Investor impressed with local work ethic
Barbados’ intellectual talent and work ethic has left a lasting impression on Simone Hildebrand.
The chief executive officer (CEO) of GeekSeat, a global technology services and staffing company, was aware of Barbados’ reputation as a holiday destination – not as much about its academic excellence.
Now, having expanded the operations of GeekSeat USA to Barbados, the investor already has some of this highly-educated workforce on board and is looking to recruit more.
As an IT consulting firm, GeakSeat comes up with innovative ways to solve client’s problems with software. Its team creates solutions for all industries, from creating the software application, to helping them build their website and promote their product.
Hildebrand, whose journey here was facilitated by the expert advice and support of the team at Invest Barbados, shared that when compared to countries in Asia and Latin America, Barbados was not the cheapest destination.
She also noted that there were other domiciles where English was spoken, including by people in these two regions. So what is it about Barbados that has impressed her and the GeekSeat team?
“What surprised me is the work ethic and the attitude, I didn’t expect it. The Caribbean does a fantastic job as somewhere you go on holiday and you don’t do much,” she said.
“The media really pitch the Caribbean as having a really poor work ethic and that’s what I was expecting when I got here and that’s not what I was presented with. I was surprised by the work ethic, I was surprised by the number of educated people. If you are looking at cheap, it isn’t cheap, if you are looking at academic excellence, oh yes.”
Hildebrand saw “a massive opportunity to bring business here”.
“I believe I can build a very large part of our operations here because of the intellectual resources here.”
The CEO explained that technical resources were hard to find globally at the moment.
However, she was confident that when Barbados’ talented workforce was combined with GeekSeat’s heavy focus on technical training her company and this country would reap significant benefits from their relationship.
“If you have got the right attitude, we will train you. We could easily build a large development team here,” she said.
GeekSeat already has 19 staff members in Barbados. Hildebrand said the company hoped to have a team of 80 here within six months.
“I have a bunch of talented people who are going to get trained in the tech space and they are really impressing me right now. Digital marketers are something we need in our business so we have got three digital marketers starting,” she said.
GeekSeat is also interested in having software developers and senior accounting professionals among its employees in Barbados.
“I’ve got a global financial services business and I am looking to supplement the team for that, but we have to do a lot of training and that’s what we do. I can see the potential and we always start from scratch,” Hildebrand stated.
GeekSeat global team comprises software developers, graphic designers, business analysts, recruitment specialists, development/operations engineers, software testers and other supporting roles.
The company said its culture “is strongly based on our core values of sharing of knowledge, intellectual growth, excellence, cooperation and inclusiveness”. The firm works very closely with the deaf community and disabled groups to offer employment opportunities to candidates with all kinds of unique abilities.
“Our goal is to be the premier software company for both client and employee engagement. By providing fantastic customer service, on-time delivery, and smart and innovative solutions. Our smart and innovative solutions are provided by smart, keen, engaged employees, who have the opportunity to use their skills to their full capacity, and develop new skills in the process,” said Geekseat.
Attract more investors
“GeekSeat is the perfect development partner for any organisation looking to externally resource or extend their current development team – in particular software houses, information technology departments, and digital marketing agencies.
Hildebrand said that as information technology consultants, GeekSeat’s expertise was focused on staffing, projects, and solutions. In other words, she noted, the company was the answer “if you have a problem that can be solved with software”.
She is confident that the Barbados operation will be a success, and thinks the island will attract more investors once it improves its business facilitation in some areas.
“To bring other companies here you have to fix the systems. Make systems electronic and it wouldn’t cause job losses just employment opportunities in other areas. Make it easier to incorporate businesses,” she suggested.
Hildebrand also believed it is important to accelerate the rate at which a bank account can be opened in Barbados. This would “solve the ease of funds transfer”, she observed, adding that it would also attract more investors.
The business executive also wanted other impediments resolved, including the ease of transacting business with tax and social security authorities.
These recommended improvements notwithstanding, GeekSeat is keen and determined to grow its business here.
However, for Hildebrand whatever shortcomings existed were outweighed by the intellectual talent Barbados had to offer. (SC)