By Gena Gibbs
NASSAU, The Bahamas – Certified Management Consultants of 12 regional countries Caribbean nations gathered at the 2015 Caribbean Institute of Certified Management Consultants Conference (CICMC), October 14, at Melia Nassau Beach Resort for the opening ceremony of an agenda of three days of dialogue and workshops.
State Minister for Finance, Michael Halkitis, addressed the body of delegates about proposed legislation and policy changes needed to support regional standards for project management.
He said: “Management consultants throughout our region have bemoaned the fact that over the years they have been challenged and overlooked for recognition in their own backyards, their home courts, if you may. The search has been ‘for a fruitful and prudential path to legitimacy. Now while we have had some successes, In Jamaica and Barbados – to name a few jurisdictions, there are relatively few successes,” said Minister Halkitis.
According to its organizer, Donald Demeritte, President of the Bahamas Interim Chapter of CICMC, it was established in 2007 as a network of Global Business Consultants for Global Reciprocity that has been meeting for the last eight years and traveling in and out of various jurisdictions with an objective to increase standards throughout the region.
Minister Halkitis said it is his understanding that the seeds to glory and beyond were planted some seven or so years ago, by a few insightful and altruistic souls huddled in the home of their founding president. He added that it is also his understanding that after the ringing of the bell and or ‘Call to Arms’, subsequent Presidents and Boards went from strength to strength, in terms of getting the message out, around the region, of what it takes to protect your individual home turfs.
“Judging from the profiles of the professionals in this room, I can surmise that serious-minded management consultants are responding to the calls to establish and improve standards, regulate the industry, partner with businesses, governments and civil society to take the Caribbean region to the highest of heights. The Best of The Best in achievement, credibility, innovation and professionalism. You see, as Caribbean people, we all know that we have to work harder, be better and remain sober-minded to claim our place in the global village – as creators and leaders of our own destinies,” said Minister Halkitis.
“It has been said for many years that 90-95% of the consultancy dollars spent in this region accrue to extra-regional consultants. Whilst one may argue the authenticity of the figures bantered about, there is no doubt that the lion’s share goes out of the region. In this vein, I am increasingly reminded by local consultants and colleagues that this model or formula is unsustainable.”
Minister Halkitis also said he is also constantly reminded that the Caribbean has its fair share of talented, experienced and credible consultants.
“Competent Professionals can be accessed through organizations, like the Caribbean Institute of Certified Management Consultants, to help governments build our region and individual countries. As I look around this room – I can assuredly add ‘Build through excellence and with pride’. Looking through the lineup of speakers and the focused agenda, I see that your group means business,” said Minister Halkitis.
“It is also patently clear that you have accepted the challenge to become more visible in this region and globally. More importantly, however, I note that the plan is to do it collaboratively – with regional partnerships and consortium groups.”
Minister Halkitis said it is meaningful to him, as it is difficult to justify awarding high impact and multi-million dollar projects to individuals, with clear capacity, continuity and contingency risk challenges.
“This demonstrates or speaks to a deepened faith in your regional colleagues, a ‘collective’ sense of pride and a framing of your endgame. Most importantly it speaks to governments around the region having increased and ‘sensible’ access to lessons learned, best practices and consultants who understand our cultures and customs,” said Minister Halkitis.
“One only need refer to the ‘Regional Policy Framework on the Provision of Professional Services in the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME)’, as adopted by the Thirty-Sixth Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development, May 2013, to understand that you (CICMC) are positioning yourself to take control of your own destiny.”
Minister Halkitis said that as a former banker and government Minister, it’s easy to envisage a strong lobby emanating from this group – here in The Bahamas and around the region. He said this is of course underscored by the high dollar value being attributed to the industry.
“As one of your colleagues has been actively sharing your discussion papers with me – lobbying I suppose – I am also patently aware that this group will be advocating for enabling legislation to establish standards. I am also aware that any enabling legislation will require the introduction of professional registers, a licensing regime, establishing of Professional Councils in each jurisdiction and some harmonization to keep you competitive and in the game,” said Minister Halkitis.
“I can go on record to say I support and will support anything that speaks to improving the competitiveness and lot of people in this region generally and my people specifically.”
Minister Halkitis alluded to employing systems theory to solutions and said to the Delegates and Guests alike that he asserts that we are indeed our Brothers & Sisters keepers, especially when it is clear that the whole is better than the individual parts.
“It is against this backdrop, that my Ministry – without reservation – when receiving the request agreed to become a major sponsor of this important [event],” said Minister Halkitis.
“As a Minister, I believe that the success of SMEs, major government initiatives, Public-Private-Partnership strategic formulation, are directly correlated to the strength, credibility intellectual dexterity of our management consultants and other professionals. So to President Vasantha, the CICMC Board of Directors and Members, to the Bahamas Chapter, I encourage you to continue on your journey — this path to excellence – to continue to challenge the status quo – to bring credible solutions to government and private sector alike – to be accountable. You have to claim what is yours, with planning, preparation and a certain degree of ferocity.”
Minister Halkitis said that although the CICMC has come far, they have much further to go.
“Remember the 90-95%, remember the quote-unquote $2 billion estimated consultancy spend, remember your foundation, your countries, the competition and push on. If you should happen to forget the prize – remember that your competition is well aware of your figures,” said Minister Halkitis.
“With membership drawn from throughout CARIFORUM, your task now is to educate your clients, both public and private sector entities. Educate them to the differences between a technical specialist and a ‘management consultant’. President Vasantha noted earlier that ‘There are signs in the Caribbean that in the next few years, consulting will be driven more by collaboration than competition’.”
Minister Halkitis paraphrased and said “take a page out of your own book, understand that you have to develop strong relationships with your client and markets, but that you must couple it with exemplary and value-driven work”.
“The Caribbean is your home turf – defend it wisely, but remember that you should be all about sharpening your tools to export your services across the pond. As Caribbean people, we are that good!” said Minister Halkitis.
“As Management Consultants, you are capable of being and you ought to be the movers and shakers of the industry, your generation. You continue to take care of your business and just watch the world beaters coming behind, following your example.”