Sheree Baron is a Guyanese-born Canadian citizen who migrated to Canada at the age of seven, a matter of months before Guyana became independent in 1966. These days, she is engaged in her second stint of ‘national ‘service, sharing her skills as a businesswoman and a teacher mostly with Guyanese women seeking to make their mark in business.
Her motivation, she says, has to do mostly with wanting to do her part to stem the sustained tide of criticism that her country has had to sustain abroad, as if Guyana can get nothing right. Her approach is simple. If she can help some of her countrywomen to do well at business, perhaps the products and services of excellence that they conceptualize, make and market to the world can help better present Guyana abroad.
During the 1990s she came to Guyana on an assignment with the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA) and worked in the hotel and hospitality industry, with the late
Richard Humphrey at the Hotel Tower and with Nigel and Cathy Hughes on the Ariantze/Sidewalk Café. She is modest about her input but says that her concern was with setting standards. “The service sector,” she says, “is all about selling standards.”
Baron’s second stint of ‘national’ service began in 2013. Her mission then was an extension of her earlier goal of higher service and product delivery standards to better market Guyana overseas. Back in Canada she had founded the Innovative Management Strategies (IMS) Business Academy which she says seeks to “build operations management excellence in individuals and companies,” the curriculum’s primary concerns being with inculcating “management and supervisory skills, leadership and team-building, problem-solving and small business management education and training.”
The IMS Business Academy is already registered in Guyana and Baron says she aims to open the institution to local students towards the end of April. She says IMS will seek to develop an approach to service delivery that is tailored to suit local circumstances. Her aim, she says, is to “develop local partnerships” in order to provide local programmes “within regions that have a recognized need for our services.” Beyond the classroom sessions she is keen to work in areas that range from “front line service providers to executives in the boardroom, to helping companies ensure that their people are ready and able to lead.”
Success, she believes, feeds on effort and in that regard she is not afraid to fret over what she believes is sometimes an absence of full commitment amongst some aspiring business types here in Guyana. She recalls her disappointment with representatives of a sector with which she has worked in Guyana.
When she talks about women in business she is blunt and forthcoming. Success, she says, comes through marketing yourself first and she is not always convinced that this is the case with aspiring businesswomen here. She talks about the need to infuse into the business culture “a propensity for dressing and speaking for success.” She believes that “much of it is about getting people to take you seriously.” Not surprisingly, she talks about her special interest in helping women business leaders and aspiring business leaders ‘raise their game’ through mentoring. Women who are leaders in business “need to be exposed to the right kinds of business opportunities, they need to show potential investors, commercial banks and other institutions, why they should be taken seriously. Currently on assignment with Visions of Excellence, another local training institution, Baron says the experience of meeting with aspiring businesswomen has done much to help her shape her own envisaged curriculum for the IMS Academy.
She speaks repeatedly about understanding “the business culture” that obtains and says that cultivating that understanding is critical to delivering a quality of service that will bring about an enhanced and more rewarding business climate for Guyanese women.