Some places in the world tend to be hotspots for certain types of talent. Silicon Valley has given the world a legion of innovative technology entrepreneurs, Germany is known for its engineers, and Switzerland has long been a producer of banking and insurance executives.
While Trinidad and Tobago is already famous for its musicians, chefs, and beauty pageant champions, it doesn’t always receive the attention it deserves as the birthplace for some of the top global leaders in the fields of business, science, medicine, and technology across the globe.
To help bring attention to some of the islands’ best and brightest, we have previously highlighted standout figures in their fields. Among those profiled are:
- Michael Fisher – Physicist, Chemist, Mathematician, Professor
- Camille Wardrop Alleyne – Space Scientist, NASA Aerospace Engineer
- Professor Anil Kokaram – Google Engineer, Entrepreneur, Engineering Professor
- Wayne A. I. Fredrick MD, MBA, FACS – President of Howard University (US)
- Maxine Williams – Facebook’s Global Director of Diversity
- Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson – Father of the International Criminal Court
- Roger Ramsammy – President of Miami Dade College, West Campus (US)
- Arnold Rampersad – Literary Critic, Biographer, MacArthur Genius
Now, we have set out to showcase others who have been making headlines in recent years. The following are but a few more examples of Trinidadians who are making — or have already made — a mark on the business, scientific, medical, educational, and technology domains at a global level.
Photo: Elliot Gervase Warner, current president and group CEO of Massy Holdings (Credit: Screenshot taken from TEDxPortofSpain)
Trinis Making Their Mark
The long and storied career of Elliot Gervase Warner, current president and group CEO of Massy Holdings, included essential stints in the United States for nearly 20 years. He spent much of his time in North America learning and later working as a partner at international management consulting firm McKinsey & Company Inc.
He gained invaluable experience there leading the company’s client services throughout the Caribbean and gained much experience globally following his time earning his MBA at Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration and a computer science engineering degree at University of Pittsburgh. All before that, he kickstarted his education with a governmental scholarship from the Trinidad and Tobago government in 1983. He has now been with Massy in some form since 2004, where he has become a recognized leadership guru as a Ted Talk host and by rubbing elbows with the likes of Virgin mogul Sir Richard Branson.
One only needs to look at some of the boards and committees that Warner has served on to see his influence: United Way Trinidad & Tobago, Trinidad & Tobago Board of Citigroup Merchant Bank Limited, and the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business. Speaking at a recent Virgin event with Branson, Warner summed up his approach to being a boss: “Personally I’ve always felt that the form of leadership where you’re trying to engage, give them a sense of purpose, and motivate them is really what business should all be about,” he said at the conference.
Few researchers from the Caribbean have been as highly renowned as Courtenay Bartholomew. Formally the emeritus professor of medicine of the University of the West Indies, he is best known for his work diagnosing some of the first known cases of the AIDS epidemic in the region. Bartholemew also contributed “pioneering new approaches to the diagnosis of bowel disease in the Caribbean,” according to according to Trinidad and Tobago’s National Institute of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology (NIHERST).
NIHERST also credits Bartholemew, born in 1932, as “the first West Indian to obtain a specialty degree in the subspecialty of gastroenterology from the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, and in 1965, he was awarded the Doctorate in Medicine (DM) from the National University of Ireland.” He was also awarded Honorary Fellowships from the three Royal Colleges — in Ireland, Edinburgh and London — and has has served as visiting clinical professor at the University of Miami in the United States and McGill University in Canada.
Along with two others, this “icon” of medicine was awarded earlier this year with the Order of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, the nation’s highest honor.
Marilyn N. Raphael is a climatologist from Trinidad and geology professor at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). She was the chair of the university’s department of geography from 2010 to 2013 and has made her name in the field through study and research on climate dynamics in the Southern Hemisphere.
Raphael’s work has focused specifically on climate change, tropical climatology, and analysis of Antarctic sea ice, which led to her becoming a co-chair of the Science Committee of Antarctic Research (SCAR) and involved with the Antarctic Sea Ice Processes and Climate (ASPeCt). She has also been a co-lead of the”Polar Climate Predictability Initiative” of the World Climate Research Programme, which has been a leading global effort to monitor the earth’s climate since 1980 with support from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and UNESCO.
Scientific American is one outlet that has offered a recommendation of a book she co-authored, The Encyclopedia of Weather and Climate Change. “The science of weather — from cloud formation to approaches to slowing and reversing climate change — is clearly and succinctly explained in this wide-ranging, well-illustrated volume,” wrote the publication.
In the world of journalism, Davan Maharaj has had a long and successful career. Until recently he was serving as the publisher of the Los Angeles Times, a position he took on in 2016 after working for five years as the paper’s top editor. Unfortunately, Maharaj landed on the chopping block earlier this year when the iconic newspaper’s parent company, Tronc, made a wholesale change to the leadership after a controversial story about a USC dean and cut four high-ranking editors in addition to the Trinidadian-born publisher.
In all, he worked for the Times for nearly three decades, holding positions of managing editor, foreign editor, and business editor as well as a foreign correspondent reporting from Africa. He has since gone on to serve on the board of the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian Media Ltd (GML) back in his home country.
Winston Singh, a graduate of the University of the West Indies at St. Augustine, also joined the Guardian Media Ltd board of directors this year. A long-time tech industry worker, he has risen to the position of global director of sales, strategy and operations for Google’s marketing solutions division in Silicon Valley.
An MBA holder and former enterprise architect, Singh has worked for the worldwide leader in search, email, and everything else under the sun dating back to at least 2008, when he worked for Google in India.
Earlier this year, Gerneiva Parkinson headed to Silicon Valley in search of support and received a grant to develop a breast cancer screening program from Color Genomics, a California startup founded by former executives at Google and Twitter. The technology, which is based upon DNA sequencing and identifying gene mutation, isn’t entirely novel. It enjoys wide use in highly developed nations — but it has been virtually non-existent in Trinidad and Tobago. She hopes to change that.
To push forward that cause, Parkinson, as outlined by leading U.S. magazine The Atlantic, earned a small research fellowship and started to develop data on high breast cancer rates in her home country. She took this to the Silicon Valley office at Color Genomics and made the convincing case that more screening tests were needed. Impressed with the work, they awarded her an initial grant to conduct hundreds of tests and offered to supply genetic counselors to help streamline the implementation.
Recognized as a leading thinker in his field, Anthony Guiseppi-Elie serves as professor in the biomedical engineering department at Texas A&M University in the United States. His work and coverage areas have been vast, including a particular focus on bioelectronics, biochips, microfabrication, and the integration of arrays into biomedical diagnostic devices. He has published related findings in many of the industry’s leading journals and also worked as an editor for the publication “Bioengineering” as well as associate editor of “Biomedical Microdevices.”
During his career, Guiseppi-Elie has been honored with a host of international fellowships highlighting this contributions to this field. These include the AIMBE fellow, Royal Society of Chemistry fellow, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers fellow. His list of academic achievements is nearly as long, with degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST), and the University of West Indies in Trinidad.