Dr Patricia Downes-Grant stands at the top of the finance industry in Barbados, having conquered the obstacles facing women in business.
Yesterday, Downes-Grant was honoured at the graduation ceremony of University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona Campus, where she was conferred with the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws.
Downes-Grant, who is the chief executive officer and President of the Sagicor Life Limited in Barbados, a position which she has held since 2006, encouraged graduates to embrace change.
"Unfortunately, education has been seen only as a route to employment in government, a corporation or in a profession rather than the basis for creating entrepreneurship.
"Entrepreneurship does not require us to be the first to have an idea. We need to recognise how to transform the idea into innovation," she declared.
"The world is depending on you to bring top-quality thinking and ideas to the table. You are the job creators and the social engineers of this world. Grasp every opportunity to create a niche and be the best you can be," added Downes-Grant.
Co-founder and president of Riverwood Capital in California, Nicholas Brathwaite was also conferred with an honorary degree of Doctor of Science.
Brathwaite has started or led several technology businesses which earned between US$50 million and US$6 billion and, along the way, helped to pioneer the development of low-cost cell phones for developing countries.
In the meantime, chancellor of the UWI, Professor Sir George Alleyne, was overwhelmed, as he pointed to a 26.7 per cent increase in the number of males who graduated. This, he said, is the highest increase in five years.
"We are absolutely proud of this achievement and it is certainly in line with the university's goal to matriculate more males and
to ensure that more males
graduate," he declared.