Mon | Jan 22, 2018

The sky is the limit for Courtney Campbell

Published:Monday | December 28, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Courtney Campbell

"The heights of great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were upward toiling through the night."

Courtney Campbell lives by this and is a product of hard work and dedication.

Campbell joined the GraceKennedy family in July 2008 as CEO of First Global Holdings Limited, and currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of GraceKennedy Financial Group Limited, a position he has held since February 2009, and CEO of First Global Bank, since April 2015.

Among the other hats Campbell wears he is the co-chair of Discipleship Ministry at the Webster Memorial United Church, where he mentors young adults and shares his experience on how to manage career, balance work, family, and practise spiritual discipline; Chairman of the United Church Mission Enterprise, justice of the peace of Kingston; chairman of National Education Trust (NET), and the Board of Governors Member of Knox College.

Campbell also takes pleasure in mentoring several young managers as part of GraceKennedy mentorship programme for young executives, and part of their Senior Leadership Development programme and succession planning process.

Campbell's hard work also earned him, who received the Outstanding Lion Award for 2012 given by Chancellor Hall, University of the West Indies.


Finding his Passion


Back tracking to Campbell's earlier years, he told Flair he found his passion after his final exam at the University of the West Indies in 1984. "I had decided that I wanted to do banking because I liked figures and loved to relate to people."

After graduating with his bachelor of science degree in management studies, Campbell landed his first job as an internal auditor at the bursary of the University of the West Indies, Mona campus for three months.

He could not deny his true calling and without further hesitation, he joined the National Commercial Bank graduate trainee programme in February 1985. There he served in several management positions in retail, corporate, and investment banking.

Campbell told Flair that he has had several experiences, which have taught him some valuable lessons that have helped to mould him into the person he is today. "I remember being a foreign-exchange clerk in my first year at NCB and selling some travellers cheques to a customer who said it was the fastest she had ever been served in a bank - this and other similar experiences have served as reminders that customers always notice and value good service," Campbell noted.

Not one to settle, Campbell completed his masters in finance in 1999. He completed it with distinction and was the valedictorian at the University of Wales and Manchester Business School.


His Journey


Campbell believes that his success started with the rich high school experiences he gained while boarding at Knox College in Clarendon in 1974. "I remember organised prep time, eating raw oats and crackers late nights, Saturday night movies or parties, the work-study programme that had us in the cafeteria washing dishes every day; the worship experience - trekking down to Spalding United Church every Sunday morning. I remember the chilly and rainy days - I think some boarders have gone through high school without the cold water touching their backs; the days on the playing field of cricket, football, track and field on sports day cheering for and representing Webster House. I was not much of a sports person, but I represented the school once in cricket and chess," he confessed.

With all the extra-curricular activities, hard work and challenges, Campbell was still able to perform academically at his highest level. His very supportive parents, Osmond, who was a forest officer in the Forestry Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and post mistress mother, Carmen, had a lot to do with it.

The first of two children, Campbell told Flair he and his brother, Alistair, had a good relationship with their parents who taught them basic values and courtesies and ensured they took their education seriously. "My parents shared the assistance with homework with my father helping us with mathematics and my mother focusing on English language. My father taught us to play cricket and some basic life skills such as gardening, changing a spark plug, and even a little plumbing," Campbell recalled.

Campbell said he grew up knowing the importance of providing for a family, investing in a good education, striving for excellence in all your tasks and being totally honest in all you say and do.

Born and partially raised in Kellits, Clarendon, Campbell spent a few years in Kingston before returning to Kellits when he was eight years old and then settling in Spanish Town when he was 14.

Spending quality time with family was everything to him, and he recalled their all-island family tour stopping in Boston Bay, Dunns River Falls, and Anchovy where they enjoyed jerked pork. The many holiday visits with his maternal grandparents in Colonel's Ridge, Clarendon, and paternal grandparents in Rock River, "I helped to move the cattle from one grazing area to another, and ate roasted cashews to my heart's content," he recalled.


Family Support


Campbell met his wife, of 28 years, Pauline, at UWI and they have two adult sons Adrian and Domini. With a lot on his plate, Campbell said he always tried to give priority to the needs of his family in terms of time and attention, but is faced with a very difficult task to balance both, given the long hours and need to work at home very often. "I try to minimise work on weekends, especially Sundays which I bloc out, and I look forward to our annual vacations together. Outside of that, Pauline and I set aside time for regular dates to have lunch and watch plays," Campbell told Flair.

Campbell encourages young aspiring adults to build resilience through developing good relationships with close family members or friends. "Accepting help and support from those who care about us and will listen to us strengthens resilience. Remain optimistic. Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems. We can't change the fact that highly stressful events happen, but we can change how we interpret and respond to these events. Try looking beyond the present to how future circumstances may be a little better. Keep moving towards your goals. Develop some realistic goals. Do something regularly - even if it seems like a small accomplishment - that enables you to move towards your goals. Instead of focusing on tasks that seem unachievable, ask yourself, 'What's one thing I know I can accomplish today that helps me move in the direction I want to go?' Be focused on purpose while being guided by strong values. I advise them to choose what is best for the long-term instead of what is easy.