Robert Robertson is president of the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute and recently received an Executive Certificate in Strategy and Innovation at MIT Sloan Executive Education. In this interview, Dr. Robertson shares his thoughts about the experience and how he has applied those lessons in his professional endeavors
Initially, what made you consider the MIT Sloan Executive Certificate?
The reason I chose the MIT Sloan Executive Certificate was because of the reputation of the School and recommendations from previous attendees.
Can you share some lessons learned from your MIT Sloan experience? Were you able to apply them in your workplace?
The scope and speed of change challenges us all to think outside the box, and these programs afforded the means to address that reality. The training was very practical and relevant. The programs provided excellent cases and exercises that engaged everyone, and in addition, there was a very good range of participants, which added value to the work. Also, the ability to link disruptive innovation to my work was very useful.
What were the highlights of your experience with the programs you completed?
The instructors, the environment, the materials, and the planning by all involved were highlights of the programs. In fact, I have retained the materials and still use them. They are excellent! All of the faculty presenters were well prepared, and the sessions were definitely world class. It is difficult for me to single out any one instructor in particular. In my experience, all of the professors reached an exceptionally high standard across the board.
Was there anything that surprised you about the programs?
What surprised me initially was the consistent quality across all of the courses. Also, the diversity of the cohorts and the ease with which you could work with the participants was really a plus. It was an enriching experience to be able to work with people from so many different factions. For example, I had course mates from the U.S. military, the European commission, and a large Japanese company. The differences in terms of experience that the participants brought to the table were applicable immediately to my current situation.
Were you able to connect with your classmates? If so, what were the benefits of doing so?
The networking opportunities were an important aspect of the classes. I have had good connections from the certificate experience and have maintained contacts in Southeast Asia, Hanoi, and Ho Chi Minh, who have shared emerging issues, trends, and problems—and given me good feedback, which has assisted me in my teaching.
Did the programs meet your expectations? Would you recommend them to colleagues? Overall, the programs exceeded my expectations. They were well organized, and the takeaway materials were excellent. I found the programs to be a very useful and well worth the time and energy to attend. I would highly recommend the experience.
Out of all of the post doctorate opportunities open to me, I feel the MIT leadership and global economics programs have been very valuable. I was reading an article recently about how to future proof your career. The article noted that it is crucial to be a lifelong learner, irrespective of where you sit. You need to think about your value to your employer or your organization, and constantly update your skills. At this stage in my career, I don’t need any more degrees, but I do need to keep learning. That’s what MIT has provided and I am determined to get back there in 2017 to enroll in additional courses.
Please share some details about your recent appointment as President of the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute.
As President, I operate the community college for the Bahamas. We have approximately 2,500 students and 100 faculty and staff. There are three campus locations. To better serve the islands, we are adopting a more distance learning orientation using online and blended courses and programs. Our focus will be to increase apprentice programs in the trades including ship building, carpentry, and plumbing as examples. The school recently broke ground on a $2.3 million, 6,600-square-foot structure that will feature eight smart classrooms, which will foster interactive learning and multi-media audio and visual systems.
I was recruited here and am very pleased with this opportunity to assist the population of this country and help them to advance by building local capacity. I think the breath of my experience and the MIT background has led to this appointment, as well as the Fulbright Program.
Tell us about The Fulbright Specialist Program and the Emerging Leader in the Americas Programme (ELAP).
The Fulbright was an incredible experience. I was able to visit the Faculty of Economics at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. While there, I conducted a series of workshops focusing on best practices in online learning. Certainly the online component will directly impact me as we are adding this dimension to our programs here in the Bahamas. In addition, I was able to serve as a Visiting Professor in the International Master of Business program.
Also, I was recently selected as an emerging leader in the ELAP by the Government of Canada’s Department of Global Affairs. Organized by the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE), the purpose of the ELAP is to promote democratic governance, peace and security and prosperity in the region. The ELAP scholarship is designed to support the development of human capital and the next generation of leaders in the Americas while strengthening the linkages between post-secondary institutions in Canada and Latin America and the Caribbean.
Did the Executive Education Certificate play a part in these recent appointments? If so, how?
The MIT Sloan Executive Education experience is a tangible representation of my interest in lifelong learning. There is no question the experience was very helpful in assisting me in achieving my goals in both my appointment as President and the Fulbright. I am very thankful for the opportunity to have participated in these programs and earn a certificate as a result.
Learn more about earning an MIT Sloan Executive Certificate.
Robertson has taught in the United States, Europe, Brazil, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Canada, where he served in local government in a number of Canada’s municipalities. In addition to his current position, He has more than 15 years of experience in the education industry as a teacher and administrator.