Taking the long way home

Natalie Davila’s story

“I love what I do,” explains Natalie Davila; the cadence of her voice was clear and concise, yet full of warmth. Within minutes of speaking with her, it felt like we were old friends. These are qualities for which she is known, it only takes a few minutes of conversation with her to feel that connection.

From the start, over twenty years ago when she began working at the Republic Bank Independence Square branch in downtown Port of Spain as a ‘Peak- Timer’ – she enjoyed meeting a wide range of customers. She had joined RBL straight out of secondary school and over the years worked in the sales and operational departments to her current position as Marketing Official at our Head Office. Over the years she’s embraced the many challenges that have come along and enjoyed the relationships built with customers.

“I want my legacy to be that I must be remembered for doing something different and making an impact.”

And she has – after a couple of years she was moved to the Loans department where she initially felt out of her comfort zone. Able to learn quickly and encouraged to introduce new and creative campaigns by management, she was soon launching record-topping Christmas Loan campaigns.

“I have had half of my career in operations and the other half in sales and credit – a balance of two worlds – the bank steered me in that direction.”

A self-described dynamic and flexible colleague who enjoys reading, watching movies and spending time with her beloved twelve-year-old son, she added with a chuckle, that although there were long hours and exhausting projects in the beginning, thanks to the support of her family she was able to persevere.

She’s always been willing to learn new processes, welcoming training on leadership and progressive technique: “I’m not afraid to say I don’t understand”.

Most all she enjoys the camaraderie of colleagues and helping customers. She recalled moments of deep appreciation when she got approval for loans for customers that were declined at other institutions; some were on the brink of severe financial loss and just helping them to regain their footing was rewarding. Another case she remembers is that of four sisters – one in Trinidad and the others stationed in foreign countries – who needed urgent financial assistance – and their tearful gratitude after the loan was approved. That was the best reward.

Raised in a family with a strong work ethic, Natalie recalls one Christmas Day when a customer came to the house while the family was enjoying lunch. At the time, her mother was already a successful entrepreneur who had launched a breakthrough cottage business. Regardless of the special day, her mother told her older sister to get up from the table and assist the customer. She learnt a vital lesson that day – work hard and treat the customer the way you’d want to be treated. It’s a lesson that has stayed with her over her 20-year career.

Apart from her deep love of family and work, Natalie underscored the need to constantly challenge and embrace change. She also enjoys sharing her story and knowledge with others.

“I like to settle, but not for too long - I like to be a disruptor too.”

I chose to share Natalie’s story not only because I find it to be incredibly inspiring but also because she has some of the best traits that organisations treasure in employees:
Customer focus
A willingness to impart knowledge
Inspired by new opportunities
Ability to stay motivated and stay challenged
Balance in life
Value for continuous learning
Openness to mentorship
A strong support system

Do you have a long service story? I’d love to hear the lessons you’ve learnt along the way.

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