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After three years of hard work Queen's College (Q.C.) graduating senior Kerri Bascom snagged the coveted 2013 Technical Cadet of the Year award from the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology's Technical Cadet Corps Programme (TCCP).
Kerri, a principal's list student (grade point average of 3.70 and higher) who aspires to be a civil engineer, was awarded a four-year scholarship by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology to The College of The Bahamas.
Kerri received the majority of votes from her peers, lecturers and the sponsors' panel to win the award over 87 other graduating cadets. She also received the outstanding student award for engineering drawing in the TCCP.
"It means a lot to have won the award and I'm honored to have been chosen for such a prestigious award, but I can't take full credit," said the 17-year-old, who added she shares credit for winning the award with the TCCP program administrators and lecturers, and her teachers at Q.C.
The teen, who wants to study civil engineering in college, said through TCCP, a program she was part of for three years, she was introduced to basic engineering topics -- architectural drawings, how to set up floor plans and how buildings are constructed. She also gained hands-on experience in radio and television through a summer job set up by the program. She helped in the studio, worked cameras, learned how to program and went out in the field to help the reporters.
"The program has allowed me to do many different courses," said Kerri, who graduates Queen's College on Friday with a 3.84 cumulative grade point average and a term average of 4.19 -- numbers she's proud of because education is important to her.
She has been an honor roll student (GPA between 3.00 and 3.69) through grades seven to nine; and a principal's list student (GPA of 3.70 and above from grade 10 through her senior year).
The teen has also achieved 10 Bahamas General Certificates of Secondary Education (BGCSE) exams -- eight at A grades, religious studies, English language, combined science, biology, physics, mathematics, French and art and design (which she sat three years early); and two at B grades in chemistry and English literature.
She is awaiting the results of her AP scores for calculus AB, psychology, and studio art. She scored a 640 on her SAT II physics and a 550 on her SAT II biology M (emphasis on molecular biology) examinations. She is awaiting the results of her SAT II biology E (emphasis on ecological biology), SAT II literature, SAT II French and BGCSE geography exams.
She was the national award winner in the BGCSE biology examination having achieved the highest grade in the country for the subject in 2012; she received an honorable mention certificate for outstanding performance in the BGCSE examination (five A grades or more in 2012).
Education is a gift
A good education is important to the teen.
"A good education is the best gift you can give anyone," she said. "In essence, education is the building block to society and to individuals because they can contribute to society."
The daughter of Konya Wilson-Bascom, Kerri said her mother has always encouraged her in her studies, but she has always had a motivation toward her work and studying, especially her favorite subjects -- math and the sciences.
She also credits her older sister, Kelia Bascom, with helping to get her to where she is today. Kerri said her sister always helped her with studies whenever she did not understand a certain topic in a subject.
With two days before she dons her graduation cap and gown, Kerri is hoping to further her education at Queen's University in Ontario, Canada. And is hoping to be awarded at least one of three scholarships (Lyford Cay Scholarship and the Ministry of Education Scholarships -- All Bahamas Merit and National Merit Scholarship) that she's applied for to help pay for that education. Without the scholarship money she said paying for an education at her university of choice would be very tough going for her.
"The scholarships are very important, I'm heavily depending on them to go to college, without them I don't think it would be possible," said Kerri. She also has the COB scholarship to take advantage of, which she says she would if she has to as she considers it a fine institution.
While education comes first in her life, when she's not studying, Kerri relaxes by playing guitar, drawing and painting. Actually, she's quite the accomplished artist. She received the Department of Education's 15th Visual Arts Exhibition Outstanding Artist Award 2013; She received first place in the Regional FCAA Art Poster Competition for two consecutive years (2011 and 2012); She was given honorable mention in the 29th Annual Art Competition (high school category 2012) and was the national award winner in the BGCSE Art and Design for achieving the highest grade in the country in May 2010; She received the Governor's Choice and honorable mention in the Central Bank Art Competition and Exhibition in 2010; She received first place in the painting category for the RBC Finco Summer Art Workshop in 2009; Third place in the drawing category for the Finco Summer Art Workshop in 2009; Second place in the National Arts Festival (Art and Design) in 2009; And first place in the Nutrition Diabetes Poster Competition in 2008.
An animal lover, Kerri has three dogs -- Junior, Curly and Kiko, and one cat, Picasso. And she also makes time to volunteer at the Humane Society where she walks and bathes the dogs and cleans the cages and the environment.
