On Friday June 13, 2018, Her Excellency Paula-Mae Weekes, President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago joined members of staff to participate in what is thought to be the first ever staff retreat of the Office of the President. The all-day retreat was held at the National Academy for the Performing Arts and was facilitated by Dr. Dianne Douglas and Mr. Anthony Watkins, both highly experienced professionals.

Staff members enthusiastically participated in the interactive sessions which were aimed at building functional relationships across all levels of staff. A major concern raised by President Weekes upon her assumption at the Office of the President was that the layout of the facility constrained the ability of staff to interact on a daily basis or even to be fully aware of all of the functions of the Office.

As a result, members of staff were very pleased to have the opportunity to engage with each other in the same space and in an informal manner. Staff particularly enjoyed an exercise that was aimed at aligning different opinions on the role, functions and vision for the Office of the President. It was very clear that most participants saw that there was great room for improvement in certain areas and were willing to put forward ways of achieving this. 

Overall, there was active and willing participation by all in attendance with many expressing the hope that the retreat would be the first of many to come. In fact, one gardener who has worked at the Office of the President for many years expressed his appreciation to President Weekes for including all levels of staff in the retreat, which in his experience was not customary. President Weekes thanked Dr. Douglas and Mr. Watkins for their excellent facilitation and encouraged staff to inform her of what more could be done to further improve the Office of the President.