Jacques René Albert-Thenet was born on Beau Champ Sugar Estate, Mauritius on 18 October 1940. He first earned a diploma in Agriculture, Engineering and Sugar Technology at the Mauritius Agricultural College (University of Mauritius). His later academic qualifications included an Engineering Degree from Veseys Engineering College in South Africa in 1976 and a Master of Business Administration in Management of Production Operations from Chaminade University of Honolulu, Hawaii in 1991.
After his studies Jacques worked in Mauritius as a Chemist at the Beau Champ sugar factory and Shift Engineering at the Mon Désert Alma sugar factory from 1962 to 1967. In 1968 he went to Malawi to work for the Sugar Corporation of Malawi Limited first as a Shift Engineer then as Chief Engineer and as Factory Manager. He left Malawi for Hawaii in 1977 to work as the Factory Manager at the Laupahoehoe Sugar Company for three years. He then moved to Amfac Sugar & Agribusiness for 14 years, being in succession the Process Manager, Factory Manager and Director of Factory Operations. In 1994-1995 he spent a year in Barbados as the Technical Manager of Booker Tate Limited on secondment to the Barbados Agricultural Management Company Ltd. Booker Tate Limited then requested his services for three years as the Factory Operations and Engineering Manager for the Caribbean and elsewhere. He was based in London. In this position he supervised 20 factories, including eight in the Caribbean for which he was also the Engineering and Process Adviser. He was back in the Caribbean in 1998-1989, initially as the Operations Manager in Monymusk Sugar Estate, and then as the General Manager for three factories of the Sugar Company of Jamaica. He returned to Barbados from 2000 to 2004 as the Senior Operations Adviser at the Barbados Agricultural Management Company Limited to which he provided guidance and engineering support. This is where he developed the concept of ‘Fuel Cane’ for providing biomass for year-round power generation. In 2005, Jacques moved to Florida to work for the United Estates Sugar Corporation first as the Senior Process Design Engineer at Clewiston Sugar Factory for two years, then General Manager of Bryant Sugar Factory for one year and Assistant General Manager and Manager of Special Projects at Clewiston Sugar Factory for two years. In 2010, Jacques retired and pursued his professional activities as a consultant to industries in the Caribbean and also elsewhere such as
in Pakistan, Mauritius, Hawaii, Jamaica, Guyana, Kenya, India, Burkina Faso and the Dominican Republic.
It would be difficult to summarise all the achievements of Jacques in a few words because his career has spanned over 40 years working full-time in seven countries and on a part-time basis in many others. He was an out of the ordinary Engineer whose services were sought after. He was a specialist not only in sugar technology but also in energy production from biomass. He developed the concept of ‘Fuel Cane’ and his articles and presentations at congresses attracted the greatest attention. He was the co-author of the book Co-generation in the cane sugar industry published in 1990 in Hawaii. Jacques was a member of several professional associations including the International Society of Sugar Cane Technologists (ISSCT) and the American Society of Sugar Cane Technologists (ASSCT). He participated in several ISSCT Congresses and Workshops especially in Co-Products.
At the time of his death he had almost completed a book on Sugar Cane Technology which he wanted to publish. It is hoped that his wish will be fulfilled as it would be the best way to pay homage to him and to pass on his knowledge to future generations.
The colleagues and friends of Jacques will remember him as a great professional with a high sense of rigour and ethics. In spite of his broad and deep knowledge of sugar cane technology and engineering, he stayed humble and it was always a pleasure to discuss sugar cane matters with him. One of his great qualities was his generosity.
In 2016, Jacques developed a health problem which he fought courageously. He passed away on 13 October 2017. His funeral took place Florida on 18 October 2017 what would have been his 77 birthday.
Expressions of sympathy were conveyed on behalf of the ISSCT Council and the Executive Committee to his wife Monique, his daughters Valérie and Charlotte, and his sons Thierry and Damien.
Jean Claude Autrey