Despite an already tight schedule she also found time to participate in a number of extracurricular activities like basketball, track and field (in 2011 she placed second in the discus throw at the National High School Track and Field Championships) and her school's environmental club.
A good program
As she completed three years of the TCCP program, the top cadet encouraged students entering ninth grade who have an interest in engineering and technology to apply to enter the program. If accepted she said they would gain valuable information in the technical field that would be beneficial to them in the future, and to the country.
TCCP exposes students to various disciplines: Engineering, science, mechanical technology, electronics, engineering drawing, broadcast engineering and water management.
Students who are accepted into the three-year program must have a grade point average of 2.5 and pass a proficiency test that determines their suitability for a career in the respective technical fields.
Minister of Education, Science and Technology Jerome Fitzgerald told the TCCP graduates that the program they participated in for three years was not a passive undertaking, and that it was for people who want to make a difference and change the world for the better.
"We are looking to you to use your God-given talents and the knowledge acquired from TCCP to find solutions to some of the technical and environmental issues that we face in The Bahamas. We are looking to you to help the corporations who may employ you to become efficient and cutting edge in their services and products," said Fitzgerald.
The education minister told the graduates that the government, through the education ministry, has already implemented initiatives including the Investing in Students and Programmes for the Innovative Reform of Education (INSPIRE) Career Path Academy at the C.C. Sweeting Senior High School and the Pre-engineering Magnet Program at the Anatol Rodgers High School.
The Career Path Academy will offer possible solutions to numerous socio-economic challenges facing the economy. It is the intention of the government to have career path academies in all senior schools in the country.
Fitzgerald said the academies are expected to prepare students for careers in masonry, carpentry, electrical and structural engineering and installation, graphic design, architectural drafting, sewing, software design, computer repair and installation, auto marine and aircraft mechanics. The minister said the effort would complement the Technical Cadet Corps Programme and enable more students to leave school prepared for the job market and entrepreneurship.
The Technial Cadet Corps Programme was initiated by Dr. Bernard Nottage, 23 years ago.
TECHNICAL CADET CORPS PROGRAMME AWARDS
Cadet of The Year 2013: Highest Average
Kerri Bascom (4 year Scholarship from Ministry of Education, Science and Technology to the College of The Bahamas
Scholarship Recipients (All scholarships tenable at the College of the Bahamas, except for Shadrick Farrington whose scholarship is tenable at the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute)
Kerri Bascom -- Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (Queen's College)
Shadrick Farrington -- Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (Doris Johnson Senior High)
Alvin Burrows -- Water & Sewerage Corporation (St. Augustine College)
Charles Rose -- Water & Sewerage Corporation (Anatol Rodgers High School)
Trovayne Cargill -- Bahamas Telecommunications Company Ltd (St. Augustine's College)
Kelson Campbell -- Bahamas Electricity Corporation (Mt. Carmel Preparatory High Academy)
Andrew LaFleur -- Bahamas Electricity Corporation ( C. C. Sweeting Senior High School)
General Manager Awards
McKyle Grant -- Bahamas Electricity Corporation
Trovayne Cargill -- Bahamas Telecommunication Company
Alex Collie -- Water & Sewerage Corporation
Archealous Hart -- Broadcasting Corporation of the Bahama
Most Improved Awards
Andrew Lafleur -- Electronics
Ustinov Knowles -- Computer Software
DeShawn Knowles -- Engineering Drawing
Tariq Cartwright -- Computer Repair
Celeto McKinney -- Water Management
Carlito Edmond -- Electrical
Sharise Taylor -- Radio and Television
Outstanding Student Field Awards
Hillsia Major -- Computer Software
Kerri Bascom -- Engineering Repair
Corey Butler -- Computer Repair
Sanchia Pratt -- Water Management
Alvonee Penn -- Electrical
Daija Johnson -- Radio and Television
Charles Forbes -- Electronics
English Language Awards
Alvin Burrows -- Most Outstanding
D'Angelo Symonette -- Most Improved
Mathematics Outstanding Awards
Trovayne Cargill -- Most Outstanding
Carlito Edmond -- Most Improved
Joel Lewis -- Most Improved
English -- Lisa Miller
Water Management -- Kable Dawkins
Mathematics - Darnell Adderley
Aliya Allen began her career in 2004 at the Attorney General's Office in civil litigation and chambers. She joined Graham, Thompson & Co. in 2007 as an associate and was quickly promoted to partner in the financial services practice of the firm in 2010. At the time, she was the youngest partner in the firm's 60 year history. Allen was recently appointed chief executive officer and executive director of the Bahamas Financial Services Board.
