Category Archives: Career Advice

Are you interested in changing jobs or casually looking at your options?

It’s important to note that most people don’t move for money. Motivation for career change often comes from a desire for career progression or a need to find a culture fit that’s more suitable.

With this in mind I advise candidates to take a practical approach to salary negotiations. A good rule of thumb is to expect an increase in salary of 10% or less. Also you should think of justifiable reasons why you deserve that 10% increase. Experienced professionals often move jobs because that are primarily focused on the role, remuneration is secondary.

To be through you may want to conduct research to understand what the current market rate is for similar jobs within your industry, bearing in mind that in Trinidad and Tobago the same job could have a vastly different salary range across different industries or different size businesses.

Also remember that good negotiations are based on give and take. If you are pushing for a higher salary be prepared to work long hours to deliver outstanding performance in return.

Susan’s Snippets

Once again, I am pleased to present the second of a two-part series of articles by guest writer, Mr Galba Bright. To view an illustrated presentation of this article on Emotionally Intelligent Time Management Tips, go to


Galba Bright resides in Jamaica. He is the Caribbean’s leading provider of Emotional Intelligence Learning Programmes and Knowledge Products.

The Information & Computer Technology Society of Trinidad & Tobago (ICTS) has postponed its Technology Session to a date to be determined. Keep checking the ICTS website for updates or email me at if you would like me to notify you when the Session will take place.


Smarter, Not Harder – 10 Emotionally Intelligent Time Management Tips … by Galba Bright

You’re living in an age where far more is about how your mind and brain work than ever before. Emotional Intelligence (EQ) studies show that how you think, feel and act are intimately linked.

Daniel Goleman, author of the 1995 book “Emotional Intelligence, Why It Can Matter More Than IQ” defines Emotional Intelligence (EQ) as:
“The capacity for recognising our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships.”

Use these 10 Tips and take control of your time and your life.

1. Solve work problems while you’re asleep. Ask your mind a question at the end of the day and expect a meaningful answer when you wake up. Many people report that they’ve achieved dramatic results by putting their subconscious mind to work.

2. Stop multi-tasking. Trying to do too many things at once and switching frequently between many tasks has been shown by many studies to reduce productivity by between 29% to 53%.

3. Sip iced water throughout your working day. If you drink as little as 4% – 5% below your optimal water requirements, your concentration and performance can be reduced by as much as 30%.

4. Produce a prioritised to-do list. Write it out, keep it on your PDA or store it on your computer. It’s far easier to achieve plans that you’ve made visible than those that just stay in your head.

5. Refer to your to do list frequently. Tick off the completed items as you finish them. This gets you actively involved in your tasks. It also strengthens your emotional commitment to their timely execution. It’s a very practical way to keep yourself motivated.

6. Write down your lifetime goals. When you make your goals explicit, you’re far more likely to achieve them. Your subconscious mind will get to work on achieving your goals without you really even knowing.

7. Review your lifetime goals at least every quarter. Stay on track and make sure that they’re in harmony with your values. Your goals may also change as you grow older and wiser.

8. Do high priority work when you’re at your peak. Structure your working day so that you do key tasks at the times of the day when your mind is most clear and your energy level is at its highest. You’ll save hours and gain even more time when you make this a regular habit.

9. Make fun of your fears about work. Be playful. Ask yourself “what is the worst thing that could possibly happen?” Let your imagination run wild, don’t hold back, be as ridiculous as possible. Do you see how absurd your fears are? Now get on and do the thing that you made you feel fearful in the first place.

10. Learn from your failures. Don’t waste time and energy blaming yourself if you don’t implement your new tips perfectly the first time. Keep on practicing. Focus on the tips that work for you and work out how to make them regular habits.

Download your free Tune up Your Emotional Intelligence Workbook from Email your comments to

Tell Us What You Think

(Referring to our last newsletter “Six Things You Must Know About Emotional Intelligence – by Galba Bright”)

Really good edition this month! … Patrice

We would love to hear what you think of this issue of CRS News. And of course, if you have any suggestions for upcoming issues that you would like to share with us, please send those too.

