Top Dart exec takes over Chamber presidency

| 07/03/2024 | 51 Comments

(CNS): Chamber of Commerce members elected Joanne Lawson as the new president of the business organisation at its 58th AGM held last week. Lawson, who is the fifth woman to hold the position, is chief of staff at Dart Enterprises Ltd, one of the largest and most influential companies in the Cayman Islands. As she accepted the role during the meeting at the Marriott Hotel, she said the Chamber was united in ensuring the business community has a voice and a hand in shaping the future of the Cayman Islands.

“But we are not just working for our fellow members,” she said. “We are catalysts for positive change for all of Cayman. The fruit of our economic success is not just defined by profitability, customer satisfaction and employee retention, but also in building a future where our children get a quality education, lead fulfilling lives.”

She said that over the coming year, the Chamber would focus on creating value for its membership.

“We intend to deliver on our promise to you, our members, to promote and protect Cayman businesses and ensure that your voice is heard within the government,” Lawson said. “The leadership of the Chamber is here to listen, support and take action to continue the good work that you expect of us.”

The Chamber has added a new role to its council: a member engagement coordinator to improve cohesion throughout the large and diverse membership.

“This person will be a trusted resource for our council to ensure we are consistently soliciting more direct feedback from across the membership that will help shape the advocacy agenda of this organisation,” the Dart group senior executive stated. She said the Chamber would work with members and the government to establish a sustainable approach to preparing Caymanian students and adults for careers of the future.

“There is so much good talent out there, and this reinforces my optimism about the strength of Cayman as a jurisdiction, but there are still gaps in many professions — gaps between what many businesses need and what the local talent pool can provide,” Lawson told the members.

“Some of these gaps will require a monumental effort to put systems and processes in place to get students ready for future roles in a variety of industries. We each can also do our part to ensure that our businesses maintain workplace cultures and business practices that support our efforts to develop and retain world-class talent in Cayman.”

Lawson urged female members to step forward and make their presence felt. “Let’s show the impact women can have as leaders sitting at the table. Let’s all work together to ensure that both the businesses and the young people of Cayman have opportunities to be a part of our economic prosperity.”

Lawson took over from Nelson Dilbert, who commended the business community for bouncing back from the impact of the COVID pandemic. He said the Chamber could overcome challenges, including accommodating the needs of a rapidly rising population within a sustainable framework.

Although the Chamber had lobbied against popular government policies, such as a minimum wage and an alternative pension regime, Dilbert maintained that the organisation had never sacrificed long-term well-being for short-term goals. “We were the original champions for sustainability before anyone had even heard of the word,” he claimed.

He also said when the Chamber faces new challenges, it doesn’t just react but it leads the way. “We’re a catalyst, facilitating new partnerships: business to business, business to government; business to non-profit,” he said, noting the volunteer work of Chamber members and Cayman Made, a programme that protects, supports and promotes local businesses that create and manufacture their products here.

“By listening to our members and staying in touch through surveys, polls and events like the Economic Forum and Parliamentary Luncheon, we keep informed about issues that matter to you,” he told the members. “The Chamber’s annual state of business survey had put rising costs at the top of the members’ list of concerns, and while the Chamber couldn’t solve that problem, it could help to mitigate it.

“The extensive range of Chamber Training programmes helped businesses lower costs by helping their staff work more effectively. Over the past few years, we have faced many challenges but have always shown that by working together, we can continue to find ways to not only survive but thrive as we learn and adapt, becoming stronger whenever we face and overcome obstacles in our path,” Dilbert added.

At the AGM, the members elected Cristina Spratt as vice president and and Omari Corbin as president-elect. New members of the council are Tammi Sulliman, Robert Whorms and Jason Nehra. Also on the council are Colin Robinson (treasurer) and Heather Halsey (secretary).


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Category: Business

Comments (51)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I would rather have seen Joanne run for politics than be head of Chamber but I suspect that that would not suit her bosses.

    Like it or not, the Dart strings means you never really get to be fully independent. The board looks good but with CUC interest we now have the two largest monopolies fully engaged with directing the Chamber on their path of the future development of these islands. The Chamber lost its foothold many moons ago to protect and serve the interests of the Caymanian owned businesses and community.

    If they could help sort out a safe public bus service for the working classes and ban single-use plastics- that would be something worth doing to really help societal needs.

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  2. V says:

    I am not sure this helps local business.

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  3. Justhefacts says:

    Joanne Lawson, nee Rutty, is an excellent choice as Chamber President.

    She is a thoughtful, pragmatic and results-oriented leader who is firm but fair; she has a good grasp of the issues facing the three Cayman Islands’ economy and in particular, the workforce. I am confident she will not let Dart’s interests unduly influence her presidency.

    With her as President, I might renew my long lapsed Chamber membership for a year.

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    • Anonymous says:

      What’s the point of the “nee Rutty” in your hagiography 8:37? Trying to establish generational Caymanian credentials? She is assuredly very bright and personable and will very possibly do as good a job or better than those who went before but renewing your membership for just a year seems a bit over the top, nuh true?

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  4. Anonymous says:

    The Board reflects Cayman, the country where multigenerational Caymanians are a minority and on the fringes.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Because they’re shit?