Guardian Business: What is the biggest challenge facing your sector? What measures need to be taken in The Bahamas to solve it?
Aliya: The intensified competitiveness of global and emerging financial centers has created a major but ultimately surmountable challenge for The Bahamas. An ongoing commitment to and investment in human capital, and raising the quality of our business environment and infrastructure will ensure that we remain well positioned to take advantage of the wealth of opportunities that exist. As a jurisdiction we have taken some important steps towards maintaining our own competitive advantage by passing no less than 15 financial services related bills at the end of last year. For instance, the Trustee Act, which was already a remarkable piece of legislation, is now after these most recent amendments, a beacon of clarity, robustness and flexibility. We have elevated our wealth management platform to the next level.
GB: How has your business or sector changed since the financial crisis?
Aliya: The financial crisis led financial centers around the world to reassess the need for regulation. The conventional theory that markets were ultimately self-correcting was challenged and after long periods of deregulation we all watched as a raft of regulation was implemented in an attempt to strengthen global financial stability.
The problem many would say is that smart regulation and a fair, consistent and balanced approach is what was required, and this is not always the approach that was taken by some jurisdictions. Thankfully, The Bahamas has always erred on the side of smart regulation.
GB: How would you describe or classify the ease of doing business in The Bahamas?
Aliya: We have seen steady improvements in this area but given the highly complex and ever-evolving nature of our competitive industry there is always room for improvement. Both the private and public sector are increasingly cognizant of the need to create advantages that are attractive to doing business in The Bahamas. We need to maintain an open mind and open dialogue on further changes that will enable us to be viewed as a jurisdiction that not only welcomes business but has a progressive attitude for facilitating the conduct of business here.
GB: What should young businesses keep in mind in this current economic climate to survive?
Aliya: That in difficult times marketing should be viewed as an investment, not simply as an expense. This is true for all businesses, not simply new ones and it is the same for financial centers. BFSB understands this paradigm all too well.
GB: What makes a great boss? What makes a bad boss?
Aliya: A great leader has vision and focus but is never hesitant to take advice. Inflexibility and dogged pursuit of your own aims, even in the face of competing viable theories is the surest way to fail.
GB: Can you describe a life experience that changed how you approach business today?
Aliya: can't speak about a single experience that has changed the way I approach business but I can speak about experiences that have shaped how I approach work. When I was a child my parents would make us stand on the dining room table every night and recite poetry and read short stories from the Royal Reader. At the time, it was a chore and we would inevitably groan, "this is boring!" However, it developed my confidence and language comprehension at an early age, and it engendered a love of language and reading that has stayed with me. Those Royal Reader nights taught me that there is no short cut for hard work and that often you have to do things you don't want to do. I've had many "Royal Reader type" of experiences since then; nights when I have stayed up till 3am thinking about a complex problem, or forced myself to go home on a Friday and power up the computer instead of winding down.
GB: What keeps you grounded?
Aliya: My family is quick to point out my failings (in a loving way) whether I want to hear them or not. I have always been encouraged to challenge conventional thought and my ideas are often challenged in the most humbling way. Recognizing my own fallibility has kept me grounded.
GB: What excites you about the sector?
Aliya: The depth of talent and experience in our sector make it an incredibly invigorating space for creative ideas and thought. BFSB has been remarkably successful in providing a forum for some of those ideas to be fleshed out and eventually turned into action. I think the ease of and ability to generate client driven solutions will be the key to our competitiveness as a financial centre and I look forward to facilitating that process going forward.
GB: What are you currently reading, or what is something you've read recently that has been influential?
Aliya: "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman. It is a well-researched and comprehensive examination of behavioral decision-making. Kahneman posits that there are two mental systems, one that is fast and the other slow, that shape our decision-making. The "fast" system is unconscious, prone to snap judgments and easily swayed by emotion and most people are hard-wired to think this way. The "slow" system, is meticulous, conscious, fact-checking and rational and difficult to engage. Sometimes you are called on to make decisions quickly and with limited information and that is unavoidable, but this book has caused me to look more skeptically at decisions I've made in those circumstances and has changed the way I approach decision-making today. Unfortunately, the pull of "fast" system decision-making is that it often "feels" right, but it is more likely to be wrong than you think.
Industry Position: President, Bahamas Association of Compliance Officers
What attracted you to the sector?
