Top employers in spotlight

Cayman’s Top Employer of the Year was duly selected last month out of a strong group of organisations that all impressed the judges in some form or other with their ability to attract and retain top staff and maintain a happy work environment. But what does it really take to be a top employer in Cayman?  


Scotiabank and the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands took the highest awards at this year’s Top Employer gala event held in early April at the Marriott Beach Resort, Scotiabank coming first in the large employer category (50 employees or over) and the Gallery attaining first place among the small to medium-sized category. KPMG took second place in the large employer category, with CUC coming third, RBC Wealth Management fourth and AON fifth. In the small to medium sized employer category BDO came second, with CML coming third. 

Top employers were chosen by a panel of judges from Canada, which included Dan Ondrack, academic director, executive programs Rotman Business School; Sandy Asch, principal, Alliance for Organizational Excellence; and Amy Kropp. 

The judges assessed the employer’s initial application, which made up 30 per cent of the overall score and an anonymous survey completed by staff, which made up the remaining 70 per cent of an individual organisation’s score. 


Great all-rounders:  

First place Scotiabank  

Scotiabank’s employees are happily vocal in why they believe the bank took top honours. 

Anita Rampersad, manager in the Finance Department says: “Management has been able to attract and retain dedicated professionals, who strive to be the best of the best at what we do. Our competitive natures coupled with a family minded approach to each other, creates a unique working environment that justifies Scotiabank Cayman as the best place to be employed. We are not just “Scotiabankers”, we are “Scotialifers”!” 

Stanford Williams, manager financial analysis says that as a first class international banking institution having a team-oriented spirit, with a focus on ‘One Team, One Goal’, Scotiabank exemplifies a high level of quality in service and customer satisfaction. 

Senior Retail Manager Sharon Diaz is equally effusive: “For 30 years Scotiabank has been the one constant in my life. Through my relationships with peers and management I have been able to succeed in my career and enjoy the fruits of my labours. It is so exciting to see Scotiabank recognised for our accomplishments with our human resources. I have always known that Scotiabank Cayman is a sleeping giant and I am proud to see that the community at large will be more aware of what we have been able to achieve in our small community over the past 45 years.” Education and training of staff has been integral to the bank’s success, for which employees are grateful, as Florence McGrath explains: “Scotiabank is a great place to work as it has given me the flexibility to fulfil educational aspirations in sponsoring my successful attendance and completion of the Professional Practice Course at the Cayman Islands Law School. This in turn enabled me to fulfil career objectives by being promoted to associate director, business implementation in the Trust Department. As a wife and working mother of two teenagers, I am grateful for the many other out of the ordinary benefits the company has made available to my family and me.” 

Susan Simmonds-Graham, senior credit solutions manager states: “With the support of Scotiabank’s education and training policy I completed both my bachelor and masters degrees.” 

Isabel Washington, service support officer concurs and says: “Scotiabank is a place where people are aware of what you’re doing, they applaud your efforts, acknowledge your successes and encourage you in your pursuits. That is why we all help one another and everyone wins.” 

Theolyn Smith says under Scotiabank’s rewards and recognition programme she was awarded the Best of the Best award for 2010-2011  

Shannon Sylvestre, assistant manager, Small Business Department sums up the feeling of staff succinctly when she says: “By winning Top Employer of the Year 2011 it is clear that Scotiabank believes in its mission statement of One Team. One Goal. I truly enjoy working in the Scotiabank environment that empowers their employees to be the best they can be and recognises them for it. Congratulations!”  


Investors in people:  

First place National Gallery  

The National Gallery may be far smaller in size than its Top Employer colleague Scotiabank, yet it is equally huge in stature.  

In her application letter, Director Natalie Urquhart stated the following: “You will find that although we are a small organisation in terms of staff compliment, both our productivity and professionalism are unparalleled. Our employees are not only highly engaged, we have worked diligently as an organisation to implement initiatives to foster internal relationships at all levels.  

“The NGCI was recognised as the second organisation in the Cayman Islands to receive the Investors in People accreditation and we were pleased to have this renewed for a second time in 2008. As IIP illustrates, we take very seriously the satisfaction of all our employees. We are proud to work in a creative, forward thinking environment that is guided by a strong work ethic and mutual respect. 

“As a non-profit organisation we are not privileged to the same incentives that larger corporations may use to inspire employee relations and productivity. As such we have, and continue to be, extremely enterprising when it comes to creating a workplace that employees enjoy coming to and which fosters a high degree of personal accomplishment and gratification. Over the past 18 months this has included a full HR audit with staff contributing many of their own ideas towards workplace comfort and incentives. These include flex-time, training opportunities, peer recognition, coaching and mentoring, and regular feedback. In addition, our staff incentive scheme differs per individual and is by no means static, we are always thinking of ways to create a workplace that employees feel comfortable within and which motivates them to continued peak performance levels.” 

