Sunday 21 July, 2019

8 things you should know about Unit Trust's new Executive Director

The Unit Trust Corporation has a new man at the top.

Nigel Edwards is the new Executive Director of the company, stepping in to lead the company through its Five Year Development Strategy which has, so far, resulted in a 6.9 percent increase in Net Income attributable to unitholders and an expansion of the customer base by 1.1 percent. 

With over 600,000 unitholders, UTC is clearly a popular choice for many citizens and with Edwards now in the driver’s seat, we are sure many would love to know more about him. Loop got the opportunity to sit with the new Executive Director and here are eight things we learnt.

1: He is not new to UTC

Prior to taking up the role of Executive Director, Nigel Edwards worked at UTC for the past five years and held the role of Chief Financial Officer of the company. Edwards has been an integral part of the Strategic Leadership Team. The main focus of the development strategy has been customer relations and brand reputation.   “We have really put the customer to the top of the organisational structure so internally all of our units have been pointed towards serving the customer,” he said.

2: He loves people

Edwards is a bit of an introvert but he loves engaging with people. While people who work in Finance might not be known for their relationship-building skills, Edwards puts that at the core of his success in his field. After doing his Masters in Finance at the London Business School, he worked for a company called Robert Fleming & Co where he learnt the phrase relationship management. “It highlighted something which is precious for me, which is cultivating relationships which for me is a personal strength. I enjoy people,” he told Loop.

3: He looks forward to leading from the top

As the new Executive Director of UTC, Edwards says it would be easier to impact a culture if it is leadership led. “At Unit Trust we are focused on sharpening the culture to make sure the unitholder is at the top but also sharpening the culture to look at things like value creation and ensuring that value creation is front and centre. For me, that becomes a lot easier to impact the culture because people could see that it is genuinely expressed and the leadership values line up with what we say.”

4: He learnt the importance of relationships as a boy

As the only boy sandwiched between two girls, Edwards was thrust into a leadership role from young.  “I remember we would go out, my older sister is three years older and I had the responsibility of making sure everybody got back home on time. I was always given a set of responsibilities so I think that it placed a sort of paternal instinct and, to some degree, shaped my relationships and making sure people were okay,” he said.

5: He has a deep interest in technology

UTC is making heavy investments in technology especially digital technology and for Edwards the overlap with his love for technology and what UTC is doing is very exciting.  As a member of Elijah Centre, a church with embassies throughout the world, Edwards was involved in computer technology in its nascent years. “In the very early days of streaming and webcasting technologies, we started producing webcasts and that’s something we feel we pioneered. The days before proper wireless we would meet at La Joya and in those days wireless technology would only get you 30 feet and our office was 100 feet so we would have repeaters,” he said noting they made personal investments and sacrifices to discover new technologies.

6: He knows how to prioritise

The father of two children, a boy and girl, Edwards has always ensured that despite his busy schedule, he made time for his children. Striking a work/life balance is not difficult for him, he said, as he understands his priorities. “When I first started at Unit Trust, for instance, my son was on the school’s football team and they had games at two in the afternoon and I had to go up to Constantine Park in the East, leave a set of really important things because it was important to get there at two to see him play. It’s was just doing what I need to do when I need to do it. It’s understanding the priorities. Being there at two means then I would be working till 10 pm.”

7: And in his downtime, he runs to unwind

Edwards keeps himself in top physical condition by running, which he also describes as mentally relaxing but thanks to his competitive nature, he prefers running for leisure as opposed to competing. “I always start off with the intention of taking it easy but then somebody pushes you beyond what you plan,” he said with a laugh.

8: and loves a good book

Edwards has a voracious appetite for books and believes reading is critical. Apart from material that pertains to business and finance, he enjoys an ecletic assortment of books. His latest obsession is the Diary of Anne Frank which he describes as fascinating.  Having worked at Ansa McAl previously and enjoyed a close working relationship with the late Anthony Sabga, he also enjoyed his autobiography ‘A Will and a Way’. “I like biographical works and time pieces. So one of my favourite books of all time is called ‘Longtitude’ and it is about a period in time when people were fighting to navigate the seas and if you were on a sea vessel you would be fighting up to end up where you wanted to be.”


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