Veteran banker Ronald Harford honoured at memoir launch

Ronald Harford with his wife Allison at the book launch on October 5, at the Arthur Lok Jack Global School of Business, Mt Hope - JEFF K MAYERS
Ronald Harford with his wife Allison at the book launch on October 5, at the Arthur Lok Jack Global School of Business, Mt Hope - JEFF K MAYERS

Best known for his successful career as an executive with Republic Bank Ltd, Ronald Harford led an interesting life, from flying in small aeroplanes to stumbling across and preserving documents on TT's early banking history.

These stories and more were showcased at the launch of his memoir, Nil Illegitimi Carborundum, at the Arthur Lok Jack School of Business and Management, Mt Hope, on Wednesday morning.

Harford's career began in 1963 with Barclays Bank Dominion Colonial & Overseas in Independence Square, Port of Spain.

In 1997 he was appointed managing director of Republic Bank Ltd, and he retired as chairman of the bank's board in 2019.

The memoir, which contains stories from Harford's 57-year career, also includes his early life in Guyana and memories of adventures during the 1980s.

Speaking at the launch of the memoirs, general manager of Republic Bank Anna-Maria Garcia-Brooks said Harford asked her to help edit the book.

She said she originally approached the task as an editing exercise, but quickly became engrossed in the stories and lessons the book contained, which brought back her time working under Harford's supervision.

Ronald Harford autographs his memoir for former corporate manager of Republic Bank Mario Affonso on October 5, at Arthur Lok Jack Global School of Business, Mt Hope. - JEFF K MAYERS

"It wasn't a task at all – it was the most entertaining and enjoyable read that I've had in a very, very long time.

"I would burst into spontaneous, uncontrollable peals of laughter at the accounts told by the most accomplished storyteller. I would be shocked, even mortified by his candour in recalling certain events, and reflect thoughtfully on his analysis of situations.

"So after reading the first part of the growing-up years and realising how entertaining (they were) and the humour (that) resided in their pages, I abandoned my desk and set aside a couple of hours each night, sitting in my bed, propped against my comfy pillows, armed with my Post-It slips and pen to make notes and read to be entertained as well as to critique, to reminisce, to learn of new adventures and to live vicariously through others."

Brooks added that the book was more than a memoir, as each story contained valuable lessons in navigating the business world and life.

She noted that Harford's leadership style, tireless work ethic and sense of resilience were highlighted several times during the memoir, and said the (mock-) Latin title, translated to English means, "Don't let the bastards grind you down." She said the title which a senior banker gave Harford in the early part of his career, forms the theme of the book.

She encouraged professionals of all ages to read it.

Harford himself read excerpts from the book, drawing applause from the audience.

In one reading he recalled two inspectors being sent from Barclays Bank in England to oversee operations at the bank in Grenada, where he was assigned.

Harford said while bank managers are usually afraid of inspectors, he chose to take the visitors on a picnic to a nearby beach where they found bottles of alcohol left behind by smugglers, and captured a turtle.

"Each of them (inspectors) went home with a couple of bottles of Johnny Walker from the loot. So these two inspectors got back with the loot and a snapping turtle – they surely had a dream visit to the Caribbean.

"I often felt that in business, adding a little local colour and letting people have a relaxing, fun time is a good thing. Who wants to sit in meetings all day?"

In their tributes, some of Harford's colleagues and friends recalled his exploits in and out of the office.


"Veteran banker Ronald Harford honoured at memoir launch"

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