Robert Barrimond

A Brief History

 


I was born in New York City to two loving West Indian parents.  My father was born in Trinidad and my mother in St. Vincent.  I spent my formative pre-adolescent years in the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn.

 
At the age of 13, I moved to Florida where I went through my emotionally tempestuous adolescence.   Not an experience I’d care to repeat.  There I finished a solid 12-year Catholic education.  This has a lot to do with the way I am today for better and for worse.  Despite the pains, I wouldn't change a thing.  I am blessed today precisely because of the joys and pains I experienced.  They make me who I am and I like that person warts and all.  But beyond that I would have to sacrifice important people in my life, my best friend for example.  That’s too high a price.
I went to undergrad at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  What a great experience that was for me!  My oversized straight-A student ego was taken down a notch (or three!) as I was forced to use my mind as a tool and not a tape recorder.  I had to become a real student with well developed skills for learning, dealing with change, ambiguity, etc. that serve me well to this day.


After school, I began my professional career at Lockheed Martin Corp.  I developed as a professional and began the process of finding existential meaning in my life.  Around that time I met the love of my life, Lisa, who would be the mother of my son Amari.  Thanks be to God!


I started to seriously focus on what I would do with my time, talent, and treasure as a successful and a productive member of society.  I had high standards for what “successful” and “productive” should be, i.e. Matt 10:37-38.  I knew I wanted to serve God and that everything I would be and do would ultimately be traced to that raison d'être.  I began the slow work of integrating all aspects of my life to be a disciple of Jesus making that framework for everything else I would be.


But where exactly was I going?  With whom would I go?  What would I do?  These questions haunted me because for the first time in my life I had no clear plan.  Up until then the plan might change, but no matter what I had one.


While pursuing my first Master's degree at Penn, I had one of those “A Ha!” moments.  I was taking a class that studied how people affected change in large scale, complex systems.  The final project was to analyze the state of a complex system and create a plan to alter that system to move it from an undesirable state to a more desirable one.  The professor, being a civic minded individual, chose West Philadelphia as the system in question with our focus on mitigating poverty.  I learned some important lessons in that class.  Not the least of which were:

  • Limited knowledge - How little I knew about actually getting a project like that done.
  • Limited skills - What few skills I possessed to accomplish such an enterprise.
  • Limited resources - I need a strong, diverse “kitchen cabinet” to execute such a plan. 

I knew what the results had to be (don’t we all!), but had no clue as to the how.  Needless to say, it was a difficult project.  One evening driving home from class, I had that “A Ha!” moment.  It dawned on me that this project could serve a microcosm of what I ultimately wanted to do with my life.  I would focus my efforts on gaining those skills and experiences necessary to enable me to make substantively and repeatably reduce poverty in this society.  No doubt an ambitious goal.


One thing became clear when I finished my project: money was critical.  I intuited that business leaders have a unique opportunity to harness money as a resource for good in our society.  So developing myself as a business leader became the focus of my endeavors.  I focused on being more business savvy and pursued opportunities that brought me closer to the client and out of the “back end” of the business.  I became an IT consultant and instructor.  It was very rewarding but my experiences plateaued and were not putting me in the direction I wanted to ultimately go.  I wanted to delve more into business decision making.  Business school was the next logical step.


In 2002, I went back to school to get an MBA at the Wharton School of Business.  I asked God for direction and pursued the degree with vigor. I knew I would develop skills and build relationships that would benefit me in the years to come. After school, I decided to risk a non-traditional path in financial services. My thought was to be as proximate to money and wealth as possible (I’m not rich yet!) and be positioned to fight poverty, e.g. teaching financial literacy, etc. integration, discipleship remember? For three plus years, I tested those waters. And like Michael’s Jordan’s foray into baseball I met with failure, real and true, for the first time. But like most successful people, failure is only a prelude to the next success. I learned a lot and carry those lessons to this day. So I decided to course correct and get back to basics.


Essentially, I’ve been a strategist for most of my entire career and my successes leaving school have been a direct result of that.  So with the constraints of family (I’ve got kids to feed!) and ego (I like succeeding!) combined with the urging of friends and colleagues, I’m focusing on developing that core again. Now, I've been teaching and consulting in the business intelligence space. And that is developing in fits and starts with the economy the way it's been, but I welcome the journey!