On Saturday, March 18, Sandals Grande La Toc played host to the first ever BIT Awards. BIT, or Businesses in Thanksgiving, is described by organizers as “a revolutionary movement in Corporate Saint Lucia designed to engender goodwill in the business community through expressions of gratitude.” The initiative was conceptualized by Calvin Reynolds, entrepreneur and CEO of Corporate Plaza Inc. who says the event has grown leaps and bounds from being solely an annual ‘BIT’ New Year’s Church Service, attracting 150 business leaders and professionals from around the island. Organizers say the Annual BIT Awards and Dinner is a wonderful opportunity for businesses and professionals to publicly honour the individuals who have contributed to their business success.
At the inaugural event, awards up for grabs included ‘Best Customers’, ‘Outstanding Employees’, ‘Strategic Partners’ and ‘Inspirational Person’. Masters of Ceremonies Dale St Juste and Ann Marie Headley led the proceedings, complete with live musical entertainment from Kenson Hippolyte setting the tone. The welcome remarks were delivered by Leslie Jn Baptiste, Managing Director of Eagle Freight and Brokerage Services Ltd, Premium Sponsor of the event, then BIT Coordinator Calvin Reynolds gave the rundown for the evening’s presentations.
First up was the Best Customer category, which saw Antonius “Sekra” Gibson; Radio Caribbean (1982) Limited, Leslie Jn Baptiste; Eagle Freight and Brokerage Services Limited, Hazel Joseph; Prestige Insurance Agency Limited and John Cadet from Cadet Distribution, all honoured by Corporate Plaza, while Timothy Mangal; Total Construction Supplies Limited, and Gary Gustave of Rubis West indies Limited received special recognition by Eagle Freight and Brokerage Services Limited.
The Outstanding Employees awards were presented by Eagle Freight’s Leslie Jn Baptiste to employees of the company including Verline Williams; Office Manager, Benedict Hippolyte; Warehouse and Trucking Supervisor, Sidonie Jankie; Office Supervisor, Sasha Remy; Accounts Clerk, Anika St. Luce; Customs Broker, Yohan Auguste; Customs Broker, Vernalee Chedy; Accounts Executive, Delphina Paul, and Accounts Clerk, Cora Augustin.
Best Rates 24Hour Car Rental’s Managing Director Sandra Monrose presented an award in the same category to employee Jermaine Philip, as did Calvin Reynolds, to Mirium Anthony, an accountant at Corporate Plaza.
Dinner was served during a brief intermission, after which Lorraine Sidonie of Unicomer, a Collateral Sponsor of the event, delivered a “pep talk”. She spoke against the norm of keeping God and thanksgiving separate from business, and drove home the message that the traditional tension between God and business did not have to exist.
“The two aren’t mutually exclusive,” she told the audience. “What we need to do is make sure that we know that our successes are because of God, and that we are proud of it, and that we can say it. If we do so, we get to solve business issues that go beyond the bottom line. We know how to deal with layoffs, we know what to pay employees, we know how to reach out to staff, we know how to thank employees, customers and suppliers, like we’re doing here this evening, and yes, we’ll be guided as to how to make money, but making meaning while making money.”
Sidonie said a virtuous cycle was created when Businesses in Thanksgiving gave way to a change that brought God into the workplace, “so that an infiltration of the psyche leads to improved behaviour, improved productivity, and employees that go beyond the minimum obligation because they are now motivated by love for one another.”
She continued:“My words of encouragement are for us to debunk that old philosophy that spirituality is a private matter. The benefits are real, and relevant, much more than we can perceive.”
After that, it was back to business. There were still awards left to be presented, and first off was the Strategic Business Partner award handed over by Sandra Monrose of Best Rates 24Hour Car Rental to Leonard Monrose.
The Inspirational Person award was presented by BIT to David Pierre, Musical Director & Arranger, LaJwa Music Ensemble.
An unexpected “Special Partner” award was also presented by Sandra Monrose to her husband, who managed one of the company’s locations, in Vieux Fort. She handed him a gift, and the award, showered him with praise, then declared, “The only problem I have with him is that he works too hard!” much to the audience’s delight.
The event rounded off with a rendition by Lauvina Reynolds and Samuel Lewis, and a symbolic passing of the baton, from Calvin Reynolds to his mother, Yoland Reynolds, who will, as of next year, be charged with the responsibility of hosting the event.