Wednesday, 25 March 2020

MAN IN THE MIRROR: Career banker and Scotia CEO David Noel draws on consummate professionalism to get the job done

POWER PLAYER: “I actually started out in law but felt drawn to banking,” Noel shares.

ON Friday, March 13, Scotiabank Jamaica hosted its Annual General Meeting (AGM) with shareholders at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston. CEO David Noel, sharply turned out in a sleek navy blue suit, was once again tasked with assuring valued customers that the bank’s operations remain at the usual high standard – even amidst the dreaded coronavirus crisis, which has sparked islandwide fears.

Noel aced his presentation and handled himself impressively with the tough questions during Q-&-A. You immediately see why he was given the top job. up. “I actually started out in law but felt drawn to banking,” he reveals. “Law provides you with a certain type of training. In banking, I get to help clients with investment advice. Both are rewarding, I’d say, and I always enjoy leading a strong team.”

But, to say the least, this first quarter of 2020 has presented him with one of the toughest periods of his career as a leader in the banking sector. As he tells TALLAWAH, he had to huddle with his team recently to draft a strategy for dealing with the COVID-19 emergency, when it comes to bank staff and customer interactions.

“So far we’ve been able to implement certain measures to ensure that customers are fine when interacting with us. We’ve also asked our professional cleaners to come in more regularly to clean and disinfect,” he explains. “And we’ve invested in antibacterial gel dispensers for all our branches across the island.”

The global health crisis aside, Noel continues to carry out functions that draw on all his skills and years of training. “The most critical role of CEO, I’d say, is ensuring that the needs of our investors, shareholders and all our customers are met adequately and consistently. It’s critical that we have staff that is appropriately trained and we’re making the right investments in technology,” he tells TALLAWAH. “We don’t always get it right, but we make the best effort. Scotia has been in Jamaica for 130 years, and we very much feel a part of the community.”

Noel, a University of the West Indies (Mona) graduate, has been working in the Jamaican banking sector for about two decades, two as Scotia CEO. Interestingly, banking was not his top career choice as a kid growing up. “I actually started out in law but felt drawn to banking,” he reveals. “Law provides you with a certain type of training. In banking, I get to help clients with investment advice. Both are rewarding, I’d say, and I always enjoy leading a strong team.”

Now in his 40s, David Noel smartly makes time to reflect on where his eventful journey has brought him – not to mention his evolution into a well-rounded and enviably successful public figure. What advice would he give his teenage self? “Build strong and lasting relationships as you go along, but make time for fun,” offers the industry veteran, who stands at about six-foot-two. “Have a thirst for knowledge, in many different areas.”

How does he spend his downtime? “I like football, but I’m not very good at it,” says the Arsenal fan. “I think I enjoy watching the game more than playing.”









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