Thank you to the 1646 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 questions! I hope reading 7 Questions with
helps you in your leadership.
Name: Luigi Wewege
Organisation: Caye International Bank
Luigi Wewege is the President of award-winning Caye International Bank, headquartered in Belize, Central America. He is the author of The Digital Banking Revolution, now in its third edition, and has co-authored economic research presented before the United States Congress. He also serves as an Instructor at the FinTech School in California and as Board Member of Fort Kobbe International Vaults in Panama, CI Associates in Chile and NTL Trust in Saint Kitts and Nevis. He holds an Italian MBA from the MIB Trieste School of Management with a major in International Business and a BSBA with a triple major in Finance, International Business, and Management from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
Having a mostly international career, I have found it challenging but also exciting working with, managing, and training teams with various work, educational and life experiences. When dealing with multinational companies, it is important to remember that not everyone thinks the same or has the same frame of reference for dealing with new situations or processing new information. I find this keeps me on my toes and makes my international banking career very interesting.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
Since starting at Caye it has grown from the fifth to the largest international bank in Belize. This growth is attributed largely to my dedicated focus on providing bespoke financial solutions to private and corporate clients worldwide. I have gained extensive expertise in global markets and investments over the last 15 years providing me with diverse international experience in the financial services sector. My prior roles include being the CEO of Vivier, a boutique finance firm; Commercial Manager of the Investment Research Group; and Senior Consultant at The Braintrust Network, a bespoke management consultancy.
While finishing my undergraduate studies, I completed a pilot study for the Federal Trade Commission examining the accuracy of American credit bureau data. This research culminated in a report that was presented to the United States Congress, under Section 319 of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act. In addition to my professional endeavors, I established my own foundation that provides an annual university scholarship. I am also the past President of Junior Chamber International – Metro. I have been fortunate to compete in a variety of competitive sports, and my most notable accomplishment being a National Junior Champion in swimming and receiving a Men’s NCAA Scholarship for golf.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
Generally, I wake up fairly early in the morning, and I then catch up on various news from around the world. I then assess which correspondence I have received overnight that will be the most pressing to deal with and decide which of those to focus on first. I then spend most of my day interacting with the bank’s most important clients as well as several of the senior management of the bank. I mostly listen and gain an understanding of the challenges these bank managers are facing and then coach/mentor them on how best to alleviate any issues that arise.
Outside of this there are a number of meetings, calls, and interviews that have been scheduled for me discuss financial services or the current market which assists with the bank’s global business development. When I am not travelling internationally, I like to go for a walk post dinner. This is going to sound overly simplistic, but I always say to people to take the time to step away every so often even if it is a 10-minute walk, and you will be pleasantly surprised as to what you can think through or of while being disconnected from work.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
I have been reminded recently that there are two very different ways of dealing with rapid change. One way is through reactive protectionism. This is often through trying to stop the bleeding when change is forced upon you. This can be done by tweaking costs here and there to still be in the black for each quarterly budget. The other is a nimbler, proactive approach. Knowing that most changes are not short-term, recognizing that the first inkling of any change is a signal of potential opportunity. Those leaders who can develop an adaptive vision and implement responsive systems to meet clients’ new needs are the ones who will be the most successful. Often the big breakthrough successes come from leveraging disruptive change. It’s important to note that getting to this point also requires helping employees develop skills to deal with this rapid change and as always, communicating “what” and “why” is critical to success.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
For me there are two books: the first may seem a hackneyed choice, but the book: How to Win Friends & Influence People, is an absolute wealth of information. Although written in a time past, Dale Carnegie's advice on how to integrate technical knowledge, ideas, leadership skills and enthusiasm remains an inspirational and indispensable handbook for any leader today! The second is the book: Narrow Road by Felix Dennis, and this is not your usual get-rich-quick manual but rather a blunt and honest account of the mistakes he has made and the leadership lessons he learnt the hard way. I consider it an essential read for anyone wanting to become an entrepreneur and leader.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
I often quote two and the first is to always seek input from others to aid you in reaching the best possible decision for your business/start-up. This is due to leadership for the most part being about taking calculated risks and you will always create better strategies if more facts and information go into the decision-making process. The second is to avoid the hard sell - most people deal with management of a company on an extremely regular basis, so they are accustomed to glib sales talk and slick tactics. Be candid, transparent, and honest about the product or service that you are offering to the market.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
I made the decision from the very beginning of the pandemic that I did not want any dismissals or salary cuts. Thus, if the bank was to get through this crisis, then we would do it together, as a team. I understood that it would be backbreaking work to change a nearly two-decade old bank working from a central command point to completely digital i.e., online and staff working from home in just a few days. What I learnt is that potentially insurmountable changes that I thought would take years could in fact be achieved in a fraction of the time when receiving buy in from all stakeholders of the bank.