Ity business-like about MBA
The first few times Ian 'Ity' Ellis sat in the Master of Business Administration (MBA) class last year, some fellow students were scanning the room for a hidden camera, believing it was yet another prank for the Ity & Fancy Cat Show.
There was none.
As a member of the quarter-century-old comedic duo Ity & Fancy Cat, Ellis would have had to handle multiple events on a single day or night. But looking towards graduating from the University of the West Indies' Mona School of Business and Management next year when he completes an MBA (Master of Business Administration), he is mulling another type of event clash.
For not only will he be graduating, but so will one of his daughters, from the UWI as well, plus another daughter from high school. Chuckling, he told The Gleaner he has already told his wife, Karen, that he does not know how she will handle the multiple markers of academic achievement..
The last of eight children, that academic accomplishment is particularly important to Ellis because of a lapse, which he knows disappointed his late mother.
"My mother, who is now in a better place, was adamant about education," Ellis said. So she would not have been happy when he did not complete sixth form at St George's College. "If she was alive today, she would be very proud to see me studying at this level," he said.
Along with all the jokes and laughter in live performances or for television, Ellis has always been an accountant, taking on the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) up to Level Two. The creative and business have mixed before this, though not as closely, as when he was employed to Island Jamaica, Ellis was the accountant for the film,s Dancehall Queen and Third World Cop. "I was thinking I wanted to be in front of the camera," Ellis said.
Then, in the early days of Ellis International, the family business, which deals primarily in matters of comedy, he was the accountant, although he subsequently relinquished that role. Still, he said, in dealing with persons on a business level, "they learn quickly Ity has a background in accounting".
Even with the real-world experience and formal accounting training, Ellis credits a higher power for getting him into the MBA programme. "Without God, I would not even go to school," said Ellis, who is a Christian. "Is prayer why I am doing this course." That prayer came from the assistant of the programme's director, who held Ellis's hands and prayed before he went in for the deciding interview.
He describes it as "intensive", with classes on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. Of course, there are times when he has to move very quickly to balance show business and school business. However, the classroom has already had an impact on the former. "I have a different eye," Ellis said. It is a matter of process as he said: "I am using the steps, I am learning how we can do it better."
The reverse is also true as Ellis has applied his drama skills to a presentation that referenced former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson, someone he has imitated several times on stage. "They bring their skills, and I bring mine," Ellis said about working with his classmates.
And as he graduates, Ellis intends to apply his knowledge fully to the creative industry. "I want to see some new talents now. I want to nurture some talents that are coming up," he said.