Allison Butters-Grant, the Global Seafoods Distributors Inc Director who passed away on Sunday night after battling cancer for a number of years, has been remembered as a business leader whose drive to succeed was only matched by her passion for her homeland.
Butters-Grant, 52, was being treated for cancer in the United States of America when she died on Sunday night, shocking her family, colleagues and the wider business community.
Speaking to Stabroek News yesterday, General Manager of Global Seafoods Distributors Lindel Harlequin remembered Butters-Grant as being a woman with a fierce drive who not only propelled the company to new heights but made time for worthy causes.
“I’ve known Allison since about 2012 and thereabout in my previous job at Citizens Bank. And from our very first meeting, she [was] someone who [was] able to win you over both with her honesty and thoughtfulness as well as her drive, especially her business drive. That was always remarkable and what I also found out or what also came through in those exchanges over the time was the strategic way in which she would pursue her goals,” Harlequin said.
He recalled that every one of Butters-Grant’s decisions was always well-thought out and calculated, and coupled with her drive and motivation, it always seemed like there was nothing she would not be able to accomplish.
He noted that Butters-Grant had first-hand experience in the seafood industry due to her parents’ business and he suggested that her drive to improve her business and the industry by extension stemmed from this.
“In terms of the history of the company, just about the time I met her she was setting up the company and so from the business end there was always this passion. It was like the thoughts were running ahead of her when you engaged her. But you knew this was someone who knew what they wanted and was committed to achieve it and if one had the privilege of looking at the financial performance of the company one would see the dramatic increase in terms of business,” Harlequin added.
He pointed out that over the four years Butters-Grant was able to spearhead the company into doubling and almost tripling its revenues.
“To put it in a funny way, Allison could sell snow to the Eskimos. Even when I came on we agreed that I would help with the management of the operations but she would sell and she could sell anything. It was not a winner takes all approach, it was always an approach where she delivered value for what she asked and for me that approach is what endeared her to her customers, and not only them but also the company’s suppliers,” he added.
In addition to her business acumen, which earned her recognition in the local private sector, Butters-Grant was also hailed for her philanthropy and her persistence to not only grow her business but also the communities around her and the country as a whole.
During his interview with Stabroek News, Harlequin displayed a token of appreciation from the Malteenos Cricket Club for Butters-Grant’s assistance and contributions.
“I’m sure if one just looked at the internet reaction and response you would see a number of persons with whom she interacted with in a philanthropic way and also there are others she would not tell you about who benefitted from some form of help that she did provide. But that is who Allison is. Just this morning I was speaking with suppliers who told me that their lives have changed since meeting Allison,” he added.
Butters-Grant was also known for her passion and love for Guyana and helping to improve the everyday lives of the citizens. Harlequin said that one could only understand how much she loved the country by hearing it from her own mouth.
“Allison was so passionate about Guyana. I mean, it’s quite unusual for someone who might have had reasons for believing otherwise but she would always say it will get better and we can do it. Almost every related body or institution that can have an impact on the fishing industry she was either a member of the Board or knew someone,” he said, while noting that she had helped make her industry and Guyana better.
Vice-President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GGCI) Nicholas Boyer also noted that the country has lost a female leader who was a rising star and who had contributed to the wider society.
Boyer said she worked on the executive of the GGCI about three years ago and from his recollection from interactions with her she was a “very intelligent woman,” who always had some “very out-of- the-box ideas and ways of thinking,” which would lead to her colleagues looking at things from a different perspective. “She was a true patriot and she was working on a project in Victoria because she was trying to give employment to that area. She had re-migrated from the US not too long ago and was looking to develop the country through her business… She was quite a force,” Boyer said.
Head of the Private Sector Commission (PSC) Desmond Sears also said Butters-Grant’s passing represented a great loss to the business community as well as womenfolk on the whole. “It’s pretty sad news. We’ve been expressing that in our WhatsApp group… She was pretty much involved in the Private Sector in general. She was a pretty determined businesswoman and it’s going to be a great loss and it’s good to have persons of her calibre in business in Guyana. I have always been calling for more female participation at all levels and I think she is going to be a great loss, not only to the business community but also womenfolk,” Sears said.
On behalf of Global Seafoods Distributors, Harlequin said he also wanted to assure all of their suppliers and customers that the company remains strongly committed to the values and vision of Butters-Grant and will continue to place a high-value on service to the community and the country at-large.
“We would like to thank all persons who would’ve expressed their condolences and assure them that we are going to do the best we can to ensure that the Global Seafoods Distributors Inc. becomes and remains a premium fish processor in Guyana,” he said.
A statement from the Ministry of the Presidency yesterday reported President David Granger as saying that Butters-Grant was greatly admired and respected as a female entrepreneur and trailblazer. Last year, the President toured Global Seafoods Distributors and noted that the company’s operations were, “entirely in keeping with Government’s food security policy”.
The President extended sympathies to her husband, children and other relatives.