“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” – Proverbs 16:3
As I sit here, reflecting on my journey in the world of indigenous business consulting in the Caribbean, I can’t help but feel a sense of pride and nostalgia.
It’s been quite a ride, one that began way back in 1968 when I landed my first job as Biometrician in the Regional Research Centre (RCC), Faculty of Agriculture at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad.
My task was to establish a modern Biometrics unit with three components: (1) provide teaching in statistics to British students pursuing a “Diploma in Tropical Agriculture”. The curriculum had been the responsibility of the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture (ICTA) then inherited by the Faculty of Agriculture; (2) establish a fully-fledged consulting system for the design and analysis of crop and animal experiments for research staff and students of the faculty; and (3) provide outreach biometric support to ministries of agriculture research departments in the English-speaking countries of the Caribbean.
This was not an easy task. I cleaned up a room full of cobwebs and shared a secretary with the head of the Department of Agricultural Extension (agricultural advisory services to farmers). Fortunately, the dean of the faculty was very cooperative and facilitated the building of a small team of committed troopers.
After four years, we had a smoothly running revamped biometrics teaching curriculum, established an experimental design and interpretation consulting system, a fully computerized statistical laboratory which churned out the statistical results, and a regional outreach system which required significant travel from Port of Spain.
I was well on the way to completing my task and persuaded the dean that I should go to the U.K. and select my successor. Enter Englishman Bruce Lauckner who made Trinidad his home and has since retired from the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) in Trinidad, the successor organization to the RRC, which still provides biometric services today.
Little did I know then that this was the start of a lifelong journey that would lead to the birth of a business known as “Systems” in 1977, marking the inception of Caribbean business consulting as we know it today.
It began with my company Statistical Information and Computing Systems (SINCOS) and the Systems Group evolved which included the late Joe Davis (market research services); John Gibbs (ICT – Barbados); Eddie Molloy (Organizational Development – now Dublin); the late Darnley Boxill (accounting); and Terry Edwards (Training – now Jamaica).
The Systems Group was more than just an amalgam of individuals, it was a pioneering force in the private and public sector Caribbean business consulting landscape. We were breaking new ground, helping businesses navigate uncharted waters, and charting a course towards success. We were not just consultants; we were enablers of growth and sustainability.
In 1984, a significant turning point occurred when the members of the Systems Group went their separate ways and Systems Caribbean Limited was formed with John, Basil and Control Data Corporation (CDC) out of Minneapolis.
CDC exited in 1986 which left John and Basil along with a team of committed senior resources to regroup and further expand Caribbean consulting services.
The year 2000 marked another milestone in the history of business consulting. It was a year of succession planning, a crucial step in ensuring the sustainability of our legacy. We entrusted the ownership and reins of the company to two talented individuals, Stephen Broome and Mark Chandler. Their dedication and vision mirrored our own, and we were confident that they would carry the torch forward under Systems Consulting Ltd. John and Basil walked off into the sunset.
As we fast forward to 2023, we collectively celebrate 55 years of excellence in business consulting.
Succession planning is not just about transferring ownership, it is about entrusting a legacy, a set of values, and a commitment to excellence ensuring that our legacy continues to benefit the Caribbean community.
The ball is now in the hands of Stephen Broome and Mark Chandler – two exceptional Barbadian professionals – who continue to build on the legacy of some incredible pioneers I have had the blessing to work with through the decades.
(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is a Change-Engine Consultant. His email address is email@example.com. His columns may be found at www.nothingbeatsbusiness.com).