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21st Fiji Business Excellence Awards

November 2, 2019       Sheraton Fiji Resort, Nadi

Honourable Ministers;
Members of the Fiji National University Council;
The Vice Chancellor of the Fiji National University, Professor Nigel Healey;
Director of the National Training & Productivity Centre, Dr. Isimeli Tagicakiverata;
Members of the FBEA Panel Of Review;
Your Excellencies – Heads of Missions and Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
Leaders and Executives from the Private and Public Sectors;
Distinguished Guests; and
Ladies and Gentlemen.

Ni sa Bula Vinaka, Namaste, Asalaam Alaykum, Ni Hao, Noa’ia ‘e mauri and a very good evening to you all.

I am deeply honoured to be here once again to officiate at this year’s prestigious Fiji Business Excellence Awards as we recognize and celebrate outstanding achievements and organisations nationwide.

I am indeed grateful for the invitation extended by the Vice Chancellor of the Fiji National University, Professor Nigel Healey, and as such, I must first commend the work of the Award Secretariat under the leadership of Professor Healey and the management of the Awards programme being robustly managed by the Director of the National Training & Productivity Centre, Dr. Isimeli Tagicakiverata.

Vinaka Vakalevu,Thank you and well done!

Furthermore, I would like to specifically acknowledge the presence of the Award’s Panel of Review and I would particularly also like to put on record my sincere appreciation for their efforts, and guidance in ensuring the integrity, neutrality and competency of the Awards is upheld. It is indeed a daunting task that will take a lot of moral courage, a steady mind and firm decision making.

Vinaka,Thank you and well done too!

Ladies & Gentlemen, we must commend ourselves for continuously punching above our weight in accomplishments and persevering for excellence in all sectors of our developing nation. When striving for Business Excellence it has been proven that there are significant benefits.

Beyond improvement in financial indicators other benefits include enhanced innovation and idea generation, customer satisfaction, organizational growth, increased employee satisfaction and involvement, improved efficiency and effectiveness and last but not least product reliability.Nevertheless, the Fiji Business Excellence Awards is a necessary platform where the owners, managers, staff and businesses analytically assess business performance and celebrates successes which open the opportunity for any management to strategise for the future.

The Fiji Business Excellence Awards also recognises the outstanding achievements of both businesses and young leaders across all sectors of the industry in the country.

Ladies & Gentlemen, as we enjoy and celebrate this auspicious occasion, I would like everyone present here tonight, NOT to forget the reality that we are operating in.

The current uncertain and challenging business landscape can very well present its fair share of both opportunities and threats. It will quickly differentiate the better and efficient run enterprises from the rest.

Therefore, it is crucial and indeed very critical for organisations, including Small and Medium Business Enterprises (SMEs), to embrace productivity, excellence and innovation to be compatible in the market.

Moreover, they need to commit to improving management practices to better position themselves for growth opportunities. Progressive management practices are key to helping organisations innovate and grow. For over 20 years, the Business Excellence initiative in Fiji has helped more than 70 organizations put in place robust management systems and establish a culture of continuous improvement for sustained growth.

These companies have been leveraging on the Business Excellence initiative to help them improve their performance against an internationally benchmarked framework. At its most basic fundamental and foundational targeted outcome, the Business Excellence framework seeks to create a mindset amongst organisations to seek continuous improvement and sustainable quality growth.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I understand that a few organisations represented here are still contemplating on when to commence their Business Excellence journey. There is no better time to begin, then right now. I want to encourage you to network with the winners tonight and make an appointment with the Awards Secretariat to provide you an overview of the business excellence framework.

The time is here and now and what a better way to get acquainted when the platform and the language spoken tonight is on business excellence and the preplanned pathway to achievement. It is most pleasing to note that your organization does not have to be perfect to implement Business Excellence; in fact, the Business Excellence Framework is a self-assessment tool that assists organisations to identify gaps within their management systems so they are able to implement them in advance.

