|The Bahamas Investor Magazine
January 21, 2010
January 21, 2010
With over 4,900 professionals in The Bahamas’ financial services sector, ascending the corporate ladder takes more than just working longer, harder and smarter. Career advancement in such a competitive environment isn’t handed down on a silver platter, even with a solid education. To get to the top, you have to excel in your field and stand out from the crowd.
The Bahamas Investor interviewed three such up-and-coming, “home-grown” executives at top financial services providers who are well on their way to the top.
Scotia’s Dwight Burrows, 38
Scotiabank’s Freeport branch manager, Dwight Burrows, has enjoyed a varied and challenging 20-year commercial banking career that has taken him all over The Bahamas–allowing him to combine his passion for his work with his love of the outdoor life.
He got his foot in the door as a 17-year-old bank teller and has never looked back, assuming his first branch management role at the age of 32. Not bad for a boy torn between three careers as a young child.
“I first wanted to be a mathematician, believe it or not. At some point I wanted to be a mix between either a pilot or a captain. That didn’t last too long because I realized soon after that I had a fear of flying,” he recalls with a laugh. “I also had thoughts of being an electrician and I guess that really came out of respect and admiration for my father who was an electrician.”
After graduating from Government High School in 1988, Burrows quickly became aware that for financial reasons jetting off to college wasn’t an option. He had an application for the Bahamas Electricity Corporation in his hand when he was recruited by Scotiabank. The bank was looking for some young talent to develop and Burrows was offered a job as a part-time teller working at the bank’s Wulff Road and East Street branch.
“Initially, it was just a means to make some money,” Burrows recalls. “I remember leaving work and doing some small electrical jobs in the evenings.”
But after two years, the young teller began to think more seriously about a banking career and in 1990 he enrolled at the Bahamas Institute of Bankers, where he completed an associate’s degree programme at The College of The Bahamas (COB) campus.
With the starter degree under his belt, Burrows began to push for more experience. Shortly after, he received his first assignment in Long Island, where his family hails from.
From 1995 to 1998, Burrows worked as a loans officer in Deadman’s Cay. He won the branch’s Employee of the Year award every year he was there, and in 1998 he captured Scotia’s overall Employee of the Year award.
It was during this stint on Long Island that Burrows discovered he had a “significant” fear of public speaking and “issues” with communicating. To overcome it, he joined Toastmasters–an organization that develops public speaking and leadership skills. “The only way you can help someone else is if you continuously help yourself to develop. That’s what I learnt in Toastmasters,” says Burrows, a past president of Club 1600.
From 1999 to 2004, Burrows was promoted and transferred six times. He went from a consumer credit officer in the Paradise Island branch to assistant manager of credit risk in the bank’s head office, with four stops in between. All the while, he continued to further his education, completing his bachelor’s degree in professional management at Nova Southeastern University in 2003.
A year later in March 2004, he received his first branch manager position and was dispatched to Rock Sound, Eleuthera.
“That was the highlight of my career. Obviously, there were other appointments more senior, but to me that was the one that stood out,” the banker explains. “I was gung-ho, but I also knew that I had so many things to learn. I had no fear, not even of failing. I just wanted the opportunity to see if I could do it. I thought the bank had done a good job in preparing me to take on the challenge.”
Over the next three years Burrows– who obtained his master’s from Nova in 2006–managed banks in Eleuthera, Marsh Harbour in Abaco and Emerald Bay, Exuma. “Those small islands taught me the value of providing excellent customer service all the time. You couldn’t let any opportunity slip through your fingers,” says Burrows. “Every customer had to be treated so well to stop them from going to the other competitor on the island.”
In May 2007, Burrows returned to Nassau for a promotion; he was made senior manager for Scotia Service, a new unit attached to the managing director’s office. More commonly known in the bank as ‘service champion’ the new post tasked Burrows with developing the unit and work on enhancing the bank’s overall service delivery and handling of customer complaints.
After a brief stint in 2008/09 as senior manager for marketing and products, with responsibilities for the Internet banking department, Burrows was appointed Freeport’s senior manager.
“I can’t say that climbing the corporate ladder was easy or difficult,” says the married father of four. “I could say that it was extremely engaging, challenging, but in a very fun and interesting way. [It was] just a whole heap of self-development.”
CFAL’s Pamela Musgrove, 37
It has also been a challenging journey of development for Pamela Musgrove, vice president of investments for Colina Financial Advisors Ltd (CFAL), an investment and financial analyst company that manages over $800 million in assets.
“When we were young, my mum told us what she wanted us to be. When it came to me she said, ‘I want you to be an accountant because you like to count money and accountants make a lot of money,’” she recalls. Her home life continued to influence her development and career decisions. She loves cooking, which she learned from her father, who is a chef, and when she first started out in her career she made her own work outfits, having learned how to sew in the family home. “I was definitely domesticated before I was educated,” she says.
She held fast to her mother’s wishes for her career until a brief stint in an accounting department following her high school graduation changed her mind. Although she ditched accounting, she was still interested in finance and the 17-year-old enrolled at COB as a banking major.
On the brink of her 1992 graduation, a chat with her college advisor swayed Musgrove into pursuing a bachelor’s degree in finance when she went to college overseas. “I said, ‘Okay,’ and I never regretted pursuing that,” says Musgrove.
After graduating from Nova Scotia’s Acadia University in 1996, the finance major set her sights on obtaining her Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation and launching her career. “I had plan A, B, C and D,” Musgrove says with a chuckle. “Plan A and B were off-shore banks. The ones that I had heard about that seemed prestigious were on the A-list. The ones I didn’t know much about were on the B-list.”
