Archive for April, 2017

This is the text of an article I wrote which was published in the Sunday Gleaner in Jamaica on 23 April 2017.

The article is one in a series sponsored by the University of the West Indies, highlighting the relevance and value of an education in the arts and humanities.


It came as no surprise when I told my parents that I wanted to study foreign languages at the University of the West Indies (UWI). My father, an educator specialising in physics and mathematics, and my mother, a career civil servant in the financial stream, always encouraged my sister and me to excel academically and develop our talents in a wide range of extra-curricular activities. They believed that this was how we would find out what we really wanted to do in life.

During my years at Immaculate Conception High School, I learnt foreign languages easily and excelled in history and English language and literature, where essays and term papers were frequently assigned. I was at ease meeting and speaking with foreigners in Jamaica, Europe, North America, and the Caribbean, and these experiences piqued my curiosity about foreign cultures and would later serve to complement my love of languages in a way that would benefit my career.

The sweeping social and political changes in the 1970s during my teenage years gave me the burning desire to ‘do something’ to change Jamaica and the world. By far, the best years of my life were spent at UWI, where I pursued a bachelor’s in language and linguistic studies. Like my batchmates, I was ‘in my element’ learning from an interesting mix of professors from Germany, France, Spain, El Salvador, Haiti, Colombia, and Guyana. In the course of study, we were required to research foreign and local issues and to express our opinions in all of the foreign languages we were studying. We were graded for accuracy in grammar and vocabulary as well as for depth of analysis and critical thinking.

I remember my father telling me that although it was important to master the foreign languages, it was even more important for me to master the skills of critical, innovative thinking, effective communication, and the ability to quickly adapt to new business situations in order to be a successful applicant for a job. I gained all this and more during my time in the BA programme at UWI.

Beyond the academic training, there were other experiences at the UWI that were to shape my view of the world and my career. Along with my classmates, I was deeply involved in organising student-exchange programmes with the Universidad AutÛnoma de Santo Domingo, French Students’ weekend retreats, German Days, Foreign Language Students’ concerts, lectures, and language club activities with visitors from various embassies in Kingston.

Immersed in a sea of intercultural experiences, our minds were opened to diverse political thought and philosophies. As much as we learnt about other cultures, we also taught others about our own.


Along the way, I met many people who questioned the value of studying foreign languages and an arts degree. Instead of trying to provide them with the ‘right’ answers, I actively and eagerly sought opportunities to put my training to work. I was a liaison aide at the United Nations Law of the Sea Conference and the Organization of American States General Assembly, which were hosted in Jamaica. I spent my summers as an intern at the Jamaica Tourist Board. Many people I met had studied the arts and humanities and told me how they had forged successful career paths in business, government, and international relations. I realised then that the options were many and that my proficiency in foreign languages gave me an advantage.

After university, I joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade in the Protocol and Consular Division. There, I had the opportunity to translate official documents and serve as the interpreter in meetings with very senior officials. This is where I learnt about the main issues of the day in international politics, trade, travel, tourism, and law. I observed first hand how language and communication in all its forms played into business deal-making and international relations.

With this experience, I gladly accepted new challenges to serve in the Economic and Foreign Trade Divisions in the ministry and represent Jamaica at international conferences in the Caribbean and the Americas. I witnessed the emerging trends in globalisation and the increasing role of the private sector in international trade.

I decided to do an MBA in international business and marketing at the University of Miami, where at that time, the focus was on preparing a new generation of global business leaders. This degree opened doors to a career in the private sector in Jamaica and then in Montreal, Canada, where I currently reside. My academic training in languages at the UWI continues to be of great value. I communicate daily in French, which is the language of business in Montreal, the largest city in the French Canadian province of Quebec.

My desire as a teenager “to do something” for Jamaica and the world has morphed into a career in marketing in global institutions. In the various roles I have played, I have been involved in the creation of multilingual marketing communication programmes, international trade finance and credit-risk assessment, and the development of global brands, while managing teams of persons with diverse backgrounds.

Over the years, I have been, and still am, a committed volunteer, where my training in business and in the arts has been considered to be of added value. I currently serve on the board of directors of the YWCA-Montreal, an organisation whose clientele consists of a large number of immigrants who are being equipped to become fully integrated into the society. I have been invited to write articles and speak in English and French at churches to youth groups and professional associations, mainly on topics related to personal and professional development in a multicultural society.

In a world where technological innovation is held as the gold standard for progress, and where students are encouraged to pursue purely technical degree programmes, it should never be forgotten that technology is only valuable if it meets people’s needs. Often, my colleagues and business associates who do not have any formal training in the arts and humanities express appreciation for the broader perspectives and recommendations that I have brought to technical projects, particularly with regard to clients’ needs.