Susan’s Snippets

This month, I am pleased to present the first of a two-part series of articles by a guest writer, Mr Galba Bright, who was born in Sierra Leone, West Africa and migrated to England when very young. He holds a Masters Degree in Business Administration from Henley Management College, an Honours Law Degree from Warwick University and a Postgraduate Diploma in Research and Survey Methods from North London Polytechnic.
Mr Bright resides in Jamaica. He is the owner of Galba Bright & Associates, a company that operates the world’s first Caribbean-owned Emotional Intelligence website and blog.

The Information & Computer Technology Society of Trinidad & Tobago (ICTS) is hosting a Technology Session on Thursday 3rd May at 5pm. The address is the 2nd Floor, DFL Building, 10 Cipriani Boulevard, Port of Spain. The topics are Identity Management and Content Management. To register, please call Maylene Croney at 628 4010 ext. 2339 or email her at See the ICTS website for more details
CRS is hiring! If you know of anyone with a couple of years working experience who would be interested in working as a Recruiter in our Energy Division, and is good at selling and communications, then ask them to contact me at or click on Energy Recruiter Job to send their resume. Ideally, they should have some knowledge of engineering or other technical field.


Six Things You Must Know About Emotional Intelligence
by Galba Bright

There was a time when you needed to have a high IQ to succeed at work. Not any more.

Businesses are rushing to hire and promote people who have high levels of Emotional Intelligence (EQ). In this first article I provide the answers to six essential Emotional Intelligence. Read on and make your career soar.

Question1: What Is Emotional Intelligence?

Answer: Daniel Goleman, the world’s best known writer on Emotional Intelligence defines it as:
“The capacity for recognising our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships.”

Emotional Intelligence consists of four main building blocks.
Self-Awareness is about knowing what you are feeling in the moment and using this insight to guide your decision-making.
Self Management involves managing your emotions so that they help rather than hinder what you’re doing.
Social Awareness means sensing what other people are feeling and being able to understand their point of view.
Relationship Management, defines your effectiveness in guiding, motivating, leading and influencing others.

Question 2: What Impact Will My Emotional Intelligence Have On My Career?

Answer: If you have weaknesses in your Emotional Intelligence, you can seriously harm your career. A study of executives by the Center for Creative Leadership in the USA showed that 75% of the reasons why their careers were derailed could be traced to weaknesses in employees’ Emotional Intelligence.

The three main causes of career failure were poor interpersonal skills, not being a good team player and difficulties in handling change.

The 2007 book “Firms of Endearment: How World-Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose” by Rajendra Sisodia, David Wolfe and Jagdish N. Sheth showed that the companies that had more emotionally intelligent employees enjoyed greater profitability than those that didn’t.

The authors studied a range of industries and found that 90% of the top individual performers across industries had high Emotional Intelligence ratings compared with only 20% of the low performers.

Question 3: How Is My Emotional Intelligence Related To My IQ?

Answer: Your IQ, (Intelligence Quotient), describes your intellect. It is measured by tests such as GSAT, CXC and ‘A’ levels. They test your skills in dealing with numbers, words and your spatial awareness.

Emotional Intelligence refers to your ability to manage your emotions and to respond effectively to other people. A high intellect alone will rarely propel you to career success in the 21st Century. You need to respect your IQ and cultivate your EQ to achieve your goals.

Question 4: Is My Emotional Intelligence Fixed?

Answer: No, it is not. You can increase your Emotional Intelligence through practice, feedback and learning.

Question 5: How Can I Measure My Emotional Intelligence?

You could take a free quiz. You’ll get a good introduction to Emotional Intelligence as well as some insight into how you manage your emotions. A company called Queendom produces an online no-cost Emotional IQ Test. You can take it online at

My no-cost Tune up Your Emotional Intelligence Workbook contains a 20 Steps to Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire. It is a paper and pencil quiz. You can download the workbook at

If you want solid information to guide your career development and/or personal growth, you should take a professionally designed assessment. Some of the most popular online Emotional Intelligence Assessments include the EQ Map . It costs US $24.95. Or you might take the SEI Strengths Assessment The price is US $15.00.