On the same note, many Small to Medium enterprises view the Fiji Business Excellence Awards as a path treaded only by big corporations. This is a perception and notion, an idea that needs to be shelved, because over the years, I have presented awards on this very platform to SMEs which have made the bold decision to use the Business Excellence Framework as the foundation in growing their business.

The Business Excellence initiative has raised their awareness for a disciplined approach to running a business, through the setting of quantifiable targets as well as encouraging their staff to innovate, improve processes and efficiency. I am confident that Business Excellence has also provided greater assurance of the quality of their products and services to their customers, which has led to increase in business.

However, to achieve this, communication with the workforce is necessary to align them towards a common mission and strategic direction. It is estimated that SMEs provide more than 50% of employment in Fiji and account for 12% of our GDP.

Well done! This is more than enough reason to encourage SMEs to embrace the business excellence principles, even at their infant stage. I believe that with the right foundation, the Business Excellence initiative will lift our standards of business practices locally and set Fiji on par with other economic powerhouses similar to us in size.

Ladies & Gentlemen, In my keynote address last year, I had alluded to the idea that disruptive technologies and innovation are just some of the key trends that are transforming the global business landscape. I also shared on the Government’s role in capitalizing on these trends and investing heavily on the Digital Fiji initiative to enhance public service delivery making it more accessible and convenient for all Fijians.

Going digital will become inevitable in the near future, therefore, we have to stay attuned to the future requirements of our customers which is brought about by new technology. Let me give you the example from the Banking service. More than twenty years ago, one had to travel to a Bank to deposit money.

Progressively, internet banking was introduced that continues to enable customers to transfer money to almost any account, so long as they have a computer and internet connection – but even that was not enough. Today, customers see a more improved mode of service by the banks in the form of “mobile banking”; which rids customers from the hassle of using a laptop or travelling to a bank.

In this new digital era, customers today want a different experience with service providers where shorter queues and shorter waiting times are no longer just a luxury, but expected as the norm.
In addition, customers always want fast and consistent services, more options and personalized customer experiences.

The digital consumer age means a more enlightened consumer base with greater access to information. Now, customer expectations are also shaped by online information and reviews.

Organisations that are not able to keep up with these high levels of expectations run the risk of losing savvy customers to more digitally equipped competitors. Managing and exceeding customer expectations require a genuine focus on customers’ behaviour, with deep insights into their new demands and requirements.

In other words, developing products and services that are tailored to customers’ preferences and behaviors will place businesses in the best position to capitalise on modern demands. Furthermore, to maintain a competitive advantage, businesses must prepare themselves to cope with the key business challenges of creating added-value for customers, rapidly responding to new demands, and improving productivity.  All of which could be achieved through creating lean work processes, building innovation capabilities and investing in workforce development.

Ladies and Gentlemen, at this juncture, I wish to remind you all that staying competitive does not mean that you have to exploit your workforce and natural resources. As Mr. Raekwon Chung, a “green growth” proponent, stated in one of his publication and I quote; “Maximizing GDP growth forces us to exploit human and natural capital. We need to exit the vicious cycle of exploiting and set in motion the virtuous cycle of investing long term in human and natural capital for sustainability”.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is a vision I would like to see cascaded into the organizational culture of all organisation’s throughout Fiji. We should consider the promotion and introduction of environmental friendly technologies, processes and raw materials wherever it is possible.

In 2007, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change declared that scientific Research confirmed that humans are the cause of global warming and the planet has been trending hotter since pre-industrial times. Climate change is real and it affects everyone around the world.

Therefore, it makes it the responsibility of all because the fight for the environment is the fight for our very existence. Now, before I conclude, I would like to congratulate in advance, all award recipients this evening. You have come this far and you deserved it.

This is your night. On the same note, I would like to encourage those who missed out this year to not be disheartened it is not the end. Please utilise the feedback report prepared by the evaluators to your advantage.

I thank you all for listening, and once again, I am grateful for the opportunity to be here.

Thank you, Vinaka vakalevu, Fai’eksia Dhanyavaad, and May Almighty God bless you all and our beloved Fiji.