Chad the big thinker
Name: Chad Blackman.
Education/schools: Christ Church Foundation School, University of Essex.
Qualifications: LLB (law) –– University of Essex.
LLM (international trade law, to be completed in 2015) –– University of Essex.
Occupation: former youth development consultant at the Commonwealth Secretariat in London, England.
If you had to introduce yourself to the world, what would you say?
I am a globally-minded Barbadian citizen, who sees the world as my playground.
What are you passionate about?
Whilst there are a number of areas I have particular interest in, seeing Barbados take its rightful place in global affairs; not as a small open economy, but a nation that excels in every endeavour –– in areas of trade, international finance, sports and the cultural economy. This is at the very essence of my passion.
There is a school of thought which posits that we, as a country, need to become world-class. I beg to differ. Barbados needs to become world-dominant . . . . Not in military terms, but there must be at least two or three key sectors in which the country must be the global standard bearer.
We certainly have the capabilities of attaining such. However, we must reorder our resources (human capital included) to attain such. Attaining such is at the very heart of what drives me as a Barbadian.
What influenced you to pursue law, and why in Britain?
I have a very strong interest in seeing Barbados develop as a nation, whose environment enables it to become one of the most attractive jurisdictions in finance, trade and superior delivery of high-end goods and services. One of the ways in achieving this is through legislation, which allows the country to reorder its affairs over time.
Having a grasp of the law enables me to effectively contemplate the requisite frameworks needed to achieve such. At the personal level, law gives a stability that other careers oft-times do not.
Britain continues to be at the forefront in English law globally. Surely one may ask, why not study law in Barbados?! Studying both the LLB and now LLM international trade law in Britain has allowed me on a day-to-day basis over the past four years to be in an environment where you engage in critical debates on areas of European trade issues, as well as on the development of new modes of English law jurisprudence.
Incidentally, given that Barbados needs to come to terms with the myriad of opportunities (and challenges) that a single market presents, studying law in the EU, allows for me to represent Barbados’ future, which invariably hinges on intricately understanding the global idiosyncrasies of international trade law. As such, this knowledge will at a later date be very important to Barbados’ prospects as a trading nation.
What has the experience been like, and how has it added to you?
To say it has been phenomenal would be an understatement. Settling into a new culture comes with its own nuances. Settling into an already well established legal tertiary culture is another.
To put it into perspective, the University of Essex, like most other British universities, has historically had a society that caters for law students (The Law Society). Unlike many other jurisdictions, which have no demarcation for the classification of lawyers, in England and Wales there exist solicitors and barristers.
The Law Society at Essex invariably catered for those who wanted to pursue the solicitor’s route. Given my interest in the Bar, and seeing there was no society that catered for such, I founded what is now known as the University of Essex Bar Society. The society within one year of being founded, became both the fastest growing and the largest society at Essex.
One of the hallmarks of the society continues to be the formal partnership it has with the Commonwealth Students’ Association as of May, 2014, which represents all tertiary students in the 53 countries of the Commonwealth. The initiative sees tertiary students being advised on legal remedies by the members of the Bar Society. It remains the only society in the world to offer and undertake such a service.
Also, in my final year of the LLB, I joined the local chapter of the European Law Students’ Association (ELSA) at Essex. Upon returning from the International Council Meeting of the 42,000-member, 41-country organization across Europe in Malta (March, 2014), I was elected president of ELSA for Britain. This continues to be a very challenging yet rewarding endeavour.
Official partners of ELSA include the World Trade Organization (WTO), The Council of Europe, DLA Piper, The International Bar Association, CMS Tax, The University of Law amongst others.
In the non-legal sphere, I championed a cause that continues to be close to my heart: empowering fellow Blacks to aspire to greatness. This came in the form of the weekly radio show Talk Black To Me. It focuses on critical issues that the black community (both at Essex and farther afield) have to explore, if as a race we’re meant to create a sustainable global legacy.
Given the above that I undertook all in my final year of the LLB, I won the much coveted International Student Of The Year Award. In doing so, I also became the first male, as well as black person to take it. This award came with an academic scholarship, and as such I’m currently pursuing the LLM international trade law at Essex.
How it added to me may be summed up by stating that I feel both honoured and humble to have been able to leave a tangible legacy at the university. Already, new students in the current academic are deriving tremendous benefits from the initiatives. This more than anything gives me a sense of pride, and is linked to my alma mater’s (Foundation School) Latin motto: Omnibus disce prodesse (Strive to be of service to everyone).
How does it make you feel as a Barbadian to have made these accomplishments?
