Sat | Mar 17, 2018

Damion Hylton - The man with a plan

Published:Monday | May 30, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Damion regards his wife, Romayne, as his source of joy and laughter.
Believing in the impact of mentorship and guidance on the job, Hylton hopes to empower his staff through an engaging and integrative approach. And while fresh in his new role, he has started this approach, which is demonstrated in this photo with team members Natalia Wilson (left) and Osiris Ramos.

While growing up in the tranquil rural community of Orange Hill in Westmoreland, Damion Hylton loved playing dominoes and frolicking along the shores of nearby beaches.

As a typical 'country boy', the thought that he would someday head a branch of a multinational corporation was the furthest thing from his mind. Who would have guessed that not only would he accomplish this feat, but he would do so by the time he was 33 years old? Surely, not Hylton.

His recent appointment to the post of managing director of Jamaica National (JN) Cayman, bolstered by his experience, enthusiasm, and banking savvy, has positioned him to usher the building society into a new era.

While attending the Manning's School, he had aspirations to become a lawyer.

"I always disliked mathematics, and, therefore, my dream was to become a lawyer. But that was before I was introduced to accounts in fourth form at Manning's," he told Flair. "It was love at first sight as numbers finally had meaning. Plus, there was no solving of x in an equation."

At university, he realised that accounting, as a specialisation, involved a lot of reading, and he was motivated by the stories that the numbers told.

"I decided that the only way forward for me would be business subjects, which would allow me to analyse and interpret the story from just numbers," he explained.

He had a plan. First, he achieved an undergraduate degree in management studies and economics (minor), with first-class honours; and then an MBA in banking and finance, with a distinction. He earned both from the University of the West Indies, Mona. Subsequently, he maintained a successful professional path, which included his most recent post as head of corporate and commercial banking at JMMB Merchant Bank, prior to joining JN Cayman.

Reflecting on his progress, Hylton admitted that he moved up the corporate ladder at an impressive rate, a feat he attributes to help from family and the power of mentorship.

"My family was very supportive," he revealed. "They remind me to always enjoy what I do; and when I encounter obstacles, to see them as another issue to be resolved. Banking was my first job and I have been successful, based on the mentorship received at the companies and organisations in which I have been employed."

He explained that he was fortunate to have managers who were willing to advise him and impart their knowledge, giving him guidance at every stage of his development.

"And, I continue to learn banking because it evolves continuously, particularly in this era of new technologies," he said.

"Currently, I appreciate the opportunity to guide the process at JN Cayman, and by extension, the JN Group, as it places me in another excellent learning environment."

The new managing director affirmed that JN Cayman, which is backed by its parent company Jamaica National Building Society, is a financial powerhouse with the potential to effectively compete with other financial institutions in Cayman.

"Jamaica National is a strong brand which is highly respected in Jamaica and by the Jamaican diaspora, because it is customer-centric. This has a positive impact in Cayman as approximately 40 per cent of the labour force is Jamaican, and the visibility of our parent company has helped JN Cayman to do well with Caymanians."

After one month in this new post, Hylton's main focus has been to ensure that his team is equipped for the growth which is envisioned for JN Cayman and to implement the strategic changes necessary to enhance the organisation's visibility.

"Following the recent rebranding exercise, it became clear that the timing was just right, as I am able to take the process to another level. Naturally, I need to strike a balance between meetings, client interactions, and addressing our goals and objectives. And, I am working to achieve a better understanding of the local landscape, as well as the clients we serve," he explained.

Married with two children whom he describes as his daily source of laughter and smiles, Hylton dedicates at least one day of his weekends to getting acquainted with the Cayman Islands.

"I enjoy dining out, therefore, I have been to Macabuca, Peppers, and The Brasserie. The next stop is Osetra Bay Restaurant, as well as to see what Cayman Carnival Batabano entails. I still enjoy a good round of dominoes, reading, watching football, and suffering the heartbreak involved in watching cricket. But, there's hope, and I am still basking in the success of the West Indies senior women's and men's teams for having won the ICC World 20/20 Championship."

The man, who always has a plan, said his experiences have taught him the importance of clearly defining and identifying goals to fuel his determination. This, he said, was something he recognised from an early age, and which was reinforced while he was attending UWI.

"At the end of my first year at UWI, without a detailed plan, I was able to secure a financial bursary for academic performance. However, I still missed out on a larger scholarship. My best friend and I believed that our grades could have been even better if we had established what we wanted to achieve. After that experience, it was the last time I went about anything important without being focused or having a detailed plan. At the end of my second year, I secured the Adelman Scholarship for academic excellence."

Fully prepared and with his plan in mind, Hylton has jumped out of the starting blocks, and is ready to solidify and enhance JN Cayman's reputation in The Cayman Islands.

"I am determined when it comes to my career and, on this journey, I plan to continue to share my knowledge with my team. I also believe that my achievement does not belong to me, it is instead a clear example of what happens when managers and executives provide guidance and mentorship to team members," he said.