Joan H. Underwood

Immediate President

Ambassador Joan H. Underwood holds a Master’s degree in Health Services Administration from George Washington University and an Executive MBA from the Cave Hill School of Business at the University of the West Indies. She is a senior management consultant and policy advisor with extensive experience in both the public and private sectors.

Ms Underwood’s specific areas of expertise include:
  • The design and facilitation of training programmes for public and private sector leaders
  • Organisational behaviour and management
  • Human resource management
  • Strategic planning and management
  • Change management
  • Corporate governance
  • Public sector transformation, and executive and performance coaching
Professional designations held by Ms Underwood include that of a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) from the US-based HR Certification Institute, the Society for Human Resource Management Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP), and the title of Accredited Director (Acc.Dir.)conferred by the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators based in Canada and credentialed Master Trainer as designated by the Association for Talent Development(ATD).

Joan’s most recent professional accomplishments include certification by the Human Capital Institute (HCI) in Strategic Workforce Planning and Change Practitioner as certified by Prosci© Canada and the Change Management Learning Centre.

Additionally, Joan’s coaching credentials include designation as an Erickson Professional Coach (EPC), membership in the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and certification by the Global Team Coaching Institute.

Ambassador Underwood is also a member of the Human Resource Management Association of Barbados (HRMAB) and an honourary member of Human Resources Professionals of Antigua and Barbuda (HRPAB). HRPAB’s charter stipulates that this designation may be granted to individuals “who have become eminent in the field of Human Resources Management and who are deemed capable or reputable to promote the purpose of the HRPAB”.

In January 2012, Ms Underwood became one of the principal driving forces behind the Caribbean Leadership Project serving as the Regional Project Manager and later as the facilitator in the flagship leadership development programme targeting the most senior civil servants in twelve CARICOM countries.

In 2017-2018 she completed diagnostic assessments of the HRM functions in the public sectors of Barbados and five other CARICOM countries. The resulting reports were approved by the respective governments and published in November 2018 as a series of IDB Technical Papers on Building State Capacity in the Caribbean. The reports contain specific recommendations for improving the efficacy of HRM functions including training and development.

Joan’s commitment to lifelong learning is evident from the various executive development programmes which she has completed at internationally acclaimed institutions including Harvard, the Richard Ivey School of Business (University of Western Ontario), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management and the Association for Talent Development (ATD). She has also served as a facilitator and subject matter expert at the Cave Hill School of Business (CHSB)/UWI Executive Diploma in Management and the Executive MBA programmes. Her relationship with CHSB also included serving as a facilitator and coach in their open enrollment and corporate leadership development programming.

In addition to her work in coaching, management and policy, Joan served for seven and a half years as Antigua and Barbuda’s Non-Resident Ambassador to a number of Latin American countries including Mexico, Venezuela, Chile and Brazil. Joan’s leadership journey is featured in Championing Women Leaders as one of the twenty-seven case studies of outstanding women leaders in the Commonwealth (Janjuha-Jivraj, S. and Chisholm, K. 2015). She is also the author of Managers’ First Aid Kit (12/2020) which was described by Mélange Magazine as “the ultimate tool for self-development that every aspiring or current manager should have within their possession.”

Joan H Underwood is also the Managing Director & Principal Consultant of Underwood Talent Development Services Inc.