzq6ewDk