CIBC FirstCaribbean bids farewell to Mauricia Thomas-Francis, who has performed at the helm of the bank’s Corporate Banking Department, as well as served as country head in St. Lucia for the past 10 years.
Most recently, Thomas-Francis was appointed acting country manager, Southern Eastern Caribbean Islands (St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Grenada). At the end of February 2014, Thomas-Francis retires following an extensive career in the financial services sector that spans over 30 years.
Throughout her career, Thomas-Francis has been dedicated to making a significant contribution to developing the region’s financial services sector, and most recently, she has been engaged in cementing client relationships in St. Lucia to help the bank’s customers to meet the challenges of the current economic landscape.
Her career in the banking industry began with her appointment in late 1970 as a Typist. She quickly moved up the ranks and attained management status in 1987 when she was appointed branch manager of the Soufriere branch of Barclays Bank PLC where she was instrumental in re-positioning that office as the branch of first choice within that sub market.
Her appointment as branch manager of the Vieux Fort Branch in 1997 was closely followed in 2000, by her appointment as head of Corporate Banking and country head of the then Barclays Bank PLC in Dominica. She championed the successful implementation of changes to the business in Dominica following the merger that created what was then known as FirstCaribbean, repositioning the bank through a focus on business development and service delivery that resulted in an excellent turnaround of performance in that market
In 2003, Thomas-Francis returned to St. Lucia and assumed the role of head of Corporate Banking and country head, the first female to head the bank’s business in St. Lucia. Within the next decade, under her steadfast leadership, the growth of the bank’s corporate banking profile resulted in increased market share and re-established visibility within the market.
Indeed this was manifested when the bank was awarded the Corporate Social Responsibility and Customer Service Awards in the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture’s Annual Business Awards in 2006 and 2007 respectively. During her tenure she also spearheaded the implementation of the state of the art CIBC FirstCaribbean branch in Rodney Bay which features a cutting edge service model and a host of banking conveniences.
Speaking on her retirement, Thomas-Francis noted, “I am retiring feeling fully gratified that during my tenure with the Bank I have made both a quantitative and qualitative difference in the lives of many whom I had the honour and privilege to serve. My passion for people empowerment and for service generally drove me to practice and promote relationship nurturing and capacity building through education, coaching, guidance and superior service to the bank’s stakeholders: staff, companies, the public sector and the communities at large. The several testimonies from persons across the board who stop to thank me for contributing to the upliftment of their human capital as well as their economic and social circumstances have been my greatest reward. In that regard I extend my profoundest gratitude to everyone who contributed to the fruitfulness of my career at the bank.”
Thomas-Francis’ input has been widely respected on the boards and organisations where she has served as director. She is currently a director of FirstCaribbean’s ComTrust Foundation which governs CIBC FirstCaribbean’s corporate social responsibility initiatives. She has also been the past president of the Bankers’ Association of St. Lucia and has served as Director of both the St. Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association as well as the St. Lucia Chamber of Commerce. Thomas-Francis also co-championed the successful development of the proposal for and implementation of the Construction Stimulus Program, a priority of the St. Lucian Government in creating job opportunities and stimulating more activity in a key economic sector.
Thomas-Francis’ passion for financial empowerment and motivation of our nation’s youth is exemplified through her philanthropic endeavours. She has on numerous occasions been elected to share her wisdom with youth and business persons, particularly women, on leadership and business management practices.
Her 2011 article in the Financial Leverage Money Management Magazine details some of the merits of financial discipline, particularly within the context of a recession. She has also been a co-chair on the Do Something World – St. Lucia Campaign that encourages the corporate sector and private entities to harness the power of volunteerism, and stimulate impactful change within the local community.
She is currently a trustee of the St. Lucia Youth Business Trust, a programme that arms young St. Lucians with the skills, knowledge and resources to be successful entrepreneurs. She is active in molding the next generation of St. Lucian leaders as an Adjunct Professor at Monroe College where she lecturers in Organisational Behaviour and Leadership in the College’s MBA Programme.
For her contributions to the development of the financial services sector Thomas-Francis has been named as one of the Top 12 Most Influential Women in St. Lucia and the Top Four Women in Leadership by the Voice Newspaper and the Business Focus Magazine respectively. She also received the award of Business Person of the Year Award in 2007 in the St. Lucia Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Business Awards.
In commending Francis on her achievements during her tenure with the Bank, Managing Director for Retail, Business and International Banking Mark St. Hill, who supervises the bank’s operations in the OECS, noted “we appreciate Mauricia’s steady guidance of our operations in St. Lucia, especially during this particularly challenging period in the banking and finance sector. Her management of our team in St. Lucia has demonstrated that dynamic and fearless leadership are key ingredients for success in our industry.”