Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 18th 2015 Contents SBG4 COVER STORY
SUNDAY BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt OCTOBER 18 • 2015
It took one of life's curve balls to help
Nicholas Gomez find his place. Of
course, Gomez may refer to it as a
googly, being a former cricketer. "I
played a lot of sport, but my favourite
sport was cricket. I played for Fatima,"
reminisced Gomez, a former EY
(Ernst &Young) country manager for Trinidad
Gomez left his position at one of the world's
top four accounting companies in August this
year to pursue a lifelong ambition, no, not
cricket, but coaching and mentoring teenagers.
But cricket plays an important role in bringing
him to this point.
In 1982, Gomez entered Lower Six. He had
his A-Level subjects picked: math, physics
and chemistry. He had the game. Until one
afternoon practice session.
"I was training and my coach Kenny Roberts
pulled me aside and said there is something
wrong," said Gomez, who was bowling. The
coach's experienced eye had picked up some-
thing wrong with Gomez's delivery.
"My family took me to a back specialist and
he concluded that I had a spinal condition,
which needed to be operated on, because if
I fell awkwardly, I could be paralysed."
Alarmed by the diagnosis, Gomez's family
took him abroad where another doctor con-
firmed the news, but told them that he could
continue playing for the while.
"So I came back to college having missed
some school," said Gomez. "I asked them to
repeat Lower Six, dropped physics and picked
This is the first time Gomez said he realised
how alone students preparing for exams could
"They presented me with a text book. It
was like an encyclopaedia and I have to tell
you extremely intimidating. I actually did not
engage with it."
The former EY country manager said he
eventually found some economics texts that
he could follow.
"The moral of that story is that when I was
actually confronted with this textbook, I told
myself there must be a way you can be in
service to kids and not make it as daunting
as that. It occurred to me that this was some-
thing I could do later on, an area in which I
Making tough decisions
In the meantime he sat exams and left Fati-
ma in 1984. He continued playing cricket, this
time on the national under-19 team. However,
what he really wanted was a spot on the
national team, but his condition was always
at the back of his mind.
"I was also a little concerned about when
would I make the team," he said. "You had all
the big honchos back in the day, the team was
While preparing for his shot at national
trials, he tutored Math, an experience he said
he thoroughly enjoyed, not only because he
was able to teach, but because he was able to
coach and mentor his younger charges. He
then went to work for Pannell Kerr Forster,
the firm that eventually became the T&T
branch of EY.
"I worked there for a number of months
and then got a scholarship to go abroad, one
of four players, to Alf Grove Cricket School,
where all of the West Indies cricketers went
for coaching," Gomez recalled.
He also played cricket with the Queen's
Park Cricket Club as well as the T&T team.
"I played against England. It was a very
enjoyable experience. I batted at number 3
and in the second innings made 39. But in
that moment, when I left the field, I felt I had
to make a decision about what I was going to
"I decided to stop playing to pursue a career
in accounting. It was the most difficult decision
in my life. It was probably very sensible and
practical but I had to stop cold turkey. The
reason was I was such a competitive athlete
and I couldn't play. People ask me why I
stopped all the time, but I never played cricket
after that. I rejoined EY in January 1991."
At EY, Gomez had the opportunity to mentor
young people all of the time.
"I loved working at EY and what was so
special about it, I think, it is a fabulous envi-
ronment for young people aspiring to be pro-
fessionals, accountants, financial comptrollers,
finance directors. The environment, while
intense, provided a vast depth of experience
in all forms."
Gomez came through the ranks, attaining
the position of Assurance Leader for the region,
as well as being country manager. But in the
last three years, his thoughts again returned
to the troubles young people all over the coun-
try were having. During this period, he took
up giving lessons at a homework centre run
by the St. Finbar's Roman Catholic Church.
"The children were from areas like La Puerta
and what became apparent to me was the lack
of engagement and the waning engagement
between student and teacher," said Gomez, "I
saw all these kids who started to dislike edu-
cation and I thought this was so unfortunate
because education is a gift to all of us, learning
new stuff is a gift. I couldn't sit back any
longer and do nothing about it. I had this
compelling feeling and started to think about
how I could intervene."
In those three years, the form of that "inter-
vention" took shape and solidified late last
year. Regarding the lack of engagement he
saw, Gomez thought about how teens inter-
acted with their laptops and smartphones.
"The idea was, if we could leverage tech-
nology, approaches that are inspiring, moti-
vating and engaging. If we can bring that to
the table in an exciting, fun environment,
there was a greater probability that we could
enhance engagement. Those words that I men-
tioned to you are very powerful words, not
easy to generate."
He knew if he was going to take on this
project it would have to be soon. He was near-
"The project required a whole lot of energy
and a whole heap of courage. I couldn't say
that at the age of 60, if I stayed at EY that
I would have the energy to take that on."
From manager to mentor
Continued on Page 5
Graphic rendering of the Light
Bulb facility currently being
completed in St James.
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