At Infocorp, we talk to different women who with their leadership transform the banks where they work. Below, you will find the experience of Ginoris Lopez-Lay.
She was 20 years old when she entered the banking world and has been contributing her knowledge there for more than 30 years. Ginoris studied Economics at the University of Pennsylvania and earned an MBA in Strategy and Finance at the University of Michigan. Today she is Executive Vice President of strategic management and retail banking in FirstBank of Puerto Rico, entity in which she has worked for 14 years.
GLL: The bank started operating in 1948 when Enrique Campos del Toro founded the First Federal Savings and Loans Association. In 1962, it opened its first branch in Saint Thomas, becoming the first Puerto Rican savings and loan institution to open operations in the U.S. Virgin Islands. In 1987 it went from being a mutual financial institution to an institution whose owners are shareholders. And in 1994 it became a commercial bank. Since last year, when FirstBank bought the subsidiary of Banco Santander in Puerto Rico, we are 3,500 employees.
GLL: I run the sale of the 70 branches we currently have, and I have 700 people in charge. I know them all. I think one of the keys is to be available, to be seen by people, to work with open doors. And recruit people who are better than you. I work for teams to perform well. You can only grow and take on new challenges with talented people.
GLL: The combination of people. I have worked in more homogeneous places, but I think it is essential to build heterogeneous teams. And another key skill is ambition: I knew we could grow and reach all segments. Today we have 20% of the market share.
GLL: Sure. That's essential to being a good leader. I also believe that self-confidence is a priority because sometimes I see very talented people, but with high levels of insecurity. Furthermore, I try to keep up to date, I am always aware of where the issues I handle go. And you have to be open to the contribution that young people can make: if I hadn't been given opportunities when I started my career, I wouldn't have done what I did. I am nourished by that talent because young people contribute from a fresh perspective. And another fundamental aspect is to find an interesting balance between the analytical part and the creative alternatives to solve issues from the most technical and business aspects to the daily situations that arise with people.
GLL: We have implemented the Employee Learning Week, from which powerful insights appear on various topics which employees can then incorporate into their work. Diversity is a strong component in the bank. We try to teach different generations about equality so that they relate differently to work. We seek to understand concerns, to know what people worry about. One of the biggest challenges that remain is providing opportunities for mothers. Now, with most of the workforce working remotely, it was proven that working from home allows you to efficiently do your job, for instance.
GLL: Spirituality and meditation, as well as literature. The book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, by Malcolm Gladwell, for example, taught me to identify situations that I go through every day. Most of the time you find your way after a lot of work. It is very useful to be able to organize the information to arrive at possible solutions, and that is a process that I apply to both personal and professional issues. It also serves to visualize things, and that prepares you for different situations.