Audrey Tugwell Henry is the president and CEO of Scotiabank Jamaica, one of Jamaica’s top commercial banks. She became a banker in an unusual way because she started her career as a teacher of English literature and physical education.
She got into banking following the expiration of her teaching contract and the unavailability of any other teaching positions available. At the time, a bank in town was looking for a teller and a friend urged her to take up the opportunity, according to Women of Influence.
“I was very young and I thought I could do anything that I wanted to do. I was very open to entering uncharted waters. There were no barriers or obstacles that I could foresee and if there were barriers, I figured I could overcome them,” said Tugwell Henry on the career switch, according to Jamaica Observer.
Tugwell Henry assumed that she would work in the bank until another teaching position became available. But a year after starting a new career in banking, she decided to further her education in business. She got a degree in management studies at The University of the West Indies (UWI) and completed a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) programme at the Mona School of Business.
After making her mark at Citibank working in risk management, she decided to take up another challenge by joining Scotiabank Jamaica. She started off as a product manager and then moved to a general manager with oversight for retail and electronic banking.
Electronic banking was being introduced into the Jamaican economy at the time. Nonetheless, she managed to grow the bank’s operation in the area while serving as senior vice-president. She ensured the expansion of the bank’s automated teller machine (ATM) fleet across the country and fast-tracked the use of debit cards at point of sale (POS) and ATM channels, as stated by Jamaica Observer.
Decades down the lane, Tugwell Henry is now the President and CEO of Scotia Group Jamaica Limited, and Senior Vice President of Caribbean North & Central. She has a 33-year combined experience in banking with 17 years at the executive level and a proven track record of leadership within the Financial Services Industry, according to Scotiabank.
Her rise in the banking industry has been attributed to education and mentorship. “In the early days of my career, I had people — especially other women — support my professional growth and take chances on me,” she said.
Now, on her free days, she volunteers as an adult literacy teacher. She lives by the cliche “once a teacher, always a teacher.”
“I think that we are obligated to support persons who want better for themselves and those who are choosing to do so in the right way. If I can help someone, boost their self-esteem, and change the way they feel about themselves by teaching them to read, I am enabling them to change their life for the better,” Tugwell Henry told Jamaica Observer.
And to support women-owned businesses and small businesses, she and her team recently brought The Scotiabank Women Initiative (SWI) into Jamaica, according to the report by Women of Influence.