Office of the President logoOffice of the President logo


The 2017 Fiji Business Excellence Awards

November 3, 2017       Sheraton Fiji Resort, Nadi

The Honourable Jone Usamate, Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations.
The Honourable Faiyaz Koya, Minister for Industry, Trade, Tourism, Lands and Mineral Resources
The Honourable Bale Tuitubou, Minister for Youth and Sports
The Chancellor of the Fiji National University, Mr Ikbal Jannif
The Vice Chancellor of the Fiji National University, Professor Nigel Healey
Members of the FNU Council and the National Training & Productivity Centre Advisory Board
Director of the National Training & Productivity Centre, Dr. Isimeli Tagicakiverata
Members of the 2017 FBEA Panel Of Review
Your Excellencies Heads of Missions and Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Leaders and Executives from the Private and Public Sector
Ladies and Gentlemen

Ni sa Bula Vinaka, Namaskar, Aslaam Alaikum, Ni Hao, Noa’ia e Mauri and Good Evening to you all.

I am indeed honoured and delighted to join you this evening for the presentation of the 2017 Fiji Business Excellence Awards. I was sorry to miss the opportunity to attend last year, as I was visiting our peacekeeping troops in the Middle East.

This year marks the 19th year of the Fiji Business Excellence Awards, and I am delighted to note that this awards ceremony has grown from strength to strength every year. It is the hope of the Nation and all Fijians that we will be able to keep up the momentum and help transform our nation into one of the most productive and successful democracies in the world.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is an evening in which we congregate here in great numbers to celebrate Excellence. It is an occasion in which we will recognise organisations that have distinguished themselves in their journey to be very productive and hopefully attain world-class status. We have all heard of the naysayers who believe that Fiji will not be on par with the most productive nations in the world. We should not subscribe to that belief. Instead, we should all believe in ourselves that we can, as a nation, be on par with the highly productive and economically advanced nations of the world.

Excellence means different things to different people. As Fijians, we know that we can make the “Fijian Made” brand just as good as the best in the world. But, this require commitment, forbearance, perseverance and a major change in mindset. Unless we have the right attitude, courage and conviction, we will lose the race even before it starts. Excellence is also about ordinary people doing extraordinary things; and this is where everyone plays a role in this journey towards excellence.

Business Excellence can be pursued by organisations that are blessed with much resources, and it can also be pursued by those that are less fortunate and only have minimal resources. We have witnessed this over the past 19 years in our struggle as a developing nation to compete with the rest of the world. 

I am told that the theme this year is “Raising Productivity for Sustainability”.

Productivity has always been recognised and accepted as the underlying factor for competitiveness and the driver of economic growth.  It is more than just the measure of how effectively resources are used to produce outputs; it is about working smarter, not harder. On one side of the coin, Productivity is the activity of using less to create more – however in reality; Productivity can be perceived and considered a mindset – that continuously aspires to better ways of accomplishing tasks and conducting business.

Ladies and gentlemen, to raise productivity demands that we use a different pair of glasses when we examine our systems and processes. If we continue to do what we have always done, we will continue to get what we have always got. This is what I believe the Corporate World would like to refer to as “Corporate Insanity”, where organisations continue to operate using the same approach while expecting a different result. I believe that the increase in productivity, is firmly linked to innovation and continuous improvement, which essentially comes from our sound and visionary leadership and an equally hardworking workforce.

Fiji’s per-Worker Labour Productivity Growth stands at 1.1 percent over the last 10 years. It is imperative that we make it our collective goal to develop policies that will stimulate higher productivity through greater innovation.  We cannot talk about poverty eradication, employment creation and economic growth in the absence of innovation. Fiji depends on the ability of our local organisations to be creative in order for our economy to continue to prosper.

I urge you all to be more innovative through the adoption of productivity tools such Quality Circles, Knowledge Management, Business Process Re-engineering, Business Excellence, Green Productivity and the International Organisation for Standardisation.   I would like to also encourage you to make a conscious decision every day to have a positive attitude towards everything that comes your way. Become creative and think of better ways of doing things at work, home or play in order to improve your business and life.

Ladies and gentleman, Fiji’s gross domestic product (GDP) has doubled since 2006 and the economy is projected to post ten straight years of economic growth over the next two years.

The 2017 – 2018 National Budget builds upon this tremendous progress the Fijian economy has achieved, despite the massive material damage and economic loss caused by Cyclone Winston, as we endeavor to create and sustain employment opportunities for the Fijian people. Now while we celebrate in our success, I hope that we are not blinded by it. In a world filled with uncertainty, you cannot afford to be complacent and idle. You must be focused, committed and flexible. Staying afloat in the midst of economic turbulence has become a pressing topic for both the private and public sectors and even the Non-Profit organisations.

