Age is no barrier for Judy
It was always Judy Ming-Inchcup's goal to get her doctorate.
At 65 she got it. That didn't surprise anyone who knew her. She had never shied away from a challenge and, ever curious, she already had two degrees — and her own company.
“People think going to school is about coming out and getting a good job and getting a good paycheque, but basically, obtaining knowledge is just helping you to exist in the world that we live in,” Dr Ming-Inchcup said. “It helps us to better understand everything that's going on around us. I have been accused of being an angry black woman because I've stood my ground or I dared voice my opinion. You have to know your self-worth and be confident in yourself.
“My grandmother always used to say to me: if you know you are correct about something, stand your ground; do not let anyone shut you up. I've always stood up to people.
“I've never accepted what someone said to me. I've done my own research and I've always asked why. And I guess that's the reason why I've always liked being in school.”
Still, when she announced her plan at 58 many people wondered if she'd lost it.
“Everybody said: ‘Are you crazy!? Why are you giving up your job to go and pursue a doctorate at this age?' But I didn't listen to anybody. I did it anyway. And now it's done.”
Now 67 she was motivated by her father, who told her as she left Bermuda to pursue her undergraduate degree in 1985: “If you're going to embark on higher education you need to go right to the top.”
Said Dr Ming-Inchcup: “I guess that stuck with me. And as a young woman, I was always inspired by [the late activist] Dr Eva Hodgson.
“I used to love the way she used to articulate and get her points across. I always said one day I'm going to pursue my doctorate.
“I think that's why I did it. Even though life gets in the way and you have to overcome so many challenges, I never lost sight of that.”
She's thrilled to have passed on her love of learning to her “daughter and two wonderful grandchildren” and her life experience to many of her classmates who ranged “from the age of 28 right on up until their sixties”.
Dr Ming-Inchcup's doctorate focused on management with an emphasis on organisational leadership; her dissertation, Examining Cultural Competence of Foreign Leaders in Bermuda: An Exploratory Case Study, has drawn the attention of three publishing companies.
“As an employee in corporate Bermuda, I was managed by individuals that lacked basic leadership skills; some foreigners that lacked cultural competence,” said Dr Ming-Inchcup, who drew on nine years' work experience here, between her undergraduate and master's degrees.
She wrote: “[This study] could prove the theory of Bermudians' transposition due to the lack of cultural competence skills held by foreign leaders.
“For example, certain parts of America are considered melting pots, which encompasses various nationalities from around the globe. Bermuda as well has more nationalities now than 50 years ago. For individuals to be culturally competent to embrace differences is important.
“Corporations in America and Bermuda in the international business arena realise the need for intercultural competence at the individual level, in the form of personal attributes.
“Knowledge and skills are presumed associated with global career success. At the organisational level, business success requires successful management of business operations in an increasingly diverse range of foreign locations.”
She successfully defended her dissertation on July 30, 2019 and then waited patiently for the University of Phoenix's annual ceremony the following May.
“Because of Covid, they had to have a virtual graduation which was very disappointing but ... what can you do? It's such a sense of great accomplishment when you walk across that stage and you pick up your diploma.
“After 7½ years [of working towards it] I was like, ‘I want this'. But it didn't happen.”
In July, she got on a plane for Bermuda from Atlanta, Georgia where she's lived since completing her MBA.
“I think I've always wanted to live abroad. I left in 1985 to go and pursue my undergrad degree and actually I wanted to stay [in Washington] but my husband at the time, he wanted me to come back to Bermuda, which I did.
“And then when I decided to go back and do my master's degree I wasn't sure if I was going to stay abroad, but once I was there, I just fell in love with Atlanta and I decided to buy a home there. I went to an immigration lawyer and said, ‘Can you guide me to what I have to do in order to become a permanent resident?' And that's what she did.”
In 2003, a year after she completed her master's degree, she opened her own business.
“I was doing accounting for entrepreneurs, smaller companies that couldn't afford to bring on an accountant or controller full time,” Dr Ming-Inchcup said. “I would basically go in and set up their accounts and produce financial statements for them every month; sit with them monthly and advise them.
“I'm now trained to go in and train ‘C' levels — the CEOs, the CFOs, the COOs — in organisational leadership; how to get the best productivity out of their staff and just overall good management.”
She closed the company for the last few years of her doctorate to give her time to concentrate on that, but is now eager to rebuild her business following her successful studies. “It just shows you can accomplish all these goals even at a mature age,” Dr Ming-Inchcup said. “The mind is like any other muscle, so as long as you're exercising it, it's fine.
“I don't believe all these myths about the older you get, your mind starts deteriorating; your mind starts deteriorating because you're not using it. Today, 65-year-olds, 66-year-olds, we have younger spirits. A lot of us are not ready to retire. We're still very active. Because we're exercising we're more conscious of the way we eat, so we have a better quality of life. If you have the health and the ability to do it, just do it. Don't think about it too much, just do it.”
• Judy Ming-Inchcup offers management and accounting services to companies. Contact her before she leaves the island on October 8 at 533-6353. After that she can be reached on 404-914-6353 or email@example.com