Very proud. For as long as there is a University of Essex, a Barbadian would have been at the forefront in attaining these accomplishments. As such, it certainly should serve as a motivator to other Barbadians (born and unborn) to –– as part of our Motto posits –– “do credit to my nation wherever I go”.
What led to you meeting Her Majesty the Queen, and were you afraid?
No, I wasn’t afraid. As a former youth ambassador and consultant respectively, I was invited to a reception at Buckingham Palace, where the Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, honoured persons who had contributed to the Commonwealth through youth and education.
Years ago, you were a youth ambassador. Tell us about that.
In a real sense, that was the beginning of my passion to seeing Barbados become the powerhouse it can be. Although I was representing young persons on issues that affected them and also charting the way forward, inter alia solutions to the concerns, the post afforded me the opportunity to see the engine rooms of both state and non-state actors. Invariably this allowed me to see how and why decisions are made, and sparked my interest in law and its application.
Apart from the formal side of things, being a Youth Ambassador for Barbados has blessed me with some great friends across the world, many of whom are now in key decision-making roles in both the public and private sectors.
Has volunteering in youth work prepared you for what you are doing now?
It certainly has. Volunteering to work on behalf of your peers allows you to address critical issues they face, whilst doing introspection as to where we need to be in the collective. Incidentally, it afforded me the opportunity to engage with key decision makers on the local, national and international levels, and ensured that I understood the modalities and complexities alike that are akin to today’s world.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Engaged in practice as an international trade law specialist across the world.
Do you have a vision for Barbados?
Yes. I fast-forward to 2060 where Barbados continues to be the leader in Latin America and the Caribbean in the financial services, trading of goods and services and owning many global patents in the cultural economy.
In order to get there, however, we as nation invariably ought to reorder many of the things we do, and how we do them. For example, a highly competitive Barbados will have a workforce fluent in at least three languages. This puts us on par with (or above) our European/Asian counterparts, and allows for us to attract major foreign investment, as well as to export our expertise and simultaneously engage in the host language.
Young people from an early age, through a state/parent-funded partnership, will be exposed to the international community by spending at least two to three months in key jurisdictions across the globe, thus opening their minds to how the world works. Upon their return they then go into a national developmental incubator, which helps to shape national/foreign policy.
Whilst this interview’s time does not allow for me to go into greater detail, I see a Barbados where the standard of living is comparable to that of Singapore and Norway (at present value), and driven by a “nothing is too big” mentality that will drive our economy in the world.
Who has contributed to your success?
Whilst there are many who have and continue to do so, the following must be highlighted: Jesus Christ, my wife Vicki Blackman, my parents Delvin and Jacqueline Blackman, and former Prime Minister The Right Honourable Owen Arthur.
Any hobbies you enjoy?
Cricket, rugby, listening to music.
What countries have you been to?
All CARICOM countries, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Britain, Cameroon, Canada, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Germany, Israel, Malta, Portugal, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, the United States, and Venezuela.
If you were a shoe, what type would you be and why?
I would be a loafer. It can be worn in both a business, as well as casual setting. This links to my personality where I often am required to adapt to particular circumstances whilst remaining the same at the core.
Name three people you would love to meet.
Sir Alex Ferguson (former manager of Manchester United Football Club), Luiz Lula da Silva (former president of Brazil) and Benjamin Netanyahu (prime minister of Israel).
Tell us something unique about you.
I wouldn’t use the word unique, as I’m sure there are those with the same attribute. However, I have the gift of having a voice range from soprano to bass.
Incidentally, at the age of 60 (all things being equal), I hope to open a music studio, where I create music/fusion of beats for recreational purposes.
Name four books you would encourage people to read.
The Bible; When China Rules The World by Martin Jacques; Losing My Virginity by Richard Branson (an account on how his business empire was created); and Man For All Seasons by Robert Bolt.
What keeps you going and focused?
My strong conviction of the principles and doctrines of Christianity, as well as my passion for ensuring I can provide a wholesome and sustainable life for my family. Every day, I think: how will my actions improve the life of my daughter Paige? And also on a larger level: how will my efforts be recorded after I pass this earth? Hopefully that I made a tangible impact on the way of life to those whom my actions were linked to.
What encouragement do you have for young people?
Think big/global. Have a strategy to implement the idea(s) that you have. Young people (and people generally) must always believe they have the innate ability to be great –– not on a small scale, but in the biggest way possible. This, along with never forgetting that we are all mortal and, as such, treating your fellowman with the utmost dignity and respect will open doors that the largest amounts of global wealth can’t.
(Today’s Future is produced by C2JFoundationInc. in partnership with BarbadosTODAY.)