Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 8th 2013 Contents BG6 | NEWS
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt AUGUST 2013 • WEEK TWO
Three masters of business administration (MBA)
from the University of the West Indies Arthur
Lok Jack Graduate School of Business (Lok
Jack GSB)---now "women at the helm," accord-
ing to the Alumni Relations Centre---shared
some of their secrets to success on a panel at
the school on July 25.
Speaking about challenges during her career, for which she
"had to pull out all the stops," Dr Patricia Butcher, executive
director of the T&T Hotel & Tourism Institute (TTHTI), said,
"God has helped me a lot. I ve drawn on His strength for
everything in order to achieve, drawn on the support of my
family, my husband, in the difficult times. I have always known,
in very challenging periods, how to draw on the support of
the people around me, the people who can help me, the people
to guide me, and that has been my recipe for being successful
at everything I put my hand to."
When moderator and alumni relations head, Fayola Nicholas
of Lok Jack GSB, asked how she handles challenges and obsta-
cles, Ingrid Jahra, chief executive officer of Imax in T&T, said:
"By just realising there is a solution."
She gave the example of having to build the Imax acoustic
walls. She said the Imax project manager, who would fly in
to review the progress of the locals, told them they had to
make an alteration which was not budgeted.
"We found a solution that could have worked in a month
and a half, so it delayed the project even more, and we had
to go and look for money that we hadn t anticipated in the
project. You have to kind of be a bit of a risk taker to be able
to go forward, and believe that you will do it. You have to be
somewhat of a risk taker when you re faced with a challenge."
Responding to another question on the three critical things
women aspiring to start a business should be aware of, Jahra
said: "That it s not easy. That s the first thing."
After a brief pause, she continued, "Again, I was and am
fortunate that I have a husband who is equal in spirit. I have
to really say he is the entrepreneur. I m the face, but I m there
with him. We call each other Bonnie and Clyde, just going
to conquer something we haven t done before. This business
is successful, but we ve gone through other businesses that
were not successful."
She said there were times when they looked at each other
and said, "Wow, we might have to go and get jobs, work for
other people because it s not working and we have three kids
who are looking at us. Where are the diapers? Where are the
school books? So it s not easy. You have to have people around
you who are solid. I m lucky that I had a husband who is a
solid person. We also have consultants, people who are giving
you expert advice that you can rely on. So part of it, as well,
is choosing people around you who can give you the kind of
advice on your project that is credible, that will lead you the
right way. That s another critical part of business."
Her third piece of advice was "choosing a product that is
not easily imitated really helps. Whatever it is that you do,
it has to be unique in its own way. That is part of the formula
for it to be successful."
Nicholas then asked all the panelists (all married with
children) how they manage everything: balance life, work and
family. Reyes-Borel has five children, Jahra three and Butcher
"It s the support," said Loraine Reyes-Borel, executive director
of the Social Displacement Unit (SDU) of the Ministry of the
People and Social Development.
She said if there was a meeting in the school, her husband
could make it. She said for her older boys, granny and two
aunties handled everything related to school.
"It s also important," she said, "that we don t beat up on
ourselves and expect that you really have to do it all. What
you have to determine is what s important. What must get
done? What can you live with in both the spheres of work
and home? And leave the rest. Yes, you re knowledgeable. Yes,
you re capable. Yes, you re ambitious, but you re not super-
woman. It s all part of managing your energy, too, because it
takes a lot of energy."
Work and hot meals
Reyes-Borel said she knows what it is like to get home and
"things are crazy" because sometimes you forget to do things,
but she added that she learnt over the years to stop beating
herself up. "It s okay. I m not perfect yet. My husband will
tell you that I still come home and get crazy, but the house
does not have to be a showpiece every day, 24 hours."
Answering the same question about finding the balance
between marriage and motherhood, Butcher, wife of former
politician Ken Butcher, said: "I want to say again that I was
blessed with a good husband who was not fussy, so if I didn t
cook today, he wouldn t make a fuss. He would have cheese
and bread. (Interrupted by audience applause.)
"He would never say, you know, I need to have food on the
table, like my father did with my mother. My mother had to
have the food on the table. That was the old school." She said
that in her time, however, she would cook good meals on
weekends, "but during the week, I m working. You re working,
so every day you may not come home and find a hot plate
of food, so he (Ken) was very relaxed in that sense."
She said she also had support from her siblings, especially
from a sister who was a teacher at the same school her daughters
attended, "so I had no problem. She lived close to me. She
would take them to school and bring them back home."
On another question about how to break the proverbial
glass ceiling, Butcher said: "The only way you re going to
break that gas ceiling as a woman is to perform. Once you
perform out there, you re going to break it. It comes after a
while with high performance."
Women as teammates
Asked about problems receiving help from other women
on their way up, Jahra said she could only identify with that
when she was young and fresh out of university. "That s two
strikes against you right there," she said. The Imax CEO said
that as a young, female holder of a university degree, she was
faced with comments like, "You have a degree. You re supposed
to know, so why am I helping you? Similarly, the only way
you can overcome that is to perform, learn how to do everything
very well, but also you need people, so you need to learn to
win people over to help you.
Nicholas read a question from the audience:
"Women can be women s worst enemy. Do you buy
The three panelists nodded in agreement. Butcher responded
that in the some of the managerial positions she held, "I was
disappointed by my female colleagues who I thought would
assist me. I remember when I went into BWIA---because I had
worked there for a year before and I came in at a higher position
than them---they all abandoned me. When I thought they
would have been close to help me now to get back into the
system, I was on my own. When I picked up the job at TTHTI,
again, women were my worst enemies. I have always had male
mentors, men who would help me, give me good advice and
so on, so I found that the men helped me more than the
women would help me in terms of achieving."
To a second round of applause, Butcher added: "So I m
saying to my female colleagues out there that should help
your sisters out.
"Petty jealousies tend to come into the scenario, (but) it s
not good for us. We need to band together. We need to help
each other. We need to strengthen each other in the working
environment so that we could do a better job. It s not about
competition out there. It s about teamwork."
DR PATRICIA BUTCHER
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