KERI-LEIGH Manning believes that no one has ever made history by playing it safe, and that being bold is the only way to achieve greatness. As the newly appointed assistant vice-president – treasury at Sagicor Bank Jamaica, Manning is pleased when she reflects on the moments during her professional career when her courage led her to making big strides.
“In moments when I’ve felt uncertain or doubtful, the quote that has always resonated with me is, ‘In the absence of confidence, let courage lead the way’. Reminding myself of this has allowed me to launch many times when I did not believe I could,” Manning shared with All Woman from her new office at Sagicor Bank’s Dominica Drive, New Kingston headquarters.
“In the final analysis, it is always clear that it is not our ability that hinders us, but the shackles we create within our mental space,” she continued profoundly.
In the new role, Manning will oversee the management of Sagicor Bank’s balance sheet by developing strategies to improve liquidity, manage foreign currency and interest rate exposures. She shared that, ironically, she has found herself at the pinnacle of the ‘bank manager’ career that she used to imagine her mother — an educator — was dressing up for while she was growing up.
“I was always intrigued watching my mother getting dressed, and I would comment how much she looked like a bank manager no matter her outfit selection,” Manning shared. “From an early age, it seemed this was my subliminal career choice.”
Although she also explored the sciences and arts to expand her career options while at Glenmuir High School, where her father was principal and her mother taught economics, Manning had an innate affinity and aptitude for the business subjects, and she excelled in them up to the CAPE level.
“As destiny would have it, I matriculated to The University of West Indies in the Faculty of Social Science where I was selected to be a part of the small group that pioneered the Bachelor of Science in Banking and Finance degree programme,” she recalled.
That group graduated in 2005, and Manning landed her first role as a customer service representative with renowned investment house Dehring, Bunting & Golding Ltd (DB&G) within a week of graduation.
“My immersion into the DB&G culture as a young woman with many young, successful role models to emulate inspired me to be bold and aggressive in achieving goals, but always with decorum,” she said spiritedly. “The culture was one in which people were inspired to work hard and play hard.”
After honing her skills in retail banking for several years, Manning leapt with courage into the area of treasury management. A pivotal point in her career was when she was chosen from among hundreds of applicants to work on the Foreign Exchange Trading desk after DB&G was acquired in 2010.
“This was a major accomplishment because during the process many were doubtful of whether I had a fair chance despite perceived biases in the process,” she remembered. “It was quite fulfilling to rise above this successfully.”
In 2015 Manning joined the Sagicor family as the fixed income trading manager for the bank. Her continued drive for success and admirable leadership skills saw her being promoted to treasury manager — a role that involved overseeing the foreign exchange trading activities, cashflow management and the investment activities of the bank.
As assistant vice-president – treasury, she will now take the place of the man who hired her — Omar Brown — who was appointed CEO of new Sagicor Group Jamaica subsidiary Alliance Financial Services Limited.
“Omar sold me a dream when he hired me — a dream to build out the treasury unit to boost both profits and market share. The fact that today I can see many of these things achieved is very rewarding,” Manning said. “My promotion to AVP came with mixed emotions, as while I am elated for this opportunity it meant the transition of an integral member of the team.”
In her new role, Manning is looking forward to fully executing the department plans as well as further developing the skill sets of her team members. Driven by her extreme aversion to failure, Manning uses exercise to stay in shape and release anxiety during high stress periods and finds solace in the symbiotic partnership she has built with her husband of eight years, Sharyf.
As her career timeline approaches two decades within the financial sector, the stylish young woman plans to continue growing with courage, leading with empathy, and mentoring with purpose.
“My parents were both educators, and they have instilled in me the value of applying myself and giving my best in everything I do, and that is what I plan to continue doing,” Manning said confidently. “I may not be able to control where life will take me, but with this principle, and the courage to act even in the absence of absolute confidence, I am excited for the future.”