Urquhart says it’s important that staff feel genuinely engaged.  

“While we have employees from all sorts of disciplines – arts administration, marketing, education, finance etc- we share a collective passion for the arts and cultural development of our islands, which is the thread that runs through everything we do. Everyone has the opportunity to really contribute to the direction of the organisation and is encouraged to put forth ideas for new programming, exhibitions and events,” she says.  

She furthers that they have tried to create a dynamic and vibrant work culture at the NGCI and she believes that is reflected in their programming and events.  

“In addition, our staff incentive scheme differs per individual and is by no means static, we are always thinking of ways to create a workplace that employees feel comfortable within and which motivates them to continued peak performance levels,” she says. “I hope that we challenge each of our staff to achieve more than they thought possible.” 

Employees are quite clear as to why the Gallery took the small sized organisation top spot: “We have a lot to do here at the Gallery with 31 monthly programmes on tap but every day is different, every artist is different, every event is different. But to sum it up into two words, working at the National Gallery is fun and flexible,” Mona Lisa Tatum Watler, communications and marketing manager, says. 

Julia Goulden, development and administration furthers: “All staff would agree that the fundamental mission of the NGCI, in itself, makes for a rewarding work experience. However, with limited resources, inherent of all non-profits, management takes great effort to implement policies that ensure employee satisfaction like open communication, flexible time, training, small gestures of appreciation, social events, and regular meetings. It’s a great experience to be a part of this organisation.” 

Simone Scott, Sister Islands officer for the National Gallery says: “As an artist I find working with the National Gallery to be inspirational.” 


A happy place to work:  

Second place KPMG 

KPMG has been a consistent top ranking organisation within the Top Employer competition, taking second place last year as well.  

Roy McTaggart, managing partner of KPMG gives his thoughts as to why he believes they rank so well: “People who are happy in their employment tend to be very productive and loyal employees, giving their best in return. The Cayman Islands Top Employer award validates the great employee programme we have here at KPMG. We are not afraid to benchmark our human resources programme with an external and independent evaluation, embracing honest feedback.” 

Staff at KPMG had the following to say (taken from the anonymous staff survey): 

“Being empowered to work autonomously with minimal supervision. The flexibility afforded, in particular to working moms.” 

“Positive interaction and camaraderie amongst all levels of staff. We work hard, but do so as a team with a common goal.” 

“Providing equal opportunities, recognition of performance and personal welfare.” 

“My personal career development; the respect and interest received by my team and the career development opportunities that are given to me.”  

One staff member put it simply: “I look forward to going to work each day.” 


An employer of choice:  

Third place CUC 

“CUC is my employer of choice and there’s no other place I’d rather dedicate my efforts,” says Waide Watler, an IT administrator with the company who is away at college. “CUC completely understands what it takes to be an employer of choice in the Cayman Islands. Their actions on a daily basis clearly demonstrate the care and concern they possess, both internally and externally. CUC’s consistent commitment to the personal development of its employees is truly admirable and is a testament to the greatness of the company. Over the years, CUC has earned the respect of its employees, customers and community alike, by demonstrating that they genuinely have our interest at heart, at all times.”  

Ronald Parchment, materials manager, says he considers CUC to be a top employer when comparing CUC against other companies that he has worked for.  

“I have been an employee since February of 1988, at which time I was employed as a purchasing clerk and have since been promoted to manager of materials. The company realised my potential and empowered me to meet my full potential by providing continuous training. This training has allowed me to keep abreast of technology and improve efficiencies for the company and our customers.” 

Ronald says CUC exceeds the expectations of employees by demonstrating empathy, keeping abreast of technology, ensuring continuous training is provided, and letting employees know that they care for them and their families. 

Internal Auditor Lauren Bush says her company also identified her potential very early and provided the financial support that she needed to accomplish her dream of attaining a bachelor’s degree and becoming a CPA.  

“What was more significant than the financial support was the emotional support provided by many of my colleagues, managers and the executive team,” she confirms. “They truly showed an interest in seeing me succeed and made themselves available to help in any way possible. CUC is committed to enhancing the skills of its people and has created a working environment that fosters continued education, career development and advancement.” 

Nichelle Scott, manager, financial services confirms: “Every day I walk in to CUC is like walking in to my home, my family greets me, we bicker, we laugh and we collaborate. There are companies you work for and then there is CUC; a company where what you do matters, what you think means something and where you go is up to you.” 


The KPMG team