BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Dr Hyginus ‘Gene’ Leon, on Tuesday, took office as president of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) becoming the sixth chief executive of the regional multilateral institution.
The seasoned economist will lead a team of more than 200 employees headquartered in Bridgetown, Barbados. He comes to the assignment with 35 years of experience in economics, financial policy development and executive management, more than 20 of which were spent working with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He succeeds Dr William Warren Smith who retired on April 30 after serving as president for ten years.
High on the new president’s agenda is supporting CDB’s Borrowing Member Countries (BMCs) through the COVID-19 recovery, while advancing the bank’s mandate to contribute to the harmonious growth and development of member countries and promote cooperation and integration among them.
His vision, which will require shared responsibility and contributions from regional and external stakeholders, calls for a comprehensive development approach across the region that embodies internal consistency to: Re-Imagine for sustainability; Re-Balance for systemic integrity; and Re-position for competitive advantage and effectiveness.
“A solid foundation for the evolution of a financially strong bank that responds to the development needs and priorities of its BMCs has been laid by successive leaders. Going forward, we will need to emphasise innovation, to generate and refine new ideas and create opportunities; enhance measurement and evaluation for more effective implementation; foster effective partnerships and knowledge-sharing to promote transformation; build on our collective ingenuity and experience, and improve quality of life for our citizens,” Dr Leon said.
Through his range of senior leadership roles with the IMF, Dr Leon gained considerable exposure to diverse and challenging economies with complex socio-economic and political circumstances. He also has extensive working knowledge of the Caribbean’s financial and economic landscape, having provided macroeconomic and financial policy support to regional governments while serving as senior resident representative for the IMF in Jamaica, leading teams on The Bahamas, and delivering on capacity development across central banks in the region.
He was also in charge of IMF programmes and operations in Nigeria, Zimbabwe, countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and most recently Tanzania. Prior to his tenure with the IMF, he served as director of research at the Central Bank of Barbados and Economist with the Caribbean Development Bank.
Dr Leon holds a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph D) in Economics from the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom (UK) and a Bachelor of Science Degree (B.Sc.) in Economics from the University of London.