Thursday 23rd June 2005


Always moving up

Republic’s new executive director credits school for his success

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Nigel Baptiste, executive director at Republic Bank.

Photo: Nicole Orr

By Nicole Orr

“A lot of who I am came from the foundation I got at St Joseph Boys and St Mary’s College. Those two schools gave me the platform to excel,” declared Nigel Baptiste in his new position as executive director at Republic Bank.

After he equipped himself with first and second degrees in economics, Baptiste joined the bank in March 1991 as a management trainee in the Economic Intelligence Unit.

Prior to this, he worked at the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Barbados as country economist for two years.

Making upward movements every two-and-a-half years, he has held numerous positions.

Following the management trainee programme, he became corporate manager of corporate division, then area credit manager at the San Fernando Commercial Centre.

Two years later, he got the opportunity to go across to Guyana to be the managing director of the subsidiary, National Bank of Industry and Commerce.

He returned as general manager of human resources and is now an executive director.

Thirty-nine years of age, Baptiste is involved in various exercise activities and has a passion for horses.

The job:

The bank has re-structured so that Baptiste’s portfolio covers commercial and retail banking, corporate operations and process improvement. He is also responsible for information technology, marketing and overseas operations.

Striking a balance:

“The balance is by having extremely good support from family and workers. You have to find the time to strike a balance.”

A management challenge:

“To think differently and lead individually. You need to understand and recognise that people are individuals and the same management style will not work for everyone.

“To think differently means adding value. Somebody has to ask a question from a different perspective, to stimulate people to look at different angles and force others to think differently.”

Favourite part of the job:

“The challenges are constant.”

Waste of time:

“Not living up to your potential, especially when you have the ability to achieve anything. If you wanted to be something or someone and you did not, then you would have wasted your time.”

A successful manager:

The secret to success is to:

a) Put confidence in the people working for you so that they feel empowered to do their best and to take chances.

b) Be willing to dirty your hands as workers look to you for guidance.

c) Have a solid academic foundation. Know in depth what you are talking about, not so much because you are performing in the area you studied but because the area you studied would have given you a certain discipline of thought. That discipline is what you are confident about.

d) Know your weaknesses. Nobody expects you to be an expert in everything. Have the ability to discern those who know more and call upon them. Learn from their experiences.

What makes a lasting impression:

“Honesty. I do not expect people to get everything right all the time. I expect that you are honest with yourself and with those who you are dealing with. That gives me the confidence to give that person more challenges.”

Team-building practices:

“Sharing information. Treat employees as valued members of the team. If you are a valued member I should be able to share information with you expecting you will treat it confidentially.

“Inclusion in the decision-making. People like to know that their views are considered. Be straight forward with individuals.”

People take pride in their work:

“By showing enthusiasm. If people do not like what they are doing, you see it coming out in the errors made and absenteeism.”

Conflict-resolving tip:

“One must recognise that conflict is inevitable, conflict is not a bad thing. You do not own a position; you borrow the position and are open to suggestions.

“Do your homework and arm yourself with facts and not emotions, facts that can be proven independently of you having said so. Understand the other person, the forces that are at play on the other side.”

How do you encourage

employee development?

“I believe that employee development resides with the employee. However, organisations have to create the environment for development. Create incentive programmes for studying and in turn provide the opportunities. One should study not necessarily to get a diploma or degree, but study to earn the knowledge.”

Employee retention tip:

“Treat employees equitably.”

Career-building advice:

“Understand yourself and what you would like to achieve.”

Favourite Book:

“The Art of War by Sun Tzu. The analogy of the book helps you to understand yourself, staff and the competition. It gives you a sense of self-confidence. Do not take disagreements personally. In professional life disagreements are professional.”

What I look for in a job candidate:

“An internally driven and dynamic individual. Somebody that has a passion for what they are doing.

“A person with the right exposure. One who would not be satisfied until they take things to the next level.”


“Managers need to understand that they are employees as well and it is not a question of them and us, it is really we.

“Managers need to understand as well that they did not land here as managers. You need to understand that the employee is on their way and could be potentially better.

“Their potential can be greater than your potential and you need to nurture that and not feel challenged by it.




©2004-2005 Trinidad Publishing Company Limited

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