Name: Alian Ollivierre.
Education: Kingston University, London (Britain); University of Kent, Canterbury (Britain); The Lodge School.
Qualifications: MSc (Hons) in international relations; LLB (Hons).
Occupation: Entrepreneur/business development consultant.
If you were sitting in the audience listening to the MC introducing you, what would he say?
That’s a tough question for me to answer, because I normally don’t think of things like this, or about what I would like people to say about me. However, I imagine an MC might summarize my various achievements over time, and some personality traits which have contributed to my success.
But, more importantly, it would be more pleasing to me for the MC to highlight some success stories of the girls who benefited from I Am A Girl Barbados, and individuals or companies attaining or improving professional and business excellence through my assistance at Gateway International.
What drives you and keeps you motivated? What are you passionate about?
The cause that keeps me most motivated is the development of youth, and the impact that is achieved whether through programmes with I Am A Girl Barbados, or my business endeavours under Gateway International. I am an avid advocate for youth succession, and comprehensive growth, and I tend to build all my actions around just that, which is where my passion lies.
Do you have a philosophy that your life is governed by?
The only “philosophy” I believe I have ever really taken to heart is to believe in self, never regret, and that there is no need to shout. Make success speak for itself.
What four words best describe you?
It is quite difficult to just utilize four words to describe myself; however, if I am forced to they would be opinionated; intelligent; ambitious; professional.
Having left secondary school, you attended the University of Kent to pursue undergraduate studies in law. Why this field?
There was actually quite a process between secondary school and university, which would take much longer than a brief response. However, after various steps from college to even UWI, my decision came primarily from working at Aythawn International Law Chambers for one year. It was an opportunity I went after, and it inspired me to pursue my law degree.
Having completed your LLB, you didn’t naturally progress to law school to become an attorney. Were you more focused on understanding law rather than practising it?
There was so much more I desired to learn, other than just law. I always saw law as a foundation for where my intelligence could take me, and I elected straight out of law school to take a gap year or two. This provided numerous opportunities for me to gain valuable international experience in both legal and corporate entities.
That for me was where my true growth came as a professional, and also propelled my understanding of the law, and its ability to be utilized in so many more fields other than being an attorney solely.
In 2011 you continued to further your education by attending the Kingston University, London, to pursue a MSc in international relations. What motivated this decision, and why this area?
The desire to attain this Master’s was to build upon my existing academic achievements, and build more research and knowledge around my home base, and region. I was, and still am, quite intrigued by agreements and decisions made territory to territory, and felt I could someday utilize the same to aid my country’s progression on an international scale.
If you were presented a ticket to anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
I would definitely visit the Maldives, South Asia. There is a familiarity there about island life, but also tranquility I would truly enjoy. Plus the fact, I met one of the most kind-hearted individuals, and now dear friend, on my trip to Samoa in 2014, who lives in the Maldives. I would have a world of fun with that reunion.
If you had the ability to solve one global issue, what would it be?
I would, without a doubt, solve, firstly, the problem of violence against women and girls, and of course by extension eliminate violence in general.
If you could go back in time, from the day you entered secondary school, what one piece of advice would you give yourself?
I would encourage the importance of empathy. As most youth are, even today, I was not as mindful about how my actions or words might affect others. Most importantly, as I got older, I am now better able to internalize that each individual is going through something (emotionally, mentally and physically), and kindness goes a long way, even if not reciprocated immediately.
You currently serve on the advisory board of the Caribbean Regional Youth Council (CRYC). What is the role of the CRYC in relation to youth development?
The CRYC is a strategic youth governance and advocacy movement with one voice, working towards regional representation, integration and cooperation as a platform for youth development. CRYC’s role and establishment came through regional youth leaders strongly believing there was a need to establish and sustain functional, democratic National Youth Councils in every Caribbean country to facilitate the development of youth by serving as an essential engine not only for advancing the cause of youth, but as a catalyst towards democracy, social transformation and good governance.
Thus, the Regional Youth Council was recognized as the vehicle through which that could be achieved.
In 2014 you were privileged to be a speaker and facilitator at the Economic And Social Global Youth Forum (ECOSOC) at UN Headquarters in New York. What topic did you speak on and what was the focus of the Q&A segment you facilitated?
I spoke on Employment And Entrepreneurship For Youth primarily, and gave brief accounts of general knowledge about the same for Barbados, and by extension the Caribbean (SIDS) region. The focus of the Q&A was built on the same and captured under the segment of Promoting Youth Employment.
From my recollection, in a nutshell, I placed emphasis on our regional lack of youth succession planning and management, and scarce amounts of available research on youth unemployment and underemployment. I encouraged regional heads, influencers, schools and various programmes to consider restructuring the training provided into more comprehensive means, imperative for giving youth the necessary skills for employment; even to university graduates who often lacked such skills as business etiquette and customer service, for example.
Additionally, I was quite frank about Caribbean individuals often staying in the workforce until age 70, making it difficult for younger workers to enter. Further to that I stressed the need to target the public and private sectors to change their attitudes towards youth volunteerism, which was often not seen as “real work” or “real experience”.
You sat on the board of directors of Junior Chamber International. What can you tell us about this organization, and how can young people be a part of it?
Junior Chamber International (JCI) is the largest not-for-profit organization in the world, with a global membership base of over 200,000 young active citizens, aged between 18 and 40, drawn from over 115 countries, that in 2015 celebrated 100 years of impact.
The Barbados arm of the organization, formerly known as the Barbados Jaycees, for over 50 years has been providing developmental opportunities that empower young people to create positive change through a series of programmes designed to give back to the community, instil project and financial management skills, and foster entrepreneurship. JCI Barbados was instrumental in building the National Stadium, the first lifeguard stations and the first two nursery schools.
