CIBC Antigua Celebrate International Women’s day With Clare Hall Secondary School.

All across the region eager young women filed into the branches and offices of regional bank CIBC FirstCaribbean to “fill” a variety of positions for the day on Friday March 8.

The “job shadow” was one of the bank’s key activities across its 16-member regional footprint to mark International Women’s Day observed around the world on that date. It saw scores of female students from secondary and tertiary institutions joining meetings with senior managers and executives or going on the frontlines with retail staff as they got a feel for the various roles performed by the bank’s 3000 employees, seventy per cent of whom are women.

At the bank’s regional headquarters in Barbados, Chief Executive Officer Colette Delaney and Managing Director for Barbados and the OECS, Donna Wellington, welcomed three new “assistants” for the day when she was joined by Zwena Knight, 16, from Queen’s College, Alyssa Payne, from The Lester Vaughan School and Danielle Worrell, from The St. Michael’s School.

Earlier in a message to staff to mark the day, Ms. Delaney, the first female CEO of the bank said while the bank was proud of the number of females serving at very high levels, there was still room for improvement especially at the senior executive level.

“I am reminded of this every time I chair a meeting of our executive committee and realise I am the only female around the table, although I do have some company in the senior executive team and the senior leadership team,” she said.

However, she added that she was “proud of the support system we have put in place to help our women develop and rise to whatever level of our organization they may aspire to”.

In addition to the job shadow there were various activities to recognise and reward the contribution of women to business and the society as well as seminars and mentorship sessions and donations to women and girl’s charities.

In Antigua, Gimel Matthew, a 5th Form student at the Clare Hall Secondary School reported to CIBC FirstCaribbean Old Parham Road Branch at 7:45am to shadow Branch Manager, Dawn Soleyn for the day. It was a “walk in your shoes” day for Gimel where the day started with a morning huddle with the Customer Service Team where the day’s tips covered “excellent service”. She then joined in a “front a door welcome” to the first set of early customers. After interacting with staff and customers at the Old Parham Road branch, they journeyed to the High Street Branch for another branch walk where she met more customers and staff.

Mrs. Soleyn said that Gimel had a full work day as she observed the inner workings of a bank and got a better understanding of the code of conduct and responsibility that comes with banking.

“It was very gratifying day for me as Branch Manager to get this opportunity to contribute to the professional development of a young lady via this shadowing. I made good of the day by sharing with her my thoughts on hard work, commitment and teamwork which can help us, women to achieve rewarding accomplishments in the world of work such as banking. I shared with her also, that one of my main approaches to work is to “always complete the tasks I undertake very well” to best of my ability” so that way, persons will know that once I am involved, it will be done properly!”

She added that with good planning, our females can have the best of both worlds – professionally and personally, since she lives this daily, being both a career woman and ‘soccer mom’.

Speaking at the end of the work day, 16 year old Gimel Matthew said that while she was initially overwhelmed, it was a fantastic experience. She learnt a lot about the world of work and banking. She said that she was very impressed with how passionate Mrs. Soleyn was about her job.

“That’s the most important lesson I learnt. Be passionate, professional and committed to whatever you do.”

She thanked the bank for the opportunity to be a part of its operations for a day.