International Women's Day 2021

NAME OF FEATURE | THE GLEANER | MONDAY, MARCH 8, 2021 30 INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY JANINE CHEN H OW DOES a published scholar with training in chemistry, zoology and nutrition make history to become the first woman appointed as chief executive officer (CEO) of Massy Distribution Jamaica Limited (MDJL)? The nearly century-old company ranks among the largest distributors in Jamaica, representing over 60 multina- tional brands, and Janine Chen is the visionary at the helm. She has been shattering stereotypes and making an impact in the world long before this year’s International Women’s Day theme: #ChooseToChallenge. Janine exemplifies what is possible when personal and professional achievements are driven by passion and purpose.“Having grown up with only brothers and parents who stressed the need to be independent, I have never felt defined by a stereotype. My parents en- couraged me to be the best that I could be in whatever field I chose and I was always supported by my family.” Spending her developmental years in such a nur- turing environment prepared Janine for a journey in leadership that would often see her standing out. She recalls several occasions throughout her career being the only woman or among a few women on boards and senior management teams. Frequently quoted is the International Labour Organization’s 2015 report ranking Jamaica as the country with the highest percentage (59.3 per cent) of female managers in the world. In spite of that, women in leadership, especially those getting equal pay for equal work, remain underrepresented in areas such as politics, science and technology. Janine is deliberate about her success serving as a platform and a path for others. “I enjoy mentoring other women and sharing my experiences with them and I take immense pleasure when they surpass my achievements and realise their full potential.”Janine understands that her rare combination of an academic back- ground in science, coupled with over 25 years of global business impact, positions her as a pow- erful representative for even women outside of her current industry. Mervelyn Harvey Doughorty, Massy Distribution’s HR assistant vice president, can attest to this. “Although she has a very busy schedule, she ensures that she invests time in all her direct re- ports. She always checks in on her people, at all levels, throughout the business. Janine is the epitome of what a true leader is.” Janine credits preparation and a deep desire for con- tinued learning as her keys to success. Performance is her hallmark. She has headed some of the most recognisable brands and understands the business of goods distribu- tion. Before assuming her current role as chief executive officer/vice president of Massy Distribution Jamaica, Janine left an indelible mark as general manager of Medi-Grace Jamaica and had a rewarding career with AstraZeneca as country manager for Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, then Caribbean sales director and finally as access manager for the region. The expectation of any CEO is that financial positions and operational efficiencies would consume a lot of their day, but Janine is deliberate about carving out time for health and wellness. “I am passionate about education and more specifically, diabetes education. In recent years I have been focusing on garnering as much knowledge as I can in that area as I believe that with behavioural change we can slow the progression of the disease or avoid it altogether. We have been doing a lot of work in those areas here at MDJL through our certified diabetes educator and also the sponsorship of a video series as a teaching aid.” Janine has a proven history of piloting the entities she leads to prof- itability, even through globally challenging times. In a year marked by crisis and high levels of uncertainty, she believes Jamaica, the Caribbean and the world, has a timely opportunity to challenge and change issues of gender representation. Her message to fellow women in leadership at this time is to “understand the importance of leading by example. You must not ask anyone to do what you are not prepared to do yourself. A strong support team is essential and frequent check-ins/dialogue and spending quality time with yourself, your team and your staff are critical.” The busy corporate executive is quick to add that striking the balance between her professional and private life is para- mount. ‘As long as my Massy days are, I am equally, if not more committed to my family. They are most important to me; and I deliberately make time and effort to ensure I am present in their lives.” Janine also credits her friends for her work-life bal- ance. “I have a solid set of friends who keep me grounded. They have been constants in my life with no airs and no pretences. They are straight shooters and provide the insight and fair perspective I genu- inely appreciate.” #ChooseToChalleng IWD 2021 #ChooseToChallenge IWD 2021 #ChooseToChallenge IW 202 Purpose and passion combined “I enjoy mentoring other women and sharing my experiences with them and I take immense pleasure when they surpass my achievements and realise their full potential.”