Joanna Banks talks resilience and continuous learning
JOANNA Banks might be new to the Sagicor Group Jamaica team, but she undoubtedly comes with a level of experience that is expected to take the company to the next level. The executive vice-president, strategy and business development, gives us a few insights into her career journey, likes and self-care this week.
All Woman (AW): What do you think helped you the most to make a career as a woman in corporate? And what is the biggest factor that has helped you be successful?
Joanna Banks (JB): One of the most significant factors that helped me is a combination of resilience and continuous learning. The corporate landscape has its challenges, and it’s essential to persevere through setbacks while being open to constructive criticism. I’ve always believed in the power of adaptability.
However, beyond personal attributes, the support system I’ve had has been invaluable. From mentors who provide guidance to colleagues who offer different perspectives, and family and friends who give unwavering support — they all play a pivotal role in my journey. The road is long, why walk it alone?
AW: Have you made any mistakes along the way? And if yes, what did you learn from them?
JB: Absolutely, and I believe that mistakes are integral parts of any growth journey. My most memorable mistakes taught me the importance of clear communication and the value of seeking guidance; moreover, that asking questions or seeking help isn’t a sign of weakness but rather a strength. It’s about recognising the collective knowledge and experience around us and leveraging it for better outcomes.
Another lesson was the realisation that perfection isn’t always attainable, or even necessary — what’s more important is progress and learning. I now approach challenges with a sense of curiosity: [I ask myself] what could I have done better, understanding that mistakes are stepping stones to improvement and that every setback offers an opportunity — if we’re willing to learn from it.
AW: You are undoubtedly busy. How do you take care of yourself and maintain good mental health?
JB: Balancing a demanding career with personal well-being is a challenge but it’s one I’ve learned to prioritise over the years. One of my favourite quotes is, “Self-care is not selfish; it’s necessary”. We must protect our greatest asset — ourselves.
For me this includes establishing boundaries and routines that enable a healthy relationship between my work and personal lives. I have designated start and end times for my workday. This ensures that I have time for myself and my loved ones. Exercise is also a cornerstone of my well-being; physical activity helps me clear my mind, reduce stress, and boost my mood. I also have to keep my mind active and engaged so I set aside time for reading, which provides a refreshing break. Finally, I believe in the power of communication — talking to friends, family, or even professional counsellors when I feel overwhelmed has been immensely beneficial.
AW: Do you have any favourite books, movies, or quotes that resonate with you and have influenced your outlook on life and leadership?
JB: One book that has profoundly influenced my outlook on life and leadership is The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. It was written by a professor diagnosed with terminal cancer who offers a unique perspective on living a meaningful life. In particular, he mentions that challenges, or brick walls, are there for a reason — they’re not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. This philosophy has shaped my approach to obstacles. Instead of seeing them as insurmountable, I view them as opportunities to show determination.
Of course, Randy’s situation is a stark reminder that time is finite. His story gave me a sense of urgency to make the most of every moment, to prioritise what truly matters, and to live with purpose and passion.
AW: If you could travel back in time and give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?
JB: That’s easy. Invest in Apple!
The more meaningful piece of advice would be about the value of patience. In my younger years I was often in a hurry to achieve, to move to the next milestone. While ambition and drive are excellent traits, I’ve come to realise that some things take time to mature and reach their full potential. Patience isn’t about inaction or complacency; it’s about understanding that growth often happens in the quiet moments, and it’s in these times that we reflect, learn, and prepare ourselves for the opportunities ahead.
Patience also teaches us resilience. Not everything will go as planned, and not every effort will give us immediate results, but with patience we learn to persevere, to adapt, and to stay committed to our goals, even when the path is unclear.