Author Archives: Shinelle Padmore

This morning our General Manager, Shinelle Padmore, attended the T&T Chamber’s Post Budget 2020 Analysis at The Hyatt Regency. The Minister of Finance, Colmn Imbert, painted an optimistic picture for the T&T economy. He indicated that since assuming office his administration had increased revenue by US$11bn, reduced expenditure by 20%, and had moved the economy from a position of 3% economic decline to 0%. Minister Imbert said that he expects growth for the future.  He said T&T’s non-energy sector had steadily grown over the last ten years and currently contributes 60% of GDP. He was optimistic about the future of the Oil & Gas Sector, highlighting BHP Billiton’s recent oil discovery which is expected to contribute to a 25% increase in national production in two years’ time.  The Minister also highlighted Shell’s increased investment in T&T with an expected rise in gas production. Minister Imbert was unconcerned about our nation’s current debt to GDP ratio saying that 62% was below the targeted ratio of 65%, and the current level of debt, which is being supported by external financing, is facilitating increased spending in needed areas.

Wade George, Chairman-elect of EY Caribbean, highlighted areas for concern and presented solutions. His concerns included the current debt to GDP ratio of 62% and the high levels of transfers and subsidies that dominate national expenditure. Our country’s deteriorating ranking for ease of doing business, and foreign exchange issues. His solutions included the transformation of the economy through a digitalized tax administration system using a mobile app, which will eliminate the need to file tax returns and facilitate better, real-time, revenue collection.  Wade George also suggested that through national consensus we should develop a plan to reduce the fiscal deficit and formulate an economic diversification strategy, as well as a plan to address the overvalued TT dollar.

The Annual Trinidad & Tobago Energy Conference and Trade Show concluded today, the theme was Technology: Transforming the Industry.

Presentations and updates from Upstream /Downstream Operators and Service Providers were of the highest calibre, also participation in this year’s conference was at record levels, surpassing attendance for the previous two years.

In his welcoming remarks Eugene Tiah, Chairman of the Energy Chamber of Trinidad and Tobago, highlighted the need for regulatory reform and local content to foster growth of our local Energy Services Sector. The Prime Minister (Dr. Keith Rowley) and the Minister of Energy and Energy Industries (Sen. Frank Khan) gave optimistic views of the outlook of our Energy Sector in the near to medium term. Listing contracts with Upstream Operators such as BHP, BPTT, EOG, Shell and DeNovo. And citing statistics on expected gas in 2019 /2020 and beyond.

Panel discussions focused on technology efficiencies dominated conversations. Claire Fitzpatrick, Regional President, BP Trinidad & Tobago indicated that society has a growing preference for cleaner energy, and producing from maturing fields with ageing infrastructure requires investment. Technology is needed to ensure efficient deployment of investment capital. Dereck Hudson, Vice President and Country Chair of Shell Trinidad and Tobago gave an example of how Shell used technology to keep business running at full capacity despite only having 20% of staff situated in a temporary office due to damages sustained during the major earthquake Trinidad and Tobago experienced  in 2018. Vincent Pereria, President of BHP indicated that technology and innovation would give our companies a competitive advantage in the future.

In general Speakers agreed that technology was a disrupter that would determine how T&T could make future possibilities a reality. Business leaders of Upstream Operators gave examples of the new technologies being used for deep water drilling, listing some of the required jobs in a technologically advanced Oil and Gas Sector including Data Scientists and Wind Turbine Technicians as well as the use of machine learning and coding. There was an overall belief that the future of the Energy Sector was one where there was a marriage of hydrocarbon energy, energy efficiency, and renewable resources. To that end a Charter on Energy Efficiency among Trinidad and Tobago’s Upstream and Downstream Companies was initiated.

