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Leading the new bank

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A TRAIBLAZER: The General Manager of the Bank South Pacific, Maryann Lameko-Vaai.With the dust settling Won the Bank South Pacific’s takeover of Westpac, the newest business in town is already hard at work to become the banking giant of Samoa.

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And a driving force behind the establishment is Maryann Lameko- Vaai, who was named the General Manager last week when the Bank was officially launched at Vailima.

It has been quite a rise for a woman who only three years ago had never worked at a bank.

“I was hired by Westpac in 2012 so I have been with the bank for about three years now,” she tells the Samoa Observer.

“I am a chartered accountant and auditor by profession, so my interest has always been in accounting, finance and investment.

“Prior to moving to the bank, I spent 12 years with a locally-owned computer company called Computer Services Limited, and when the opportunity presented itself to join Westpac; it was time to try something new.”

It didn’t take long for Mrs. Lameko-Vaai’s new career to grow on her, and she hasn’t looked back since.

“Banking became a passion very quickly and I found myself totally immersed and equally inspired by the role that the banking system plays in the economic and social development of our country. I guess you can say I got hooked.”

Mrs. Lameko-Vaai was pleased when Westpac named her as Acting General Manger in the lead up to the takeover, but was surprised when B.S.P later annointed her as their official General Manager.

It’s a ground breaking appointment that’s been long overdue.

“Westpac has never hired a local to be Country Head and when I was seconded to the role of Acting GM by Westpac, I was pleasantly surprised,” she said.

“In the seven months that I was Acting GM during the transition to B.S.P, the team and I worked really hard and we prayed even harder.

“Multinational companies, in particular banks in Samoa are traditionally managed by ex-pats, so this is a remarkable achievement and I’m very humbled by the opportunity.”

Not to take all of the glory herself after being selected in the new role, Mrs. Lameko- Vaai was quick to thank her colleagues, friends and family for helping during the frantic few months leading up to the takeover.

“It’s during challenging and uncertain times that the strength of one’s leadership and staff alike are put to the test. I acknowledge my exceptional staff for their support and hard work at so many levels; their perseverance in the midst of uncertainty has been my strength.

“I’m fortunate to have been surrounded by great role models, who are always pushing me. I’ve made some sacrifices with my family, and the road to getting to where I am today has not been easy and sometimes lonely; but by the grace of God I have been able to realize this dream.”

Asked whether she has been overlooked for promotions in the past because of her gender, Mrs. Lameko-Vaai pointed out that her employers have based decisions on work ethic.

“No I don’t believe so. I think we are quite fortunate in Samoa that women are given equal opportunities in the workplace and the appointment of top officers are always based on merit, not gender.”

So now that it has been out with the old and in with the new, where to now for Samoa’s newest big business?

“My vision is simple - for B.S.P to be the number one bank in Samoa. To be the bank that will help our businesses, communities and people grow.” Look out.

 

 

 

 

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