Diversity and Inclusion

IEEE Makes a Difference in Jamaica

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Skift Take

When IEEE held a leadership meeting in Jamaica, it spurred many local initiatives that created a positive impact on the destination.

IEEE, a public charity with over 450,000 global members, recently held a leadership meeting in Montego Bay, Jamaica, that was also a springboard and catalyst for change. Following the gathering, a workshop was held at the University of Technology (UTech) in Kingston, a few hours away, that attracted more than 200.

“There is a growing tech scene in Jamaica and a concerted effort to get young people interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics,” said Marie Hunter, managing director of conferences, events, and experiences, IEEE who oversees more than 2,000 conferences and events in about 100 different countries annually. Hunter oversees IEEE’s more than 2,000 conferences and events in about 100 different countries annually.

The organization’s focus is on advancing technology for the benefit of humanity. With this mission in mind, the IEEE Jamaica Section took advantage of the many experts attending the leadership meeting. When students connected with IEEE members, they learned about the many career paths available in science, technology, engineering, and math. 

Hunter sees collaboration as creating a world of opportunity. She cites Team Robotics Jamaica as an example. It garnered a gold award in the Robotics Olympics competition held in Singapore and took home the Katherine Johnson Award for Engineering Documentation. The team credits IEEE member Donovan Wilson, the president of the Union of Jamaican Alumni Association, for its success. IEEE honored the team and coaches at the event.

Hunter helped connect IEEE members representing different areas of the tech, education, and business ecosystem. “The magic we could bring was the power to convene and introduce these previously unconnected communities,” said Hunter. 

Bringing Jamaica’s Tech Experts Together

In addition, IEEE organized an informal dinner the night before the workshop, inviting a cross-section of Jamaican tech influencers. “There was dynamic conversation around that table. Relationships were formed that will propel projects and partnerships in Jamaica,” said Hunter.  Curating an event a few days after the leadership gathering created an opportunity for exchanges that wouldn’t have happened if it had been a stand-alone meeting. Creating similar follow-up events is a model that others can replicate. 

Since the Kingston event, new IEEE chapters have been formed, and technical webinars have been organized for high school students, corporations, and others. “This type of in-person exchange can only happen at a live event,” said Hunter. 

Hunter sees the role of the event professional as having evolved drastically. “From arranging logistics and completing checklists to a new level where we can be influencers, make direct social impact, and make change in real-time is very fulfilling,” she said.

When choosing sites for events, Hunter often looks for destinations where her groups can have a great experience while making an impact. Panama City is another example. IEEE held a global gathering there last year and five more events since.

Hunter’s focus on making a difference has not gone unnoticed. At IMEX Frankfurt, she received the 2024 Global Influencer Award from ICCA, the International Congress and Convention Association.

Photo credit: Rock Staar / Unsplash