Carrol Mohamed, Trinidad and Tobago – Top Paper Award in Project Management studied at SITAL College of Tertiary Education and self-study

Carrol Mohamed -I come from a family of five which consists of both parents, one older sister and one younger brother.  Both parents came from lower income households and could not fulfil their educational goals.  My siblings and I also grew up in the same lower income household but my mother was instrumental in encouraging me and my siblings to further our studies as a way of getting out of the same financial bracket that both they and their parents were in.   

My parents could not have afforded tertiary education for me so when I got employed at the University of the West Indies in 1996 at the age of twenty three I decided that it was the perfect opportunity to accomplish this goal.  Staff members were allowed to complete their degree without payment of any tuition fees so I was thrilled that I could complete my degree despite my financial position.  I was able to work full time and also pursue studies part time however 2/3 into my degree in Accounting  I suddenly lost interest in Accounting and decided I wanted to pursue another avenue, Project Management.  I am also currently employed at the Special Projects Section at the Bursary – UWI and this afforded me the ability to delve into Project Management.  Our section manages funds for all research grants and research projects at the University.  My constant interaction with project leaders, project sponsors and support project staff peaked my interest in the subject. 

One project also afforded me the opportunity to travel to Fiji in the South Pacific where I worked at the University of the South Pacific – Fiji for a month.  This was indeed an opportunity of a lifetime as I do enjoy travelling and visiting new places and learning about other cultures. 

I have one son who is twenty one years old and currently studying for his MBBS at the Faculty of Medical Sciences at the UWI.  So I guess my mom did do something right as my son has also followed in our footsteps to complete his tertiary education and fulfil his goal of becoming a Doctor. 

My sister also completed the ABE programme and moved on to complete her degree in Business Management.  She was able to find another job with a reputable worldwide oil sector company.

I gained entry into the Level 6 – Advanced Diploma after I completed 2/3 of my BSc Accounting Specialisation degree at the University of the West Indies.

I looked at the ABE Programme as a way of giving me a ‘business’ base with more  flexibility and room for upward mobility as opposed to the Accounting degree I was pursuing which  I felt was rigid in its content and kept me in an environment I had outgrown.  While I entered the ABE Programme at Level 6, the programme covers all the requisite core business subjects and gives the student the knowledge needed to function in a variety of fields.  The ABE programme also affords me the progression I need to follow through with pursuing my MSc in Project Management.  I initially pursued my tuition at the Sital College.  However due to work commitments I am now self-taught.

Employers in Trinidad usually enjoy the fact that an ABE employee can be flexible.  Being a specialist in a particular field limits your ability to multi task and to be able to fit in and be an ‘all-rounder’.  The ABE programme offers a wide range of business related courses that allow the participant to be knowledgeable in a variety of areas and also to be versatile.  Employers view the ABE as a good ‘business’ base to move on to further studies in Management, Finance, and Accounting etc.

The ABE Programme is widely known in the country with a lot of the Tertiary Education Institutions offering all levels with options to progress to other higher degree/postgraduate degree programmes.  The UWI Open Campus (or evening university) also has the ABE Programme as part of their offerings for candidates that do not possess the initial entry requirements for higher education.

The ABE offers an excellent support system via online resources in the member’s portal.  What has been especially useful to me is the examiners' notes which I believe assisted me in gaining the Top Paper Award in Project Management.  Knowing exactly what the examiners require/look for is key to being successful.  Reviewing the examiners reports are essential in preparing for exams.  They give you the necessary tools and tips on what is required of the candidate.  Following the “Learning Outcomes” when preparing for exams is also of equal importance in reviewing all topics learned.  Access alternate resources (books, online research materials) as the manual sometimes limits your understanding of certain topics whereas online resources and other reading materials might provide clarity and make the understanding of the topic easier to digest.

ABE is recognised worldwide and provides a phenomenal base to move on to other career paths in Business Management, Finance and Human Resource Management to name a few. Members can move on to complete degrees and also move directly onward to an MBA.

I was able to use what I learned via the lectures given and the manuals and other resources to enhance my present skills at my job which include financial reporting to sponsors, liaising with international bodies like the European Union (EU), Inter-American  Development Bank (IDB) to name a few. 

Long term my plan is to find a rewarding job in the field of Project Management that utilises my need for creativity and an environment that is not rigidly structured but constantly allows me to be learn and evolve.