In recent times, projects have included the Mathfanatix programme, where members of JCI Barbados assist Class 4 students in strengthening their mathematical skills in preparation for the Common Entrance Examination; Special Day For Special Children where children with special needs enjoy a day filled with fun, food and laughter hosted by JCI Barbados; Project Mission Empowerment, which gives students between the ages of 16 and 25 the opportunity to challenge their minds as to their development and growth; and Green Roots that focuses on sensitizing Barbados to the environmental challenges within the community.
Youth can easily get involved (volunteer/member) through making contact directly with the board via [email protected], and expressing an interest.
Tell us about I Am A Girl Barbados.
This is a not-for-profit organization I currently chair, and founded back in 2014, on and around the International Day Of The Girl Child. I Am A Girl Barbados usually referred to as “The Community” focuses on the comprehensive development of Barbadian girls aged five to 18. We utilize forms of traditional and non-traditional teachings to which they are not accustomed, under our flagship programme Generation Y, which includes an after-school club, sleep-in retreat at Easter, and a daily summer camp.
We also place emphasis on mentorship through the philosophy Reach One, Teach One. Our mission is to inspire, empower, and provide opportunities for young girls to lead and create positive change; and our long-reaching vision is to develop a positive shift in community spirit, and build an everlasting sisterhood among girls of every variety of background, locally and regionally.
Generally, our community of 18 members currently contributes tangibly to the overall growth of approximately 50 girls and have intangibly, since inception, to well over 500 through drama therapy and creative expression. We also aid in the development of a percentage of those, who may have been exposed to domestic abuse, sexual abuse and violence, in many forms.
Although young at heart, we have made significant achievements over the past year and half –– from being recognized for the impact we have made thus far with our mentees through an inaugural award from London, the With & For Girls Award 2015; just concluding our second annual Generation Y: Easter Retreat in 2016, when we jumped from ten participants to 30; to partnering with one of the biggest female brands worldwide –– Always –– through sponsorship from Bryden Stokes.
I would have to say this is one of my more impactful accomplishments to date, and I am proud to not only aid in the development of the current generation, and others to come, but witness, even now, a community spirit culture being formed among the girls and mentors.
What is Gateway International and what motivated you to start it?
It is a professional branding and business development consultancy firm. We are a training and consultancy agency for both individuals and businesses, and provide services ranging from personal branding, employability training, to business development and management.
I originally started this business primarily because I always felt there were no true comprehensive channels which youth could take advantage of, as it related to building a brand for self and/or business, especially in the Caribbean. This came really through my seven-year experience of living and working in Britain, and quickly coming to the realization I could easily be a fish out of water in terms of employment and business development, as a young professional, if learning quickly and smartly was not an asset I had.
In Week 7 of my first year of university internationally, one of my tutors requested CVs and bios within 24 hours from select students in the class, my being one of them. I felt the pressure, as it would be my first opportunity to showcase myself to my tutor, a British-based attorney and an international renowned author, as a strong contender for his internship proposition.
I also felt confident about what I was presenting, because of my previous experience in a law firm back in Barbados. However, that quickly changed, after I got a glimpse of the quality distributed to the tutor by other students, who did not even have the level of experience I was offering. I did not, at that time, get the internship, which was fine, but I used that as a driving force to never again be that girl.
I was intrigued by a standard that I had never experienced before, and promised that I would utilize my time in Britain to soak up as much of their natural high level of performance, and translate it in to helping others in the Caribbean who would not know any better. Thus, Gateway International was born.
What are some of the habits you have developed that have contributed to your success and work attitude?
Some of the top habits would have to be:
1. My ability to be quick to action. If I know something needs to be done or can be done, I usually just get on with it.
2. Being an effective communicator. I tend to be extremely detailed, leaving no stone unturned.
3. Doing things the right way. I believe you should always aim to be the best you, in any circumstance, can be, and especially so in business. I am a stickler for ensuring there is no need for a second chance.
4. Asking loads of questions. I love to have all details before me to reach my goals. Because of that, I query for clarity and understanding.
What do you love most about yourself?
I love that my independence has allowed me to see people as just that –– people. I love that I refuse to generate this status barrier that plagues our society, where people equate power or importance with titles and positions.
As a default setting, for me all people are equal. That level of thinking allows me to be aware that whether I am catering to a client of a multimillion-dollar business, or a college dropout now starting a business, the quality provided should always be the same. What I love most about myself would be my mindset.
Are there any persons you would love to highlight and say thank you to –– those who have contributed to your development and success?
Firstly, I must thank God for providing me with life, love, and wisdom, all my abilities, and strength to be who I am today. Secondly, in more recent times, I would have to highlight my partner, who has contributed tremendously to my overall balance of mind, spirit and life. He champions my every step, both in business and philanthropically. I could not ask for anyone better.
However, without a doubt my biggest cheerleader, supporter, advisor and friend needs to be acknowledged; and that is my mother. She has dedicated her life to ensuring my development is sound, and has always made sure I had everything I needed educationally –– not only in the traditional sense.
She would always say to me that learning should be seen as an investment; and that is one thing she would always support me in. Further, without her momentum I would never have thought of giving back to my community. She is actually the one who got me one of my first volunteer opportunities as a teenager within a disabilities school for youth.
Seeing the challenges they faced every day and yet not let such hold them back has stuck with me. It makes me determined to be anything I desire.
As a single mother, even with all her challenges, she made me her No. 1 priority. Her encouragement, wisdom and dedication
to my development will never be forgotten.
(If you are a young Barbadian professional or know of any worthy of being highlighted for their amazing contribution, please contact us at [email protected])