When I entered the industry in 2000, it was all new and I was intrigued about the future of the financial services industry and the recent black-listing of The Bahamas. Being an avid reader, I found the compendium of legislature interesting coupled with the new regulations and guidelines. I so acquainted myself with them that I began to acquire an extensive knowledge of risk within financial institutions inclusive of market, credit transactions, processing compliance and legal liability and reputational risks.
How long have you been in the industry?
Since 1984, I've worked in various areas of banking, mainly operations, firstly as a Securities Administrator which was quite exciting as it involved interacting with clients and traders which gave me tremendous versatility in Operations, Controlling and Management. I was also intimately involved in the creation and implementation of cross-functional controls, procedures and verifications to ensure quality of processes and controls within organizations, conducting cross-functional risk assessments of new business products or processes and funds, heading Special Project teams and managing the same, providing support to the CEO or managing directors of my organizations and to the boards of directors.
What keeps you motivated?
My son Nathan is my number one motivator, followed by my peers in the industry, as we feed off of each other while the industry continuously evolves.
Why do you think you have been successful?
I think my success is driven by my passion for the field of compliance and I definitely believe that I am blessed and that it is the favor of God in my life. I have a zeal for getting things done and in a timely and professional manner; I have an ability to work independently and handle ad hoc requests in a timely and reliable manner and have a resilience to stress and a capacity to deal with strict deadlines. My industry peers have also advised me that I am an effective diplomat and have effective interpersonal and communication skills and of course computer literacy.
Did mentoring play a part in your success?
Mentoring most certainly played a major role in my life. I entered this profession back in 2000 when everything was new: legislation and the Bahamas Association of Compliance Officers. The past presidents, Senator Cheryl Bazard, Natasha Rolle-Bastian, Tanya McCartney, Cherise Cox-Nottage, Robin Scavella, Fabian Bain, Edward Cooper and Kesna Pinder all played a part in my mentoring through my involvement in the association.
In fact, I'm referred to as the longest serving member of the Excom having served in various roles since 2001: the Education Committee, secretary, vice president and now president.
What qualifications do you feel are the most useful in helping you perform in the sector?
I am a planner, and although I agree that we cannot plan everything, it helps to eliminate some unnecessary stress. My strong point has always been my ability to meet deadlines. Of course, it's not always within the eight hour period, so one will have to find ways to strategize and get results.
What has been the biggest challenge in your career? How did you overcome it?
Change is always the x-factor ... but to be successful you have to learn to embrace it and at times love it. It certainly avoids monotony.
Why is it important to encourage our youth to think of careers within financial services?
For our future. As professionals it is important to ensure good succession planning within financial services. Someone has to carry on the traditions and as such it is important for us to mentor and encourage our youth to pursue careers within the financial industry. The industry requires talent from all of the traditional and non-traditional professions i.e. we have lawyers, accountants, trust professionals and also croupiers . BACO encourages participation in the control and oversight aspects of financial services through our annual speech competition which provides high school students an opportunity to discover the widest opportunities within financial services through their personal research after which they present their speeches in a public forum, and a winner is chosen.
What advice would you give young people just starting out in the industry?
We are gatekeepers for our various financial institutions and more importantly this jurisdiction, and we must ensure that, above all, integrity and accountability are everyday tools of the trade. Not only are our stockholders depending on this but, compliance essentially at its core, is concerned with such issues as the viability and sustainability of an organization; whether dedicated employees will ultimately have a pension on which to retire and whether parents would be enabled to pay for the school and university educations of their children. In short, we always emphasize this truth, compliance, if utilized thoughtfully, as a tool of national development, is about advancing the Bahamian dream.
Intervention by Fred Mitchell MP Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration Mid-Year Budget statement
House of Assembly Nassau 11th March 2013 CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY
I wish to thank the leaders of my constituency branch for their support. I looked at them on Saturday as they worked the souse out on the Fox Hill Park and admired them all for their hard work and dedication: Charlene Marshall, Altamese Isaacs, Deidre Rolle, Hazon Pinder, Sherene Glinton Armbrister, and Ellamae Collie. Took time out from their leisure Saturday to make sure the branch is funded. We must do something for them. I wish to extend condolences to the Member for Golden Gates on the passing of his mother. I wish to recognize the passing of T Baswell Donaldson, the former Central Bank Governor whose funeral I attended on Saturday.
Bahamian companies and the government have been urged not to take a "passive approach" to efforts to tap into private Chinese wealth, with one top local realtor suggesting that even as the appetite and capacity to invest abroad grows within the Asian giant, the Chinese know little about this country.