In his Vote of Thanks Dr. Thackwray Driver, President and CEO of the T&T Energy Chamber indicated that the Chamber was making efforts to balance the score on gender equality in the Sector. The Chamber moved the statistic for female presenters at the Conference from 10% in 2018 to 20% in 2019. This year the Conference had its first “All Female” panel discussion which included Claire Fitzpatrick, Regional President of BPTT, Pria Narinesingh, Country Managing Partner EY, Penelope Bradshaw-Niles, Permanent Secretary (Ag.)  Ministry of Energy & Energy Industries, Siana Teelucksingh, Renewable Energy Consultant, Kristen Ray, Vice President Technology, BHP (Petroleum), and facilitator, Dr. Carla Noel-Mendez, Corporate Affairs Manager, BHP.

This morning I attended AMCHAM Trinidad & Tobago’s session on our Economic Outlook for 2019.

The Keynote Speaker; Professor Gerry Brooks, Chairman of NGC Group of Companies, gave some interesting statistics on Global Economic Growth for 2018 / 2019, which was estimated at 3.7%. He also gave comparative figures of estimated GDP growth for T&T in 2018 of 1.9%. Mr. Brooks said that 2018 was the first time in some years that our economy had returned to growth, citing gas field development and production as the main contributor. He expected the Energy Sector would continue to grow in 2019.

Mr. Brooks also indicated that Non- Energy Sectors were not expected to grow and the rate of decline in these sectors was not expected to change throughout 2019.

He purported that for our economy to continue to grow in 2019 and beyond, there was a need for diversification away from Oil and Gas, a revival of entrepreneurship, and support of the SME Sector. He also said that digitalization was a must, indicating that Government Ministries should invest in data platforms and shared services.

Mr Brooks remarks were the catalyst for a panel discussion,  which included; Patrica Ghanny (President of AMCHAM T&T), Gregory Hill (Managing Director of Ansa Merchant Bank), Ravi Tewari (Group CEO, Guardian Holdings), Garvin Joefield (Manager and Economist at Republic Bank) and Facilitator; Nirad Tewarie (AMCHAM CEO).

This morning I attended the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce’s Post Budget Analysis Meeting at The Banquet and Conference Centre Movie Towne.

Speakers included Mr Anthony Paul, Energy and Strategy Consultant, who showed compelling reasons for the need for diversification of Trinidad and Tobago’s Oil and Gas sector through knowledge and technology transfer from foreign technical experts to locals. He also made the case for increasing local content and boosting exploration activity.

Brian Jahra, Co-Founder and Chairman of CinemaONE Limited put forward a case for enabling greater SME activity in the economy saying that approximately 70% of businesses are SME’s and that good preforming economies have a high percentage of strong performing SMEs.

Wade George, Tax Managing Partner at Ernst & Young said that while this years budget didn’t have a heavy focus on tax he could recommend areas for future improvement.

The Feature Speaker, Finance Minister Colm Imbert, indicated that according to CSO statistics there was 2% real growth in GDP in 2018.

He also said the Manufacturing sector grew by 7% and the Petrochemical by 9%.

The Minister promised to pay VAT refunds over the coming year and hold off on increases to income tax for the next two years. He said that the La Brea Dry Dock Project is expected to provide 13,000 jobs. And the Foreign Exchange Tax Credit incentive will be operational by January 1st 2019.

I look forward to seeing more incentive mechanisms for SMEs and the Non-energy sector in future budgets.

Yesterday I attended AMCHAM T&T’s discussion on the 2018 Economic Outlook for Trinidad & Tobago.

Keynote speakers included Ravi Tewari, CEO Guardian Group, Racquel Moses, Country Manager Microsoft, Marla Dukharan, Chief Economist, Bitt inc and Dr. Terrence Farrell, Former Chairman, Economic Development Advisory Board.

Their presentations were of the highest caliber, also the President of AMCHAM; Mitchell De Silva, gave a strong contribution during his opening remarks.

Some of the “take aways” include Mitchell De Silva’s comments on the need for regulatory visibility and enforcement. Ravi Tewari’s inference that T&T’s needs to fix structural problems and that private sector participation is required in the provision of infrastructure. Racquel Moses showed how T&T could become more efficient through digital transformation, citing Estonia’s success story.

