The brief seemed simple enough. Chat to two ladies in Gibraltar office who have both worked for Sovereign for more than thirty years. The planned half hour conversation lasted more than twice as long; we could have gone on. What follows is the story of two remarkable women without whom Sovereign may not have enjoyed its undoubted success in Gibraltar. Why have Gerry Duo and Janine Santos made Sovereign such a key part of their lives?
The many similarities between the pair strikes you immediately when chatting to Gerry and Janine. Both Gibraltarian, they have clocked up an impressive 34 and 32 years’ service respectively. Janine points out with barely concealed amusement that she is, after all, two years younger.
Both Aries, it would be rude to disclose their ages. They share their middle name (Frances) and (can you believe it?) were in the maternity ward at exactly the same time 22 years ago. Both are Senior Managers in the Gibraltar Trust Company’s Client Service Team. During their long careers, Gerry was typically more involved on administration as Janine focussed on client service work. A reorganisation a couple of years ago means that they now head up the combined team that comprises nine people.
Both Gerry and Janine pay tribute to the “fantastic team of people” with whom they work today. Several have more than twenty years experience themselves. The team aims to provide exceptional client service as it counts for everything. But this is nothing new. For example, Gerry recalls working with Janine back in 2003 on a project involving Portuguese property holding company restructuring. Often having to work late to get the job done, deadlines were fast approaching and Janine remembers with satisfaction the positive reaction from many grateful clients.
With a staff complement in Gibraltar today of more than 150, it was fun to reminisce with the ladies about how different it was back in the day. Gerry joined when the company numbered three people; two years later when Janine arrived it had grown to six! Known as ICS in those days, the Sovereign branding emerged in 1998. Starting as messengers tasked with junior office duties, both progressed rapidly.
As they point out, over the last three decades they have been involved with almost all aspects of running the trust company. They’ve seen it all – and done it all. The sub-text could well have been “so don’t mess with us!” although they are far too polite to say so out loud.
Gerry and Janine are both happy with the new award-winning premises at Sovereign Place at 117 Main Street, a few doors down from No. 143, Sovereign’s home since the early 1990s. Before that, the ladies remember the small office in Tuckey’s Lane that was soon outgrown.
Luckily for Sovereign, both ladies decided to join the small team all those years ago. What made them stay for the whole of their working lives? They both agree that the family orientated atmosphere at the company in Gibraltar created a working environment from the outset that was second to none. As Gerry says “people have made the company what it is today”. Janine agrees, pointing out that so many of the staff have very long service records. As she puts it, Sovereign must be doing something right!
And outside work? It comes as no surprise that in Gibraltar where family is so important, their own take precedence over everything else.
Janine lights up as she describes her background. Her parents met when her father was stationed on the Rock in the Armed Forces. The couple went on to have seven children – one of whom (Ye,vette – the correct spelling includes the comma) has also worked for Sovereign for many years. Very happily married, Janine is mother of two (27 and 22) and is a doting grandmother to 18 month old Thiago. She also enjoys long walks and adds, somewhat mischievously, that people watching “is great in Gibraltar”.
Gerry is the eldest of three and describes her family as “Gibraltarian Gibraltarian”. Again most happily married, her 22 year old son is just about to finish at university. She and her husband are travel mad and are regular cruise goers. Gerry also enjoys home cooking.
And to close, what does the future hold? It comes as no surprise that both Gerry and Janine want to carry on – assuming, they both add with a chuckle, that Sovereign will have them! Here’s to the next thirty years!