Fresh from helping to coordinate Mario Carey Realty's (MCR) participation in a luxury property showcase for high-net-worth Chinese, Danny Lowe, a Beijing-based consultant for MCR, noted that many countries are far ahead of The Bahamas in channelling Chinese investments abroad.
Speaking with Guardian Business after returning from the Shanghai Luxury Property Show, where 5,000 high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) who were "hand-picked" to attend the event were invited to view a presentation he conducted on The Bahamas, Mario Carey said his experience in the country taught him that The Bahamas is "not well known there".
"They want to know where The Bahamas is, so we use reference points like New York City, Toronto, places they would know, because they have no idea," said the realtor, who has concluded over 100 sales transactions in Ocean Club Estates on Paradise Island.
His comments come as recent surveys suggest that Bahamian sectors such as real estate, tourism and financial services stand to benefit from becoming better known in China.
In 2013, a comprehensive survey revealed that the number of HNWIs in China has more than doubled in the past four years to 700,000.
One in three wealthy Chinese have investments abroad, and of those, 60 percent would like to increase their overseas holdings, according to the survey from China Merchants Bank and Bain & Company released in mid-2013.
That's roughly double the number of HNWIs who reported making similar investments in 2011.
Meanwhile, in 2013, around 60 percent of HNWIs reported some interest in moving abroad.
Some commentators have noted that this interest is increasing as China seeks to shift its economic model away from that which made many of its super wealthy rich, to one that seeks to even out some of its inequality. This could lead to higher taxes for the wealthy, along with other changes that could threaten their wealth.
Other surveys have revealed significant "anxiety" among Chinese entrepreneurs about the security of their investments, based on concerns about the rule of law and lack of regulated business norms.
In the China Merchants Bank and Bain & Company report, the most prominent issues concerning Chinese who are considering moving or investing abroad are environmental issues like air pollution and the low quality of drinking water and food safety.
Many people are also worried about the education of their children as well as their own retirement plans.
Lowe, who speaks fluent Mandarin and specializes in Chinese and Asian consumer behavior, said that there is a lot of competition for private Chinese investment.
While the relationship between the Export-Import Bank of China, the China State Construction and Engineering Corporation and Baha Mar has played a role in informing mainland Chinese residents about The Bahamas, there is more that could be done by both the public and private sectors to raise this country's profile in the Asian giant, said Lowe.
"The Bahamas is thinking that once Baha Mar comes they will come; that's a passive approach, why not move ahead instead of waiting for Baha Mar?
"There are a lot of competitors for the Chinese dollar. We definitely need to get a foot out there in getting ourselves known so that the Chinese know there is a paradise on this side of the world," said Lowe.
"At the trade show there were so many other countries there promoting themselves and they are way ahead of the curve in attracting the Chinese consumer."
Carey agreed, adding that a promotional campaign in China would be money well spent for this country.
"I think The Bahamas, the government, the ministries of tourism and finance, need to think about increasing the presence of this country there through a marketing campaign in that market. If there is anywhere we could be spending the money, I think we would benefit from it there," said Carey.
The promotion does not necessarily have to sell something new to Chinese, but elaborate on and illuminate what The Bahamas already has to offer, said the realtor.
"What we already have works. We just need to let them know what differentiates us. We are English-speaking, the dollar is on par with the U.S. dollar, and you can become a permanent resident if you invest over a certain amount."
"Bahamians have this misconception that the Chinese will come and buy up everything but the government has policies in place for that."
On the plus side, the mutual visa exemption agreement between The Bahamas and China, signed last month, is a major step forward for encouraging tourism, and potentially investment, said Lowe.
"The Chinese usually find it very attractive that they can enter into another country without a visa; it shows on a political level that the country's ties are stable and furthermore they want to do these things on the fly.
"Although the Bahamian embassy in Beijing, China does facilitate visas it's much more convenient that they wouldn't need to be processed and can come directly," said Lowe.
Carey said he has received some very positive responses from potential investors following MCR's presentation and meetings in China.
"Based on what I've done, I'm already getting some tremendous feedback from it. I think it will pay off.
"I've been nurturing this for a while. We have our website in Mandarin, we have Danny in China as our Chinese consultant; it's a determined strategy and it's starting to pay off, so the next step now is to create business opportunities, form partnerships."
Down the line, the realtor anticipates one day having an office in the Asia-Pacific region.
"It's safe to say we could have an office in the Asia-Pacific region; that's one of the goals we have. Why wouldn't MCR take advantage of having Bahamians (students) there? The culture and etiquette are very important when dealing with clients on a global level, so its important that they can see Bahamian people taking time out to reach out to them," he added.
