Rachel Kirlew talks leadership, investments
RACHEL Kirlew is a financial professional who currently sits on Mayberry Investments Limited’s senior management board as the assistant vice-president of investment banking. We sat down with her to talk about her life and work.
Q: Having joined the Mayberry Investments team in 2018, how were you able to effectively manoeuvre the challenges and uncertainty of the pandemic?
A: Numerous uncertainties have plagued the last year, revealing social flaws and altering how we conduct business. The financial sector, including Mayberry, was compelled to integrate fresh and creative ways to communicate with and reach out to clients as a result of the economic downturn. As a result, change was required, and I must state that my team was entirely competent in adapting to the changes that were required. This required delivering financial solutions that were smarter and more individualised while still adhering to Mayberry’s overarching plan and strategy. Notably, Mayberry started its digital transformation before the pandemic, so the shift to a digital solution was a seamless one. As a team leader I also had to strategise ways to strengthen the relationships with my team during these tumultuous times, to ensure we all shared a common purpose. In order to give my team a sense of belonging and prevent anyone from feeling ‘outside the fold’, it was crucial for me to lead from the heart as well as the brain.
Q: What leadership lesson have you learnt that has been your guiding principle today as Mayberry’s AVP investment banking?
A: There are many lessons I have learnt, however the one that has resonated the most is that I must have a clear vision and strong values in order to inspire my team. It’s important that I create a shared vision with my team; that way, I can ensure we are all committed to the same goal. Not only is it important to select the right team (and I absolutely love my Mayberry team) but it is also important to ensure all members not only know where they are going but also want to be along for the ride. It’s very easy for us to become consumed with daily challenges, so much so that we often forget to invest in ourselves. Therefore I make it my duty to constantly learn new strategies and rise to the challenges life may throw at me. This not only helps me to continuously improve myself but also helps inspire my team to work on self-improvement and not get engulfed in the rigours of their work life.
Q: What has been the motivating factor that has kept you going in your industry at such an impressive rate for the past five years?
A: My biggest motivation is family; they are my biggest source of inspiration and my strongest supporters. In addition to that, my desire for success drives me to do well and to continually improve my skill set. A major factor that keeps me going is the knowledge that hard work and perseverance will enable me to experience greater professional achievement. Regardless of the situation, what keeps the fire burning within me is the taste of achievement after a setback.
Q: To what do you attribute your growth and development as a leader?
A: The best investment you can make is an investment in yourself! I strongly believe in continuous learning, no matter where you land on the corporate ladder. This has ensured I remain knowledgeable on…myriad… topics, no matter how steep the learning curve is. I make it my duty to learn new strategies, take advantage of mentoring and training opportunities, and actively look for new challenges outside the scope of my employment. This also encourages my team to pursue personal development, and aids in my ongoing effort to improve.
Q: What’s the secret to balancing your work and family life?
A: One of the most frequent reasons for stress in working adults is the inability to effectively juggle work and family obligations. More and more people are finding it challenging to fully fulfil their household responsibilities and manage their workload in the productivity-driven culture we now inhabit. Creating an everyday routine for yourself is almost as important as creating a daily routine for your children. A daily schedule has helped me establish the habit of setting aside time for my well-being, a way to ease in and out of the work day, and a way to take advantage of opportunities for regular family time.
Q: What do you think are the key drivers of success in an organisation? As a leader, how do you hold yourself and others accountable to these values?
A: In my opinion, organisations must set clearly defined strategies, and senior management must communicate these strategies with their team members. It’s so important that my team members understand the direction of our company and share a similar vision with our organisation. Another important driver for me is providing a balanced culture. Effective and innovative people management is the benchmark of a healthy culture. People are the heart of a business, and only they can deliver quality improvement. As such, I always try to ensure my team is enabled, given guidance, measured, reviewed, and rewarded for achievement so they are able to function effectively. The pandemic has also taught us that change is continuous. Organisations must be able to respond to these changes and be ready to seize opportunities while still adhering to the larger framework and predetermined strategy. I am a firm believer in traditional accountability approaches, such as performance reviews, however as a leader it is imperative that I hold myself accountable first before I can hold others accountable.
Q: Are there any investment opportunities or trends that you are most excited about now?
A: With a stable macroeconomic outlook Jamaica has ranked as the best Caribbean nation in which to conduct business. Several sectors in Jamaica have seen an inflow of investments but the area that excites me is alternative investments. Here, alternative investments refer to investments that fall outside of the realm of traditional investments and include private equity, real estate, and infrastructure development. These investments are known to provide diversification due to their low correlation with traditional investments. With this added feature investors may be able to achieve higher risk-adjusted returns for their overall portfolio. Digital currency is another trend I’m excited about. We have observed how our relationship with actual money is changing as a result of the digitisation of money; one might wonder if tangible money will vanish entirely.
Q: What are some of the opportunities and challenges you have faced in the industry?
A: The dynamic nature of the financial services industry, coupled with ongoing economic shifts, continue to shape the preferences, needs, and requirements of the capital markets. My quest to keep on top of the latest trends has brought both opportunities and obstacles. I have had to put in a lot of effort to widen my skill set while ensuring my team remained successful. This is an undoubtedly fast-paced field, however, I am more motivated to pursue my career in a setting where innovation is the norm and knowledge is limitless. I love and enjoy my job, and it is an equally fulfilling career.