Five months after the University of Guyana’s School of Entrepreneurship and Business, (SEBI) was launched, Dean of the new institution, Guyanese-born Professor Leyland Lucas has told the Stabroek Business that some of the challenges that repose in ensuring that the institution delivers on its mandate repose in the fact that “it is different. It is not an orthodox Business School”.
From the outset SEBI had committed to what it had determined from careful research was the need to respond to a counterproductive deficit in disciplines related to operating in both the public and private sectors in areas related to the effective delivery of goods and services. Not surprisingly, therefore, SEBI has found itself challenged by a student body that is anything but conventional, comprising as it does classes ranging from students with orthodox academic ambitions to those whose livelihoods depend on grasping the essentials necessary to run a business of their own.
“Some of our students have come to us with challenges that have nothing to do with academia. They are simply preoccupied with finding answers to those questions that have to do with running their own businesses,” Lucas told Stabroek Business. “Frankly, we recognize that some of our courses are still not fully developed to meet those needs. We hope that this will happen in the second term.”
But there is, he says, an upside to the complex mix of interests that comprise SEBI’s classes. Lucas embraces the outcomes of interaction on business issues that bring together the orthodox students and the ‘hard-nosed’ hustlers in exchanges that pit the orthodoxy of business theory against how it works in practice. Lucas believes that the outcomes of these exchanges are almost always more rewarding. What has transpired since July has reinforced his view that SEBI itself remains a work in progress and that the tweaking to ensure that it becomes the ‘correct fit’ to meet the needs of the students will have to persist for some time.
For the lecturers the ‘journey’ has been an interesting one. Lucas says that they have learnt to deal with the dichotomy between and amongst the interests that obtain inside the classroom. “What this means is that we tend to have conversations rather than lecturers. They are structured in a manner that allows for conversations rather than lectures. We want the business people to be part of the conversations.
Long before SEBI had launched its classes it had been engaging both public and private sector institutions. Those discourses, Lucas says, persists, with agencies like the state-run Small Business Bureau which has already collaborated with SEBI to stage a business symposium.
Professor Lucas sees 2018 as a breakout year during which SEBI will intensify its engagements with both the public and private sectors with a views to determining how its offerings can improve the effectiveness of their operations. Outside of the state agencies that include entities like the Guyana Office for Investment (Go-Invest) SEBI’S 2018 ‘to do’ list also includes meetings with the Private Sector Commission, the Guyana Manufacturing & Services Association, the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) and the Guyana Association of Bankers.
In 2018 SEBI seeks to further promote what it has to offer. Professor Lucas told Stabroek Business that ongoing discussions with the banking community could lead to the rolling out of a Diploma in Banking and Finance. Next year will also see SEBI offering a Customer Service Certificate Programme for the medical sector.