On Tuesday, September 17, Milestone Development welcomed some of Saint Lucia’s top executives and professionals to its first session of Board Governance Training with Dr. Chris Bart, Founder, Principal and Lead Professor of The Directors College at McMaster University, Canada’s first university-accredited corporate director certification program. Dr. Bart is also the author of two Canadian business bestsellers for 2012: ‘A Tale of Two Employees and the Person Who Wanted to Lead Them’ and ‘20 Essential Questions Directors of Not-for-profit Organizations Should Ask About Strategy’.
Delegates from the Saint Lucia Tourist Board, Bank of Saint Lucia, Consolidated Foods Ltd, Invest Saint Lucia, SALCC, Lucelec, Saint Lucia Manufacturers’ Association and other businesses met at the Royal St Lucian conference room for a day of training in one of the most challenging areas of business management, which has until now been missing from the professional development sector in the Caribbean.
As MD of Milestone Development, Lisa Charles, points out: “There are many experienced executives sitting on Boards in the country and around the region who have had no formal introduction or training on Board Governance and managing the processes around the boardroom table, despite the fact that board governance is so crucial to the success of any business or organization.”
With this in mind, Milestone Development Ltd and Bart & Company Inc will partner to form the Caribbean Governance Training Institute (CGTI), to be launched in the first quarter of 2014 as the only entity offering governance training for Caribbean board members, directors and advisors which will be based in Saint Lucia. The Institute will offer a 6 session program of certification.
At last Tuesday’s inaugural seminar, Dr. Bart set the tone by having delegates home in on some of the major issues experienced by boards and their members in Saint Lucia and the Caribbean. Several significant problems were immediately identified, common to many types of boards including private sector businesses, government entities and non-profit organizations, and it was evident from the energetic discussions that good board governance is rare, if not the exception to the norm in the region.
From dealing with conflicts of interest, ‘interlocking’ members and the particular minefields of family-dominated boards, to the emotional intelligence required to handle boardroom interactions, egos and relationships, it is evident
that Dr. Bart is truly an expert in the field, and although many of the problems raised are common to boards across
the world, his underlying premise is that ‘one size does not fit all’ where structure, processes and procedures are concerned.
With an agenda covering Principles of Good Governance, Roles, Responsibilities and Culture, Strategic Thinking and Risk Management, it was a packed day, and reaction from the participants was immediately enthusiastic.
Several members of the Saint Lucia Tourist Board were in attendance, and Chairman Matthew Beaubrun called the training “useful and timely” in terms of strengthening the management and governance of SLTB. “It is a crucial part of Saint Lucia’s economic development, we need to be more effective in managing our resources and strategic planning processes…we realize the importance in terms of having a far more effective board in this critical industry (of tourism).”
Highly respected lawyer and experienced member of many boards, Stephen McNamara emphasized the increasing importance of good governance, and welcomed the training as an opportunity to strengthen and improve the necessary skills and resources needed to sit on any board in the Caribbean.
“We have had a few companies (in the Caribbean) that have been destroyed specifically because of a lack of governance…therefore it is very important that boards of directors come to understand the importance of governance, what it means and how to implement a governance structure and system for the correct running of their companies, so that shareholders don’t end up disappointed as they have been in some instances recently. If you think of the Enron’s of this world, (their demise was caused by) a lack of governance, and unfortunately some of this has filtered into the Caribbean. Hopefully seminars like this will cause this sort of thing to be ruled out.”
At the end of the day’s program, partnering sponsor LIME raffled a state-of-the-art Samsung Galaxy III smartphone, which was presented by Dr. Chris Bart to a delighted Louis Lewis, Director of Tourism at the Saint Lucia Tourist Board.
The Caribbean Governance Training Institute will be dedicated to promoting the highest standards of professionalism in the governance of Caribbean Organizations of all sizes. Boards are strategic assets and being a member of the Board of Directors is a challenging and important job. The joint venture between Milestone Development and Bart & Company Inc will seek to assist board members in becoming better directors through education and networking, and provide the tools to help directors excel in the boardroom.