Gregory Skeete, the multifaceted founder of Pilly Pelican Inc. and Life Engineer has achieved many feats in his youthful life. He took a career risk and transitioned from being a Mechanical and Operations Engineering professional to a CEO of two successful companies in sectors diametrically opposite to his initial career training.
Life Engineer was created in 2013 and is geared towards the development of adults on a personal and professional level as well as enterprise development and process optimisation. Pilly Pelican Inc., also first established in 2013, is a children’s development and publishing company. It was created to equip children with the basic technical and life skills needed to become their best selves. The children’s books Gregory created through his ‘Pilly the Pelican’ brand have become popular among children who refer to him by his pen name ‘Engineer Greg’.
As an internationally certified coach with the John Maxwell company specialising in the area of Leadership Development, Gregory has garnered many accolades both locally and internationally. His children’s book ‘A Day in the Life of Axel the Ant’, received a NIFCA ‘Bronze Award in Literary Arts’. It was the first award-winning e-book in the history of NIFCA. Gregory’s socioeconomic contributions and leadership skills secured him a place at the inaugural Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) programme in 2016, where he later returned as an invited alumni speaker in 2017. This programme was created by former president of the United States, Barrack Obama. Additionally, he was nominated by the Junior Chamber International (JCI) Barbados for the Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World programme and was voted as a Top 20 global finalist!
As a risk taker, high achiever, yet humble individual, Gregory’s future plans include establishing a non-profit organisation in order to assist the less fortunate. He has seamlessly merged his academics, initial work experience and philosophical life views to establish two successful virtually operated companies. With his companies and numerous accolades, one can therefore conclude that the glass of this author, life coach, business consultant and professional speaker is far from being ‘half-empty’.
Who is Gregory Skeete?
At the core, I am an engineering professional, and I have worked in beverage manufacturing and power generation. Even in writing story books, I continue to use an engineering approach, and I apply those principles to personal and business development. I’m a Libra so I like balance, and I strongly believe in family and God. I’m a creative individual who also enjoys building things in a systematic way.
What inspired you to choose the career path of a life engineer and a children’s writer?
Life Engineer was created after returning from the Netherlands in 2013. I was there for six months studying Dairy Science and Technology at Wageningen University. I realised that we often put emphasis on building physical things more than our lives and spiritual things, and that led me on a journey to help people design their lives and engineer them strategically just as I had been doing for myself. While at the university, students were motivated through conversations with me, and urged me to give a lecture. I was later asked by the International Students Organization to lecture those at the Bachelors, Masters and Doctorate level. It was my first Life Engineering lecture and individuals in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s were lining up in the hallway to shake my hand! From that moment I knew I had a gift. When I left Holland, I registered ‘Life Engineer’, my first business, without knowing much about entrepreneurship at the time!
I also started writing a book (which hasn’t been released) on how to engineer your life. Later that year, while still conceptualising life engineering, I figured that if we can influence children into understanding that they have the capacity to use their education to engineer their futures, it holds a lot of potential to create a major impact while teaching myself the publishing process. As a result, Pilly Pelican Inc. was later established. I wanted ‘Pilly’ to be that symbol of positivity and a new age of development for children, not only in Barbados but around the world while also promoting our Caribbean culture globally.
Please explain the functions of your companies.
Life Engineer involves consultancy, training, capacity building and working with people and organisations of all types to increase their leadership and entrepreneurial capacity both locally and internationally. There are three core components to the company delivered either in person or online: 1. Life Engineering – Personal and professional development of individuals. 2. Enterprise Engineering- Working with organisations to streamline and improve their operations. 3. Agri-Engineering- Improving agriculture, agribusiness and food production.
Pilly Pelican Inc. is the children’s development company that is the publisher of the ‘Pilly the Pelican’ brand of Caribbean children’s books in addition to delivering educational, entertaining, personal development sessions and story-telling. In 2016, Team Pilly launched a project to donate books to schools across the island while helping children to dream 50 years ahead following Barbados’ golden Anniversary of Independence. We are also preparing for the upcoming 2018 release of books which will teach children about productivity and entrepreneurship. The company will also produce merchandise, video and animated family entertainment.
In establishing your businesses, was it difficult?
Yes. By no means is ‘starting from scratch’ easy, especially if you are the typical Barbadian who doesn’t have a fairy godmother/father ‘with deep pockets’. I started the businesses while working in a full-time job on a shift system, and there were times I did not sleep enough! However, I am quite organised, so when I was at work, I focused on my engineering job because there was no room for error. On my own time, I did small pieces consistently. When I made the transition… and no longer received a salary, it was extremely difficult because I had sacrificed the much needed paycheque in order to have the much needed time required to continue growing myself and the businesses – Sacrifice is the price of success.
With these two companies, how do you balance your careers with your personal life?
It is challenging and is something that requires continuous monitoring and improvement. However, one of the first steps is establishing clear priorities across all aspects of life. I believe that business and career plans should serve your life plan and not vice versa. After that, I ensure that I work on the most strategically important things first and I consciously leave other lower priority tasks undone and planned for a later time.
What advice would you give to those who seek to become entrepreneurs?
– In promoting his children’s books, ‘Engineer Greg’ has donned his Axel the Ant mascot costume in the past.
– Gregory enjoys playing football and going to the cinema. He enjoys comedies as well as science fiction and philosophical, thought-provoking mysteries.
– Lists Chicago as one of the most beautiful cities he has visited because of its intriguing architecture and diversity of culture and foods.
– Gregory absolutely ‘loves’ cheeseburgers! He admits that when travelling to different countries, he visits various restaurants to test the different types offered.