After sending out her resume, 24-year-old Musgrove landed an interview with Credit Suisse–unreservedly an A-list target. The meeting with the company’s managing director, Greg Bethel, went well, and Musgrove was hired as a bank clerk in the securities and administration department.
“I remember him [Bethel] asking me about salary, and I said, ‘Oh, I’m not concerned about salary. I just want to work.’ I was so green,” says Musgrove with a smile. “But he gave me an opportunity, and I appreciated that.”
The financial novice spent 10 months with the company, moving up in the administration department pretty quickly before taking a job with Cardinal International Corp as a portfolio accountant.
She spent roughly 18 months with Cardinal before landing a job with Sentinel Bank & Trust–a firm geared towards wealth management. There Musgrove worked as a bank clerk under Wendy Warren, the present chief executive officer of the Bahamas Financial Services Board.
In July 1999, Musgrove left Sentinel and commenced work at Colina as an associate in the investment department. In March 2006, she was made supervisor. A year later she was promoted to senior associate of investments, and in September 2008, Musgrove made vice president.
“I had goals,” says Musgrove, referring to her four moves in three years. “I knew what I wanted and I pursued that.”
For this financial expert, mentorship was key to climbing the corporate ladder.
“The principals at CFAL at that time took me in and mentored me,” Musgrove recalls. “They took me to high-profile meetings with them, where I sat and didn’t say much, but I listened intently and I learnt.”
In those early days she was advised by her bosses to focus less on compensation and appreciate the level of invaluable exposure she was being afforded. “They were right. They did that for me. My gratitude to them is to do the same for others,” says Musgrove. “I think it would be robbery or selfishness if I don’t in turn give that opportunity to other young people.”
True to her word, Musgrove is now nurturing younger talent, although she first met two of the company’s current traders when they were very young indeed: they were her Sunday school students at Evangelistic Temple, where she is the treasurer. “I didn’t give them a job just because I taught them in Sunday school,” she explains. “When I saw what they wanted to do I gave them an opportunity. Hopefully, they can come up and have significant roles in the company as well.”
Through her work with her church, Musgrove is continually trying to strengthen the ties between her workplace and the community. She and a colleague at CFAL have plans to partner with a local children’s home to take the children on quarterly outings so that they can experience more of what life has to offer.
Although Musgrove wants to leave time and space in her life for marriage and children, she also passionately believes in her work and she’s not afraid to make a grab for the brass ring. “I love what I do. In this job you have an opportunity to have an impact on lives. I know that sounds clichéd, but it’s true,” she says. “You meet with clients and they ask your advice on what they need to do to get out of debt, or structure a portfolio so it’s beneficial to them. If I make a recommendation it’s because I went out there, I did my research and I truly believe at this point this is the best option.”
According to Musgrove, the key to keeping clients happy is simple: “Anticipate your clients’ needs and then exceed them.”
Butterfield’s Donovan Braynen, 33
Another successful executive is 33-year-old Donovan Braynen, the assistant vice president and head of information technology at Butterfield Bank (Bahamas) Ltd. Although he rose to the top quickly, he admits initially he didn’t set out to climb the corporate ladder.
“The biggest challenge for me was my progression into management,” the electronic engineer confides. “I went from just fixing computers to all of a sudden creating management reports.”
Braynen began work at General Business Machines (an IT service provider) back in 1996 after completing an undergraduate degree in electronic engineering at COB. Later, he worked at the tertiary institution as a computer technician before taking a job in the IT department at Barclays Bank.
There he stayed for 18 months before going to work for Fujitsu ICL Caribbean, a Jamaica-based IT service provider. Braynen worked at the company for just over a year before accepting an IT assistant manager position with Leopold Joseph (Bahamas), a company that provided offshore trust, company formation and fund administration services.
Following a succession of mergers and acquisitions, Leopold Joseph eventually became part of Butterfield. With the merger Braynen was bumped down to systems engineer. The demotion, however, would not last long.
“We had to build pretty much a new infrastructure to accommodate [the mergers],” Braynen recalls. “The challenge was to consolidate them, eliminate what needed to be eliminated and have everybody running on a common platform. It was like opening Pandora’s box. We were able to do that with little to no disruption to the business operations.”
A year after his demotion, Braynen, who had received his Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer designation, was promoted to IT manager. Yet he had no staff to supervise.
“It was fairly challenging in the beginning when it was only one person to wear all those different hats,” says Braynen, who in 2004 was tasked by Butterfield to establish its highly IT-centric, Central Bank-mandated Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan. “I had to put something together because the majority of the disaster recovery plan called for a lot of IT technology.”
The load was lightened in 2005 when Butterfield added one additional staffer to the IT department. As the organization grew, another person was brought on board, bringing the department’s complement to three.
“I didn’t set out to climb the corporate ladder. I just treated my responsibilities within the department as a job and I was definitely going to do it to the best of my abilities,” says Braynen, who made assistant vice president in August 2006. “The early years in my career I worked for GBM, Fujitsu and Barclays in roles that really did not have leadership attached to them … so my progression into leadership was pretty challenging in the beginning.”
It’s a challenge that he met head on, becoming adept with all things managerial, from liaising with external vendors, suppliers and maintenance providers, to help desk functions and creating reports. He now uses his skills and influence to help the wider community, devoting time, money and his computer acumen to charitable organizations.
In 10 years’ time, Braynen–like Musgrove and Burrows–sees himself still in the sector as a practicing professional. This time around he will be extending the hand down to pull others up. “On this journey, which I’m still on, I’ve had a lot of opportunities, a lot of mentorship and a lot of advice,”?says the married father of one. “Ten years down the road, I’d like to offer the same to others.”