CGTI: Meeting Pandemic Challenges With Online Success

(PR) – The far-reaching implications of a global travel lockdown dawned early in the minds of many business executives, but perhaps no small company was better prepared to meet the unknown than Saint Lucia’s Caribbean Governance Training Institute (CGTI), the gold standard bearer for governance training in the region.

CGTI’s original plans for 2020 included taking their successful board governance programs to exotic locations such as Antigua and Turks & Caicos, where esteemed members of the forty-strong faculty, led by CGTI’s Executive Chairman & Principal, Dr. Chris Bart FCPA, F. CIoD, C.Dir. would continue to educate, inspire, and certify a growing body of board members from commercial, financial and public service organizations.

Before Covid-19 hit the global brakes on business, some of CGTI’s more-than-satisfied clients included the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, Sandals International, and the Governments of Antigua & Barbuda and Saint Lucia, whose senior executives participated in up to three days of energetic classroom sessions, dynamic, real-time content, and a wealth of experience from presenters that is second to none in this niche personal development sector.

When regional and international travel slowed to a stop, and head offices lay empty as management and employees were largely told to stay home, the Saint Lucia and Canada-based CGTI team saw their professional travel schedules disappear into uncertainty, and for a short while at least, shared the global feelings of shock and worry at the dramatic changes unfolding everywhere.

But not for long. In the spirit of Churchill, oft-quoted in this year of Covid-19, the Caribbean Governance Training Institute took a hard look at the potential future for their highly specialist product, and decided they would “never let a good crisis go to waste”. The result was a change in strategy that was researched, discussed, approved and implemented with such speed and efficiency, it allowed CGTI to start presenting a unique series of pandemic-themed webinars in June,  dealing with questions and topics not yet being asked at the highest levels of organisations and governments.

Saint Lucia-based CEO, Lisa Charles is swift to acknowledge the sinking realisation that packing a carry-on and jetting off to another beautiful island for a face-to-face conference was about to become a thing of the past; she is equally quick to attribute the speed at which CGTI established its “temporary” new path to the team members who instigated the paradigm shift.

“Before many companies started to react, our Sales and Marketing managers were already researching the technology to go online with CGTI programs. They came to the table with viable ideas and plans we were able to implement in the form of our first series of webinars, which offered real advice for boards that were traumatised into inaction by the pandemic,” says CGTI’s co-founder and passionate traveller.

“At first I thought our format of three days of in-room delivery would not translate to rows of faces in a Zoom meeting, but my fears were laid to rest quickly when the first sessions were incredibly successful. The outcome was so reassuring, we threw all our energy into going online with our signature Chartered Director Course and its internationally renowned C.Dir certification.”

Key to the success of the online format was bringing the same energy, dynamism and engagement for which CGTI’s forty-strong faculty is known, led by the irrepressible Dr. Bart, whose vast knowledge of governance has for the past seven years been augmented by deep-diving into the Caribbean reality. He decided to treat Zoom like it was his own TV show, and the result has been pretty ground-breaking.

Replacing the three-day resort-based conference, the Chartered Director Online Program is now six three and a half-hour sessions over three weeks, allowing participants to incorporate the training into their hectic schedules from the comfort and safety of their home or office. This was one of the most appealing features to the many delegates who signed up in June, and it continues to be a strong draw for the increasing number of interested executives registering for upcoming dates.

Engaging and educating a group for hours at a time doesn’t just rely on the personality and knowledge of the host either; the online program also requires the skills and resources to manage up to forty delegates contributing their input instantaneously, as well as the technology to secure invigilation of the final online exam, a top priority for the CGTI team.

Neither has the basic content of the program changed, and during the three weeks of remote learning, Dr. Bart continues to hammer home the Principles of Good Governance; Roles, Responsibilities, Accountabilities and Culture; The Essentials of Financial Oversight; Strategic Thinking vs Strategic Planning; Risk Oversight; and Succession Planning.

“My mantra continues to be ‘Oversight. Insight. Foresight’,” admits the governance guru, “but the lack of preparedness shown by many organisations in the face of the pandemic shows the ongoing mistake many boards make by not analysing risk and constructing detailed plans to tackle worst case scenarios. Our online delegates continue to be coached in the six foundations of good governance, but now they are fine tuning their ‘foresight’ skills, and applying them in a real time disaster situation.”

Changes to the way the company does business have been profound — and learning curves steep — but from all perspectives, the new strategy has brought fewer challenges than benefits for the CGTI team, as well as the participants and their sponsoring organisations. Feedback has been excellent, and delegates have raved about the flexibility of the new online program, calling it “enjoyable, highly beneficial, deep and insightful — a critical and necessary programme for a Director, especially in these challenging times.”

Marketing Manager, Ashlyn Anius and Sales Manager, Desmer Ayalogu, combined forces from day one to rethink CGTI’s overall strategy, initially raising the company’s online profile by engaging social media around a series of free pandemic-response webinars. Next, taking the C.Dir program online required new technical wherewithal, and innovative thinking on how to sell the ‘virtual’ product to shell-shocked executives who were working at home or not at all.

To their credit, as told by CGTI’s co-founders, Ashlyn and Desmer took the unprecedented challenge and ran with it, resulting in such a successful transition to the online platform that delegates are signing up by dozens for the 2021 calendar of programs. And what a packed schedule it is, including  Audit Committee Certification in January, May and September, as well as Financial Literacy Certification in June and October, Chartered Director Programs in February, April, July and November, and a brand new Chartered Corporate Secretary Program starting in March.

For the full 2021 calendar, and to register for online learning events from Caribbean Governance Training Institute, please visit CaribbeanGovernanceTraining.com.

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