Candice Gray-Bernard

Programme: Global Online MBA 2019

Nationality: Trinidadian and Tobagonian

Undergraduate education: Bachelors of Science in Civil Engineering, The University of the West Indies

Current role: Manager, Ministry of Works and Transport, Coastal Protection Unit

Candice Gray (Global Online MBA 2019) is a practicing civil engineer and certified programme manager with over 17 years’ experience planning, designing, implementing and monitoring major capital projects and pre-investment studies in the fields of coastal engineering, drainage and flood management and agriculture/fisheries.

Candice’s life mission is 'to be a builder of tomorrow's world'. This has driven her passion for service both professionally and personally. She has served in varying capacities on the board of the Association of Female Executives of Trinidad and Tobago.

Your time at Imperial College Business School

Why did you choose to study your programme and why specifically at Imperial College Business School?

As an engineer, I was always drawn to Imperial, given the institution’s global standing for engineering and innovation. When I started researching postgraduate business programmes, I was drawn to Imperial College Business School given the focus on innovation and sustainability. It was also an opportunity to fulfil a dream off my bucket list.

What was the most important learning point you took with you from the Business School?

For me, the most important learning was discovering more about who I am during the 'Personal Leadership Journey'. Through this journey, I became more adept at leveraging my network, particularly for the 'Interview a Leader' project.

What advice would you give to a prospective student considering studying the same programme as you?

Always be open to new opportunities, there are so many that come on this programme. Immerse yourself in the programme. Also get ready to challenge who you think you are. It really has been a self-discovering journey for me.

Do not be afraid to accept help or assistance. Pursuing this programme while working or having other personal and family commitments is challenging. I have drawn strength through the support of my immediate family and network. I have learned that it is okay to accept assistance. So, my advice is don’t be afraid to ask for or accept help.

How did you find the online nature of the programme – how easy was it to bond with your cohort?

I have pursued online learning studies previously, as such it was not difficult for me to take this programme. However, the workload is extremely heavy, and it goes by in the blink of an eye. Pace yourself. If possible, commit to putting in at least 2-3 hours daily. You have to do a lot on your own, but don’t be afraid to reach out to the programme leaders, lecturers and teaching assistants. The live tutorials are also helpful, try to attend these as much as possible.

I loved the global nature of this programme, which provided the opportunity to meet and work with a diverse range of people, in terms of professional background, culture, experiences. In the first year, we were placed in syndicate groups. The members of my syndicate group were predominately from the United States, with one member of my cohort from the Turks and Caicos - who is now a firm friend.

Tell us about your current job

How were you hoping the programme would help your career trajectory?

I chose to pursue the Global Online MBA through Imperial College Business School to differentiate myself within my local industry. What I have come to realise is that by pursuing this programme I have opened possibilities on a global level. As a manager within a public sector environment, I started the programme hoping to excel towards the Permanent Secretary (executive management) level within the public sector. Since completing the programme, I am re-evaluating my career and feel confident that with my years and diversity of experience I can leverage on the programme towards pursuing a private sector C-suite career.

How do you plan to use the skills and knowledge you gained during the programme going forward?

This is difficult, simply because of the diversity of skills and the range of knowledge gained through the programme. Upon reflection, I can say that the top skills that I have either gained or improved through this programme are relationship building, communication, problem-solving, active listening, team building and decision making. For example, I have come to realise that when I listen more and talk less, employees are more likely to say what is on their minds. 

Recently I led the launch of a new programme within my organisation. In so doing I drew upon marketing, strategy and project management knowledge gained through the programme. 

Going forward, I plan to utilise the skills and knowledge gained both in my personal and professional life in order to improve my effectiveness as a leader, wife and mother. 

What do you enjoy most about your current work and what are the main challenges that you face?

There are so many aspects of my current work that I enjoy. Our unit is responsible for delivering the Critical Coastal Protection Programme, through which the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is delivering tangible solutions to sustainably address the impacts of coastal erosion and coastal flooding. I love that this programme is stakeholder centric. We have the opportunity to interact with members of coastal communities and build solutions that are not only technically sound but have social value. The projects that we implement are demand-driven, I love that we are building solutions that are needed. 

Our main challenge is addressing the burgeoning issue of climate change and the consequential impacts of coastal erosion and coastal flooding with limited resources. However, this has driven us to become more innovative in the way we pursue and undertake projects, such as the introduction of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) for coastal monitoring. This is a particular favourite of mine, being a UAV pilot myself. I am proud to have championed for and been given the opportunity to realise the benefits of UAV technology within my wider organisation.

Alumni community

In what way is remaining connected to your alumni network important to you?

I have made lifelong friendships through the programme. However, I am hoping that through the alumni network I am able to connect with a wider network of people. I am looking forward to furthering opportunities through the alumni network to be involved and strengthen the alumni brand. Also, it is good to be able to have a network to tap into when travelling. Having completed the programme I do hope to start completing my dream of travelling to at least 100 countries by the time I am 50!

Programme: Global Online MBA 2019

Nationality: Trinidadian and Tobagonian

Undergraduate education: Bachelors of Science in Civil Engineering, The University of the West Indies

Current role: Manager, Ministry of Works and Transport, Coastal Protection Unit