Companies should have the ability to adapt to global business trends and quickly adjust to the fast changing business landscape that technology brings with it.  World-class companies never fail to display a remarkable resilience and the ability to bounce back from any adversity. These are the types of organisations that we should all aspire to become. If you focus on developing your people, processes and products by making them relevant, productive and adaptable, you will create a sustainable organisation that rapidly responds to changes and not be intimidated by others or any type of situation you are faced with.

In the meantime, it is therefore considered imperative that sometimes we have to pause, learn from our mistakes, adjust and remain receptive to methods and processes that will enable us to cope with any economic challenges that confront us.  May I propose to you that Benchmarking your performance and best practices with other organisations is a catalyst to bringing about accelerated progress to your business without “reinventing the wheel”.

I was very pleased to know that the NTPC in conjunction with the Asian Productivity Organisation commenced with a Benchmarking Project this year involving more than 10 organisations. These organisations have mutually agreed to open up to benchmark and share best practices with others for the sole purpose of lifting their services and product quality to new heights. This is a huge milestone in the promotion of productivity in Fiji through knowledge sharing and collaboration of the private and public sectors.

Benchmarking is much more than finding the ‘Benchmarks’ from numerical comparisons. It is a structured discovery process about accelerating the implementation of your Vision. It is about closing performance gaps from learning the very good and innovative practices from other organisations for your prioritised scope and project focus, and then adapting these innovative practices back into your organisation. I thank the NTPC for this initiative and I hope that more organisations will participate in this programme soon.

Ladies and gentlemen, with all this talk on productivity and excellence we must always remember that at the heart of any business is the individual. An organisation can only become more productive through continuous upgrading of knowledge, skills, discipline and attitude of their workforce. Our people are our most important resource and so as our businesses grow, we also have to develop and harness our workforce capabilities and capacity along with it.

This ladies and gentleman is not rocket science; If you look after your people, they will in turn look after your customers thus creating more business and dividends for your stakeholders. As an employer, we can no longer expect the employee to simply "hang their worries at the gate".  While a machinelike approach may seem like a solution, the reality is that today’s generation of workers are not robots and therefore, they must be psychologically prepared to be productive. The onus therefore rests with the leaders/employers to increase the productivity levels by not only focusing on the technical aspects but by also considering any emotional challenges an employee may face. The emotional wellbeing of employees is critical to the productivity within the workplace.

While I am still on this topic of Workforce Focus, may I remind you that in the next 10 years it is expected that our workforce will comprise 50% of Millennials or otherwise known as the Generation Y. This new generation has a totally different set of attributes and competencies that if misunderstood, can be detrimental to your future growth. They are tech-savvy, free-spirited, innovative thinkers, have finely developed social networking skills and demand work-life balance.

The reality is that Millenials are increasingly hard to ignore when hiring.  Their inclusion in the workforce will inevitably require a major paradigm shift in the Management psyche and the Employer/Employee interaction in the workforce.  Instead of being dismissive and ignoring their needs and aspirations, I encourage you to prepare yourself for you will need to learn to cultivate their skill-base strength and enthusiasm and use it as leverage for the future growth and sustainability of your business enterprise.

Ladies and gentlemen, at this juncture I would like to commend the National Training & Productivity Centre (NTPC) of the Fiji National University for doing such a wonderful job in promoting business excellence and productivity in Fiji, and this important work must be supported by all stakeholders.  I thank the Director NTPC, Dr Isimeli Tagicakiverate and his staff for upholding its national mandate and the awards vision to “Enhance Productivity Excellence in Fiji”

I wish to conclude by congratulating all of the recipients of this year’s Fiji Business Excellence Awards.  There is no question that by setting the high benchmark by using the business excellence criteria and striving for this award has made an enormous difference in your performance. I am certain that the results you have achieved show that you have surpassed your goals and expectations, outgrown your target competitors and built a great and better workforce. But, the real advantage of venturing on this journey is that you will have created and established a culture of quality, innovation and continuous improvement in your organisation.

It is my hope that all your excellent endeavours contribute towards greater success, professionalism, dedication and may you all rise to higher levels of excellence in your pursuits – And may these pursuits become a habit and the accepted norm in how we will continue to do business in our beloved Fiji.

May Almighty God continue to bless you all and our beloved Nation.

Vinaka vakalevu, Dhanyavaad, Sukria, Xie Xie, Faiek’sia, and Thank you.