Friday, 11 March 2016

LEANING IN: Kelly Tomblin urges Jamaican women to find their voices, step into their power

LEG WORK: Tomblin (second right) having fun with the girls at the conference. Below, with female lineman Camaria Spalding.

During the Q-&-A segment of a panel discussion at Thursday’s opening day of the Women in Energy conference at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, an audience member made this observation: “When I walked in earlier and saw how the whole place was put together, I felt that it must have been a woman who thought of this,” she said.

And she was right, as the conference (a timely and much-welcomed addition to the calendar) is largely the brainchild of Kelly Tomblin, President and CEO of JPS Co., who organized the whole thing in collaboration with sponsors and JPS staff. “You see the difference at JPS since a woman has been in charge,” the audience member continued. “Dealing with issues like electricity theft, the company has taken a more sensitive and sensible approach.”

Under the theme “Doing Power Differently,” the conference opened (naturally) with a motivational power-point presentation (“Finding Our Voices”) from Miss Tomblin, in which she brilliantly and eloquently shared with the packed room tools and tips for self-empowerment – and how the conference came about in the first place. “The impetus for this conference came from a lot of places,” she said. Having spent a number of years participating in similar events from California to Mexico City, urging women to step into their power, Tomblin says she felt that such events would eventually become obsolete.

“I thought that certainly in 2015 we wouldn’t need these conferences,” she says. But her move to the Caribbean to embark on a new chapter of her working life (after 25 years in the energy business) introduced her to certain realities. “In my experience here in the Caribbean, sometimes in a room like this, only 10 women. So these conferences are needed,” she concedes.

A fast talker with quick wit, Tomblin urged the women in attendance (scores of smartly dressed go-getters armed with pens and notepads) to be their best selves by tapping into consciousness of passion and power and finding ways to develop community. “What I love about my adopted country is this whole idea of community,” says the CEO, a petite dynamo immaculately turned out in a little blue dress and python pumps.

“You can’t live half-heartedly. When was the last time you did something you were afraid to do? Fear stops you from your power,” she told the women.

The supreme trifecta of light, power and energy, Tomblin says, should inspire conversations not only at a conference like the WIE but across the island and the rest of the region. “It is my hope and dream that the industry I love and this country that I love will start doing power differently,” she says. “And I hope that when this conference ends, we will all leave here with that idea."

> The conference continues throughout Friday at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel.

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