In this series, we celebrate the employees that make Grindrod Bank a success. Through the stories of our people you will come to know us as a company that values diversity, encourages inclusivity, and above all inspires individuals and teams to succeed. We are simply in awe of everything Sherry has accomplished so far, and we thank her for imparting her wisdom and advice. This is her story:
Sherry Barrett, our Independent Non-Executive Director, shares where it all started:
A defining moment for me was as an 8-year-old. I remember standing in my granny’s kitchen and thinking that this life was not for me and saying to myself that I will not be poor. My big break was being awarded a bursary for my university studies.
I have worked most of my life starting young with part-time jobs, my very first was ironing washing as a 14-year-old, then working part time in a credit card division while studying full time.
Now that she has grown and thrived into her career in banking, Sherry’s important role as a non-executive director is:
To have independent oversight of the business, ensuring strategy execution is in accordance with our primary stakeholders’ (e.g. clients; employees; Prudential Authority; shareholders etc.) expectations.
I get great satisfaction from seeing how the different puzzle pieces fit together. This being the various business areas of the organisation, and industry it operates in and within the wider context of the economy. It is immensely satisfying knowing that the business you serve makes a positive impact on the lives of others, be it our customers, employees or in the communities where we operate.”
Sherry’s observations on current the state of banking now and how to stay ahead in the field:
“Given where we find ourselves, amidst a global pandemic and economic crises, we are in a transformational period where most things are being, or need to be, redefined.”
As such, the best way to stay ahead in this field is to be a lifelong learner with an attitude of curiosity. Always look for a better or new way to do something and leave things better than when you found it. We need to be open to unlearning and relearning as everything is constantly evolving and changing. Also, be brave and do new things.
Sherry’s message to young people pursuing a career in the banking industry and finance profession is:
The working world is challenging and rewarding in so many ways. You need to ensure that your contribution to the working world, in fact to the world at large, is the best of who you are. Always do your best and improve on what you have done before. Average is not good enough! Develop an impeccable work ethic. Ask questions in a way that seeks to understand rather than undermine. Challenge constructively and not in a way that is harmful. And while giving your best, ensure that you are being valued and respected.
Don’t ever underestimate your abilities or your potential. You are capable of way more than you think. In my experience being a Chartered Accountant gives you exposure to business, and provides a training ground that is second to none. It provides an excellent platform to launch into various spheres of the business world, not just locally but globally as well.
Sherry shares her must-read business books, and her favourite publication:
Different books are applicable to different phases of your career. You read them take what you need and move on. One book that does stand out for me, which I read early on in my career, is 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey.
One of the publications I read the most is Holistica, a well-being magazine. Otherwise I also enjoy reading anything with travel or house and home content.
Women that Sherry admires most in business:
There are many women I admire and respect in business, some of whom I have worked with in the past, and others I am working with today. The woman I do admire the most right now is Jacinda Arden, the New Zealand Prime Minister. She leads with compassion and the citizens trust her. I recently read a Harvard Business Review article about “what good leadership looks like during a pandemic” citing her leadership. The four key points from the article were: 1. Transparent and honest communication in a way that all people understand. 2. Acting with urgency and decisively. 3. Responding productively to missteps, listen, acknowledge, and re-orientate. 4. Engage in constant updating.
Sherry shares her thoughts on maintaining a work-life balance:
Work-life balance is difficult to define and means different things to different people.
It implies the work and other roles are equal and fits into designated times of the day or week. I would rather look at it as work-life integration. You need to find ways to integrate all the various aspects of your life, and who you are, in a way that is practical and meaningful to you. Know who you are and what’s important to you. That in turn will define how you achieve work-life integration. Be disciplined and flexible at the same time. What you do, when you do it and how much time you spend doing it will vary depending on your priorities for that day, week or month.
Here is a simple example. I am attending my daughter’s swimming event, but I also have a deadline. Both are important so I work through the night to get the work done. I’ll catch up on sleep later. But don’t sacrifice sleep too much because then you are creating other problems and on the road to burnout.
Wow, with such a busy schedule, it’s no wonder Sherry uses the following stress coping techniques:
“Yoga, meditation and a few breathing techniques are some of the mindfulness tools that I practice to manage stress and to live a fuller life. I also enjoy gardening, travel and photographing nature.”
With everything that she has achieved, it is no wonder Sherry describes herself as:
“Resilient, complex and driven.”