The Emotional Intelligence Appraisal will cost you US $34.95. It also includes an e-learning programme. You can also find other firms by using an Internet search engine.

Question 6: I Want To Improve My Emotional Intelligence What Should I Do?

Answer: There are several things that you can do. For example, keep a journal or diary to record and reflect on your experiences. You can boost your self awareness and self management by writing and reflecting.

Ask people that you trust to give you feedback on your behaviour. They can help you to identify and act on any blind spots that may have caused you difficulty in the past. You can also work with a coach to set goals for improving your Emotional Intelligence and receive ongoing support as you progress.

Your EQ is the new measure that determines how effective you will be at work. Improving your Emotional Intelligence is a very rewarding process. If you invest in yourself, remain patient and persevere, you can transform your career and your quality of life.

Download your no-cost Tune up Your Emotional Intelligence Workbook from and start increasing your Emotional Intelligence right away.

In the second part of this series, we will look at some Emotional Intelligence tips that will help you improve your time management skills.

Galba Bright is the Caribbean’s leading provider of Emotional Intelligence Learning Programmes and Knowledge Products.

Tell Us What You Think

We would love to hear what you think of this issue of CRS News. And of course, if you have any suggestions for upcoming issues that you would like to share with us, please send those too.

Susan’s Snippets

We’ve just got through the madness of Carnival here in Trinidad and now we have World Cup Cricket on our doorstep. The resulting traffic jams, due to closed streets around the Oval for security purposes, has inspired this issue’s topic of how to avoid commuting stress altogether.

CRS is hiring! If you know of anyone with a couple of years working experience who would be interested in working as a Recruiter in our Energy Division, and is good at selling and communications, then ask them to contact me at or click on Energy Recruiter Job to send their resume. Ideally, they should have some knowledge of engineering or other technical field.

Working From Home

Fed up with sitting in traffic every morning going to work and then repeating this ordeal when going home? Isn’t this a colossal waste of your time? Have you considered whether you could do your job at home and save all this commuting stress?

Many jobs could be done at home at least part of the time. Technology makes it very easy for you to connect to the database at the office and it’s convenient to use the telephone and email for communicating with people.

We at CRS have had at least one person working from home for some time now. It’s simple to use Internet software like GoToMyPC which allows someone to connect to a PC at the office as if they were sitting in front of it. It’s really quite eerie to see the screens popping up by themselves on the office PC.

The advantages of this arrangement is that the home worker can choose her own hours. She only comes into the office for meetings or other staff events. She is much more productive as there are less distractions, and this suits her very well.

From CRS’s point of view, one less person in the open plan office means less distraction to other workers when she’s on the phone, etc. Also, the PC is available for other uses when the worker is not on it, and this has proved very useful for conducting online psychometric tests, etc.

The main disadvantage of working from home is that of boredom, missing interaction with co-workers, and finding the discipline to “be at the office” instead of at home, with the laundry/ TV/pets/children or whatever, beckoning. You have to adopt the mentality of “being at work” once you are in front of your computer and refuse to allow yourself to be sucked into home distractions.

I myself have spent some time doing work from home and I did have problems with the discipline of it. I also found that I was working weird hours, like late at night and weekends, and using normal work hours to go shopping, etc. This suited me very well and it was great not to have to dress for the office, and I certainly didn’t miss the commuting.

If you’re considering working from home, research other people’s experiences first to make sure this will suit you. Here’s one Blog that discusses this: Let me know how you get on.

Tell Us What You Think

We would love to hear what you think of this issue of CRS News. And of course, if you have any suggestions for upcoming issues that you would like to share with us, please send those too.

Susan’s Snippets

To those who were lucky enough to be in Trinidad for Carnival, the “greatest show on earth”, earlier this week – it was fabulous, wasn’t it? Now it’s back to reality.

The downturn seems to be taking effect in the Caribbean with spectacular casualties. The Prime Minister of T&T advised citizens to “tighten their belts” and it seems that the people are heeding his words, thus putting a strain on businesses particularly those in the service sectors. So how do we get through these difficult times? Guest journalist, Amelia Hayes, reports on her impressions from a recent trip to Miami.


