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The Decider

an important part of us, being a local firm. We’ve reorganised our property and business department, creating a whole new platform to efficiently service that line and attract senior talent to support it.

Our expansion into New York, a major global financial centre, is also part of building on our strengths. Our funds department has a solid reputation and has always played a big role in our practice. Our funds practices has seen consistent growth primarily in the New York Tri-State area. Also, we have several longstanding relationships with US and global professional services firms in the region, so having a presence there made good sense. It’s working well and we’ve recently added staff to that office. We’re making steady strides and are really excited about our future.

What would you say has been your most challenging day on the job? Nothing has been as challenging as trying to find my staff after Irma, and I wasn’t officially on the job then. Prior to Irma we established a WhatsApp chat group that we used for different things, mainly social stuff. Of course, cellular and wireless connectivity was disrupted, which made finding our team members extremely difficult, and on a personal level extremely stressful. Next came arranging evacuations for our people, flying whole families off the island after the storm. One of our partners, who was overseas during the storms, assisted greatly with the logistics of this. To say post Irma was a challenging day on the job, would be an understatement. It was truly intense; not just for me, but for all the staff. We recognised this and brought in a counselor to assist the entire staff in dealing with the trauma of the hurricanes.

Similarly, what would be your proudest moment to date? I am not sure I have a proudest moment but I am proud of the team at OW. I am proud of the work that we do in the community, which as a policy we tend not to advertise. I am proud to be able to lead my team in what I think are challenging but exciting times, and I am proud that they appreciate the job that I am doing and my management style – well, so they have said!

How would you describe your leadership style? Essentially, I’d say I have open door leadership style, but after that, I’d describe my approach as very pragmatic and inclusive. First, I don’t believe in meetings for meetings’ sake and I don’t support long meetings. I encourage collaborative but decisive action. A meeting agenda is presented and at the end everyone knows the vision and mission and what action

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JULY 2019

THERE ARE MANY FACTORS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO THE LACK OF WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP BUT IN MY OPINION ONE IMPORTANT FACTOR IS THE LACK OF MENTORING. I BELIEVE ACCOMPLISHED WOMEN HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO PASS ALONG THEIR STORIES AND ENCOURAGE WOMEN COMING UP IN THE RANKS.

Why [the move to] New York? Why not Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore or Dubai?

On the lack of women leaders in BVI...

belongs to them. I strongly believe that everybody needs to buy into whatever is on the table. When people are part of the decision process they have a better grasp of the firm’s direction and take ownership of their part. So, when we make teams to develop ideas, we include someone from each department: a paralegal, associate, secretary, administrator, marketer, and lawyer. That ensures that we work as a firm and row in the same direction. That’s why it is important for all our staff to be involved in our strategic planning. Before our last planning retreat, our facilitator came in, met with the staff for two days, and listened to their ideas. When he came back with the plan, he shared that plan with the staff and as it evolves I try to keep them engaged through staff meetings, email updates, and just general lunch room chatter.

What are you currently reading? I tend to read non-fiction. I’ve been trying to read Michelle Obama’s new book, Becoming, for the longest time. Normally I’m an avid reader, but for some reason I’m struggling with this one. I was invited to participate on a panel to discuss aspects of the book and women’s issues in general. It was a great discussion, it was honest and sincere. I’m not sure I’ll ever finish the book, but being a panel member exposed me to other perspectives which I appreciated.

Globally, particularly in the US, women are clearly stepping up to the plate. You look at the Democrats, there’s no shortage of competent women who are moving up. Similarly, here, women have always played a very pivotal role. It’s not the same, but there seems to be finally here a movement in that regard. How do you see that evolving? Women in leadership is evolving in the Virgin Islands. Financial services, in particular, is very much a boys’ club. I sit on committees where I’m the only woman. There are many factors that contribute to the lack of women in leadership but in my opinion one important factor is the lack of mentoring. Even if it’s

not formal mentoring, I believe accomplished women have a responsibility to pass along their stories and encourage women coming up in the ranks. I was never mentored, but [former BVI Finance Interim Executive Director] Lorna Smith and I are close, and she was always someone who gave me advice and criticism whether I wanted it or not, good or bad. Growing as a professional, gaining confidence, and honing your skillsets is best accomplished with a guide. The path is smoother and missteps can be avoided. Men create these relationships in different ways, they may meet on the football field, play a game, create a kind of bond in which they exchange ideas, encourage each other etc. But many women, although they do meet over sports or other social activities, tend not to have the time to make the most of such relationships. The fact, whether we like it or not, is that, often, women are juggling a million different responsibilities that compete for the little free time they have. This is not knocking men, it’s just what it is. It’s difficult. But, somebody who’s been through it can tell a young woman how they handled such things and even influence their decisions to make a difference. We started having a “ladies” dinner night for our office. Not a lunch, because a lunch is too rushed. And one of the things that I would say to our group is to make sure your life is full. Yes, you’re in a career but you need to live life. Okay, I’m impressed that you’re here until ten o’clock at night, but what else? You don’t want to burn out at 40 and have regrets because you haven’t achieved certain dreams or desires in other areas of your life. That’s something I try to pass on. | BB

Profile for Business BVI

Business BVI July 2019  

The theme for the July 2019 edition is ‘A View Beyond the Horizon’, which is intended to reflect where the territory is post 2017, while at...

Business BVI July 2019  

The theme for the July 2019 edition is ‘A View Beyond the Horizon’, which is intended to reflect where the territory is post 2017, while at...

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