Orin: Parisot-Potter vs Massy; why I’m inspired yet unconvinced by tales of bizarre rituals

“[…] It’s not hard to see where (ex-Massy Holdings general counsel) Angélique Parisot-Potter is coming from. She considers the training to be waste-of-money mumbo jumbo.

“Delphi Sphere can counter that it has a strong client portfolio. Its website lists Ernst & Young, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, British Gas and McKinsey. The consultants can say in their defence that established firms tend to do rigorous checks on potential clients.

“[…] Massy’s programme has been running for 10 years. Unless the alleged communication with the dead is a recent addition to it, how in the netherworld has that not come to light in all of that time? […]”

Ex-Massy Holdings general counsel Angélique Parisot-Potter.

The following guest column on former Massy Holdings general counsel Angélique Parisot-Potter’s eye-raising public criticism of the group’s training programme was submitted to Wired868 by Orin Gordon, a media and business consultant who can be reached at orin@oringordon.com:


Angélique Parisot-Potter, who resigned last week as executive vice-president and Group general counsel for Massy Holdings Ltd, has a reputation for being a smart and visionary executive.

Her TedTalk on being an upstander and not a bystander (being brave in calling out corporate malfeasance) has been much shared and resonant.

Parisot-Potter, at Massy’s AGM on 18 December, made explosive allegations against the company’s senior executive management. She dinged them for allowing managers to take part in “bizarre rituals”, “that train Massy employees to communicate with the dead” during management training sessions in Florida. The contractor is Delphi Sphere Consulting.

A Massy Stores branch in Guyana.

Given a foreign exchange shortage, she added, Massy cannot be spending “scarce resources on highly dubious activities” and “contracts awarded cannot be pushed through without prudent due process”.

She went public, she said, because CEO Gervase Warner essentially ignored a 13-page report detailing her concerns that she sent to him.

There was more. The couple who ran the programme, she said, exerted “disproportionate influence” over the leadership team. (What does that mean?)

CPSO chairman Gervase Warner is also CEO of the Massy Group of Companies.

Warner described the allegations as absurd and launched an inquiry. Let’s put him in the hot seat for the moment.

The company needs to satisfactorily address the contracts allegation. It’s a serious one. Meantime, it’s worth asking whether they’re satisfied that the training spend delivers value for money.

Warner said that the training could cost up to US$1m a year and Delphi Sphere has been a Massy contractor for 10 years. Keywords “up to” are doing a lot of work there, but it’s still a lot of money.

Delphi Sphere Consulting founder Paul Dominguez.

Did they assess whether the programme is effective? How? KPIs? Tied to contracts was whether there was a process of competitive fair selection of suppliers that Delphi Sphere won, whether a local supplier could have done the training and, regardless, whether it could have been done at lower cost.

Was it a rolling arrangement or did the contract come up periodically for review and re-bid? Fair questions of financial accountability. Perhaps Massy’s board of directors has already grilled Warner on that line item. If it hasn’t, it should.

According to Massy’s 2023 consolidated financial statements, the group made an after-tax profit equivalent to US$125 million (TT$833.3 m), a 21 percent increase over 2022. Clearly it could afford the training. In context, it’s not a disproportionately high allocation.

Image: The lighter side of leadership.
(Copyright Glasbergen.com)

However, good corporate governance asks more loudly whether a spend is prudent and delivering value, than whether it’s affordable.

Questionable prioritisation of foreign exchange—of any budget spend—depends on who you ask. Departments compete internally for budget. Flora may consider executive training an essential spend; James may not.

Besides, Massy and conglomerates of its size operate in a global marketplace—from recruitment to vendor engagement. A US-registered supplier would require payment in US dollars.

US dollar bills.
(via Shutterstock)

It’s one thing to call an allocation questionable, another thing to detail whether it left other, critical parts of the firm short. What would have been a justifiable spend level in Parisot-Potter’s estimation?

The allegation about communicating “with the dead” is loaded. A significant segment of the public now seems to believe that Massy managers have been engaged in occult practices. That the jumbie is out of the coffin.

Occultism is good for a laugh in T&T and the jokes and memes haven’t disappointed. However, I’ve been hearing from religious leaders who believe that it’s true—and it’s dead serious.

Image: A satirical take on corporate governance.
(Copyright Andertoons.com)

It’s not hard to see where Parisot-Potter is coming from. She considers the training to be waste-of-money mumbo jumbo.