Tighten your Belt … by Amelia Hayes

With words such as “Recession”, “tighten your belt”, “hard times”, bailouts and companies closing or downsizing …. How severe is the global economic state and how many of us are really thinking before spending our dollars? Can we survive it? As President Obama says, “Yes we can!”

I recently returned from Florida where I interviewed Trini’s living there as well as US citizens as to how they are being affected, if at all and how has life changed for them.

A couple days before Christmas thousands of people flocked to the malls trying to catch the holiday sales following the “Black Friday” sales. At Sawgrass and Aventura malls as with other malls, people were bustling about looking for deals but frivolous spending wasn’t taking place. Business owners complained it was the worst in terms of sales they’ve experienced.

Zorinah of Miami Gardens (a Trini who migrated) said that it hasn’t affected her in any significant way and in fact she earned more last year than the year before and shopped as usual for the Christmas season. She hasn’t changed her lifestyle in any way neither did she decrease her spending power. She doesn’t see the recession seriously affecting her earnings in a way that will significant diminish her quality of life at present.

Realistically, we are all affected in one way or another but for some it’s not significant enough for them to start worrying at present. For some, the value of their properties have dropped and they can refinance paying less on their Mortgage; for others, they are stuck paying more for their homes than it’s now worth. Banks are no longer giving loans in fear of not recovering their money due to loss of jobs and bankruptcy which is expected to happen in large numbers this year. Basically the average person is the one feeling it the most, as is always the case! Those with low incomes, minimal education as well as a household to feed and not knowing what their next move should be; those are the people hurting. They comprise of sales clerks in department stores, administrative staff, gas station attendants, automotive sales people and many more.

It would be wise to do an analysis of where you live, irregardless to what part of the Globe (the Caribbean, US, UK etc) and look at the industries in operation, the areas that bring income to sustain the economy, find out what jobs are in demand and put a plan of action into place from there. E.g. it’s public knowledge that we have a shortage of nurses locally and the news recently highlighted the shortage of pharmacists at the POS General Hospital and the country! Reality is the number of diabetic, hypertension, cancer, and Aids cases have grown tremendously and thousand of persons are currently on medication needing the expertise of a pharmacist.

It will take some thinking and research on your part but it’s beneficial to your future to find other means of income and be versatile to earn a living. No longer is specialization in a field an absolute must. With companies downsizing and employees multi-tasking while doing the jobs of I.T. Manager, database administrator and technical support, it would be wise to acquire skills in varying fields. From the beginning of time man has adapted to his environment and circumstances, the same will occur during difficult global economic times but we will survive and evolve!

Tell Us What You Think

We would love to hear what you think of this issue of CRS News. And of course, if you have any suggestions for upcoming issues that you would like to share with us, please send those too.

Susan’s Snippets

Are you finding that this newsletter doesn’t arrive every month? We get a lot of ‘bounces’ after each transmission, some due to accounts which are now invalid (and which we delete from our mailing list), some because of full mail boxes, and some because of server time-outs. Do you know if our newsletter is being rejected as unsolicited mail?

I would like to achieve near 100% delivery. So if you do not receive this newsletter regularly, please click on reply to let me know this, giving a reason you suspect is the problem, if possible. Many thanks for your help with this.


Loyalty – to Career or Employer First?

Over the years, I have often heard the lament from employers that I.T. people have no loyalty to their jobs. They get trained at the company’s expense and then move on to better paying jobs within two years or so. It is costly to replace them and disruptive to the company to lose their system knowledge and expertise.

Are I.T. people being disloyal to their employers or are they simply progressing their careers? Consider what Shelly-Anne has to say:

“Anyone, with skills that are more than three (3) years old , i.e. unused for the past 3 years, has some big problems if they are looking for a new job. Most businesses want the new skills, not necessarily because that’s where they are at technologically, but because that’s where the IT industry says they should be.
So, keep those skills up-to-date, take a new course here and there (not at your employer’s expense though or you will be stuck there until you pay it off via actual money or time)…. and don’t forget to keep your resume updated.”

In other words, if I.T. professionals don’t keep their skills and experience up-to-date, then they risk becoming unemployable. This is because employers are demanding these skills from recruits, whether or not they are really needed for the job. Employers prefer not to train recruits in these skills because they could lose the investment should they leave in a couple of years.