Many Bahamian businesses are holding on by a thread and seeking answers on how to survive this seemingly never-ending recession.
Many are complaining and feeling the pressures brought on by a sluggish economy, but I ask you, how many of us are really willing to do what it takes to not only survive, but to thrive? In this new arena several factors have become crystal clear:
o Business as usual is a thing of the past, get over it!
o Self-perseverance is the name of the game, the strong survive, the weak will be swallowed up!
o Survival depends on making the tough decisions that will enable you to adapt to the ever-changing landscape and remain competitive.
o New visions will have to be outlined and current strategies redefined, while still remaining open to new and emerging opportunities, for example, the demand for new products and services or just the ability to cheaply acquire the assets of a distressed competitor.
o Organizations will need agility, the ability to quickly spot and snatch opportunities before the competitors do.
And I can hear some of you crying right now, Stacia I hate change. Trust me I know you do. The reality is, the more successful you become in your career or business, the harder it is to change, since all of the learning that has led to your success thus far, has been implicitly coded in your brain and works against your ability to unlearn. So believe me, I understand why change is difficult, but consider this, the new normal and #1 rule for business survival in this new arena is simple, adapt or die! And in the words of former U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki, "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less." If you don't learn how to embrace change my friend you run the risk of your products and services becoming obsolete!
Tough times call for tough measures. Here are a few of my suggestions for your business survival:
o As business owners and executives, you need to ensure that everyone drinks the Kool-Aid, that you and your employees are on the same page. Your strategy is not a military secret, your employees need to understand it as clearly as you do! So even If you've said it before, you need you to say again. Tom, Sue, Maryjoe, Shaquita, this is where we are, this is where we are going, and here is what we need you to do to help make his happen. And when we are successful in achieving our goals, here is what the benefits will look like.
How many times do you have to tell them? As many times as it takes because execution is crucial to your survival. Without a doubt it is imperative for your employees to understand your highest priorities, and know what they are supposed to do to achieve them.
o I said it before I'll say it again, the success of your organization lies in the hands of the people you hire. So don't compromise, hire right the first time and make sure that you have the right people involved in the recruitment process. Outsource this function if you must because here is what I need you to always remember:
A level employees hire other A level employees.
B level employees hire C level employees.
C level employees, well they just hire losers so with a bunch of losers running around your company's survival is slim to zero.
o My people, my people, we've got to raise the standards, as a people our brand is too low, our work ethic is almost non-existent, we've grown too comfortable, entitled and lazy. Comfort leads to stagnation and I just don't know when we will realize that not doing more than average is what keeps the average person down. We really need a paradigm shift! We have to change our work ethic. Clients with choices will refuse to put up with crap and you know exactly what crap I'm talking about: Showing up late, missing deadlines, inferior work, "ducking clients", over promising, fluff with out substance, etc. It's time to stop this nonsense! We must learn to stamp everything that we do with excellence. We must absolutely improve the quality of our goods and services. We must improve our level of professionalism.
o Hold people accountable for their performance. Reward those who execute, especially your superstars (since they are not equal to your average worker), coach those who don't, and if they still don't get it my friend it's time to separate. Employees must come to the place where they realize that everyday they must earn the right to be employed. They must bring value or their services are not required! Don't be afraid to make the tough decisions, understanding that your employees either add to or detract from your success.
Finally, I want to leave you with the words of Jack Welch, former CEO of GE.
"The winners will be those who search out and participate in the real growth industries and insist on being number 1 or number 2 in every business that they are in, the number one or number two leanest, lowest-cost worldwide producers of quality goods and services, or those who have a clear technological edge, a clear advantage in the market niche.
"Where we are not number one or number two and don't have, or can't see a route to technological edge, we've got to ask ourselves Peter Drucker's very tough question: If you were not already in this business, would you enter it today?
And if your answer is no, face that second difficult question: what are you going to do about it?"
Stacia Williams offers keynotes, workshops and personal coaching on a wide range of personal branding, image management, customer service, leadership, business etiquette and international protocol topics.
You can contact Stacia Williams at 325-5992 or email Stacia@totalimagemanagement.com or visit staciawilliamsblog.com.
Name: Jeannette Jean
Industry position: Private Banking administrator,
Societe Generale Private Banking
Education and training: Business Management (Associate of Arts degree). Presently pursuing an MBA in Chartered Banking at Bangor University,
What attracted you to the sector?