Delphi Sphere can counter that it has a strong client portfolio. Its website lists Ernst & Young, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, British Gas and McKinsey. The consultants can say in their defence that established firms tend to do rigorous checks on potential clients.

There’s plenty of scope—in the feedback segments at the end of courses—for participants to state what they didn’t like about the courses and/or the trainers’ methods.

Massy Holdings CEO Gervase Warner.

Massy’s programme has been running for 10 years. Unless the alleged communication with the dead is a recent addition to it, how in the netherworld has that not come to light in all of that time?

Delphi Sphere does design bespoke training programmes for individual managers, so there’s room for variance. However, proof of such practices has been absent. We’re having to fill in the séance spaces with our imagination.

Public conversation and debate sometimes require us to hold two competing thoughts simultaneously—something we don’t do when setting up base camp at our favoured foothills. Here are my two:

Then BG T&T manager Angélique Parisot-Potter (left) receives a corporate governance award from Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute chair Richard Joseph on 7 February 2012.

One, Parisot-Potter radiates rectitude. She comes across as impressive, even inspirational. I suspect that she won’t be out of work for long. Two, I’m unconvinced by her claim that course participants “communicate with the dead”.

On its face, with all of the above weighed up, it sounds far-fetched. I want more, and I’m skeptical until credibly shown otherwise.

Her 13-page annotation could yet stand it up. Or it may not. Massy should make the document public, with appropriate redactions.

The Massy Group is one of the country’s largest conglomerates.

Let’s hear the audio evidence it’s said to contain. Let’s see video of the sessions. Massy course participants need to corroborate or refute it.

The company has a duty to investigate Parisot-Potter’s complaints. Openness is best served by an independent inquiry commissioned by the board. Warner shouldn’t be part of a process in which his decision-making is ultimately being judged.

All parties deserve to be heard. Parisot-Potter. Massy and Delphi Sphere in their defence. Natural justice, like legal justice, should cut both ways.

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6 comments

  1. If this is true, then the Massy executives could save a lot of money and foreign exchange by holding novenas to any one or more of the Catholic saints for favours granted instead (isn’t that a bizarre ritual communicating with dead people), all under the guidance of a parish priest of their choice for free (or would the priest then be exerting undue influence?). They should go through their established procurement procedure for selection of the priest, though. It amazes how many church going people don’t realise that they routinely do exactly what they are referring to as ‘occult’.

  2. This is Trinidad Orin,why bother with deep investigation when the bottom line continues to increase.?

  3. Massy is a private company, so it totally up to Massy how to address this. In the Caribbean I see this as a problem that will be drowned out and soon disappear.

    If it were up to me I would not release any tapes or documentation. I am sure that breaches a confidentiality clause or two. We would not be discussing this after carnival.

  4. Orin, Aristotle, I think, says that the educated mind should be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
    So you should have no problem merely entertaining for the moment the information contained in the second of the two thoughts you identify as ‘competing’. Given the fact that it comes from the type of person described in the first, it should not be long before you can accept it…
    …especially as Mr Warner is reported to have publicly “described the allegations as absurd” but has made no move to supply evidence (not to say proof) of said absurdity.
    Any inkling, BTW, of a motive that might make a lady of such rectitude so reckless?

    • No inkling. But you shouldn’t foreclose on smart, well-intentioned people of good character saying things that they’d seem to have difficulty substantiating. That is more commonplace than you may think. And hey, as i said, her 13-page document may or may not stand up the communicating with the dead claim. I’ve been in this trade for 30 years and i have a well-developed BS detector. That is what i am guided by. btw, the Sunday Guardian has a clarifying and illuminating exclusive, on the very claim. I’d suggest you read it.

      On my Balanced Scorecard, counsel asks good questions on governance, contracts and financial accountability. Im not feeling her on communicating with the dead; a hunch that seems all but confirmed today. None of this shifts my belief that she is an impressive person.

    • One more thing, Earl… you have this backwards. It’s for the distinguished counsel to stand up her charge with proof. Warner would then need it addressed it one way or the other. Without casting aspersions on either party, let me supply this analogy. You can’t publicly label me a mango teef and expect me to supply the exculpatory evidence — that i don’t teef mangoes. That’s not how it works. The burden of proof is on you. Besides, as a matter of logic, it is likely to be easier to prove communication with the dead took place than to prove it did not happen. Think about it. What I consciously avoid doing in public discourse is sanctifying people or turning them into villains, therefore feeding the belief that they’re incapable of making plausible or implausible arguments.

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