The 36th annual CANTO Trade and Virtual Exhibition kicked-off on Wednesday, July 28th with Headline Sponsor, C&W Communications (CWC), hosting the first day of the three-day virtual event. Held under the theme, ‘The New Digital Reality – 2021 and Beyond’, the event was formally opened by David Cox, Senior Director, Regulatory, CWC and current Chairman of CANTO who welcomed participants and panelists to CANTO’s first ever virtual trade event.
CWC put together an impressive line-up of discussion panels on the first day that focused on topical issues faced by the sector in the wake of an ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic. In the first session of the day, CANTO Chairman David Cox spoke with CWC CEO, Inge Smidts, in a candid and insightful virtual fireside chat. Smidts detailed how the regional communications and entertainment provider has been able to navigate through the challenges of the pandemic and put a uniquely ‘human’ face on the company’s commitment to keep its employees working and its customers connected.
Smidts said passionately, “with the onset of COVID-19 we focused on our two (2) ‘Whys’: taking care of our people and keeping our customers connected. My philosophy is that our people are our biggest asset. Having the network capacity to meet the demands of our customers is important but having the right people to take care of our customers is even more important”. Smidts attributed the company’s ability to continue to meet those ‘whys’ on the resilience of its employees and their willingness to face the challenges head on to ensure they continued to find ways to keep customers connected.
As the Region’s only female CEO running a full-service telecommunications company, she offered the virtual audience some personal insights into her management style and leadership approach during the pandemic. Smidts said, “the pandemic induced a period of ‘unlearning’, forcing companies, including CWC, to find new ways to meet the needs of their customers and employees, and to embrace change”.
Other virtual sessions held included:
The ‘Women in ICT Leadership Panel Discussion’ adeptly hosted by Wendy McDonald, C&W Senior Director – Communications and Stakeholder Relations for the Caribbean. McDonald’s guests included: Daysi Andrades, Advisor to the Chief Information Officer at the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, DC; Monica Desai, Global Head, Connectivity and Access Policy at Facebook; and Vice President of People at CWC, Sonali Dighe.
This panel took an intense look at how the pandemic brought unique challenges for women in the workplace, particularly in leadership roles.
In host McDonald’s preamble she spoke to the additional challenges imposed on women in the workplace who were forced to suddenly and unexpectedly manage competing and overlapping work and family commitments on a scale and with a level of urgency many women had never encountered before, a situation that in some cases is causing women to leave the workforce.
CWC’s Sonali Dighe impressed upon the audience the need for companies in the region to focus on their leadership pipelines and to implement succession planning programs with a focus on moving more women into leadership positions.
Later in the program, ‘The Parenting and Education in the Digital Age’ discussion panel saw an equally impressive list of panelists which included: Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of Education, Dr. the Honorable Nyan Gadsby-Dolly; Sherra Carrington-James, President of both the Caribbean Association of Principals of Secondary Schools and the Trinidad & Tobago Association of Principals of Secondary Schools. Also bringing a wealth of knowledge on human capital in the region was Dominic Boon, Vice President of Talent and Organizational Development at CWC’s parent company, Liberty Latin America.
The panel was expertly moderated by Simone Martin-Sulgan, Vice President for CWC’s Operations in Trinidad and Tobago, who as a mother of two herself, was deeply connected to the panel’s in-depth look at how parents have been searching for new, engaging, and innovative means to support their children through this new normal of the COVID-19 pandemic. The panelists sought to address the issues facing the education sector and in keeping with the overall conference theme, using our “New Digital Reality” to determine where the opportunities for intelligent collective collaboration exist and do our best to exploit them to our and our children’s advantage.
C&W Communications has been a long-standing partner of CANTO and through its Corporate Social Responsibility programs, and the work of its C&W Charitable Foundation, continues to invest in and advocate for greater digital access for the region’s children. CWC is committed to working with governments and industry stakeholders towards this goal.
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