Becky breaks a barrier | UNB
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100th Anniversary Edition

The Alumni News| Vol. 25, No. 2 | Fall 1971

Becky breaks a barrier

ALUMNI NEWS MAGAZINE | 100th Anniversary Edition

“I want to go to the Bank of Montreal on the University of New Brunswick campus;” the taxi driver was asked. 

"You mean you want to go to Becky's Bank;” was the prompt reply.  

This is a familiar exchange to those seeking Rebecca Watson - Bank of Montreal's first fully-fledged woman branch manager.  

Everyone calls her Becky, as was soon evident from the taxi driver's remark. His informality is an indication of the place she holds at UNB which, with the provincial government, forms the heart of the city. 

"Charming" is an unusual word to apply to a bank manager and yet it's exactly right for Becky. But it isn't that alone that has won for her a unique place in the bank. Ability is a much more important factor. 

Imagine the situation late in 1962. Women had been making some headway in their banking careers, attaining such ranks as assistant to the manager, assistant accountant and accountant. But the number in this select circle was extremely small. And no woman had yet passed the psychological barrier of being called "manager.”

Becky Watson, after graduation from UNB with a BA degree, had joined the Bank of Montreal at the Fredericton branch. She started as a junior at $600 a year and replaced the branch messengers when they were on holiday. The staff was mainly male. She moved through various branch posts until, by 1962, she was in charge of the liability department. 

When she first heard of the idea to open branch of the Bank "up the hill" with her manager, she was completely dumbfounded. "You might have told me that I was going to get two extra heads for all the credibility I gave the news," she says.

But she soon believed the announcement and, in January, 1963, opened the doors of the branch with a total staff of four. 

Jump for a minute to 1971: the branch is busting at the seams with 26 other people working there besides Becky to handle the constant demands for the service. Students might not even much money -- maybe that's why they are constantly checking up on it.

Becky has grown with her phenomenal eight-year expansion and the plans are being considered a second major extension of the premises. Without a doubt, the continual increase in business could not have been met if it had not been ably directed from the manager's chair.

In talking with Becky Watson you soon get the impression that being a woman is really incidental. In her office, the only concession to femininity is a small vase with three pink roses. She credits her success to the sound training she has in basic banking at the main Fredericton branch, as well as the ready cooperation and assistance she has received from her male colleagues.

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