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Sunday Success - Valda Alleyne, PhD

Managing Director and Principal Consultant

Who is Dr. Valda Alleyne?

I am a mother of one loving daughter and a doting grandmother of two high-energy children: a boy (13 years) and a girl (8 years). I am a quiet person who enjoys helping others to achieve their goals. I seek to achieve a high standard in whatever I undertake, whether it is single-handedly or with others. I believe that in life, one should plan (if you do not plan, anywhere will take you there – the Alice in Wonderland concept). Work towards your goal, whether it is a personal or professional, and should you encounter any challenge(s), find a solution to overcome the challenge(s). I have also learnt that we may have plans, but God has His plans for us as I have experienced in my professional and personal life. God knows and sees all, and His plan is always perfect.

My career journey was not a smooth ride, and the personal and professional challenges have made me the woman I am today. My daughter Kiana says I am 'phenomenal' as she was with me through most of these challenges. One of the personal difficulties occurred during my final year examinations of my Bachelor's programme. My husband, her dad, died suddenly from an asthma attack. Well-meaning persons expressed concern that I should postpone my exams. However, I did not as I had worked so hard to prepare for those exams in some stressful situations.

Professionally, the challenges encountered have allowed me to do lots of introspection and to seek advice from mentors. I am thankful to those persons who advised me and who have contributed to my personal and professional growth. Most of all, to God, for being with me every step of the way! As a result, I am a firm believer that "I can do for all things through Christ who strengthens me". Philippians 4:13, NKJV.

I try to maintain a healthy regime, eating wisely and exercising at the gym and dance fit. I am learning to draw and paint, and I am now enjoying backyard gardening.

Tell us a bit about your career journey.

When I was in my teens, I would assist children who had disabilities, and I loved seeing the smiles on their faces when they were able to draw or paint something. I was also a member of a group that regularly visited one of the Children's homes. From these activities, I wanted to work in Occupational Therapy or a related field. On leaving secondary school, I did not have the funding to pursue further education overseas. Being unable to obtain a scholarship, I immediately set about trying to get a job to help my parents with household expenses. I also sought to pursue further studies at the Barbados Community College (BCC) and gradually work towards my goal.

I wanted to obtain a job in the Civil Service as I felt that it was more stable than a job in the private sector. After registering at the Personnel Administration Division, I would go there every week to find out if any jobs were available. I recall going there one week feeling a bit frustrated. The lady assigned to the desk for Clerical Officers kindly said to me that she noted that I was always coming every week and to go home, and she will let me know if something comes up. Within a few days, she called me to let me know that someone was going on vacation leave and to come and collect a letter. My first job was therefore as a Clerical Officer, assigned to the Registry in the Ministry of Employment, Labour Relations and Community Development. Fortunately, the person did not return. While working in Registry, I become intrigued about employment issues from reading the International Labour Organization (ILO) journals when work was light.

I was subsequently promoted to the post of Statistical Assistant in the newly created Manpower Research and Statistical Unit (MRSU) of the Ministry. This role not only sparked my interest in Statistics but also my passion for Human Resource Development. By that time, I had finished BCC and decided to pursue a Bachelors degree in Economics and Management at The University of the West Indies (The UWI) Cave Hill Campus. The Ministry also provided me with training in Statistics at The UWI Mona Campus in Jamaica and the USA Department Bureau of Labour Statistics in Washington, DC. With the encouragement of the Head of the MRSU, I created the first Statistical Digest for the Ministry participated in Manpower Surveys which were great learning tools.

After completing my Bachelors, I applied for the post of Guidance and Placement Officer at the Student Revolving Loan Fund (SRLF). I enjoyed this newly created role as it allowed me to advise persons not only on educational choices but on employment possibilities and placement on return from studies. While at the SRLF, I decided to further my studies at the University of Manchester, United Kingdom, where I pursued its one-year Master of Science in Human Resource Development. I subsequently left the SRLF and took up the post of Senior Economist at the newly created National Productivity Council (NPC). I enjoyed and learnt a lot about the status of productivity and performance management schemes in Barbados. I also co-authored a study with Professor (now Emeritus) Andrew Downes on 'Evaluation of Gainsharing Schemes in Barbados' which was published in the Economic Review (1998) of the Central Bank of Barbados. The opportunity came again for me to utilize my skills and knowledge in the post of Senior Technical Officer when the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Council was established. I spent four years there managing activities such as the development of occupational standards.

I returned to the central government as the acting Deputy Principal Training Officer at Training Administration Division. This position offered me the opportunity to assist with the management of training and development in the Public Service, delivering training presentations, amongst other key responsibilities. After five years there, I applied for the post of Executive Director at the Barbados Accreditation Council (BAC) given my growing passion for education and training. This agency seeks to assure the quality of post-secondary/tertiary education and training in Barbados. I hope that I was able to do so during my thirteen (13) years with the Council. The BAC was my last stint in the Public Service as I retired early this year (2020) after forty-four (44) years of total service.

We know that you're the Founder of Valda Alleyne Consulting, tell us about your business.

In January 2020, Valda Alleyne Consulting became operational with its Mission to "Improve the quality of education and the labour market". We offer advisory services regarding:

· Education and the Labour Market Needs

· Internal Quality Assurance (IQA) systems for tertiary/higher education institutions

· Quality Assurance systems in Tertiary/Higher Education

· Competency-Based Education and Training; and

· Educational and Employment Counselling

Tell us your most memorable achievements to date.

One would be attaining the Doctorate in Social Policy from The UWI Cave Hill Campus. I felt that it would be an asset, along with my employment experiences, for my next step after leaving the Public Service.

I commenced this programme in the early years of assuming the post of Executive Director at the BAC. I wanted to ensure that I fulfilled my professional obligations of managing that agency, so I set the goal of attaining that qualification by the time I was sixty (60) years. My thesis topic was constantly evolving as its focus was on the labour market experiences of The UWI Cave Hill graduates in Barbados and the competencies that employers require from graduates entering the labour market. Professor Emeritus Andrew Downes was an excellent supervisor, and I was pleased to accomplish this achievement not only for me but for him as he stuck with me right through always cheering me on. I completed the programme at age 60 but not without many challenges. Still, I learnt from them all to never give up, be confident, ignore negative comments or persons and most importantly, have faith in God!

The other would be fulfilling the desire of my mother Mrs. Mavis Browne, to carry on the Friday School after her passing in 2013. The Friday School allows me to fulfil my dream of assisting children to achieve their highest potential by imparting Christian values for living in this world.

Anything else you'd like to share?

Employers are looking for persons who possess critical core skills such as creativity, innovation, problem-solving, initiative, team work, oral and written communication, adaptability and willingness to learn.

When applying for jobs, you should highlight your achievements and competencies (which is one of the things I did when I applied for jobs within the Public Service – where I emphasized that I had worked with mostly new agencies or sections and the accomplishments achieved). If you are successful for an interview, go prepared in every way to persuade the interviewing panel that you can do the job. For an interview for one of the senior management jobs, I took with me a six-month strategic plan for that agency based on my review of the sector. I believe that contributed to my being successful in getting the job.

Volunteering is also another avenue for obtaining possible employment opportunities. The benefits will be more significant as individuals or even potential employers would be able to observe your performance and attest to your capabilities. It would also provide you with valuable learning experiences, such as whether you would want to continue working in that field.

How can our readers get into contact with you?

Contact numbers: (246) 420-6258 or 232-6466

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter


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