“I joined the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry because I felt it was high time that the Information Technology sector was appropriately represented. I felt initially that my role was to help ensure that there can be no doubt that the development of the ICT sector can transform life in Guyana in so many ways.”
By Nigel McKenzie
He has been on the Guyana Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI)’s Executive for six years – serving for two years as Treasurer and Secretary, respectively, before being elected to function as Senior Vice President in 2012. And just this week he featured in local publications having been chosen this month as President of the Chamber.
GCCI President Lance Hinds
Our ‘Special Person’ is none other than Lance Hinds, the Founder and Chief Executive of the BrainStreet Group, a business information technology solutions company that offers a complete range of management information and business system consulting services for government and private sector agencies. His company also develops interactive content for the education and animation sectors.
He has some twenty-plus years experience in the provision of professional services for the design, development and implementation of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) solutions for public and private sector agencies.
And that is merely the tip of the iceberg. This consummate professional specialises in ICT strategic planning and implementation at the national level and also for rural community and hinterland development. His services have been commissioned by such organisations as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), The World Bank, The European Union, The U.S. Departments of Commerce and Treasury.
THE EARLY YEARS
As is customary in these features, we give relatively brief background details about the early years or so-called formative period of our outstanding subjects, and for Lance Hinds, the journey began in England in 1962. He was born to Guyanese parents Charles and Ena Hinds.
It was in 1969 that the family graced their homeland’s shores as part of a large number of Guyanese professionals who returned to contribute to Guyana’s development after it had attained independence three years earlier.
Young Lance’s primary education experience was “shared” between Winfer Gardens, Fountain AME and New Comenius Preparatory, and was the ideal set of circumstances for someone who would later in life be exposed to interaction at a high level, as well as being sociable and more importantly, approachable.
Headquarters of the BrainStreet Group in Queenstown.
His secondary platform provided even more interesting alliances, when he took the Common Entrance in 1974 and gained a place at Queen’s College. One year later, he was transferred to The Bishops’ High, as part of the then Government’s coeducational initiative.
“Those were easily the best days of my life. Most of the friendships made during that seven-year period exist today; everlasting so to speak. The values gained in those years have served me in good stead and prepared me for scholarship and the various challenges I would encounter.”
So was it all work?
“Of course, like most normal youngsters, there were the sporting activities. I had a preference for racquet sports, namely Table Tennis and Badminton. I dabbled a bit in Cricket but certainly was not as good as some of my more illustrious pals.”
DESTINED TO BE AN ENTREPRENEUR
“After successes at the GCE/CXC examinations, I left Guyana in 1981 for the United States…initially to study financial accounting, and it was while I was working and going to school that I developed a love for computers. This was prompted by someone who became a mentor for me in those emerging days, so I then changed my field of study to pursue Computer Engineering.”
In 1986, he received his BSc. in Computer Engineering from Howard University and two years later his Master’s Degree in Computer Science from the University of Maryland at College Park.
He reflected that despite those academic achievements, and what would be considered the seemingly natural progression in terms of working environments, it was always his desire to essentially be on his own.
“It seems as though I was destined to be an entrepreneur; I never worked in a structured office setting, even before graduation. I worked specifically as a Specialist Contractor for a variety of technology firms in the Washington DC area, so I was assigned to locations such as the US Department of Treasury, Naval Operations, Department of Commerce, and many others.
Participating in a Virtual Education trade show in Suriname.
“I returned to Guyana in 1994 and opened a firm called Software Dynamics Inc. Almost as soon as we opened our doors we were fortunate enough to be engaged in contracts funded by the Inter-American Development Bank, USAID, and aid organizations connected to the European Union. By the mid 2000s, as the company began to diversify its product offerings, we renamed and rebranded the company, the BrainStreet Group.”
GEORGETOWN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
And so it is that his entrepreneurial proficiency and efficiency is well respected by his peers. The GCCI Presidency is testimony that he is held in high esteem. He briefly touched on the reasons for his affiliation with the prestigious entity.
“I joined the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry because I felt it was high time that the Information Technology sector was appropriately represented. I felt initially that my role was to help ensure that there can be no doubt that the development of the
Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector can transform life in Guyana in so many ways. It is my belief that despite all the sentiment, it is inevitable that the traditional productive sectors will not last forever in its current scope and framework. It is the technology-driven, knowledge-management industries, knowledge-management economies that will have to be the cornerstone of this country’s future.”
“As I spent more time working in the Chamber of Commerce my philosophy expanded further. It is critical now that for revenue generation and wealth creation to grow, business and commercial activities must increase significantly. This will certainly be one of my working goals.”
OTHER PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES
Among his other professional activities, Hinds is a member of the Caribbean Export Regional Innovation Advisory Group, which has been created to develop a policy framework and enabling environment within the CARIFORUM countries that will further foster entrepreneurship and innovation; and the Caribbean Export Private Sector Advisory Committee, which consists of a select number of experienced business leaders from around the Region who advise the Caribbean Export Development Agency on how to improve its existing programmes and also its overall strategic direction.
Addressing a Chamber of Commerce workshop
He is a member of the CARICOM ICT Steering Committee (CISC), whose primary function is to develop policy and action plans for the implementation of regional initiatives to help governments and related stakeholders effectively use information technology to improve the general well being and productive capacity of its citizens.
He is also a founding member of the Latin American & Caribbean Regional At-Large Organisation (LACRALO); a hemispheric ICT4D group that represents Latin American and Caribbean interests within the International Corporation of Assigned Names & Number (ICANN) framework as it pertains to the worldwide management and integrity of the internet space.
And he is the current chairman of DevNet; an ICT NGO specializing in the development of solutions for the exposure and use of Information Technology in disadvantaged rural and hinterland areas.
CARING FOR THE UNDERPRIVILEGED AND YOUTH DEVELOPMENT
The aforementioned quality is something that stands out – caring for the underprivileged.
Hinds is a Past President of the Rotary Club of Demerara, and is passionate about serving people in need, in whatever capacity he can.
“As part of my overall contribution to the society at large, I feel the need to continually contribute to those communities that are challenged and required assistance, alongside that provided by government of course, and as a result I ended up serving as President during the Rotary year 2010-2011, and continue to seek such avenues. I really do care about the underprivileged and youth development.”
“Helping with development of youth in sports, in particular, is of great importance to me, as it became ever more apparent that many young persons need this path to improve their lot in life.”
Receiving an award for 20 years of service to the ICT industry from UG’s Dept. of Computer Studies.
Hinds is also a former President of the Malteenoes Sport Club; a former member of the Bishops’ High School Board of Governors; Past President of the Bishops’ High School Old Students Association and a past executive member of the Queen’s College Old Students Association.
There is little doubt that the individual featured in this article is deserving of the recognition that comes with it.