Monthly Archives

January 2020

“How To Thrive In The Next Economy”, and the [Social Determinants of Health]

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“How To Thrive In The Next Economy”, and the [Social Determinants of Health]

Written by: Ayodhya Ouditt        Jan, 2020       2 min read

In John Thackara’s book, “How To Thrive In The Next Economy”, he takes a simple and clear look at how all over the world, small scale community interventions might offer solutions to some of the world’s major social and environmental problems. Thackara, a writer and advisor on matters of sustainability and ecological design, has a simple thesis: our planet’s biggest problems are the result of a flawed model — the ideal of the economy of infinite growth. And to be more blunt, it’s flawed because infinite resource consumption is impossible on a planet of finite resources.

But the book doesn’t focus on the disconnect between the human economy and the rest of nature — what Karl Marx called the “metabolic rift”. Rather, Thackara identifies solutions from all over the world, with the overarching narrative that these are largely local, community oriented, and technologically ‘light’ or ‘noninvasive’. These are presented as clear and concise case studies, drawn from his lifetime of travel and environmental observation.

Each chapter is based on another touchpoint of human civilisation, or to put it more honestly, a ‘need’, (water, shelter, transportation, energy, etc.) for which, examples are given.

For instance in Chapter 3, “Waterkeeping”, Thackara describes water safeguarding techniques such as “Participatory Groundwater Management”, a community driven model in which drought-affected smallholders like the farmers in Andra Pradesh, India, each monitor various watersheds on a daily basis, sharing the information and of course the water as well. Thackara adds — “Before the new system was introduced, farmers had to rely on data provided by so-called ’input dealers’ — fertilizer, seed, and pesticide companies; these sources tended to downplay the huge wealth of grounded knowledge”

Image 6 - How to Thrive Blog

The simple and clear structure of these stories is something I have always enjoyed. But in reading them over more recently, in the context of Vessel’s work, I’ve discovered a brilliant layer of subtext which I can only now appreciate. You see, in many ways, the issues Thackara identifies can be seen as the social determinants of health, or rather, as their precursors.

While there is no single definition of the social determinants of health, they can be generally understood as the economic and social factors that influence individual and group health in different populations. The list of determinants is similarly fluid, with different organisations and policy documents paying attention to different features of their respective societies. For the sake of a simple example, in 2003 the World Health Organisation, Europe included the following as determinants —

  • The social gradient
  • Stress
  • Early life
  • Social exclusion
  • Work
  • Unemployment
  • Social support
  • Addiction
  • Food
  • Transport

That the ten chapters of Thackara’s book and the social determinants of health seem so compatible, is in my estimation no accident. It’s easy to see for instance how issues like pollination, deforestation, and climate change do in fact bear heavily on food security, work, and migration, which in turn lead us to consider more obvious issues like unemployment, social support, exclusion, and addiction.

I like to think about Thackara’s globally ‘crowdsourced’ solutions to environmental problems like deforestation and water potability as addressing the environmental determinants of the social determinants of health. The solutions he describes are therefore not isolated environmental interventions, but measures that we could take to insure our societies themselves, against the burden of disease brought on by our global economy’s metabolic rift with nature.

A Flood of Ideas

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A Flood of Ideas

Written by: Ayodhya Ouditt        Updated: Jan, 2020      2 min read

The recent downpours have undoubtedly brought destruction to many. And while this has sobered the national spirit, it has also sparked solidarity and community. The team at Vessel agrees that there’s tremendous room for improvement in our national infrastructure, but it isn’t all about drainage, engineering, or littering.

Here are 18 ideas we put together, to nudge T&T towards flood-security.

  1. Free Wi-fi so that students, teachers, workers and parents could work at home. This will clear up roadways, and in turn reduce the risk of accidents.
  2. The ability to trade-in all flood-damaged appliances for discounts on new ones. Flood-damaged appliances to be salvaged for workable parts and scrap metal.
  3. PHITT Public Health Information of Trinidad and Tobago — a public health database with centralised information on nearby clinics for those stranded, and / or in need of emergency assistance.
  4. Water trucks to collect and filter water to be reused, maybe for washing away silt once the conditions permit.
  5. Training for all who helped in flood relief to become certified as disaster safety officers.
  6. Suspension of property tax for 10 years.
  7. Suspension of VAT on all appliance and furniture purchases.
  8. Creation of a global school or programme for flood management and relief.
  9. Trinidad and Tobago becomes a global advocate and evangelist for sustainable development and climate change, to create expert publications and develop a global research agenda.
  10. Land exchange. Residents in flood-prone areas can exchange their land for non-flood prone areas on a short term basis while working on sustainable solutions.
  11. An online citizen chat, “Flood Solutions”, where people document their problems and share solutions.
  12. Government sale on all those massive and expensive ‘official’ vehicles, downsizing a bit to smaller ones. The money saved would be invested in a unit of helicopters for times of disaster.
  13. Dissuasion of religious leaders from linking this, and any natural disaster, as punishment from god, especially for lifestyle matters such as sexual orientation. This is counter-productive.
  14. Creation of community laundromats to wash and dry all clothes at inexpensive rates.
  15. Development of ‘fast-inflatable-dingy-kits’ for cars and homes, schools, other institutions and business places.
  16. Incentives to encourage the preservation of trees and the building of tree houses so that people won’t have to sleep on roofs.
  17. Encouraging the construction of rope ladders.
  18. Limited use of rooftop flashing lights on houses and cars.