I truly believe that my foundation in the arts, more specifically the degree programme at the UWI, has led me take an analytic approach that presents diverse opinions and perspectives of various stakeholders, which is critical to understanding and successfully meeting clients’ needs.

With a career spanning more than 30 years in Jamaica, the USA, and Canada, I know that I will never retire. There is so much more work to be done to make the world a better place. I am truly grateful for the education in the arts, which has shaped my view of the world and has served to support all my professional pursuits. The knowledge gained and the skills that were honed in those early years are still relevant and of value in a changing world and will continue to equip me to contribute to building a truly integrated global village.

– This article is one in a series that seeks to promote and highlight the impact of the arts and humanities on the individual’s personal development and career path. Please send feedback to fhe@uwimona.edu.jm


Visit camilleisaacsmorell.com


See the BIG picture.  Focus on what’s important.


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Il y a un grand nombre de définitions du « leadership ».  Peu importe comment vous le définissez, le « leadership » s’agit d’inspirer les gens à réaliser les objectifs.

Le leadership efficace est essentiel pour la réalisation des objectifs, même s’ils ne sont pas liés aux revenus et profits,  l’état futur désiré d’un pays, la mise en place d’un nouveau programme ou la promotion d’une cause.

Il y a aussi la question éternellement posée et considérée : « Est-ce qu’un leader est né ou créé ? »

Je ne vais pas essayer de donner une réponse définitive à cette question.  Je sais qu’il y a quelques personnes qui ont la capabilité naturelle d’inspirer les gens à réaliser les objectifs.  Il y en a d’autres qui, avec du coaching et la formation, sont capables de devenir les leaders performants et réussis.

En tant que chef leader dans les secteurs privé et des OSBL, je suis convaincue que c’est la motivation personnelle qui est primordiale pour le succès dans un rôle de leadership.

Ceux qui souhaitent accéder aux postes de leadership doivent vraiment avoir le désir d’être leader et doivent être motivés à atteindre les buts et objectifs en travaillant avec, et par l’entremise des gens qu’ils dirigent.

Pour déterminer leur propre niveau de motivation personnelle, les leaders futurs et les leaders expérimentés qui considèrent un nouveau mandat, devraient être en mesure de répondre à ces deux questions :

  1. Aimez-vous le pouvoir plus que vous aimez les gens ?
  2. Est-ce que la compétition pour le poste de leadership est plus importante que votre engagement à la cause, vision et objectifs ?





Le désir d’accéder aux postes de leadership et de pouvoir n’est pas « une mauvaise chose »

Dans une société civile, les postes de pouvoir – soient dans les secteurs corporatif, social ou politique – offrent les opportunités aux leaders d’influencer et effectuer le changement qui bénéficie les gens.  Les bons leaders qui font preuve de l’éthique devraient être encouragés d’accéder aux postes dans lesquels ils auront le pouvoir d’aider les gens.

Le désir d’accéder aux postes de leadership et de pouvoir implique la compétition.  La compétition pour un poste de pouvoir devrait être une activité juste et saine, qu’offre l’opportunité à chaque candidat d’expliquer les raisons pour lesquelles il devrait être sélectionné pour le poste.

Un leader authentique devrait  être en mesure de définir clairement –

  1. La vision qu’il a l’intention de réaliser
  2. Comment il va inspirer et engager les gens à s’impliquer à la réalisation de la vision
  3. Les avantages concrets de son mandat de leadership

Leadership – il ne s’agit pas seulement du titre du poste, c’est l’engagement à la cause

Dès que le leader assume son rôle, il lui incombe de démontrer ses compétences, dont la plus importante est, à mon avis, le courage.  Il y a deux dimensions au courage – le courage interne et le courage externe.

Le courage interne est l’engagement inébranlable aux valeurs personnelles ainsi qu’à l’intégrité, y compris la capacité de décider honnêtement si l’on est la meilleure personne pour combler le poste de leadership pour servir l’intérêt de tous.

Le courage public est la capabilité de prendre les décisions difficiles et impopulaires, même dans le cadre de critiques accablantes et injustes.

Voir le tableau d’ensemble.  Cibler les éléments importants.

Chaque leader devrait tenir au cœur le désir et motivation pour servir. Bien que les chefs inspirent les gens à réaliser les objectifs, un leader exceptionnel voit toujours le tableau d’ensemble des avantages principaux et assure les meilleurs résultats pour toutes les parties prenantes.

Plus important que de se concentrer sur la position de pouvoir et du processus pour y accéder, est l’engagement du leader au succès durable de l’organisation, les gens et le pays qu’il a l’intention de diriger.


Cet article était originellement rédigé en anglais, en août 2016, à la suite de la campagne Brexit et les conventions nationales des partis républicain et démocrate des États-Unis.

