“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love” -1 Corinthians 13:13

Over seven years ago, I transitioned from a “going to the office” to a virtual office syndrome and from a multiple to a single payroll management responsibility. The rapidly advancing technologies of the information age facilitate this type of life style. I should add that the robustness of my virtual office concept, given the increasing frequency with which I book my wife’s home music studio as a meeting place for clients and colleagues, is now in question by my wife. On the other hand she is probably pleased that I am always within easy range of her beck and call.

There are two issues which may arise in the context of the virtual office. These relate to the definitions of retirement and vacation. The concept of retirement for some people is the permanent withdrawal from one’s occupation, business, or office to pursue voluntary and leisure activity or move on to the proverbial “rocking chair”. Well, voluntary activity has been a feature of most of my life and, although I am rocking chair friendly, I prefer ergonomic swivelling and reclining desk chairs. Indeed one of mine is converted from a recycled Japanese car seat. As long as I am blessed with good health, retirement for me will not be defined in the usual way.

At this stage of life, I have chosen an occupation which involves the shepherding of entrepreneurs, where one may argue that you get better at it with every new experience. As long as my clients respond positively to the shepherding process, why would I want to permanently withdraw from my occupation?

Similarly, the concept of vacation for some people is the complete, albeit temporary, withdrawal from one’s occupation, business, or office to aggressively pursue leisure activity or simply get away from it all. Well, work activity has been a feature of most of my life and, although I appreciate the benefits of leisure, it is not to the exclusion of work activity. My laptop accompanies me wherever I go, so does access to the Internet, albeit at varying costs to the user. As long as I am blessed with good health, vacation for me is not now defined in this way. I should say that at an earlier stage of life, when full family needs had to be factored into the decision making process, we conformed to the traditional vacation concept.

At this stage of life, I have chosen an occupation which permits me to combine business with leisure in a way that my clients are always in contact wherever I am in the world. As long as my clients respond positively to this virtual shepherding process why should I change this combined leisure and work arrangement?

My wife and I have just returned from five days of business and leisure in cold and wintry England. The one compensating factor was that, although we went prepared, we did not have to open our umbrellas on a single occasion. However, we were very happy that we took gloves and winter coats.

The primary purpose of the visit was the Commonwealth launch of “Truly a Gentleman”, a biography written by Kean Springer on the Right Excellent Sir Hugh Springer, under the kind auspices of the Commonwealth Partnership of Technology Management (CPTM) at the CPTM hub in London on Tuesday 25 November. The CPTM leadership, staff efficiency and kind hospitality were very much appreciated by all.

Dr. Mihaela Smith, the CPTM CEO, cleverly wove the book launch as a Smart Partners’ Art and Culture link into the fabric of the CPTM AGM and “Open House” technical sessions amidst 50 Commonwealth colleagues. Dr. Mihaela Smith was MC and the Deputy Secretary General of the Commonwealth Secretariat, Ransford Smith, who now manages the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation which Sir Hugh established in 1971, introduced Kean at the launch.

Among the attendees were my sister Helen, my cousin Stephen (Sir Hugh’s son) who both live in England and the Barbados High Commissioner to the UK, His Excellency Hugh Anthony Arthur. The gathering was a cosmopolitan group from the Commonwealth Secretariat and CPTM Smart Partners from Australasia, Africa, Malaysia, the Mediterranean, UK, Europe and the Caribbean.

Kean informed the audience how she tapped her archives of musical knowledge to erect an inspiring musical framework, a la Johann Sebastian Bach, on which to hang the impressive periods of Hugh Springer’s exciting career at home and abroad. Eleven persons spoke after the author including Stephen, Dame Zena Daysh (95 years old and going strong – who worked together with Sir Hugh for many years at the Commonwealth Human Ecology Council), Sir Kenneth Stuart, Professor Vishnu Persaud and Ambassador Dr. Carl Roberts from Antigua. I was honoured to be asked to give the vote of thanks.

As a long standing Smart Partner, I was invited to attend the CPTM technical sessions from Tuesday to Thursday. In each session we engaged in interactive dialogue with world leaders in their fields. We concluded by identifying the potential contribution of the Smart Partnership Philosophy by establishing appropriate Smart Partnership hubs of different kinds to complement each country’s governance structure.

I was given the opportunity to present the CBET Shepherding modelâ„¢ and Seed & Venture Capital funds concept and to promote it to the Commonwealth family. Hope springs Eternal!

(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. – CBET – Columns are archived at www.cbetmodel.org)

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