Marla Dukharan gave insightful analysis on T&T’s high levels of financial leakage, low fiscal multiplier, coupled with weak institutions. She stated that if we don’t change our modus operandi T&T is likely to end up turning to the IMF by 2021 / 2022. Dr. Farrell echoed Ravi Tewari’s sentiment about the need for structural change, he also suggested that our Government should regularise their accounting standards by adopting IPSAS (International Public Sector Accounting Standards). Dr. Farrell commented on our population’s dependency syndrome and rent seeking behavior, he presented arguments in support of the need for change.

All the presenters shared a common perspective on the need to diversify our economy away from its dependency on the Oil and Gas sector.

 

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year. More importantly I hope you still have a job.

How many of you attended the office Christmas party and received a warning letter the next day? I presume not many. In an office party setting it is easy to forget appropriate behavior, especially when inebriated, and over step the bounds of political correctness. Perhaps one should not have gotten that intoxicated in the first place.

Is appropriate office behavior only required during official working hours? How should one operate outside of this? In the current digital media age it is important to remember that politically correct behavior doesn’t start at the office front door. Unfortunately the ease of access to our private lives via social media often means that lines are blurred.

Now a days we live in proverbial glass houses, as a result it is important to conduct all aspects of life in a manner that doesn’t bring one’s reputation or career into disrepute. Do you agree?

The only way is up! Actually this isn’t always the case. Sometimes you have to play the long game.

As a recruiter I speak to professionals about their career options on a daily basis. Many people say they will only consider another job if it’s a step up or if it presents a significant increase in salary. Sometimes these people are short sighted.

Consider this scenario; you are an Internal Auditor and would like your next job to be a Finance Manager. You apply for many Finance Manager jobs but are unable to get to the interview stage.

Perhaps you can pause and consider things from the hiring manager’s perspective, there are likely to be other candidates applying for the same job and many of them may already be Finance Managers.

What can you do differently to achieve the desired results? One option may be to look at internal options in your current place of work. Perhaps there is an opportunity to temporally cover for the Finance Manager when he / she is on vacation. In the short term it is in your interest to volunteer for a lateral assignment, or expand your workload, often without any increase in pay. The experience gained will position you one step closer to a Finance Manager role.

An alternative approach could be to apply for Financial Accountant roles instead of Finance Manager positions. After a couple years as a Financial Accountant you may have gained the desired experience to move into the Finance Manager position.

A third option could be to volunteer, in your spare time, as a Finance Manager for an NGO or Industry Committee that needs assistance in this area.

All three options provide the same result; relevant work experience. This will make your profile more desirable to hiring managers and assist in the career advancement that you seek.

Have you recently been retrenched or made redundant? Are you considering your next career move? Is this your first time job hunting in over a decade?

Trinidad and Tobago is largely dependent on a sector that has been in global decline for approximately two years. The Oil and Gas industry is in the throes of ”Lower for Longer Prices”, in addition the T&T economy has  been adversely affected by a lack of diversification and economic stimulation. Under these circumstances it’s not surprising to observe that a percentage of the mature working population have found themselves in a position they never envisioned; jobless with families to feed and mortgages to pay.

My advice; do not become complacent or procrastinate about jumpstarting your job search, we are in a challenging job market that is far from candidate driven. The first step toward finding a new role involves writing or re-vamping your CV, the key is to ensure you create an achievement lead CV.

Next up, the job search. Ideally you want to have a planned systematic approach to job hunting. Keep your activity levels high and engage in job search activities on a daily basis. It helps to structure your day, perhaps you can put aside an hour or two for perusing the press and online job boards. Also liaise with a reputable Recruitment Agency. Ensure you don’t duplicate efforts or apply for the same job multiple times through various avenues. Apply for jobs that are relevant to your skill-set. Also keep an open mind; be prepared to take on contract assignments. The working world is changing, be open to changing with it. Gone are the days of “A job for life”. Consider contract or project based work.

Make sure to prepare adequately for the interview; understand the company and its culture. Also you should know your CV inside out and be ready to answer questions about everything you have listed.

When negotiating your remuneration have realistic salary expectations, remember that it’s better to gain employment and sustain a marginal reduction in salary. The alternative may involve remaining unemployed for six to nine months or even longer.

Best of luck with your job search!