Therefore, employees have to keep shifting jobs in order to get the skills to get those jobs in the first place. This is a ‘chicken and egg’ situation – which comes first, the employers’ demands or the employees’ need to be marketable?

I have found that those companies who retain I.T. staff are generally those that invest in them by giving them training, experience in interesting work and the opportunity to learn new technology from time to time. In this way, their need to be marketable is being satisfied without them having to leave their job. They just want to feel that they have the freedom to leave if they decide to for some personal reason, but otherwise they will stay put.

Another thing I have noticed is that I.T. people will shy away from those companies that impose very strict conditions on training, such as having to pay back the full cost if they leave within 3 years. Again, there’s a psychological fear of being trapped in a company for so long, when in practice, the person may happily stay there for many years.

When employees have to invest heavily in their own training, then they feel obliged to look for a better paying job to justify this cost. Perhaps employers should consider training/education as an investment and not a cost. They should also consider the fact that they often hire people who have been trained/educated by other employers or the recruits themselves, so they get this benefit for free! It all evens out in the end.

My conclusion is that I.T. people are loyal to their careers first and they will be loyal to an employer who caters for this fact. It comes down to satisfying the employees’ need to have the freedom to leave if they want to. It’s up to employers to find ways to make the employees want to stay. But that’s another topic altogether.

Tell Us What You Think

We would love to hear what you think of this issue of CRS News. And of course, if you have any suggestions for upcoming issues that you would like to share with us, please send those too.

Who is Ed?

OK, OK, I’ve been hiding behind the name ‘Editor’ or ‘Ed’, though many of our readers are well aware of who I am. I won’t be so shy in future and I’m happy for you to know that this newsletter is put together and written by Susan Hale, founder and Managing Director of Caribbean Resourcing Solutions Ltd.

I promised to introduce you to our latest staff addition – Keisha – who is the voice you hear when you call CRS and the face you meet when you visit our office. In fact, here is a picture of all of us at CRS, enjoying the Christmas atmosphere at our offices in Woodbrook, Port of Spain, Trinidad.
Top row from left: Stacey, Amelia and Karen. Bottom row from left: Sonja, Keisha and Susan.

Have a wonderful holiday season and may 2006 be all you dreamed of and deserve ……………. Susan (there I did it!)


Attitude – Key to Success

Why is it that some brilliant people don’t progress so well in their careers as other less talented individuals? There may be a variety of reasons but I’m going to focus on one important one – attitude!

If you had a choice of selecting an employee with average qualifications and experience but with a great “can do” attitude or someone with a superb resume but who would be a problem to manage and fit in with the team, who would you choose? Most people would choose the former, because we all like an easy atmosphere in our work place and to have people around us that we can rely on. There would have to be a real need for the special skills of an employee who you know is going to give you a hard time, for you to take on that stress.

A survey by the National Training Agency in 2000 showed that the attitudinal characteristics most sought after by local employers are:

1) Commitment to the Company
• Willing to co-operate with co-workers
• Loyal to Company and fellow colleagues
• Safety conscious
• Willing to work efficiently and productively
• People oriented and customer oriented

2) Commitment to Quality
• Willing to communicate openly and give accurate information
• Willing to continually improve
• Willing to accept change and make suggestions for change
• Willing to work within a team

3) Personal Traits
• Physically and mentally sound
• Self motivated
• Punctual
• Dedicated
• Assertive
• Takes Pride in Job
• Honest
• Self-disciplined
• Independent
• Flexible
• Well mannered
• Competent
• Willing to listen to others

So what is a “good attitude”? An example would be one where you strive to do your job to the best of your ability even if others around you are not pulling their weight. You would be prepared to go the extra mile, perhaps to finish a task even if it means working after hours or on weekends, or to take on jobs that may not be within your job description, and to willingly do what is necessary to keep a customer happy. It’s all about doing your best to ensure the business is successful and customers and suppliers enjoy dealing with you. It’s about focusing on what you can do for the company rather than what the company should do for you.

