Jamaica | President and CEO of GraceKennedy Foods (USA) LLC
“It always seems impossible until it is done.” Nelson Mandela
Derrick Reckord has been at the helm of GraceKennedy Foods’ (Grace Foods) U.S. business since January 2018. For the Jamaican company that will celebrate 100 years in 2022 and is now an international powerhouse serving more than 40 countries, Reckord oversaw the transition to profitability and growth of La Fe Foods previously acquired in 2014 and also successfully navigated the pandemic years. Under his leadership, the Grace Brand has experienced exceptional growth in the US as it “brings the taste of the Caribbean to the world.” Grace Foods continue to support the Anglo-Caribbean and Hispanic communities and has helped neighbors like Haiti and The Bahamas after major tragedies.
Reckord, raised in rural Jamaica with a mandate for success bestowed by his entire community, recalls his father’s “confidence in what [his children] could all accomplish if we are committed.” He describes himself as more curious about what can be achieved in our life’s journey than ambitious, enjoys golf, reading and movies, and is most grateful for his family and good health. Derrick was educated at Rutgers University in New Jersey, where he gained a Bachelor of Arts (High Honors) Degree in Economics and Columbia University in New York, where he obtained his Masters in Business Administration.
Here’s a little from Caribbean trailblazer, Derrick Reckord about his humble island origins, induction into the business world, his current work with Grace Foods and more.
What inspired your interest to get involved in business?
I was inspired to pursue a career in business from an early exposure in high school that had me working for an entrepreneur courageous in creating opportunities that I found very stimulating and rewarding.
What do you consider your greatest accomplishments or contributions to GraceKennedy Foods?
I have spent most of my career building out an international business for a Jamaican entity. I believe my greatest contribution is helping to shape the vision and confidence that, as an organization and people, we can accomplish a lot beyond our geographic borders, and in the process create opportunities and great rewards.
What are some challenges you have faced in your position as President and CEO?
The greatest challenge is always to take people from all different cultures and backgrounds along the journey with us. Beyond the vision, strategy and hard work, we need lots of helping hands at all levels to execute well.
What was your first job and how did you rise in the ranks?
My first job was a management trainee or cadet. I took every assignment given very seriously and found that as I delivered on the commitments, more was entrusted to me. I was very fortunate to be surrounded by some exceptional people who taught, supported, challenged and inspired me.
I have lived through one of the most divisive periods in Jamaica’s political history and I have seen a significant change for the better and a challenge to the democracy theory in America. I look forward to a future where common values and aspirations will unite us. I expect to be part of the change by rewarding the type of leadership I would like to see with my vote and support.
What two or three books would you recommend that people who admire you should read?
The Bible, “The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Achievement” by Eliyahu Goldratt and “Long Walk to Freedom” by Nelson Mandela.
What is one piece of advice you would pass on to the next generation?
Own and take responsibility for your own story both good and bad.
What is your favorite traditional childhood meal from your home country?
What is your favorite Caribbean tradition?
Christmas with family and friends.