February 12, 2010
Stewart: ‘My dreams are limitless’

To the casual observer fifteen years ago, he was just another boy pitching marbles and hanging out on the block in Calliaqua.{{more}}

He, however, sought to prove himself different by striking a delicate balance between recreation and his academics.

He found that balance, and today at age 30, Stewart Haynes is a success story and is emerging as one of the leading Vincentian thinkers.

He has the distinction of being this country’s first native Actuary. Earlier this year, he successfully completed his professional examination for the Actuarial designation (Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries).

An Actuary is a specialist in the calculation of risk, especially as it relates to insurance calculations, such as premiums, reserves, dividends, and insurance and annuity rates.

Stewart’s qualifications in the field have allowed the National Insurance Services (NIS) to utilize his skills in the post of Research and Investment Analyst.

Last week Thursday afternoon, I spent 41 minutes interviewing the son of Yvette Haynes, also of Calliaqua, and let me tell you, he is a young man way beyond his years.

He challenged himself to pursue a career in Actuarial Science, one of the most challenging academic fields. Early in the interview, I realized that a passion for success, limitless dreams, relentless work and dedication are the distinctive features of his character.

Vincentians may possibly be hearing more about one of our brightest sons as he considers active participation in the political life of the country.

Although he confirmed having political aspirations, he did not go into much detail. He, however, used the opportunity to state his passion towards serving his community and helping young people develop.

“I’ll always want to see my country be led by critical thinkers, the better minds. If called upon to serve at that level I would willingly serve,” he said.

“In terms of a political life, serving my country at the highest level, I’ve never shied away from being a nation builder.

“Times have changed, and it calls for a sort of different game when it comes to politics. It calls for people of a different mindset, because a country going forward is no longer politics where you spend all the time in a rum shop,” says Stewart, adding the magnitude of the challenges facing the country calls for a new style of politics.

I think his overall approach towards life is positive.

Seriously, I like the intellectual depth that he possesses. I think 2010 will be very exciting for this young man.

It was interesting and refreshing to hear Stewart speak about how education can be used to develop the economy; his views on addressing issues such as students’ attitude and behavioural challenges; his role as this country’s Acting Chairman of the National Student Loan Advisory Committee; and his philosophy on regional integration and unity among Vincentians.

Looking back gives some insight into how Stewart’s journey started. His success is hinged on dreaming big and not doubting his ability to make the dreams come true.

“My dreams are limitless, Hawkins,” he said.

“You must have a clear vision of where you want to go in life. Basically, it doesn’t matter where you come from. You have to take charge of your destiny,” said Stewart, a former student of the Calliaqua Primary School and the St.Vincent Grammar School.

Underpinning that vision there must be hope, confidence, self reliance, and faith, he summarized.

Stewart has successfully found a balance between book knowledge and street smarts. In Calliaqua, he can still be seen chilling with his friends or playing football at the Calliaqua Playing Field in his spare time. It is clear that although he grew up on the block, he never lost focus.

Initially, Stewart wanted to become an accountant, and this was driven because of his grades in Accounting while at school. Marcus Caine, former Principal at the St.Vincent and the Grenadines Community College Division of Arts, Science, and General Studies, spotting the young man’s raw talent in 1996, directed him to the path of Actuarial Science.

Stewart also did some research and discovered that it was a dynamic and rewarding profession, as well as a multi disciplined field covering Mathematics, Accounts, Statistics, Finance and Economics. Intellectual challenge, a niche area, marketability, and demand, were other factors that appealed to Stewart.

But before getting to this stage, he had to overcome persons casting doubt, as well as his own fear of not succeeding.

“When I got the Island Scholarship I said I wanted to do Actuarial Science. The person at the Service Commissions, she was amazed and she said, ‘Why you want to do actuarial science?’ And she said, ‘Actuarial Science is only for very bright persons.’ That was the first sort of a stumbling block,” said Stewart.

“Those are the moments that shape me. Those are the moments that inspire me,” he sighed.

In the United Kingdom, where he pursued his studies, he had to overcome cultural challenges plus a rigorous programme.

Just before returning to St.Vincent and the Grenadines, Stewart visited one of his professors. “He asked what am I going to do after. I said I am going back to St.Vincent and see how I can do my small part in terms of nation building. And he said ‘Stewart, you know it’s very sad that we have people of such high intellect, critical thinkers, moving from the academic path, going into the work environment.

“These guys were a bit disappointed. They spot the talent and wanted me to remain with the academic field,” said Stewart.

As to how he feels about being the first Vincentian-born actuary in St.Vincent and the Grenadines, Stewart responded: “First I must give thanks to The Almighty for his bountiful blessings and divine guidance through my career. I am elated and proud of my achievement, but yet I am filled with humility.”

He also expressed his gratitude to his mother and friends, as well as the NIS Board and Chairman, Lennox Bowman, for their support.

Besides his job at the NIS, Stewart tutors Statistics at the University of the West Indies Open Campus. He volunteers his time serving on the Credit and Investment Committee at GECCU and is one of the facilitators for the ECCB’s Savings and Investments course. He is also the advisor to the Board of Directors for the International Financial Services Authority (IFSA).