Scene: An Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business (GSB) executive director calls to order a meeting of 30 students at a room on the school’s compound in Mount Hope.
Michael Carrillo: Good day, students. It is nice to see that this many of you all have come out today and are showing such a healthy interest in completing your MBAs.
(The graduates stare at each other with widened eyes).
Stacey: Sorry Sir; but didn’t we already graduate last month?
Carrillo: (Chuckles) No, no, no. That was just the course work. All that diploma we gave you means is that you came to class when we asked you and knew how to regurgitate what the lecturer said and to use Google and Microsoft Word.
Today, is your first practical business lesson; this is where the rubber meets the road.
Kwesi: So we are not here to discuss Wade Mark’s EMBA?
Carrillo (sits up straight): Is Wade Mark your friend? Eh? He is your “secret Santa” or something? Allyuh played pitch during recess?
(Clears throat) His official title is the Speaker of the House, Kwesi. It even said so on his examination paper. Please address him properly. Lesson one: positions of influence matter.
Sharon: Sir, the Speaker of the House and I paid the same tuition fee; so how does he take a different exam than I did? I don’t think that is fair.
Carrillo: That is a very good question, Sharon. Fairness is nice. But what is the most important thing in business? And anyone can answer this.
Nigel: To create a good, cost-effective product that people want?
Sharon: Good brand reputation?
Carrillo: (Sighs) No class. The most important thing is shareholders. Those are the people who ensure you stay in business. Everything else is icing on the cake. That is lesson two.
Natasha: But won’t the shareholders leave if the business isn’t profitable?
Carrillo: Did you learn anything about business in this country? Can you think of a single company that has failed regardless of corruption, incompetence or customer dissatisfaction when its shareholder is responsible for 85 percent of the economy?
Natasha, please see my secretary straight away. I think you must re-do this class.
(Natasha slinks away and the class is quiet for a minute)
Denise: Are you referring to the Government, Sir?
Carrillo: Denise, you are a damn genius.
(The graduates ponders for a bit).
Kwesi: So you mean Wade… I mean the Speaker of the House got his degree because he is a part of the Government, which is UWI’s major financier.
Carrillo: Let the record state that I did not say that. Here is lesson three, class: plausible deniability. I would never say that preferential treatment should be given to one student over another; even though Kwesi here thinks that is perfectly fine and came in my office with 29 students to try to bully me into doing exactly that!
(There is uproar in the room).
Damian: Sir, we did not come to force you to do anything!
Carrillo: Very well then. Kwesi, you are on your own. Leave this compound straight away. We will not tolerate such behavior here.
(Kwesi storms out)
Carrillo: And that is lesson four and five: Always have a scapegoat ready; and act decisively in bad times, even if that decision is completely wrong. People respect action not analysis.
Stacey: Sir, emails published in the Trinidad Express said Mark did not complete his course work and it quotes you as saying that the requested course work was integral.
Carrillo: I did not.
Stacey: You did not say that?
Carrillo: I did not read the Express.
Stacey: What does that have to do with anything? That doesn’t make it untrue.
Carrillo: How can I address accusations that are alien to me, Stacey? How can I betray the confidence of my employers with regards to an internal matter? Should I be held to account for everything I might have said, even if I do not remember saying it and the proof of me saying it was received improperly to begin with?
Stacey: I don’t understand what you mean Sir.
Carrillo: How do you believe? Me or a lying journalist?
Stacey: How would I know if it is a lying journalist?
Carrillo: But you just called her a lying journalist.
Stacey: No, I didn’t; you did.
Carrillo: We both did.
Stacey: Yes, but… Wait… I meant…
Carrillo: And that is your sixth lesson, students: if you cannot convince, then confuse.
Rishi: Sir, if the Speaker of the House did not have the time for his degree, why bother? Is there not a potential for embarrassment that nullifies the gain?
Carrillo: You’re right, Rishi. How will the Speaker of the House ever show his face around the Prime Minister SC or the Attorney General SC and “Doctor” Rambachan without fear of being teased about getting a title he didn’t deserve, right?
Jason: But doesn’t this devalue the MBAs that we all got?
Carrillo: How so? By showing that a man of his importance cared so much for a GSB degree that he pretended to be a regular student to get one instead of just buying one online from a foreign diploma mill?
(The students huddle together and reach a consensus)
Denise: Sir, we thank you for your time and for clearing this up for us.
Carrillo: That is most gracious of you and I can see you all fully deserved the honours that you are about to get to go with those MBAs.
All: Thank you, Sir.
Carrillo: And that is your last lesson: the best way to stay clean is by dirtying your peers; bribery and corruption works. Goodbye graduates.
Editor’s Note: This column is pure satire and all conversations are faked. No offence is meant at parties named; although they probably deserve it.