As a programmer, I got my chance to go on my first work trip abroad: Anguilla in 1998. I boarded the plane after having enjoyed a satisfactory amount of jealousy on my friend’s faces. After all, it’s not every day that one gets to visit the Caribbean on a six month-work trip!
Anguilla was a simple little place. Next to its tiny airport was a restaurant called “The Landing Strip.” There was also an old pump house that had evolved into another restaurant named “The Pump House”. There was even a restaurant run by someone named Jackie, simply called “Jackie’s Place,” while the largest village on the island was just called “The Village.” I’m still shocked at how the small world of Anguilla could not have been any simpler!
While working with Reflexis here, we went on the island to develop a company’s registration software for Anguilla’s government. Staying in beautiful ocean front homes, me and my teammates spent long hours developing our product. One day, we returned home on a late night, only to be met by our neighbor. After having introduced ourselves to him, the man replied, “Of course I know who you are. The island talks.”
Now, that’s a curious remark.
Anguilla is a tiny, beautiful island. But its major source of income was only luxury tourism. It wasn’t easy to compete with more advanced and bigger islands in the tourism space either. The island’s government worked hard to build financial services as an additional source of income – and our project was one of the early initiatives. Essentially, people on this tiny island knew that a group of Indians came to develop something that would eventually net them a profit. At the time, I was too young to initially understand or care about its implications.
Nevertheless, that remark stayed with me and served as a life lesson in valuation. It taught me that no matter how small the value of my contribution was, the whole was adding up to something much bigger. Today, after twenty years, financial services is recognized as another source of sustainable revenue for this tiny island.
As with every first, Anguilla etched a memory that will never fade.