What do you think? If you’ve got thoughts on our ideas or brilliant ones of your own, we’d love to hear from you. Email us at

And stay safe!

An old mindmap of ours, featuring some of T&T’s big environmental topics.

Lok Jack GSB to host the Founding Father of Industry 4.0 at DLIC 2020

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The UWI – ALJGSB will feature the originator of Industry 4.0, Henrik Von Scheel at the annual Distinguished Leadership and Innovation Conference (DLIC) on May 8th, 2020 at the Hyatt Regency, Port of Spain. Hailed by Financial Times as one of the leading authorities on strategy and competitiveness, he is notorious for his personal involvement to define the core differentiating, competitive aspects and to identify how to innovate and where to transform. As one of the most influential business thinkers, his work has been applied to national economies, influenced GDP growth, reset policies in governments, set standards currently applies by 26 NATO members, ignited hyper growth in companies and fuelled the profit of fortune 500 companies. Von Scheel will discuss putting Industry 4.0 into practice to shape the future and growth of organisations and of the nation. 

The emergence of Industry 4.0 continues to gain momentum with the development of technologies fondly known as artificial intelligence (AI), data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT). Organisations will be challenged to reinvent their businesses, with customer centricity and experience at the core of every solution.  Leaders will be required to champion innovation in an eco-system reconfigured for employees to explore lateral functions and multi-disciplinary roles. Data analysis will become the backbone of future business and traditional businesses are being forced to dismantle silos and adopt more collaborative frameworks, encouraging agility and preparedness for global markets. Combining smart technologies with industrial platforms and practices, will achieve faster, more flexible and efficient processes to increase quality and reduce costs. Are you ready to harness the potential of Industry 4.0 within your organisation?

For further information, or to register at the early bird rate, please click here: or contact the Conferencing team via 645-6700 ext 299 or  email

Leadership, Workplace Culture and Values


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Chess Piece - Leadership

Ken Chenault, CEO of American Express said, “My role is to define reality and to give hope.”

Leaders question assumptions, look at problems in new ways and create and articulate a vision for the future. In the context of strategic management, leadership includes the following traits:

  1. Leaders set a clear and consistent vision or “picture of the future” of the organisation
  2. Leaders are pro-active in preparing the organisation for the future
  3. Leaders are visible and engaged to ensure that staff understand the common vision and can translate it into terms relevant to their roles
  4. Leaders “walk the talk” in exemplifying the values, ethics and policies of the organisation
  5. Leaders don’t micromanage but trust and encourage employees to contribute their ideas and grow in their careers
  6. Leaders “walk around” and work alongside staff to encourage teamwork.

Many employees are now considered “knowledge workers” – they are hired for their thinking skills.  In this environment employees want to know why they are being asked to do their assignments. Hence strategic management leads to increased employee empowerment and less “command and control” management.

Leadership, Workplace Culture and Values

Enhance your #leadership and #strategicplanning skills by registering for the Balanced Scorecard Associate Certificate Programme carded for March 25th, 26th & 27th, 2020 at the Lok Jack GSB, Campus.

To learn more about becoming an internationally certified Balanced Scorecard Associate click HERE

For further information:
📞 (868) 310-3031 (Trinidad) or +592-673-5980 (Guyana)

Lecturer of Master of Information Systems and Technology Management recognized as one of BT150 for Re-inventing the modern organization through digital transformation

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Congratulations to Mr. Arthur Phidd, lecturer of Master of Information Systems and Technology Management programme at UWI-ALJGSB for being one of 150 global executives for being recognised for reinventing the modern organisation through digital transformation in 2020. Each executive selected for this initiative demonstrated excellence in responding to disruptive forces while enabling teams to succeed through the creation of new exponential business models, a key challenge moving into 2020.  Mr. Phidd is also the SVP Chief Information Officer at BNB Bank, located in Hauppauge New York.

Additionally, the leaders who were selected for this would have built effective teams who can disrupt, fund innovation and build new models that are transitioning the modern workplace. Their stories are a reflection of the industry showcasing the era of the growing digital maturity.

For more information on the Master of Information Systems and Technology Management programme, speak to an academic advisor at 868-645-6700 ext. 200.