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Williams hails ‘visionary’ Sir Courtney

Williams hails ‘visionary’ Sir Courtney
First Governor of the Central Bank, Sir Courtney Blackman (left), chatting with his successors (from left) Calvin Springer, Winston Cox, Dr Marion Williams and current Acting Governor Cleviston Haynes at the renaming of the Grand Salle to the Courtney Blackman Grande Salle. (FILE)

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Former Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados, Dr Marion Williams, hailed one of her predecessors as a visionary who set high standards and strategic goals for the development of the institution and its staff.

Williams paid tribute to the late Sir Courtney Blackman, Barbados’ first and longest serving Central Bank Governor, who passed away this week in the United States at age 88.

The full statement follows:

The passing of Sir Courtney Blackman is a sad moment for all Barbadians whether or not they knew him. Sir Courtney has left a lasting mark not only on the Central Bank of Barbados where he served with distinction, but on Barbados generally.

He was a visionary. He set high standards for the Bank and conveyed to his staff that nothing else was good enough. He also set himself goals for the Bank and instituted strategic planning in order to achieve those goals. He believed in education and training of his staff and would send them on attachments to prestigious institutions.

Similarly, he launched an education programme in economics and central banking in Barbados so that the ordinary man could understand terms like the ‘balance of payments’ etc. and know how it affected him; helping the public to understand his press conferences and press releases. He was open to foreign banks even when this was not popular and would have been disturbed to learn that some were planning to leave the region.

Sir Courtney represented Barbados with distinction long before he became an ambassador, he was thoughtful and encouraged creative thinking. He saw the Bank as a centre of excellence and worked hard to make that a reality.

Outside of Barbados he helped to frame a concept of the Barbadian intellectual as a thoughtful but practical thinker who appreciated the challenges and compromises of small economies in a world which favoured the powerful, but who continued to work toward overcoming them.

Though he was essentially a Central Banker, he believed that management and management practices were critical to obtaining good outcomes for any institution, not only for the public sector but the private sector as well, and he emphasised this whenever he had the opportunity. In fact, he would frequently quote his favourite management thinker – Peter Drucker – to make his point. As a result of his belief in the importance of good management, several central bankers, and others as well, benefitted from management courses put on locally.

He believed in the social obligation of public institutions and the Central Bank building and the Frank Collymore Hall were examples of his contribution to encouraging cultural and intellectual activities in Barbados, not only by Barbadians but for Barbadians. The Hall and the Grande Salle are examples.

Most importantly he developed a culture of intellectual exchange in the Bank and believed that his staff should be represented in as many international conferences as possible and affordable. As a consequence many of his ex-staff were able to fill top positions in other organisations inside and outside of Barbados. He saw this as a contribution of the Bank to society.

Sir Courtney was able to realize much of his vision for the Bank and by extension for Barbados and we who shared space in the Bank and in the island with him can attest to his outstanding contribution.

I wish to extend our deepest condolences to his family.

May he rest in peace. (PR/SAT)