I’m not advocating that you should let your employer take advantage of your good nature. If the demands on you are unreasonable then you should point this out in a calm and assertive way. Sometimes, it is the employer who has a bad attitude to his/her staff. In this case, you must decide whether the direction you want to go in and your personal ethics are in line with those of your employer, and walk away if they are not.

However, if you regularly find that you have a problem with people in your workplace and those with whom you interact outside the company, and this happens in every job you have, then I’m afraid that you have to look at your own attitude. It’s unlikely that the whole world is wrong and you alone are right. In this case, adjusting your attitude will cause people to relate better to you and could change your life and bring you the success that may be eluding you. I can guarantee that you would enjoy your job a whole lot better too!

This may be a good New Year’s resolution – to consider how you could improve your own attitude to your job and how you relate to others at work, so that you can be happier and more successful in your career. Good luck for 2006!

Tell Us What You Think

Letters to the Editor:
(referring to our last newsletter – Networking to Get a Job)

I have been networking quite a lot recently since I am moving to the UK and will be looking for work when I get there. What I realize from reading your article is that I’ve been networking intuitively, and not with any clear idea about how to approach this task. Your article has given me a structure to work with and some Golden Rules to follow.
It’s also given me the confidence that what I’m doing is an essential activity in my search for a job that will further my career. There were times when I felt a bit “boldfaced” in seeking peoples advice and asking if they knew anyone to whom I could send my Resume. I approach my networking now not with the feeling that I’m asking for anything, but that I’m conducting “informational interviews” that may eventually lead me to my goal.
Thanks for the words of wisdom and guidance. They came just at the right time for me…. Robin

I’m glad I was able to help. Good luck with your job search…. Susan

We would love to hear what you think of this issue of CRS News. And of course, if you have any suggestions for upcoming issues that you would like to share with us, please send those too.

Editor’s Note

Well, September is here along with a flood of new I.T. requirements after the lull of the “Summer” vacation period. We’ve been getting a few for other Caribbean islands too. So if you’re interested in viewing opportunities, check out our listings on the right side of this newsletter.

Just reminding you again to re-subscribe to this newsletter with your new email address, if it should change.

Also, please put our email address in your address file so our newsletters are not rejected as unsolicited mail.


Have you Checked your Employment Contract?

Have you GOT an employment contract? To someone in a first world country, that may sound like a silly question. Here in the Caribbean there exists a type of employment that is called a “contract” but doesn’t actually involve any written agreement between the parties.

This situation may well be illegal and it certainly exposes the employee to an abuse of his/her rights to redundancy payment, maternity leave, injury compensation and other benefits required by law. In addition, if the employee is working as a permanent employee, then the employer is breaking the law if statutory tax deductions are not being made to the employee’s salary.

If you are going to start a new job, insist that you get a written agreement on the terms and conditions of your employment. I have come across many people who have felt so unhappy and insecure with their “contract” employment that they were willing to earn less salary elsewhere so long as they could acquire bona fide permanent employment.

So what should you expect to see in an employment contract? It should have the company’s name, address, the date of the agreement, and the employee’s name, address, job title, duties and date of starting work. It should state the salary and all benefits including vacation days/year, stating when they become effective.
It should state the place of work and the normal working hours, the probation period and the required notice period. Typically, there would be a statement of the company’s policies regarding confidentiality, substance abuse, dress code, etc.

A contract to provide services is quite different from an employment contract for permanent staff. This would usually be a lengthy legal document defining the nature of the work and various conditions pertaining to the work being provided and to recourse should there be any damages or disagreement between the parties.
The same information given on an employment contract will also be provided in a contractor’s contract, together with extra details such as the actual length of the contract, scope of works, deliverables, notice period, payment terms and rates or fixed price for the work.

Never do any paid contract work without some form of written agreement, even for your friends or family. Believe me, things can go spectacularly wrong and the contract is what you will turn to in order to resolve any dispute. You want to get paid for the work you’ve done and your client may decide not to pay you. Having an agreed contract will help your case and shows that you are a professional.

