The First Dedicated Business School

Business Education supported by the business community since 1989

The Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business began as the Institute of Business, University of the West Indies (UWI-IOB). The institution was founded on December 14th, 1989 as a joint venture between the University of the West Indies (UWI) and the Trinidad and Tobago private sector. Its purpose was to deliver postgraduate business and management education designed to meet the emergent needs of the business community. It was intended to fill the strategic gap that existed in The University of the West Indies’ business education offerings. At the same time, local companies were challenged to find managers of high calibre; able to apply ideas to deal with the challenges of the economy and possessing a strong proactive spirit of enterprise. Solutions had to be found to fill that gap and to meet the new and increasingly intense competitive challenges.
Influenced by the foregoing, a private sector coalition approached The University of the West Indies with the view to establish an institute for postgraduate management education. They proposed that the institution be funded by the private sector and accredited by the university. The new organisation was seen as the link between the private sector and The University and was established to educate business professionals and public sector managers.
Draper was instrumental in bringing together some of the founding fathers of the Institute of Business. The business school’s genesis was also taking place at a time when the economic context, coupled with the lack of business talent, drove corporate entry into education and training. At this time, Hubert Alleyne, then head of Administration at Royal Bank of Trinidad and Tobago, was passionately working on the establishment of a school of banking (the beginnings of ROYTEC). His objective was to offer much needed specialised training in banking skills. Alleyne had previously recruited Draper to prepare the school to achieve accreditation status by the relevant body in an effort to enhance ROYTEC’s overall effectiveness. Alleyne welcomed the synergies that the two institutions of business provided and therefore supported the UWI-IOB initiative. He was subsequently selected as one of its founding directors. Their shared dream to develop the country’s business education offerings led them to the conceptualisation of the Institute of Business. This novel idea found support with the then Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, Sir Alister McIntyre, and the then St Augustine Campus principal, Professor George Maxwell Richards, former President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. The private sector then raised the funds to establish the Institute of Business.
Unlike its counterpart business schools at the Mona (Jamaica) and Cave Hill (Barbados) campuses, the fledging UWI-IOB did not qualify for USAID funding. The Institute of Business’ was initially supported by two commercial banks (the then Royal Bank Limited and Republic Bank Limited), two conglomerates (Neal & Massy Holdings Limited and ANSA McAL Holdings Limited) and Trinidad Cement Limited. Given the idea behind the establishment of the school, each of the contributing companies also agreed to send their employees as students to the new learning institute.
The Institute of Business’ first programme, the Executive Masters in Business Administration (EMBA), was launched in June 1990 by the late Gordon Draper, its first Executive Director, He was endowed with experience from both the Management Studies Department of the University of the West Indies as well as the private sector. Draper and his team, which included Carl Parris, the Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, UWI, then championed the need for business education at a more advanced level to meet the demands of the rapidly changing and expanding public and private sectors.
In 2001 ALJ who had been a member of the board of directors and supported the concept of business education was approached initially by Mr. Joseph Esau, CEO, McAlGroup and Mr. Sydney Knox, Chairman, Neal & Massy, to underwrite the construction of a state-of-the-art building to house the Institute of Business.
This initiative was supported by the then Principal & Pro Vice Chancellor, UWI, Professor George Maxwell Richards, who went on to become the President of Republic of TT and Dr. Bhoendradatt Tewarie who succeeded Professor Richards as Principal & Pro Vice Chancellor, UWI.
Sidney Knox, one of the IOB’s founding directors, commenting on the relationship between the University of the West Indies and the private sector, noted:
“While we started out not having a great deal of regard for one another, the private sector began to understand the UWI much better and the University guys began to understand the private sector. And a relationship grew up which is excellent up to today.”
From its inception, the school has been governed by a Board of Directors drawn from the private sector, always comprised influential and respected members of the business community and the University of the West Indies.
The private sector members are greater in number, but the sitting principal of the University of the West Indies, St Augustine Campus, always serves as the Chairman of the Board. The Board has always comprised influential and respected members of the local business community; individuals who have made significant contributions to society. Among the Board Members there have been three honorary doctorates, two Chaconia Gold awardees, and one Caribbean Master Entrepreneur. It should also be noted that former President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Professor George Maxwell Richards, was the first Chairman of the Board of Directors. Throughout its history, the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business has attracted and retained very high calibre members of corporate society on its Board of Directors.
In post-colonial Trinidad and Tobago, the state actively promoted national development and successive governments have ensured that the state facilitates business and socio-economic development. This has been particularly evident within the health and educational sectors. It is within this historical context that the university played a critical role in the IOB’s establishment. These events were taking place within the context of a drive to establish a relationship between the University and the stakeholders served by the University’s programmes, including the private sector. In the context of the drive towards increasing relevance in its offerings, the school’s governance structure represented an advancement in collaboration and was essentially shaped by the involvement of external actors within the boundaries of the University’s administrative structure.
The school’s existing governance structure provides a mechanism for state financial support to its operations. This enhances the legitimacy of the school’s directorate, acceptance of the reputation of the school and stimulation of public confidence in its pursued mission, vision, and purpose. The state’s acknowledgement of the value of the business school is evidenced in students’ continued access to Government Assistance for Tuition Expenses (GATE) funding for public institutions for the business school’s programmes. The public-private partnership embodied in the school’s governance structure enhances the capacity of the institution to innovate within the framework that promotes business acumen in the achievement of the public purpose of development.