I enjoy working on assignments that will give me a challenge. Most jobs in the financial sector offer "pace": A high importance is generally placed on quick thinking, quick acting, and constant production of results. This can be trying for some people; for me and many others, however, it is exhilarating.
Globally, banking and the financial sector represent highly protected businesses and here in The Bahamas, banking is the second largest industry. Despite upturns, downturns, booms and busts, the finance sector continues to be one of the best choices for newly qualified graduates. Furthermore, the sector can provide a rewarding career and advancement. Compared to other industries, it has a tendency to place less weight on seniority in judging the readiness of employees for advancement. Once qualified, high performers can move ahead regardless of age.
How long have you been involved in financial services? What keeps you motivated?
I have been involved in the financial sector for the past four years. Motivation is the combination of fulfilling the employee's needs and expectations. Although employers may not be able to motivate employees per se, they can provide an environment at work that is conducive to and supportive of employees choosing to become motivated about issues related to work. In no particular order, below are a few things I am motivated by but not limited to: Job security/integrity, career development, fair compensation, good working conditions, upward mobility, mutual respect and effective leadership.
Why do you think you have been successful? Did mentoring play a part in your success?
Although I have not yet reached the level I would like to be at in the financial industry, I have set goals and it may seem slow but I can see where gradually I am achieving them. This in itself can be an example for other young persons. Mentoring did play a major part of my success. When I look at other persons I look up to in the industry it pushes me to want to achieve more.
What qualifications do you feel are the most useful in helping you perform in the sector?
Every employee has different qualities to offer. For me, the key ones are my passion for work/customer service and leadership skills. Also important for me have been leadership abilities, excellent communication and problem solving skills, perseverance and motivation, and the ability to work under pressure with little or no supervision. Being a great team player has been invaluable as well.
How do you view the financial services sector?
The stiff competition in the sector requires exceptional hard work, focus and commitment to stay afloat, coupled with dedication in order to succeed. The demands customers had 10 to 15 years ago are different from today. In order to stay competitive, the financial industry must change constantly. The financial sector is essential in order for a modern economy to work. Bankers/persons in the financial sector are the intermediaries between people with money to invest and people who need money to build their businesses, to buy a home or just planning a well deserved vacation. I take pleasure in coming to work each day knowing I am helping someone achieve his/her goals and ambitions, and most importantly helping them with investment decisions.
What advice would you give young people just starting out in the industry?
The advice I would give any young person includes: Remember that success is a journey not a destination, and that the greatest enemy of success is the achievements of today; learn a second language; invest in yourself, try to get as much education as you can to stay competitive; save and remember that your work is unto God and continue to work in the spirit of excellence.
In a country that's reporting record numbers of unemployment to date, why is it still the cry of many business owners in The Bahamas that "good employees are hard to find?" In my work as a business services and human resource consultant, I hear business leaders lament about this all the time. In fact, aside from creating the structure needed for their employees and business to function effectively, their chief complaint is about the staff and issues related to performance and teamwork. Today's employers usually say:
o Employees do not want to work but they want to get paid.
o Employees do not take care of company property, are not productive and focus on their own needs and not those of the company.
o Employees are too difficult to work with; there is too much conflict and gossip.
o Employees seem to be afraid or reluctant to take initiative or make decisions.
o Employees do not understand the value of the customer.
Why is there an apparent disconnect between employers that are hiring and the current unemployment rate? Is it that the unemployed people are not the best in the pool? It is a fact that cutbacks and downsizing make the perfect time to release the problematic, non-contributing employees. However, good employees are also laid off because while it is about talent, it is also a numbers game. Companies just can't afford to keep everyone. That means that there are very talented unemployed people around. This leads to the next reason for the apparent employment gap.
I've often told applicants this truth: Many advertised positions already have a person in mind for the position and many positions are not advertised at all. People are recruited based on recommendations and referrals from trusted colleagues in their network. Going this route cuts time and cost for the hiring manager because he or she will only see those who have really started out on the short list. There are advantages and disadvantages to this approach and while time and money are saved in the recruitment process, the pool is limited to the network of the people being asked if they know someone that could fit the role. Additionally, employers use outdated recruitment strategies and have limited perspectives of who good employees are.