If you agree a fixed price for the work, then you should negotiate that a percentage is paid before you start work to offset the risk of not getting paid at all. Once the job is done, then get your client to sign a Work Accepted Form to prove that you delivered as agreed.
Not having any signed agreement at all makes you very vulnerable. It is also advisable to document and cost each and every change requested by your client so that you have clear evidence of what you were expected to deliver and the reason for any project overruns.

You can download standard employment forms from the Internet, some for free such as at

Tell Us What You Think

Letters to the Editor:

Why don’t you offer tips to the interviewee as well??????? … Kris
(referring to issue 2.13 – 10 Tips for the Interviewer)

We did so in Issue 2.4 – The Magic Wand, see
We will do more tips in the future…. Ed.

The organisation I worked in previously was actually able to survive hurricane Ivan in Grenada and be back up and running because I insisted on them having off-site backups. Almost all their computers were soaked including the servers, but the data was backed up regularly and kept off-site. However, a lot of the paper documents were rain soaked.
In all of the places I have worked management seems to forget that the majority of their business is paper based and stored in regular filing cabinets which are not fireproof. I.T. is always expected to have a “disaster recovery plan” and the other functional areas of the business are forgotten.
So if disaster does strike, unless the business is fully digital, having a tape library would be useless in getting the company up and running if most of the critical data was stored on paper. I think it is imperative that management in any organisation be made aware of these pitfalls… Dwight
(referring to issue 2.12 – Waiting for a Disaster)

I hope everyone is taking heed, especially after what has happened to New Orleans. My niece was living there for the last 4 years and has lost her car, her computer and all her belongings, and of course, her job. If you want to help the victims of this disaster, check out and … Ed

We would love to hear what you think of this issue of CRS News. And of course, if you have any suggestions for upcoming issues that you would like to share with us, please send those too.

Editor’s Note

Thanks to all those who have been assuring me that they enjoy reading this newsletter. If you have any ideas for topics for the future, then I would be happy to hear about them.


¿Habla Español?

Recently, I was at a breakfast technical presentation and the gentleman sitting next to me turned out to be an American working in Trinidad. As I started to eat my eggs and buljhol, he said “Buen provecho”. When he saw my puzzled look, he translated “Bon appetite!”.

First of all, I was ashamed that I didn’t understand such a simple Spanish expression, and secondly, it’s ironic that the English translation was actually a French one. Thirdly, how come an American can speak Spanish and I can’t, and I grew up and live in a country just 7 miles from South America? The reason, of course, is that he does business with South America.

The odd thing is that CRS also does business with South America. We have an international client doing work in Trinidad and our client contacts live in Brazil. I know, they speak Portuguese, but they can also speak Spanish and English.

From time to time, we are asked to source Spanish speaking I.T. professionals to work in Trinidad and be able to communicate with regional head offices in South America or the Dominican Republic, and that combination of skills has been virtually impossible to find here in Trinidad.

Globalisation is already here as large multi-national companies lump the Caribbean with Latin America rather than English-speaking North America. We’re more comfortable shopping in Miami or visiting relatives in Toronto, than traveling to our much closer neighbours like Venezuela, because of the difficulty of the language barrier. Yet, many of the bars and gyms in Port of Spain (note the irony of our capital city’s name) are full of Spanish speaking people, mainly from Venezuela.

Years ago, I was playing a game of “Trivial Pursuit” in Tobago with some visiting English friends. The question was “What is the official language spoken in Trinidad & Tobago?”. To my amazement, my friends answered “Spanish”. Maybe I don’t pronounce my words well enough for them to think that English is my first language? Actually, they were misled by the fact that our country has a Spanish name … another irony.

So, I’m very pleased that the T&T government has a plan to establish “Spanish As First Foreign Language”. The SAFFL initiative is designed to help our nation become proficient in Spanish within the next 10 to 15 years.

This will make my job much easier when sourcing people for my Latin American clients, and we may get more such clients as a result. Also, some of our local clients are already expanding to Latin America and I’m sure the demand for Spanish as a pre-requisite for good I.T. jobs will escalate as a result, together with the opportunities to work abroad.

So, think about enrolling in a Spanish language class. You can find them at UWI, NIHERST, the Venezuelan Embassy and many private institutions in T&T. Some companies are also introducing training for employees to learn business and conversational Spanish.

