Laing, a Caribbean author, economist and motivational speaker who is also a trade negotiator for The Bahamas, told a packed banquet hall at the JW Marriott Marquis hotel: "If you are not bringing people together to work together to achieve noble ends, you are merely occupying a position, because you are not doing leadership."
He added: "If times are good and leadership is strong, success is still not guaranteed. Imagine then, if times are bad and leadership is poor, failure is almost inevitable."
Laing cautioned leadership had its limitations: "There is a mistake that people make far too often when they think of this subject of leadership ... there are people who believe that if you achieve, you succeed at leadership, and that's not true."
Illustrating his contention he pointed to Hurricane Dorian which devastated parts of The Bahamas archipelago and how the essence of leadership was used for "the unifying of people first in turning them to each other and then turning them together towards some noble end."
As for the kind of responses needed to cope with storms in the wider Caribbean, he said it called for leadership which turned people toward each other rather than on each other. "This is what it will take in The Bahamas, Dominica, Puerto Rico and all the places of our world when natural and unnatural forces have caused devastation ... it will take leadership to rise up and say to you and say to me, for us to say to each other, you are my brother, you are my sister, and together I want to work with you to get some things done."
Laing urged attendees to consider "how much better off (the world) would be if the spirit that governs this room tonight was the spirit that governed every room."
CMEx lauderates included exceptional individuals who have made contributions to the Caribbean region and beyond, including Chef José Andrés & World Central Kitchen; Joseph Boschulte, Commissioner, U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism; Frank Comito, CEO and Director General, Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association; Marlon Hill, Business Lawyer and Civic Mobilizer; Christine Kennedy, Network Planning & Global Partnership Development, Delta Air Lines; Janet Silvera, Journalist and President, Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Muriel Wiltord, Director of The Americas, Martinique Promotion Bureau; Neki Mohan, Anchor/Reporter, WPLG Miami; Andy Ingraham, President/CEO, NABHOOD; Richard Garafola, Senior Manager - Workplace Solutions, Royal Caribbean Cruises; and Dr. Binoy Chattuparambil, Clinical Director and Chief Cardiac Surgeon, Health City Cayman Islands.
CMEx encourages the media, government, travel and tourism industry professionals, governments and communities to find ways to ensure that the people and the environment of the Caribbean benefit from tourism.
The nonprofit organization seeks to provide educational and humanitarian assistance to the communities it serves.
In Miami, CMEx partnered with the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association Education Foundation (CHTAEF) and the The Errol and Nita Barrow Educational Trust to raise funds for educational causes, including the support of Bahamian scholars impacted by the Category 5 storm which devastated The Abacos and Grand Bahama.
The evening featured the musical genius of Trinidadian calypsonian and storyteller Lord Relator, as well as a live auction of numerous Caribbean vacation getaways.
The 2019 CMEx Leadership Awards was supported by AC Hotel Midtown Miami; Acoya Curaçao Resort, Villas & Spa; the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation; Bay Gardens Resorts (St. Lucia); Caribbean Airlines; Carlisle Bay (Antigua); Cobblers Cove (Barbados); Coco Palm (St. Lucia); DIAGEO USVI; Fond Doux Plantation & Resort (St. Lucia); Hilton Miami Airport Blue Lagoon; International Career and Business Alliance (ICABA); Island Syndicate; Jade Mountain (St. Lucia); JW Marriott Marquis Miami; JW Turnberry Miami Resort & Spa; Marketplace Excellence; Ocean Club Resorts (Turks and Caicos); S Hotel (Jamaica); Sailrock (South Caicos); The Buccaneer (St. Croix); Tropical Attractions, Inc.; True Blue Bay Boutique Resort (Grenada); and the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism.