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New Dolla head Kenroy Kerr talks change, balance and his inspirations

Published:Sunday | September 24, 2023 | 12:05 AM
Kenroy Kerr
Kenroy Kerr
The  interim chief executive officer of Dolla Financial addresses the gathering at the Dolla Financial AGM while Trevene McKenzie, chief financial officer, looks on.
The interim chief executive officer of Dolla Financial addresses the gathering at the Dolla Financial AGM while Trevene McKenzie, chief financial officer, looks on.

Kenroy Kerr enjoys off-road excursions.
Kenroy Kerr enjoys off-road excursions.

In the world of financial services, where evolution is constant and foresight is paramount, Kenroy Kerr’s rise to the role of interim chief executive officer at Dolla Financial Services has captured interest around the man and the role he now occupies.

Kerr’s professional odyssey began with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, which marked his entry into the finance industry. During that time, he shared that his main goal was to gain a thorough understanding of the fundamentals of business.

“I aimed to gain the skills and knowledge required to excel in the business world, with the ultimate goal of making a positive impact, whether through leadership, innovation, or economic growth. It was a period of preparation for my future career,” Kerr told The Sunday Gleaner.

Later, his tenure at the Bank of Nova Scotia allowed him to cultivate a deep understanding of customer service, sales, credit, compliance, and leadership. In 2018, he joined Dolla Financial Services as the head of credit and operations. There, he played a pivotal role in shaping the company’s credit policies, risk management strategies, and underwriting processes.

“I’ve worked closely with the leadership team to develop growth-focused policies, align our strategies with long-term goals, and lead key initiatives to achieve them. These contributions have encompassed various areas, from risk management to the adoption of advanced technologies, all aimed at ensuring our long-term success,” said Kerr.

To further enrich his leadership capabilities, Kerr pursued a Master of Business Administration, with a specialisation in organisational development from Aston University, in the United Kingdom. There he learnt the importance of adaptability and continuous learning.

“Beyond the academic curriculum, being in an environment that allowed me to gain insights into the business world of first-world countries was invaluable. I had the privilege to brainstorm with brilliant minds from around the globe, which broadened my perspectives and reinforced the significance of adaptability. The dynamic nature of the global business landscape became evident, and I realised that staying flexible and open to change is crucial for success,”he shared.

As Dolla’s chief operating officer since 2022, Kerr’s leadership has been instrumental in steering Dolla Financial Services through uncharted waters. Now, as interim CEO, Kerr is guiding Dolla through a transitional phase following the departure of the outgoing CEO, Kadeen Mairs, and he is embracing this challenge with unwavering resolve. Though mum on what new is to come, stating only that “something new is always on the horizon”, he is very clear on his vision for the company.

Kerr’s vision for Dolla Financial Services is one of enduring growth, emblematic customer-centricity, and ethical leadership. Inspired by leaders who have “revolutionised industries and made a positive impact on society”, he lists individuals such as Elon Musk, Barack Obama, Michael Lee-Chin and Mairs as leaders who inspire him.

He’s currently reading The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch. The book “focuses on the Pareto Principle, which highlights the significant impact that a mere 20 per cent of our efforts can have on 80 per cent of our results,” he shared, adding that he’s currently learning to identify his own 20 per cent.

His advice to newcomers in the financial industry is simple: focus on gaining knowledge and improving your skills. “A solid foundation of knowledge and skills is essential, so I encourage newcomers to the financial sector to concentrate on that. Learn as much as you can about the latest developments in the industry. Connecting with other successful people in the industry is also essential, as is learning from their wisdom and expertise through mentoring and networking,” said Kerr. He also encourages having the right attitude to work. “Cultivate a strong work ethic, attention to detail, and a commitment to ethics and compliance, as trust is crucial in finance. Embrace challenges as opportunities for growth, and never stop learning in this dynamic and ever-evolving field,” he said.

Beyond the boardroom, Kerr champions work-life balance. “I have a deep love for volleyball, finding both camaraderie and fitness in the sport. My passion for exploring new cultures through travel and my joy in experimenting with cooking and baking, also shape my interests,” he shared. A family man, he says, “cherished family moments filled with laughter, music, and dance hold a special place in my heart.”

Some of his favourite places to visit are right at home. “One of them is the Rio Grande rafting tour in Portland, where I can relax and absorb the beauty and allure of Portland. Additionally, I enjoy ziplining through the rainforest and exploring the countryside on an ATV.” Internationally, he finds Disney World to be a great location to create lasting memories with his family.

As for cooking, Kerr shared that he makes a good stir fry, and it just so happens to be the last meal he cooked. It’s one of his favourite meals to prepare for its ease and balance. “[It] is a healthy option that allows me to balance my busy lifestyle with a focus on well-being,” said Kerr.

A large part of Kerr’s work-life balance is his work with underprivileged youth, whom he assists with educational expenses, which he says deeply resonates with him due to his own experiences. “I believe that by addressing basic educational needs, we can empower young people to overcome obstacles and achieve their academic goals, putting them on the path to a brighter future,” said Kerr.