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Posted: Friday 21 May, 2021 at 11:31 AM

Sagicor’s Annual Awards 2020: Address by Robert Trestrail, President and CEO, Sagicor Life Inc, Wednesday 19 May 2021

By: Robert Trestrail, President and CEO, Address

    My MVPs!


    Congratulations to all of you! It’s a pleasure to be able to celebrate your fantastic achievements this evening!


    MVPs, I would bet that you would agree that there is no greater feeling than having something to look forward to. Positive anticipation brings us all a level of excitement and it’s hard to extinguish. You know the feeling: opening a gift on a special occasion, an upcoming trip, an awards ceremony or even a new year.


    Let’s use that as an example. At the beginning of the year, opportunity is in front of us, we set our goals and dreams. We pick up our ambitions from last year and decide how we’re going to deliver on our targets and start the year anew. Or as we say here in the Caribbean “how we’re going to mash up the place”.


    But what if, all of a sudden and unexpectedly, you are thrown off course? What if, in the middle of our excitement, our anticipation, those big goals that we have for ourselves, we hit a mountain? Does this sound familiar? This is not a story. This is not story time. This is not make-believe. I want you to cast your minds back. Think back to January 2020. There we all are, a bright future ahead of us, and excitement as we’ve entered the year of 2020, and by March, COVID-19 is upon our doorsteps.


    I want you to think about that for a moment. Think about how you felt, the uncertainty. Think about the uncomfortableness. Think about the trauma that you were experiencing. And now open your eyes and here we are tonight, celebrating your success in 2020. You may ask yourself: how did we get here?


    And I will tell you we got here because we never gave up. We got here because of your commitment. We got here because of your loyalty and your love of this organisation. We didn’t retreat. We regrouped. We looked at Mr COVID, in his eyes, head on and rose to the challenge. The Sagicor team that met the needs of our customers faster and better while turning work from home on its head is not the same Sagicor team that started the year in January of 2020. By far, we are more resilient, more creative, more innovative and willing to accept challenges at the drop of a second.


    So we are here tonight to celebrate and we have every right to celebrate. Tonight, we celebrate your role in helping us to navigate and to come out on top of one of the most difficult times, one of the most unprecedented times, of all times.


    We have demonstrated to the Caribbean, the industry, and I will argue the world, that Team Sagicor, has what it takes to win. Not just win once, but win every single time, no matter what the challenge. Last year, we celebrated 180 years. Very few organisations can claim that and we have seen many difficult times during that 180 years. But last year was our experience of a very difficult time. So to Team Sagicor and all of our nominees, understand this: history has no choice but to remember all of us for what we did and what we achieved during 2020. We all rose above and excelled despite what we were all going through, and every one of you should be celebrated. And we are here tonight to recognise you and to celebrate with you. You all deserve that MVP status.


    So, what is an MVP? An MVP is a player that is best performing. He or she has reached the pinnacle of success and has outperformed all of the competitors. I believe that it is one thing to excel under what is considered normal circumstances, but even greater aptitude must be applied in trying circumstances and for that reason, I think, Sagicor, we are all MVPs. We all had to dig a little deeper…sorry, let me say that again. We all had to dig a lot deeper and we all had to put our hands to the plough and really push through. So, I’d just like to pause here for a moment and ask each of you to put your hands together, not just for your contributions and for your success last year, but for the colleague who sat next to you, who was on the other end of the telephone with you, who helped you in a difficult circumstance. I want you to put your hands together to recognise each other’s efforts and to say thank you. Tonight, we all honour our MVPs, even as we honour our extra special MVPs – our awardees and nominees.


    Team Sagicor, the most difficult thing about being number one is staying number one. So, how do we beat ourselves and forge forward to ensure that we continue to be MVPs in our industry? 


    I believe it is a combination of character and personal traits, and these factors have guided all of our efforts and these factors have contributed to all of our success.


    Endurance, Commitment, Agility
    Earlier, Don [Austin from Sagicor Life Inc in the Eastern Caribbean and Belize], Paul [Inniss from Sagicor Life Inc in Barbados] and Keston [Howell from Sagicor General Insurance Inc] outlined three key attributes that combine to make a winning team: Endurance, Commitment and Agility. They are all key to success. Team, business is the ultimate endurance sport. Don’t let anyone try to tell you otherwise. Being in business and certainly being in our business takes a particular type of resolve, takes a particular type of person. It means we need to be strategic. It means we need to be deliberate; we need to be disciplined. We need to have strength and endurance.


