Succession Planning Achieved as Long-Standing Civil Servants Advance to Senior Positions
The Ministry for District Administration and Lands (MDAL) has announced the appointment of Uche Obi to the role of Director and Michael Whiteman to the role of Deputy Director within the Department of Lands and Survey (Lands and Survey). The two Caymanian appointments are internal hires, as Uche Obi and Michael Whiteman have both held long-standing, critical senior roles within Lands and Survey prior to their newly appointed roles. As part of a succession plan, both candidates were identified as potential successors of the Director role and then each were awarded the opportunity to complete a recruitment exercise where both acted as Deputy Director for 4 months. The successful candidate was awarded with the role of Director and the runner-up with the role of Deputy Director.
Acting Deputy Governor and Head of the Civil Service, Gloria McField-Nixon shared, “The advancement of these two highly capable, long-standing civil servants to senior positions is a vision realized. This vision sees our best talent with a proven history of service delivery and the relevant education, experience and competencies, being inwardly promoted to senior leadership. Globally, employers are struggling to hire and retain talent in specialist roles, and in the Cayman Islands we are now having one set of Caymanian leaders training and developing the next. I am happy that the Lands and Survey Department has adopted this best-practice and thereon, achieved a good return on the investment made in the professional development of Mr. Uche and Mr. Whiteman who have each served our Government for more than 17 years. ”
The Director of Lands and Survey holds responsibility for the overall direction, management and administration of the activities within the department by way of monitoring the delivery of all outputs, coordinating strategic and operational planning, providing day-to-day management support and modelling appropriate leadership behaviours expected of civil service managers, towards supporting MDAL’s strategic objectives and as specified within the Government’s ‘Core Competency Framework’. Additional responsibility includes, directing and coordinating a diverse team of 5 unit heads and their sections, chairing the Public Lands Commission and ensuring that stamp duty revenues are assessed and collected under the Stamp Duty Law (1995 Revision). The Deputy Director reports directly to the Director, deputizes for the Director in his absence and is expected to assist the Director in providing effective and efficient leadership in all facets of the Department, except for statutory responsibilities.
The Acting Chief Officer of MDAL, Wilbur Welcome added, “I am excited about the opportunity to work with Mr. Obi and Mr. Whiteman who are civil servant stalwarts, revered technocrats in their respective fields and thought leaders in the Lands sector. Moreover, I am proud of the continued work of my Ministry to exemplify good succession planning within our Government. As a team, we will ensure Mr. Obi is provided with all the support and resources available to us for his and his team’s success. I also look forward to the expert support Mr. Whiteman will bring as being part of our leadership solution to enhance the work of Lands and Survey, ultimately aiming to provide exceptional service to all our stakeholders.”
Director Uche Obi possesses a postgraduate diploma in Business Systems Analysis and Design and a Master of Arts in Property Valuation and Law both from the City University Business School London, plus a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Estate Management and Surveying from the University of Ife, Nigeria. He is a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Prior to his official appointment, Mr. Obi served for 17 years in Lands and Survey where he served as Valuer, Senior Valuer, Chief Valuation Officer, then acted as Deputy Director for 4 months and finally, Director for 4 months. He has a proven track record from extensive real estate experience gained in valuations, acquisition, disposal leasing and acting as an expert witness. His achievements are equally extensive and notably includes the project management of asset valuation of approximately 650 Crown properties for financial reporting purposes, totaling CI $822 million. Mr. Obi has over 20 year’s combined real estate experience in the public and private sector gained in the United Kingdom and the Caribbean region.
Mr. Obi expressed, “I am grateful to the Lord and the people of the Cayman Islands for the opportunity to serve as Director of Lands and Survey. I have had the pleasure of serving the public and working with colleagues who genuinely care about each other over the past 20 years. I am proud of our team’s achievements; the latest includes the processing of approximately 7,000 documents as well as assessing and collecting CI$122 million in Stamp duty and registration fees in year 2021 alone. Our Geographical Information System (www.caymanlandinfo.ky) is used by private and public entities including the emergency services. I am fully committed to our Government’s strategic vision of becoming a “world class civil service” and therefore our mission focus will be to deliver modern, customer-centered services. This is already in motion, reflected in several of our department’s operational outputs. The newest addition that I am happy to announce, is our public counter’s current acceptance of credit/debit card payments. We will continue to prioritize and identify ways to innovate and evolve our operations for the sustainable future.”
Deputy Director Michael Whiteman holds a number of technical certifications most notably including, certification by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyor’s from the University of East London, plus certificates in Supervisory Management from the Institute of Leadership and Management in London and Real Time Surveying from Trimble Navigation in Miami, Florida amongst others. He was elected as a Professional Associate of MRICS in May 2000, having been a member since 1996. Mr. Whiteman has specialized in the field of Surveying since 1992. Prior to his official appointment, he served as a Survey Technician, Senior Survey Technician, Geomatician, Senior Geomatician, Chief Surveyor and finally, acted as Deputy Director for 4 months. His achievements include bringing the surveying of lands and properties into the digital age, when he lead the rewriting and updating of the 1972 Land Surveying Act and Regulations (1996 Revision). Mr. Whiteman has 30 years’ experience in civil service work and management.
Mr. Whiteman expressed, “I consider it an honour to have been appointed to the post of Deputy Director. I look forward to continuing our work to modernize of our processes by embracing new methodologies, while still maintaining cohesion and unity within the department. Our work has a great impact on the Cayman Islands as we promote and support land ownership and land use. I believe that maintaining a secure land registry and creating well defined boundaries will allow the public to have confidence in undertaking land use activities within these islands. I look forward to working with the new director and our capable team, to ensure that Lands and Survey remains the premier land registration and survey mapping system in the Caribbean.”
For more information on the Ministry responsible for lands (MDAL) and the work of the Department of Lands and Survey visit www.gov.ky/lands