Calvert Birmingham was selected to represent the graduating class of the Graduate School USA’s Executive Leadership Program this past summer.  Calvert currently works with the US Virgin Islands’ Department of Finance.  His speech follows below:

Try to accomplish as much as you can to help in the growth of your government and the economy

Good morning family, friends, and distinguished guests.  I would like to thank you all for being present at this auspicious event.  I would like to thank the ELP staff for everything they have done for all of us as we head back to our agencies with a new outlook on what it actually means to be a leader.  I would also like to thank my classmates for selecting me to be a speaker at our graduation.  I am still in a bit of shock that I got selected, but nevertheless, thank you all for selecting me.  In addition, I would like to thank Ms. Marina Tinitali, who is the Senior Policy Specialist at the U.S. Department of Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs.  On behalf of the government of the Virgin Islands, I would like to say thank you for helping us prepare and get current with our audit reports.  Also, thank you for being an integral part as to why I am standing here as a graduating member of the 2011 ELP class.  We are truly grateful for all you have done and will continue to do.  Thank you.  After receiving the email from Mr. Rias, I notified my team of the honor, and the first thing out of their mouths was to give them a shout out, so here goes.  I would like to shout out team #1, Solid Gold.  I thank you all for putting up with me for the last 9 months.  We had an amazing journey with each other, and I will never forget each and every one of you.

I remember after getting back to St. Thomas after orientation in Richmond, I walked into my Executive Assistant Commissioner’s office and asked him why I was chosen to attend the program.  My reason for asking him that question was I didn’t feel like I belonged in the company of all of you.  I listened as each one of you got up to introduce yourself that first day, and I remembered hearing all of those individuals that stated they were already in a leadership position.  It was not that I felt belittled in anyway, but I felt that the spot should have been given to someone that was already operating in that capacity – big mistake.  The only things he didn’t do was curse, and strangle me.  He lectured me for about a half-hour on why I was chosen, but most importantly, he stated that my time to lead a team was swiftly arriving.  I had no idea that I was viewed in that way by my superiors, and that more than anything guaranteed that I personally would settle for nothing less than my best effort for the entire 9 months I would be in the program.

Some of the accomplishments that have occurred in my life during my time in the ELP include me being placed in the lead role to oversee the treatment of fixed assets for the government of the virgin islands.  A fixed asset module was created on our enterprise resource planning financial system to track these assets, and I will be in control of this module starting at the beginning of fiscal year 2012.  Along with the fixed assets, I have also been the co-lead of a team of individuals that keeps track of all the liabilities that are incurred by our government in a given fiscal year.  I was also given the opportunity to represent my government at the Government Finance Officers Association and the follow on Island Government Finance Officers Association conferences just a couple of weeks ago in San Antonio, Texas.  I was asked to attend the conferences in my commissioner’s place due to his inability to travel because of the economic crisis that has begun to affect our territory.  To be asked to represent my commissioner and the Government of the Virgin Islands at the conferences in conjunction to being a particpant of the ELP will forever be a highlight of my life, both personally and professionally.

Over the past 9 months, I have met some outstanding individuals through the executive interviews, and the detail and shadowing assignments.  One of the outstanding individuals I met was the governor of the Virgin Islands, Mr. John P. De Jongh Jr.  I did one of my executive interviews with him and he left me with very encouraging words that I wish to share with you all today.  He said, “don’t get too caught up with the short-term, but rather continue to make plans for the long-term.  He said that is so important because our career is like a door – it opens and eventually it will close.  He continued by saying while that door is open, it’s imperative that you try to accomplish as much as you can to help in the growth of your government and the economy .  I truly believe that is what I did over the last nine months, and will continue to do, and that new found attitude is a direct byproduct of the ELP.  I am truly grateful to have met each and every one of you, and you truly will never be forgotten.  Thank you.

For more information on the Graduate School USA’s Executive Leadership Development Program, please visit http://eldp.pitiviti.org.