Shipping community pays tribute to retired stalwart Michael Bernard
The local shipping industry gathered to salute past president of the Shipping Association of Jamaica (SAJ), Michael Bernard, following 52 years of sterling service to the industry, at a retirement function last Wednesday.
The event, held at the SAJ’s head office in Newport West, was organised by Jamaica Freight and Shipping Company and the association.
Bernard’s calm yet firm disposition was noted by numerous executives, who paid tribute to his legacy and hailed his contribution to the local and regional maritime community.
SAJ President William Brown was among those who shared their experiences with the man who led the association from 2006-2008. Brown described Bernard as “soft-spoken, warm-hearted and jovial”, but noted that this was balanced by his “tough, analytic and outspoken” nature as an industrial relations expert. “These two sides of Mike’s personality have served him well over his more than 50 years in shipping, because he has the emotional intelligence to adapt as the situation requires. This ability to bring the right attitude to the specific situation has been honed by his experience, from the ground up, in almost every aspect of maritime logistics.”
Among those who honoured the shipping stalwart were SAJ past presidents Charles Johnston, Roger Hinds, Kim Clarke and Vice President Corah Ann Robertson Sylvester.
In response to the dozens of well-wishers in attendance, Bernard expressed his gratitude for their support throughout his tenure in various posts, and shared that his achievements would not have been possible without the teams of individuals who aided him throughout his professional journey.
Bernard was educated at Kingston College and The University of the West Indies prior to his entry in the industry as a clerk and accounting supervisor at Sprostons Shipping Limited, from 1968 to 1970, after which he was promoted to stevedore supervisor then operations manager. The company merged with Jamaica Fruit and Shipping in 1975, where he was employed by its subsidiary, Jamaica Freight and Shipping Company Limited, where Bernard excelled. He was later seconded to Shipping Services Stevedoring Limited as managing director when it was formed in 1993, and remained in that post for two decades, after which he returned to Jamaica Freight and Shipping Company as a director.
Throughout his illustrious career, Bernard served as the SAJ’s vice-president from 2003 to 2005, with responsibility for industrial relations. He has also served on the board of Coastal Towage Limited, Coastal Shipping Limited, Interseas Limited, and the National Quarantine Commission. Additionally, he has served as a member of the Port Awards Committee at the Caribbean Shipping Association and director of Assessment Recoveries Limited, Advantum, the Kingston Port Workers Pension Trust, Jamaica Productivity Centre, and as first vice-president of the Jamaica Employers’ Federation.
Bernard was inducted into the International Association of Business Leaders as a Gold Member, and was also president of the Marine and Allied Co-operative Credit Union and the Rotary Club of Liguanea Plains. Upon his retirement, he was an honorary member of the SAJ’s managing committee.