    I often cast my mind back to some words of wisdom, one of our very successful advisors has repeated to me many a time. And it is that every time they hear a “no”, they know they are closer to a “yes”.  And it is that type of commitment that tells me that they have clear priorities, a plan of action that is committed and consistent. Excelling for a period might come easy but making that excellence last, now that is the true mark of a champion. Endurance is about being prepared. For those of us who exercise, we know that when you first start or when you start back after an injury or after having taken a break, we know how difficult it is to get our bodies and our minds engaged. But once we step back into that arena and back into that training and we all hit our stride, we know that our preparation and practice is going to build endurance. Endurance joins forces with consistency and commitment because giving consistent high-quality service on the days that we just don’t feel like, truly determines who comes out on top. It sees us pushing back those difficult times that we have, past the fatigue and past “feeling motivated” to “being committed”.


    Commitment ensures that we see the tasks through to the very end. It means we give 100% of our time, all of the time, and replace fear with laser focus and love. Endurance and commitment feed into agility and we have all had to exhibit a great level of agility over the past year. What it meant to be a great financial institution changed from moving the line in the branch to moving the branch to the carpark. It changed from an advisor meeting someone at their home to an advisor meeting that person through a Zoom chat. It moved from responding quickly to cash value and other queries to putting portals in place, so the customers can treat with their business remotely. It moved from bringing the community in to us going out to our community and helping those most in need of our help. And in all instances, you all delivered greatness.


    Know your Why
    But why? I often ask myself the question, “But why?” Knowing our “why” is what makes the difference between being good and being great. Team, how fortunate are we to operate in an industry such as ours where we get to help people secure their financial wellbeing! If you had a few minutes to tell someone what you did, I’d like to think that we would all say that we help people because ours is a life of service. Ours is a life of commitment. Regardless of who we are or where we find ourselves in our organisation, we are all here to serve. We are all here to serve our customers. We are all here to serve each other. And most importantly, we are all here to serve the communities in which we operate. This is our overarching purpose and why we do what we do every single day. 


    You see lots of people work in insurance industry and that’s fine but that’s not a why. That’s okay for them. We, on the other hand, we don’t only work in the insurance industry and the wider financial services sector, we work at Sagicor and that stands for something far greater, far bigger, far better. Understand that the field that we are playing in is not level because we are the leaders. We are the forerunners and must continue to set the bar for those who try to keep up with us. We believe that at our core our clients deserve to have the best financial advice and that our guidance and efficiency makes a very real difference in their everyday lives. Our why matters and having that passion and purpose helps all of us to stay focused. So whatever we sell, whatever advice we give, whether it be mortgages, whether it be life insurance, whether it be retirement planning, whether it be that insurance for someone’s biggest asset – their home, or whether it be an insurance for their vehicle, whether it is the life of a loved one from critical illness – our PURPOSE is improving the lives of the people in the communities in which we serve. Every day, we must ask ourselves whether our actions are doing that.


    Team, Sagicor MVPs, I encourage you to continue to rise against the odds. Remember, our logo isn’t an “S”. It represents a phoenix rising from the ashes. 2020 challenged us and we will all remember the year 2020 but through your commitment, through your loyalty, through your passion and through your continued support of each other, we weathered the storm and we are here tonight to celebrate the success that we’ve achieved. 


    Tonight, I think we can all lay our hands on that special trophy. We can all set our eyes on that prize. I’m incredibly proud of all of your efforts, all of your achievements and I’m here to say thank you and congratulations for a super job, no matter how hard it’s been, no matter how difficult the circumstances, you were there to answer the call. You were there to take that meeting. You were there to meet that client. You were there to go beyond the call. 


    2021 isn’t going to make it any easier. 2021 is going to continue to test us. We don’t know what the future holds but we do know there is a bright light, that the grey clouds have silver linings and we are heading towards that light. And with your continued support, your continued endurance and agility and commitment, we will survive. We will not only survive; we will continue to be the premier, leading financial services organisation in the industry that we love and operate in. Again, in 2021, and in the years to come. We will continue to build on the work done of our predecessors and this organisation that we all love and are all thankful for will be stronger and we will all be stronger together.


    So in closing, ladies and gentlemen, let me again extend a hearty congratulations to all of our winners, all of our nominees and wish you a fantastic evening. 


    Thank you very much.






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