Another reason why good employees are not being hired is the money factor. While money is not a motivating factor for many, it is still a determining factor in who you attract. Often, I'd talk with business owners who want highly skilled, committed employees but are not prepared to pay them well. Of course, someone that needs to work may accept that initially, but over time they will move on to the company that is willing to pay more. As a result, only lower skilled employees will work for lower pay and even they want more money after a while. Employers, especially small businesses, should look carefully at the volume of work that needs to be done and the competencies and characteristics required for the role. It may be in their best interests to hire fewer yet more skilled employees than having too many employees that are being paid less. A more skillful employee will usually get more work done and achieve company goals.
In order to be competitive as an employer, I would suggest to take a serious look at your employer brand. What is the noise in the market about you as an employer? Do you have high turnover? Do you pay fairly? Do you make people work overtime and not pay them for it? Do your managers lead by fear and intimidation? Are people clear about their work, their role and their contribution to the organization? Do you operate with fairness, integrity, transparency and honesty? Are you interested in the growth and advancement of your employees? Your answers will determine if good employees want to choose you as an employer. Yes, that's right. Employees also choose employers. And sometimes the employer comes up wanting. In order to find good employees, one must be a good employer.
In these times of economic challenge, everyone is looking to get value for their investment. Consumers want more, employees want more and employers need more in order to meet the demands of a competitive environment. Finding and keeping top talent is a critical component of that matrix. Are good employees hard to find? Not at all. It depends on where you look, what you're looking for and whether or not you are the kind of employer they want to work for.
o Simmone L. Bowe, MSc. is a business services and human resource consultant, speaker, author and mentor who focuses on helping business leaders develop high performing organizations by connecting vision and goals with strategic organizational performance. For comments and queries, email email@example.com.
When Joyce Riviere graduated from college nearly four decades ago, she took a job at RBC Royal Bank at the clerical level.
The financial institution may have changed over the years, but according to Riviere, the path to becoming a top executive is consistency.
Exceeding the expectations of superiors and being willing to take on new and challenging roles have helped this leader at RBC Royal Bank achieve her career ambitions.
For International Women's Day, Riviere, area vice president of personal banking for the Family Islands, shared with Guardian Business a few inspirational words for young women with similar hopes for the future.
Education and academic qualifications are one thing, she said.
Ultimately, what it comes down to is your commitment to the profession.
"Always do your best and make sure your expectations are higher than what is expected by your organization," Riviere said. "Performance on the job is everything."
Heading a business network that spans six islands, the RBC executive is accustomed to sacrifice and getting the job done.
She told Guardian Business that over her career she has "moved around a lot", and would encourage young Bahamians to do the same.
Experience in the Family Islands, she explained, can provide employees with the opportunity to shine in smaller environments. This exposure and the chance to "stand out more" make positions in more scenic locations a smart long-term investment.
In 1999, Riviere accepted the opportunity to work as manager of the Abaco branch, a position she held for 10 years. Now, she provides leadership and support for all Family Island units.
"Some people are comfortable and do not want to compete to work at another branch. But I'm always open to taking on new and different responsibilities."
In other words, expanding horizons is another key component to success.
What is expected today might not be expected tomorrow, she explained, and it's important to apply yourself to every challenge that might come.
In addition to her work on the Family Islands, Riviere's career has been particularly dedicated to coaching and team building.
In turn, satisfaction among clients remains a top priority as employees work together to ensure a superior client experience.
"These days, you are expected to spend more time coaching. It's important to find out what is going well, what we can provide you to deliver on your job and what you want to deliver personally," she told Guardian Business.
On the client side, asking the extra questions and stepping up the presentation of financial advice are ongoing goals for RBC Royal Bank, whether the client is a young college student, a young professional or someone on the brink of retirement.
In the 1970s, when she first joined the bank, Riviere remembered that everything you needed to know could be found in books and binders. Today, the rise of electronic information and processes is perhaps one of the most profound changes in her long career.
And that trend is expected to continue in 2012.
"We are seeking to deliver more opportunities for personal clients through electronic banking as opposed to having to enter a branch. That can come in many different forms. In 2012, personal clients will have another means of conducting personal transactions without having to some into a branch," she said.
Another change she has seen over the years is the role of women.
More women are entering the financial services field than ever before, she said. If you were to look around the leadership tables of The Bahamas, at least half of those chairs, or more, are filled by women.
That said, Riviere wished to stress RBC Royal Bank's commitment to diversity and the opportunities available to women.
While the economy might not be ideal, opportunities exist for those that wish to seize them.
"Amid stiff competition, you really have to put your best performance forward," Riviere said. "If you do that, there remains a lot of opportunities. Nothing will be handed to you. You must recognize the opportunity and position yourself."