EXCELLENCE is something we encourage our children to strive for. We want them to give their all and be their best at noble pursuits that will enrich their lives and the lives of others. We know that if they strive for excellence, it will set them apart and help them to survive the trials of life.
When Rocky Nesbitt was Head Boy at Abaco Central High, he had already developed this mindset and became a leader among his peers. He stood at the school podium and gave speeches on greatness and the importance of doing your best. When he left school, he continued to hold fast to those virtues and has built a professional career that sets him apart.
Today, he is taking on his biggest challenge to date and is rising to the occasion. Rocky is the newly-instated General Manager of the Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation (BAIC) and the youngest to ever hold the position. I have liaised with him on projects in the past; I have seen him in action and he is a consummate professional who is reliable and highly effective. I was, therefore, elated to see him be appointed to the post and gave him a call to congratulate him. I love to see young professionals like Rocky take the helm of organizations and make a difference by bringing a fresh perspective and lots of vigour to the position.
“I worked hard for this job,” he told me.
“There was a two-month assessment process. I worked hard to develop a comprehensive plan. I did my research and I prepared my presentation. I was carefully vetted along with other applicants. The Board was really impressed with my plan and I succeeded. It wasn’t given to me. I put my all into it.
“It gives me an opportunity to be a shining example of the fact that young millennials can take this country forward and succeed.
“There are opportunities there, but we have to take charge. The digital lifestyle we all have become accustomed to have us sitting looking at our phones and waiting for something to come to us. We see problems, we have solutions, but we are not action-based. We come up with great solutions; we are visionaries; we can see what needs to be done. But many would complain and not actually take the steps necessary to do something about it.
“Fifty, sixty years ago, long before the digital age, they got out there and worked hard. We have to put in that sweat equity. Some people are running away from this country – looking at Canada and other places for a better life. But at the end of the day, The Bahamas is our home. It’s up to us to find ways to improve our country and make it what we want it to be, not only for ourselves, but for our future generations.”
As a father-of-one, Rocky knows all too well that time flies and, without affirmative action, the country could be left behind in a fast-changing world filled with innovation and implementation.
He was excited to share with me “The Blue Project” – a strategic plan he has proposed for BAIC. He was appointed to the position on July 1, 2020, and since then, he has been getting acquainted with all the departments and the inner workings of the corporation. His plan provides preliminary concepts that will be further developed, resulting in a comprehensive and strategic action plan, considering the input of the Board of Directors, executive management team and the operations staff.
The BLUE Project stands for: “Building a Lean Uniformed Economic network” with a vision to “improve the quality of life for all Bahamians by facilitating a stable and fully employed society in which every Bahamian will become economically empowered.” BAIC believes that a vibrant small business sector can be the basis of a fully employed Bahamas. Properly operated small business enterprises by independent entrepreneurs can provide needed goods and services in the economy. The plan places emphasis on the domestic enterprise sector and Bahamian entrepreneurship.
“I trust that this draft document will be a catalyst to formulate recommendations to enhance and expand strategies that would result in greater productivity, efficiency and results-based operational, technical and financial activities by the Corporation,” Rocky said.
His plan has eight strategic goals:
- Create a business data-driven model for BAIC decision making process
- Create a corporate/ business culture at BAIC that is focused on the financial growth of BAIC
- Build or partner with an e-commerce system to promote Bahamian business owners in the Agri-business and the Industrial sector.
- Facilitate prosperity for Bahamians, particularly on the Family Islands by streamlining the production supply chain to ensure faster access to market goods.
- Strategic Crown land application process that will focus on sustainable technology to withstand adverse weather and global economic crises. BAIC will ensure that leased lands are being used for the intended purposes of farming and/or manufacturing of agricultural products.
- Introduce a strategic communication strategy that highlights the Entrepreneurial ingenuity of the Bahamian people.
- Implement new Software and programmes that move towards a distribution network for commercial entities at BAIC.
- Modernize the Industrial Parks to International Standards to ensure true incubation, accreditations, and ISO standards.
Each strategic goal has an extensive plan outlined, all working towards revolutionizing BAIC. Since 1981, the corporation has existed to help sustain the development of agri-business in The Bahamas. It was implemented to market agricultural products nationally and internationally, and to foster creation and development of commerce and industry, among other things.
With Rocky at the helm, the team at BAIC is working through the pandemic towards the increase of economic production through the growth and profitability of farmers and manufacturers.
“BAIC must become agile in its commercial and corporate operations to ensure that it is profitable,” he contends.
His plan includes the introduction of KPI software to ensure the corporation is able to track, analyze and create timely reports within the Agri-business and Industrial sectors. BAIC will operate with strategic IT governance by having a single Chief Information Officer (CIO) and one Assistant CIO for each territory, who will focus on improving IT for their office-specific services and programmes. It will build an even stronger network with artisans, local farmers, and manufacturers. Rocky also wants to see BAIC benchmark top tier global entities and mirror proven systems to ensure best practices.
This charismatic, efficient and ultra-professional leader has been making steady strides in his life, and he credits his grandparents who were instrumental in raising him. Born in Freeport, Grand Bahama, Rocky was the second-to-last of six children. Yet, he still managed to stand out and did well at St George’s and Walter Parker Primary Schools. His grandparents Sylvia and George Russell took him under their wing and nurtured him with the loving care that grandparents often give. In this environment, Rocky was instilled with strong moral and Christian values and good “broughtupsy” as Bahamians like to say. George Russell was a well-known and respected customs officer in Grand Bahama.
Rocky grew up between Grand Bahama and Abaco and the island upbringing gave him an appreciation for his beautiful country and a desire to play his part in improving it. Even as a young boy, Rocky knew that he wanted to be a CEO and business owner one day. After graduating, he attended Florida Memorial University, where he obtained a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice. He went on to achieve a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) from Nova Southeastern University. He holds a Caribbean Development Bank certificate in Policy Cycle Management and is currently pursuing certification from Project Management Institute.
He began his career in Government as an educator in the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and progressed to the position of lecturer in the Training Institute of the Bahamas Department of Corrections. He currently lectures business, criminal justice and communication disciplines at Southern College.
Rocky has over 13 years’ experience in the public and private sectors covering project management and national development, foreign direct investment, national security, and academic and technical education.
Before becoming BAIC’s general manager, Rocky served as project coordinator in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM). He had responsibility for several projects in the ambit of the Over-the-Hill Community Development Initiative (OTHCDI) Programme, which was developed by Prime Minister Hubert Minnis. The initiative was designed to restore and transform the environment and improve the socio-economic conditions of the Bain Town, Grant’s Town and Centreville residents. He effectively implemented and managed the rejuvenation, social and economic empowerment and the smart technology projects relating to the White Paper on the OTHCDI in the targeted communities.
Rocky also served as a project team member with the Bahamas Investment Authority, a unit in the OPM that has administrative oversight for the National Economic Council (NEC). It is a sub-committee of Cabinet Ministers that makes decisions on foreign direct investment (FDI) applications. In this position, he had responsibility for the management of brownfield and greenfield FDI projects. He coordinated project inspection site visits and town hall meetings on New Providence and the Family Islands.
He owns a small company which focuses on project management – his passion, along with business management, media and communications, and software development. In addition to his corporate pursuits, Rocky also has a strong penchant for community service and charitable causes. He is President of the “Marathon Cares” a non-profit organization that assists and supports the residents in the Marathon area. Although he has just arrived at BAIC, he has already led charitable causes for the corporation.
“I believe in praying on my feet and not on my knees,” he said.
“So I am putting action behind all the things I am involved with, so that I can do my part to help make a difference in my country.”
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