BY PETRE WILLIAMS-RAYNOR Career & Education editor firstname.lastname@example.org
IT has oftentimes been said that nothing beats preparation; Paul Gray agrees.
"As an individual, I set myself milestones each year, both personally and professionally. My professional milestones invariably seek to develop new skills and to strengthen skills that are already developed," said Gray, who has been promoted to Group chief investment officer (CIO) for Jamaica Money Market Brokers (JMMB).
"This approach has constantly afforded me a level of preparation necessary to take advantage of any opportunities that fall within my areas of competence," he added.
As Group CIO, Gray is responsible for, among other things, ensuring the development and implementation of sound strategies "in interest rate, portfolio, foreign currency and liquidity management across the JMMB group of companies".
"These activities, taken together, have a significant impact on the sustainability of the firm's profitability and overall financial soundness. As a consequence, a significant amount of time is invested in forecasting and refining strategies to ensure we remain cutting edge," he told Career & Education.
"The JMMB Group spans different geographies and consequently sound liquidity management cannot be overemphasised. A key component of my role is to co-ordinate both the tactical and strategic liquidity management initiatives across the group to ensure efficiency gains are achieved," added Gray, who holds a master's in business administration, specialising in finance, from the Manchester Business School in the United Kingdom.
He also provides oversight in the investment management process for all discretionary portfolios under their management, in addition to having direct responsibility for the Research Unit.
Gray was previously the CIO for JMMB Jamaica, a position that groomed him well for his current role.
"The role had many similarities to the group role, except it was a firm-specific role. As CIO, I was responsible for overseeing the efficient operation of the Asset Management and Trading Unit. This would be extended to include tactical strategies to meet short-term financial revenue targets, in addition to the management of domestic and overseas financial institutional relationships," explained Gray whose current duties span Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Trinidad & Tobago.
Gray also credits a number of personal qualities for his appointment.
"I think that strong leadership coupled with the level of discipline and thoroughness that I employ in the execution of my responsibilities, in addition to my established track record and capacity to take on and manage increased responsibilities were significant contributors," he said.
Gray said he was excited by the promotion which has presented new challenges and opportunities.
"It definitely gives a feeling of excitement, recognising the challenge and the confidence that the business has placed in me and my capabilities. I am an individual who is motivated by a challenge and this new role provides me with a high level of motivation," he said.
Gray added that his 13-plus years in the business has put him in a position to meet those challenges.
His areas of priority going forward, he said, include focusing his efforts on "harmonising the investment and liquidity management framework within the extended group".
"I will be seeking to, where necessary, improve on platforms already developed, but where a tweak is required to accommodate the recently expanded group, following the acquisition of the Capital and Credit Group. This is required to ensure a robust and seamless execution of already developed strategies, but being flexible enough to respond to market dynamics as we grow our business," he said.
Ultimately, Gray has designs on becoming a chief executive officer in the sector he was attracted to, given its significance to nation building.
"Specifically as it relates to the broker dealer business in particular, I was fascinated by the opportunities created for ordinary and not so ordinary Jamaican investors and I wanted very much to be part of this endeavour and more importantly to play a key role," he said of what attracted him to the area.
The product of an inner-city community — Greenwich Town — Gray said it is not impossible, with a plan, to realise success.
"This may sound cliché, but it is true; success starts with confidence and conviction. Marcus Garvey says 'with confidence you have won before you have started'. It took me a few years to understand the meaning of this quote and when I got it, I applied it and it works," Gray said.
For those looking to secure a promotion, he said: "My bit of advice is that they would first need to satisfy themselves that they are in alignment with their chosen career path. Put simply, you must love what you do. This is important because it takes the work out of work and ensures that you give the job the respect it deserves. Once you have satisfied this precondition, seek to develop mastery and, most importantly, don't be afraid to take on additional responsibilities."
Gray's success formula:
* Create a plan.
* Do not focus a lot on the journey, focus more on the destination.
* Review your plan annually and make changes as life is all about change.
* Use negative feedback/comments to inspire you to succeed.