Hasta La Vista!

Tell Us What You Think

Letters to the Editor:

(replying to last month’s letters)

My experience has been that a lot of Trinidadians while willing to do a lot of work are more interested in doing all that work at their own pace.
They are quite capable of working hard, and will work extremely long hours, but it seems as though they are more willing to do this if their senior management is interested (or feigns interest) and/or willing to work the long hours alongside them as well…
It amounts to management implementing a “do as I do” attitude and not a “do as I say…” and most Trinis are generally the questioning sort. Why should they change their methods or getting stuff done if their own methods were achieving the desired results? It’s a Trini thing that unless you are really good with marketing of your change…you will have problems with … Shelly-Anne

Is this the difference between Trinis (and other Caribbean people) and Europeans or North Americans … we question our supervisors rather than just accept instructions? ….. Ed.

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Degrees and Certifications

A question that school leavers who want a career in I.T. have to face is whether to invest 3-4 years getting a degree, or instead get certification in networking or PC repairs or other I.T. qualification while getting actual work experience.

Many I.T. managers in Trinidad insist on a degree, at least for the more senior positions in the company. A degree demonstrates that a person is intelligent and has the discipline to learn. Some consultancy companies insist on a degree so they can prove the high calibre of their staff to their clients.

There’s another school of thought that actually discriminates against graduates as being too arrogant and having too high expectations of their worth. This can also apply to people who have invested in very expensive certification.

It is interesting to note that In North America and the UK, the requirement for a degree is usually waived if an applicant can show strong work experience, i.e., from the “University of Life”. So it is frustrating for non-nationals with extensive I.T. experience, who have acquired T&T citizenship, to be faced with this cultural barrier here.

Certification provides excellent training in specific I.T. areas and in some cases, such as networking, is essential to get a job. Trinidadians tend to work hard at improving their credentials and their résumés are often an impressive listing of certificates, diplomas, first and second degrees and various short training courses. So, if you don’t go this route, then you lose out to the competition for the best jobs.

My own view is that, if it is at all possible, you should get that degree under your belt. It doesn’t matter that what you learn is soon obsolete (if it’s I.T. related). A degree gives you better job options all through your life. The latest must-have certification will become obsolete at some point too but the difference is that once obsolete, it only serves to show that you’re not keeping up-to-date with technology.

A degree is expensive and you have to invest years of your life in its pursuit. These days, however, there are options available to allow you to do classes in the evening so that you can work during the day (see for information on the University of the West Indies evening degree programmes). No matter how experienced you are, getting a degree is a passport to the best jobs in this part of the world.

Tell Us What You Think

Letters to the Editor:

There is one other aspect I think is worth considering before taking a job with a TT firm: the culture. As you said, very rightly, managers here may be blown away by the resumes some IT professionals [who have worked abroad] can present. But they may also be blown away by the level of initiative that foreign workers have, and may react defensively and indeed try to shut down the new employee, fearing they will show up their colleagues or bosses.
Our clients here are mostly Government and large organizations, and we see it from the outside all the time: an entrenched culture of obeying rules and sticking to the prescribed job description, suddenly is upset by a proactive, enthusiastic individual who is accustomed to being rewarded for innovating and doing more than his/her share.
They can’t both win, so either the co-workers begin to feel resentment, or the new addition begins to feel his team is working against him. A lot of maturity and wisdom is needed to enter a new work culture without causing upset–and without losing the very ‘edge’ you bring with your new ideas! …… Repatriated National

This is a sad indictment of our work ethics. However, I don’t think it’s true for most private sector companies. My experience is that Trinis are very hard working (at the professional level) and display a keenness to get the job done even at great sacrifice to their personal lives. Trinis tend to do very well abroad because of this.
I was very impressed by the strong work ethics and team spiritedness I encountered while contracting for a chemical company and then a bank when I first returned to Trinidad – much more so than what I experienced in nearly 20 years of working in many types of companies in the UK. What is everyone else’s view on this? ….. Ed.

We would love to hear what you think of this issue of CRS News. And of course, if you have any suggestions for upcoming issues that you would like to share with us, please send those too.