Nichole Case, chief information officer for the Grace Kennedy Financial Group, recounts initially wanting to pursue a career in medicine. However, while on a summer job during her early university days she learned how to use a computer, triggering her passion and her foray into the technology landscape. She subsequently changed her major at The University of the West Indies to computer science and management studies. Later, while pursuing her bachelor’s degree, Case began working as a lab technician on campus in the Department of Management Studies to gain practical work experience to complement the theory taught. In this role she provided technical support to students, teaching them how to use productivity software and develop new software applications to automate services in the department and better understand how IT could enable businesses and make society better through automation.
Case transitioned into several IT roles over the years (systems administrator, technical support analyst, to name a few); seeing those experiences as growth curves while building on her skill sets, she worked her way up to senior management. Along her journey, Case acknowledged that she always had an interest in marrying the businesses’ needs with technology. She provided technology leadership for many instrumental projects, implementing various IT-enabled business solutions that solved complex problems.
After completing a Master of Business Administration (with honours) specialising in banking and finance, Case decided to explore technology in the financial sector. She became an assistant manager in application support at Manufacturers Merchant Bank. Having served in many roles in various financial institutions, she eventually landed a role in 2014 as vice-president of information technology (IT) at First Global Bank. She progressed through the ranks to senior vice-president and, as of 2018, the chief information officer for the financial services division of Grace Kennedy. This experience has been exciting, combining her prior experiences in an environment she describes as a “melting pot” for learning and growth.
As chief information officer, Case has oversight for the IT operations across several GraceKennedy Financial Group companies, including First Global Bank, GraceKennedy Money Services (Western Union partners and providers of Bill Express and FX Trader), GK Capital Management, and Allied Insurance Brokers. A typical day for Case involves collaborating with multiple stakeholder groups, including her team, project teams, internal customers, and vendors. She also notes that maintaining and optimising operations is a crucial aspect of her role, including planning for the future and ensuring continuous learning. She further asserted that technology is a catalyst for every aspect of our lives. Case is excited by solving complex problems and implementing new technology solutions that serve the company’s customers and team members. These include implementing complex technology upgrades and transformation during mergers and acquisitions, multiple online banking solutions and application features at various financial institutions, introducing innovative banking (intelligent deposits) and video teller machines services, and new online payment services, to name a few.
Case has also extended her managerial and leadership talents through volunteerism in sports administration, beginning with her passion for badminton. She has been a board member of the Jamaica Badminton Association since 2014 and as president from 2017-to 2021. She was also elected as the first female honorary treasurer for the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) in 2017, currently running her second term unopposed. She has influenced technology improvements for the JOA, which has automated its business operations and created a more significant online presence locally and internationally. Her participation caught the attention of the International Olympic Committee, who subsequently invited her to join their Marketing Commission, another first for Jamaica.
In reflecting on the impact of the pandemic, Case noted that COVID-19 accelerated digital transformation, which saw more significant levels of customer adoption and demand for online services (eg online banking). As a result, there is now a greater appreciation of online solutions that find customers interacting with these technologies along their customer journey. She believes that this also presents an opportunity to innovate to serve these newly transformed digital customers continuously. She pointed out that the pandemic increased greater use of virtual meetings and collaborations, leveraging existing tools such as Microsoft Teams for cross-functional project teams and multiple vendors in a cost-effective manner. In addition, she sees a hybrid remote work environment becoming a sustainable by-product of the pandemic, with flexibility and increased productivity.
For the future, Case hopes to see digitally mature sectors across Jamaican society through digital technologies by 2030. She believes that transformed digital sectors will significantly reduce the operating costs of doing business in Jamaica, increase the sharing of data across and within various industries and improve the quality of life for Jamaicans. She would like every Jamaican to have affordable access to online data services by 2030.
As a proud mother and female leader in technology and sports administration, Case is thrilled to inspire others to boldly pursue their ambitions and embrace challenges as new opportunities to learn and grow. She is also pleased to be executing the company’s vision to further GraceKennedy’s impact — locally, regionally, and internationally — while giving back to the community through volunteerism.
Nichole Case believes in affordable access.