      How many leave school illiterate and innumerate?

      Whose fault is that?

      How is Roy Bodden’s ‘Caribbeanization’ of the education system going, eh?

      STFU, stop whinging and start performing.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    can they do something about the pension plan, – please.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    What else is left now for them to control or own in Cayman ? It’s really sad what is really going down in Cayman.

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  7. Nan says:

    Joanne will be an excellent leader and is a lovely person through and through.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed Joanne is a lovely person.
      Just hoping she won’t be manipulated by the “she who must be obeyed” senior executive.

    • Anonymous says:

      Twenty “thumbs down”? Good grief, these folks obviously don’t know Joanne.

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  8. Sunrise says:

    I would be a little sceptical, being from the Dart Enterprise!! But if this is really there goal, and they try their best to implement it, I must say that it is the right way forward for the younger generation. Parents please emphasize, the importance of education to your children. Looking forward to keeping Cayman, as one of the most beautiful places to live. 5th generation Caymanian, by the way.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    The Chamber became irrelevant many years ago.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    The tentacles of this vulture capitalist family are spreading over Cayman like a pernicious virus.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    The CEO also is so anti local labor!
    Only a businesses representative. no help for staff of member companies.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    Although the Chamber had lobbied against popular government policies, such as a minimum wage and an alternative pension regime, Dilbert maintained that the organisation had never sacrificed long-term well-being for short-term goals. “We were the original champions for sustainability before anyone had even heard of the word,” he claimed.

    Lobbying against a living wage sums up the Chamber quite well.

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  13. Anonymous says:

    The one company on the island that does not need to be concerned with cost or making a profit becomes the Chamber president. Odd.

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    • Anonymous says:

      You should join and subsequently exercise your right to vote.

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      • Anonymous says:

        They won’t. Sorry to tell you. They don’t care a whit about those who are subject to the pension plan, or local insurance or any other. We are on our own.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Congrats Joanne. Always been an awesome person.

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  15. Anonymous says:

    Except for Robert Whorms, none of the persons mentioned have a generational Cayman connection

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    • Anonymous says:

      that is our country, thanks to the politicians of the last 20 years.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Joanne wasn’t born here but she isn’t an elitist, self serving, social climbing expat.

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      • Anonymous says:

        If you ask Joanne, she will probably tell you she is a Jamaican Rutty, not related except maybe very very distantly, to the Ruttys of Cayman. She got her Status from Mackeeva back in the Gold Rush days. BUT, she has been here a long time and went through the government school system here and is not one of our snobby elitist expats from Jamaica. She is committed to Cayman and is a very hard working bright young woman. Go girl.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Except for the part where she is in fact related and therefore has a “generational Caymanian Connection”, regardless of how distant and how much the original poster dislikes it.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Folks. Let’s get this straight. I grew up with Joanne Rutty and her brother Dean. And when I say grew up I mean primary school .. ie from young. She is a Caymanian! Stop the foolishness.

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          • Anonymous says:

            Yes, 1:31, she is a Caymanian, because she got her status in or just before the Gold Rush and not because you knew her “ from young”. “Stop the foolishness”.

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          • Anonymous says:

            @1:31, Joanne was awarded Status by Cabinet in a list dated December 23rd 2003. She went through our government school system and thoroughly deserves the conferral of Caymanian status on her. She is and always has been an asset to the community, like many other status holders, despite the views of some naysayers amongst us.

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            • Know says:

              Jackie Doak also got her status in the gold rush and she practically runs dart.the legacy of McKeeva and Kurt lives on forever.

    • Anonymous says:

      Good!

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    • Anonymous says:

      Correct.

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    • Watler & Bodden says:

      Whorms? From Seaford Town?

      Recent arrivals.

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    • a says:

      So like all those that sold out Cayman property? I don’t put any faith in the ethics of generational Caymanians; we are on our own now.

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  16. Anonymous says:

    chamber of commerce has the potential to be an incredibly powerful body…but they are spineless from the top down.
    how can they sit by and watch whatt ju-ju and upm are doing to the islands finances?????

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    • Anonymous says:

      How can they standby and watch their members jack up prices on everything and fight against a living wage?!!!

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      • Anonymous says:

        I do my best not to go to any place owned by Dart. Getting hard to do, but now I stay in a b&b ( owned local), eat at all local establishments ( or do my best ). I’m not sure this will be sustainable too much longer as Dart is owning more and more.

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    • Anonymous says:

      What exactly do you think the chamber has the power to do when it comes to that you numpty?

      Remind me how much spine all the voters have who put her and her buddies in power.

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    • a says:

      The Chamber is not a Legislative body! You want change, start electing ethical, educated, moral candidates. Cayman’s history of it’s elected officials is ranked within ‘world worst.’ You get what you elected – a clown show. Enjoy the circus, you deserve it!

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  17. Anonymous says:

    The Marriott is now owned by her employer? Pull the other one.

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    • Anonymous says:

      No, it is not.

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    • Anonymous says:

      No. The Marriott is not owned by her employer.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I think you are confusing the property owner with the management brand. The Ritz-Carlton brand is owned by the Marriott and Dart owns the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman property, but Dart doesn’t own the Marriott property – at least, not yet.

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