Who is Kizwauna Miller?
I am Kizwauna Miller, aged 27, a Banker by day and financial freedom seeker by night. I am passionate about philanthropy and financial freedom. I believe it is our duty to care for and provide help to the lesser fortunate among us. If income was not limiting, I'd travel across the island, region and world, building and rebuilding communities; helping those in need of help. It is for this reason that I am in pursuit of financial freedom which will also give me time freedom to create a positive impact in an area I am truly passionate about.
I enjoy random drives and socialising with my girlfriends (they are all empowering). I also like to provoke my network with random thoughts on the "work scam" when everyone is feeling work blues. The church family calls me a drummer but I say I have the ability to play a 5 piece drum set. I can also knock a good game of road tennis if I could get back in shape. I am deemed an extrovert but I am occasionally hesitant to make the introduction; however, once we begin to speak the personality comes out.
I love to travel and experience new cultures. Locally, I like to dine at new spots or patronise an "instagram business". Again, if money and time were not currently limiting, I'd be responding to these interview questions from a cafe in Bora Bora or from the Cliff restaurant.
I am self-motivated and my desire to retire at an early age keeps me driven.
My motto is: "What you want exists, DO NOT settle until you get it!"
What does a typical day for you involve?
To keep it short and to the point, on a typical day I reach the office for 8 AM and do the following:
- catch up with emails which were sent after my departure (I never leave an unread email in my inbox)
- respond to customer queries, if any
- take a look at the report which generates accounts which are over their limit and need a decision on whether to pay or return the cheque (the Associate Relationship Manager actions this but I look to see who is on the report)
- If there is a new credit to be written, I work on that
- If there is an annual review to be submitted, I review the proposal done by the Associate Relationship Manager for onward submission to the Group Risk Management
- As I am new, I call or email existing clients to arrange meetings
- As it is sales, I also call or email prospects to arrange meetings
- I always take my lunch hour (eating is essential)
- Attend any internal team/collaboration meetings
- Attend any external meetings which would have been prebooked
Why did you choose this field?
I chose Finance because it is a diverse field and I consider my analytical and mathematical skills to be a right fit for the industry. Additionally, everything revolves around finance and so, the field will always require individuals. I should note that whilst in the field of finance and more specifically in sales, I cannot say that I chose sales but rather, sales chose me. When I thought about entering the finance industry, I envisioned myself being a portfolio manager or investment banker, managing portfolio of stocks, bonds and other equity or fixed income instruments. However, my first role at Republic Bank introduced me to a different side of portfolio management which involved the management of a portfolio of loans.
What advice would you give someone who is interested in pursuing a career similar to yours?
If you desire to pursue a career in Banking/Sales, note these three thoughts:
- Be YOU; authentically you!
- Be proactive and network
- Be prepared to adapt (no environment is ever what you think it will be; you understand it when you are actually in it)
We read your story on LinkedIn and it stood out to us. Can you share your career journey to date with our readers?
Let me start by saying that I have had the opportunity to work at excellent companies under the leadership of outstanding managers and supervisors who have all positively contributed to my development thus far.
My journey started at Sagicor Life Inc where I interned on 5 consecutive occasions within the Corporate Actuarial department. I chose Sagicor at the time and asked for a specific assignment to that area because I wanted exposure to the field as it was one I was considering. The career did not materialise as it was not my passion and I then shifted my focus to banking. Whilst applying to Banks and being unemployed after my final internship, I decided to pursue a Masters in Banking and Finance to gain a little more understanding of the field and to understand how Banks operate. The degree solidified my interest in the field; however, I was not able to secure a job immediately in that field and returned to Sagicor on a full-time basis on the Pensions Actuarial team. During my time there, I served as a Valuations Trainee and later, a Pension Plan Administrator. Both roles allowed me to utilise analytical and mathematical skills on a daily basis which kept me engaged; however, given the degree in Banking and Finance I sought opportunities at commercial and offshore banks and Republic Bank responded favourably.
I joined Republic Bank as a Graduate Trainee within the Corporate and Commercial Department and had the opportunity to train with each team of the department namely: Credit Support Unit, Commercial Credit Team and Corporate Credit Team. The majority of my time was spent on the Commercial Credit Team which introduced me to portfolio management in the form of a loans portfolio and exposed me to credit/proposal writing along with delinquency management etc. Whilst serving as a Graduate Trainee I was on contract and my personal rule for such an arrangement is that I will not remain in such an agreement for more than one year (This was also my position at Sagicor). After a year has passed I seek other opportunities which are more permanent. Please note that this method will not work for everyone but this is my personal rule and my network knows I am a risk taker. Consequently, after my year was up and the contract was renewed, I sought other opportunities which manifested only after I was made permanent in a sales role within the Retail Branch network. The retail role gave me the opportunity to provide financial solutions for qualifying citizens through personal loans, mortgages, home equities, credit card facilities etc. Though short-lived (8 months), it deepened my knowledge of the industry and exposed me to another area of finance and banking.
I recently moved to RBC Royal Bank in September 2019 in yet another sales role as a Relationship Manager in our Business Banking Unit. Similar to my previous role in the Corporate and Commercial Department, where I wrote credits and managed a portfolio of loans, this role requires me to also generate new business to grow the portfolio while maintaining existing clients. The tasks on paper appear daunting, as well as the targets, but it is a challenge I accepted knowing that at the end of the day I will be a better Banking/Finance professional because I am provoked to grow, be more critical thinking and analytical.
Now, all of the above sounds like it occurred with smooth transitions but what I want you to know is that the process has never been easy. I have applied to several places repeatedly and HR managers have often rerouted me to their online portal. The Banking sector is only so big so there are only so many options to try. I visited websites DAILY seeking opportunities. I sent applications to all commercial banks - for some I have never received a response, some I have been denied without interview or email notice, some I have been interviewed and then denied etc. The RBC story stood out because I've repeatedly applied with no success but they finally responded favourably and I chose to share that story to encourage other applicants on the journey. Whatever it is you are seeking, whether it is an internal promotion, internal transfer or preparing for exit, do not give up at the first sign of rejection. If you are ready to commit to the challenge of the next opportunity, go after it 100%.
What keeps you motivated?
My personal desire to succeed and to become financially free keeps me motivated. Just knowing that I am not where I want to be, keeps me going. Even when I get where I want to be, I am sure that additional goals will be set and those will further motivate me to continue reaching and pushing my limits.