How a high-flyer stays grounded
Stewart Steeves is the president and CEO of the Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD) and a driving force behind the $409.5 million redevelopment and expansion of Lynden Pindling International Airport.
It is the largest public/private infrastructure project in the history of The Bahamas.
Before assuming his current role, Steeves was vice president of Finance and Chief Financial Officer at NAD where he was responsible for accounting, corporate finance, purchasing, and human resources, and where he completed three successive financings, culminating in the $265 million financing for the terminal redevelopment project.
Prior to joining NAD, he served as a senior executive for Hamilton International Airport Limited and the Vancouver International Airport Authority.
Guardian Business: What is the biggest challenge facing your business or sector? What measures need to be taken in The Bahamas to solve it?
Stewart: The biggest airport challenge is to become competitive in all service aspects affecting both passengers and airlines. This includes working internally and with our service partners to achieve both cost competitiveness and/or service-level competitiveness in many areas including parking, ground transportation, terminal operations, baggage processing, retail and restaurant options, security, immigration, customs, aircraft grounding handling, fuel supply, and air traffic control as examples. Given the reality that The Bahamas is heavily dependent upon tourism, the airport is a strategic asset that needs to meet the demands of the tourist as well as the resident, hence the need to balance operational costs with revenue generation, while ensuring that the customer (airline and passenger) pays what is fair and reasonable – competitive prices.
GB: What makes a great boss?
Stewart: The great bosses I’ve had the opportunity to work with always listened to their team, collaborated and then set a clear direction and expectation.
GB: How has your business or sector changed since the financial crisis?
Stewart: Passenger levels are lower than originally planned due to the economic decline, resulting in less than planned revenue and a need to closely manage costs and ensure our competitiveness to grow the business.
GB: How would you describe or classify the ease of doing business in The Bahamas?
Stewart: Our experience is there are many dedicated professionals in the Bahamas who work collaboratively to move business forward.
GB: What are you currently reading?
Stewart: I just finished reading “Too Big to Fail”, by Andrew Ross Sorkin.
GB: What should young businesses keep in mind in this current economic climate to survive?
Stewart: Periods of difficulty are opportunities to closely examine business operations and processes to creatively manage costs, or seek new sources of revenue, which will pay dividends when the economy recovers.
GB: What keeps you grounded?
Stewart: I am grounded by my family – my wife, three children – and the activities we do together.
GB: What makes The Bahamas unique when it comes to business?
Stewart: The collaboration and partnership that occurs among stakeholders in the key industries of tourism and financial services is exceptional, as is the friendliness of the people.
GB: Has the high cost of energy hurt your business? What solutions have you initiated or considered to combat it?
Stewart: High energy costs are a reality of businesses in many jurisdictions, and need to be closely managed. We have implemented many initiatives to manage power consumption without affecting service levels. The net result is that we’ve reduced overall airport consumption about 10 percent compared to last year.
GB: What is the key to success?
Stewart: Two keys to success are: being organized and perpetually seeking ways to improve.