Peter A. Thomson wants to give back to the society that has given him so much.
Mr. Thomson, the former chief executive officer of the Caribbean Utilities Company, announced a scholarship on Wednesday that will be awarded in honor his father.
The program, granted through the recently established Peter N. Thomson Family Foundation, will be called the Thomson Leadership and Innovation Award, and it will offer an annual grant of $30,000 for Caymanians to use toward an education abroad in Canada, the United States or the United Kingdom.
The late Peter N. Thomson was one of the founding members of CUC and served as a director for 25 years. His son, Peter A. Thomson, was CUC’s president and CEO from 1986 until his retirement in 2005, and he said Wednesday that educating young Caymanians has long been a family priority.
“When I became CEO of CUC in 1986, every one of our executives was an expat,” said Mr. Thomson. “We started developing scholarships in 1988 so that when I left in 2005, every executive at CUC was Caymanian. And a lot of that had to do with scholarships and education. … I know what we’ve been able to accomplish through education, and hopefully this will just get us to the next level.”
CUC’s current CEO, Richard Hew, was one of the recipients of those scholarships. Mr. Hew said Wednesday that it’s important for CUC to have many Caymanians in the workforce.
In the past, said Mr. Hew, the company could rely on the expertise of expats in senior positions, but three to five years later, they’d be gone and the company’s investment would be lost. Now, by investing in the future of Caymanians, CUC assures itself a better sense of continuity in the future.
“CUC is always excited about developing Caymanian talent,” said Mr. Hew. “As a leading company on the island that requires a lot of specialized skills, we’re proud to say we’ve over 90 percent Caymanian. And that’s not by accident. It’s partly because of the 40 scholarships we’ve awarded.”
The first scholarship winner will not be selected until September, but Mr. Thomson said there will be flexibility in how the grant is awarded. It could go to a high school student just beginning his or her college education, or it could go to someone embarking on the pursuit of an advanced degree.
One thing that is certain, said Mr. Thomson, is that it will go to somebody with a demonstrated need. And in a perfect world, it would go to someone who wants to spend their professional life in Cayman.
“We’re committed to somebody for a couple of years. We would expect them to remain in Cayman for a couple of years,” said Mr. Thomson. “They’re not going to be tied down to Cayman for the rest of their lives, but we don’t want them all of a sudden going to the University of British Columbia and then living in British Columbia. We would encourage people to come back and make a contribution here.”