In today’s global economy, no country can sustain itself without investment from a variety of sources, both internal and external. The world is no longer suitable for isolationist policies, and those governments and nations that understand this fact stand ready to capitalize on the desire of individuals and businesses to invest in proven growth. The Caribbean island of St. Lucia is not just a tropical paradise where one can escape the doldrums of winter, it is also a wonderful place to do business. In fact, the World Bank ranked the nation as the number one place to do business among English-speaking Caribbean nations from 2007 to 2014.
McHale Andrew is the man at the helm of Invest St. Lucia, a private firm that works with the government and judiciary of the country to promote and nurture stable economic growth for the island.
A Life of Preparation
Few, if any, people walk into a company and simply take on the position of CEO. McHale Andrew has the educational background and real-world experience required to lead such an important firm. While most professionals might point to nicely framed diplomas on the wall from university, McHale credits his own mother for providing him with the educational foundation needed to succeed:
“Well let me start with my education, I always like to say my education, the most seminal part of my education was being in my mum’s class. My mum was a former school teacher and the year that I spent in her class, perhaps, was at that time, you know the least fun that one would have had! But, I think it created a very strong foundation; I think I got to understand what discipline meant. So that foundation on discipline and hard work was laid then.”
With that said, no one rises to the ranks of CEO just because mum was a good teacher. McHale holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from two different, prestigious institution. He completed his Bachelor’s in Economics and Law at the University of the West Indies, and followed that up with a Master’s in Economics, Law, and Policy Making from the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Role as CEO of Invest St. Lucia
As a smaller economy and nation, St. Lucia must take measured steps to ensure that investment in the nation is adequate and funneled appropriately. Invest St. Lucia started as a replacement for the more amorphous body known as the National Development Corporation. He explains his role in the following terms:
“Well my role as a chief executive officer is to really help in the transition that we are still in from, what used to be the national development corporation, which was a very amorphous body. We have decided to focus more on investment promotion, and what that means is that first and foremost we are moving from a passive investment promotion role to a more active role, and that requires a number of steps which we have taken. First and foremost we have developed a value proposition that gives us a very clear idea of just what our strengths are; whether we have comparative advantages, whether we have competitive advantages that can be built and what we are offering our clients, invariably being investors.”
McHale is not shy in pointing out that an island nation such as St. Lucia must be careful to attract good investments, for one, but more importantly, investments that provide real value to St. Lucians. His firm has focused its efforts on the island’s vital tourism industry, as well as its manufacturing and infrastructure investments.
The focus on each of these sectors is not singular in nature either. Tourism isn’t just about the hotels and flights, but the supporting aspects such as restaurants, safe transportation, and the individuals who work in the industry supporting it. St. Lucia’s top four exporters are all agro processors, and the island is particularly keen on promoting its indigenous medicine. Lastly, infrastructure means improving not just roads, bridges, and ports, but also generating investment for alternative energy sources, education, and hospitality training, among other things.
Promoting the Real St. Lucia
The island of St. Lucia, like many of its neighbors in the Caribbean, has deep roots in the Creole culture. Promoting investment in St. Lucia cannot focus solely on presenting a cultural identity that tourists prefer, but rather, should focus on highlighting the unique aspects of St. Lucia’s Creole culture. At various points in the nation’s history it was under either British or French control, and has strong roots in African cultures as well as a result of the slave trade during the 17th and 18 th centuries.
McHale notes that the island’s Creole culture is alive and well, and his firm makes every effort to promote investment in and a focus on that culture:
“We still have the creole culture alive and well to the extent that we actually, one of the biggest festivals we have is Creole Day, which is the last Sunday in October, and everyone almost dresses in the creole madras gear. We go back to the traditions of old, you know, there are even some communities that prohibit the speaking of English on the entire day, so you have to speak Creole. So we have that strong Creole tradition and I believe that we now have to focus a little bit more effort on developing it, certainly in our culinary offer-ance, because as you know St Lucia covered the English in itself. The golden thread running through all the boutique properties is that level of intimacy which is not just in the delivery of service, but in the connection to the natural allure to St Lucia.”
A Little Bit about the Man behind the Title
McHale might be the CEO of a firm, but he is also a human being with interests and a family. His position takes him around the world and throughout the Caribbean on a regular basis, but he says that Facetime allows him to stay in touch with his wife and two children (2 and 18 months), talking to them as much as twice a day while he’s traveling.
More than just a business professional, McHale is a jazz music aficionado, and his favorite player of all time is Miles Davis. In fact, he so admired Miles Davis that he named his son after him. When he has free time, he enjoys golfing, reading biographies, and even has a unique feather in his cap; he’s a published poet.