Camille Isaacs-Morell, est un leader chevronné en planification stratégique et gestion de projets marketing et communication dans les secteurs des soins de la santé,  des services financiers, des affaires étrangères et des OSBL au Canada, ÉU et les Caraïbes.  Sa passion est d’inspirer les gens et les entreprises à améliorer la qualité de vie pour créer ensemble un meilleur monde. 



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The haters are having a field day on social media.  The over 3,000 followers of the I hate United Airlines Facebook page have every reason to be cheesed off.

There really is a disconnect between the airline’s renown brand messages – “Fly the friendly skies” and “We are United” – and everything the public has witnessed since April 9, when a passenger was removed from UAL flight 3411.

The video of the bloodied, screaming passenger being dragged off the aircraft and the reports that followed, have left the impression of an airline that is anything but friendly – that customers’ needs don’t count,  employees have no empathy and that the airline will solve problems in its own way.

According to the company’s website, United Airlines’ brand is “more than words on paper.  It is shaped by every aspect of (the) customer and co-worker experience.”  If this is true, should we assume that what happened on April 9 was an isolated incident?  Should we believe United Airlines’ CEO Oscar Munoz’s statement three days later that the incident does not reflect “who our family at United is”?

Although we would like to consider that this was an isolated incident which does not define United Airlines, the behaviour of the CEO has led the public to believe otherwise.  The delayed response and initial statements of the CEO have reinforced his employees’ lack of empathy for clients in favour of operating procedures and demonstrates that there is a glaring gap between the customer experience and the United Airlines brand.    Here’s why:

The aftermath: United Airlines’ brand equity is depleted
In a television interview on April 12, Mr. Munoz said that he felt shame after seeing the viral video and stated that every passenger on the flight would be fully refunded.  Even though he also said that it’s never too late to do the right thing, it will take more than compensation to fix the damage.

It will be a long shot for United Airlines to restore confidence in its promise “to make to make every flight a positive experience for our customers.”  This is because its brand equity has been depleted.  Recent poll results indicate that the incident has adversely impacted the perception and preference for the United Airlines brand, potentially resulting in financial losses.

  • According to aMorning Consult poll that surveyed a national sample of 1,976 American adults, 79 percent of respondents who had heard about United’s recent news said they would choose a different airline if that airline — the poll specifically used American Airlines as a stand-in — offered an identical flight for the same price.
  • Among those respondents who hadn’theard of United’s troubles, only 51 percent would choose an American Airlines flight over an identical United flight, with 49 percent choosing United. The near-exact 50-50 split among respondents who haven’t been following the news about United indicates that the recent incidents have had a massive, polarizing effect on public perception of the airline among anyone who’s been paying attention to the news.

Those who are in charge of United Airlines’ marketing and public relations are best placed to explain if the incident and the subsequent statements are the result of misinformed or uninformed employees and CEO who don’t understand the true meaning of the company’s brand and how it ought to flow through to operations, customer service and communications.  These poll results are a reminder that brand equity losses have the potential to cancel out the fortune spent by Marketing departments and agencies on the careful crafting of brand definitions and deployment of brand strategies.

All areas of the organization play a role in brand credibility and equity

In many organizations Marketing is regarded as “the lipstick on the pig” – the stuff that makes for well-crafted, feel-good advertisements that mask the ugliness of complicated back-office operations and procedures that contribute to unfortunate customer experiences.

Very often the brand and brand promise are defined by Marketing, without connecting the dots to all areas of the business.  When this happens, the back-office is not configured to support the customer experience; customer-facing teams are ill-equipped to serve customers; budgets don’t get approved for investments in training, IT development and operational processes that ultimately impact the customer experience. This is how brands lose credibility and consequently, brand equity.

Brands build credibility and equity when all customer and public touch-points reflect an accurate understanding of customer needs and expectations.

With organizations having access to large amounts of data, customers are increasingly demanding more personalized service with the expectation that communications will be transparent and that customer convenience and needs will be prioritized in operating processes. The language used by corporate representatives at every level or the organization, whether to inform, communicate or react, has to be consistent with all that the company says that its brand stands for.

Invest in marketing programmes and in people

It is not enough for the C-suite to sign off on brand strategies and to be impressed by the number of ‘likes’ on social media and business leads generated by modern marketing technology.  Time and money must also be continually invested to train the C-Suite and all employees, to reinforce the connection between the organization’s brand, corporate values, client service and communication protocols.

Only time will tell if the United Airlines brand will recover from this disaster.  Real work has to start on the creation of a clearly defined brand, ensuring that everything the brand stands for prevails in every aspect of the airline’s operations and in the public’s perception of all its employees, including its most senior officers.

There is much to be learned and corrected by United Airlines.  This is also true for many other organizations.

See the BIG picture. Focus on what’s important.




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