Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 12th 2015 Contents 4| WOW MAGAZINE
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt April 12, 2015
| PROFILES |
If they gave me
I wouldn't just do
the ten. I'd do
them and ask
By Roslyn Carrington
"THIS YEAR, I'll have been with Republic Bank for 25 years,"
says Karen Yip Chuck. "It's been a great ride. I've never felt to
look elsewhere." Yip Chuck joined the bank as a graduate
trainee, after having attained her degree in economics from
UWI. "Back then, Gordon Draper was head of the faculty of
Social Sciences, and in those days they had a very good rela-
tionship with the business community. THEY reached out to
She didn't stop with her first degree, however, but continued
acquiring certifications such as the Banker's exam and Asso-
ciate Chartered Institute of Banking qualification. She remi-
nisces about moving up her wedding in order to take
advantage of a free vacation for married couples --- if her
exam results were outstanding AND if she was married at
the time results came out. The temptation was just too great.
"I'd planned on getting married on Easter Sunday, because the
church would have been fully decorated. My results were to
come out in February, so I got married in January."
The couple didn't actually use the free trip until after their first
child was born. As one can imagine, doing Europe with a tod-
dler in tow wasn't exactly a walk in the park ... not even when
they were taking walks in the park. "We did London, Paris,
Rome, with a stroller, a baby bag, and a thermos to make her
bottle. My husband will tell you there are aspects of the trip
he doesn't remember."
As General Manager, Wealth Management, Yip Chuck is in
charge of the areas of the bank that serve the institutional
and individual accounts of clients. She oversees four areas
and ten managers, and is responsible for about $30 billion TT.
Frightening? Not particularly. "The managers under me are
technically very strong. It would have been intimidating at
first, but I realised the bank put me here to get things done,
to change the culture and bring about better customer serv-
Of these ten managers, five are women, but Yip Chuck takes
little notice of gender when managing her people. "I myself
am not treated differently because I am a woman. I've had
good exposure and great mentors, such as Ronald Harford,
former CEO, who was a visionary; driven. He pushed me and
encouraged me. They built me up and reinforced my strong,
go-getter personality. If they gave me 10 assignments, I
wouldn't just do the ten. I'd do them and ask for more."
She does, however, admit that her petite size and youthful ap-
pearance can sometimes make people see her as being
younger than she really is. "I really have to deal with that. The
higher-ups think I can take my time, because I have plenty of
time to achieve my ambitions. But they don't see my youth
as a disadvantage."
Juggling work and family can only come about with strong
support." I recently got a driver to pick up the children, but I've
always had a strong support system between my mother and
in-laws. In all my years, I have never missed work because the
children were ill. I hear of so many female workers having to
stay at home because their children are ill, but my mother and
mother-in-law have always taken care of that." In fact, al-
though she and her husband work in Port of Spain, they have
made the decision to continue to live in San Fernando to stay
close to their family base. This has also enabled her to travel
on bank business or to upgrade her skills.
This awareness of the constraints of motherhood have made
her sympathetic to the challenges of her own staff. "When
women tell me they can't take on an additional assignment
because of family commitments, I am more able to listen to
them. I have to realise that not everyone can do that."
She even commends women who have made a conscious de-
cision to hold their careers back in favour of supplying the
needs of their family. "Some prefer to halt their advancement,
or earn less. But then they have balance. Family first, before
career." Furthermore, she doesn't think that a male manager
would be any less understanding. Her firm is even exploring
more programmes to support their female staff. "We recog-
nise that it's important enough to spend time on. Sixty per-
cent of our staff or more are female."
Yip Chuck sees her Chinese heritage as having an impact on
her academic upbringing. "My father was a Science master,
and my mother has a business heritage. So a lot of things
come naturally to me."
As for maintaining her own personal balance, she does what
she can. "I love entertaining and socialising -- but not every
weekend. I exercise --- but not every day. I would have loved
to be able to sing ... but I don't think I can. After putting in a lot
of work, I just like to relax at home, and enjoy my down time."
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