The Finnovate Show
The Finnovate Show

Episode 5 · 1 year ago

Mona Malone - How to boldly grow the good in business and life

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Mona Malone CHRO and Head People & Culture at BMO discusses the need for organizations to have a sense of purpose to guide what they do. Purpose sets the context for what is allowable and provides a lens for people to make decisions. People might forget what you’ve done, but they won’t forget how you made them feel. 

As a leader of your company, you must stay up to date with your strategies and execution or risk obsolescence. Welcome to the finivate show. Financial Services Innovators bringing you the future today and now here's your host, Jerry purcell. It's the finovate show, brought to you by invastion three hundred and sixty group. I'm Jerry purcell. Get ready to think about your biggest challenges and capitalize on your biggest opportunities. After this, executives depend on external consultants to fill knowledge and experience gaps or to have an experienced mind audit their thinking. The innovation three hundred and sixty group brings together a wide range of proven thought leadership from around the globe and cost effectively makes it available to you get the insights, advice and systems you need to succeed. Learn more at www dot innovation three hundred and Sixtycom our guest today is Mona Malone, chief human resources officer and head people and Culture Bank of Montreol owners, an agile leader who loves aggressive goals, motivating, leading teams and partnering to innovate. With over twenty years in financial services, this Mona is a passionate advocate for learning, leadership and development in roles in human resources, learning and within the business. Mone leads a team that drives the people and Culture Agenda for forty FIVEZERO employees globally. Mon is also a member of the bemost executive and operating committee. The bank has been recognized on many occasions for its leadership in the fancial services arena and was recently ranked in the top twenty five of America's best employers for new graduates in two thousand and twenty and number three in American bankers annual reputation ratings. Mona, welcome to the show. I'm delighted to be here. Tell us a little bit more about your background and your role. Well, I can tell you that for my first year as chief HR officer and head of people in culture, I never imagined it was going to be the year that it was. I joined BEMO well over twenty years ago and my career has been spent mostly in hr, but with time and marketing, retail banking, and the timing June of last years, when I came into this role, and as the pandemics started in our Asian operations in January and then hit North America in March. It has made for the most unique first year on the job, I think ever, very cool. There's already never been a time when more challenge to make change and innovate, and it must have some impact on how young resources is managed inside the bank. Tell me about that. Yeah, I think it is a time of chain and you know, when I think about the last year, both in terms of how the bank has responded and also what that means to leaders, you know, I think about the way we've responded to it really in a few phases. You know, the first first response was about immediate reaction to the pandemic, making sure that there is appropriate capital liquidity for the bank, the health and safety of employees, which was absolutely critical from a human resource standpoint, and really moving really quickly to move thirtyzero people from working in towers to working at home, while at the same time having all of our essential employees who are serving customers and in our operation centers work safely in a bank site. And and that was really the immediate response and working with a cross functional pandemic response team, was the way that we responded to it quite quickly. Kind of the next phase ...

...that we move to was really more strategic response, recognizing that this was going on for a longer period of time and the role we played with customers around delivering relief programs, supporting our employees not only in physical health but mental health concerns, and ongoing support as people were really working in new and different ways and managers were leading teams that we're going to be remote for a long period of time and they needed new tools, whether that was Microsoft teams and new ways of thinking about managing their team to stay connected while they were physically a separated and then, I think the, let you know, the last phase that's really consumed the executive leadership of the bank the last many months is, you know, how we make sure we're winning in the new normal for our customers, what that means in terms of evolutions with our operations and what that means in terms of how we really bottle some of the silver linings that have come from covid in terms of the agility and Nimbleness that we've seen in our organization as we think about evolving the bank going forward. So really back since one thousand eight hundred and seventeen. That's a long time ago. The bank has has had a history of innovation and a history of embracing new ideas and being first in the market with a number of branch and banking technologies. How's the bank thinking of about innovation going to twenty one century? Well, Jerry, you're right. BEMO's been in business for two hundred and three years and counting, and so we've demonstrated over that period of time that you absolutely have to innovate and adapt to changing environments, from Confederation to World Wars, to Great Depression to the pandemic today. And what's really changed is the pace at which that innovation happens. We look at ways of really taking what's happening with our customers and what's happening in the environment and really enabling our people to make meaningful change. Let me give you a couple tangible examples. When we were looking at the time it took for customers to be approved in our commercial bank, we looked at trying to change that process down from thirty days to thirty minutes. And when you think about the digital experiences that people have in their lives outside of banking, they're used to instant response. You know, you can track your pizza and when it's arriving at your house you can track a package. The sense of immediate response was really important, and so really turning our processes to be more digital, more customer friendly. Another great examples when we launched investor line, and we often would start with trying to develop a new system or offering and try to get it perfect. But what happens is perfection takes a lot of time and to compete today's speed really matters, and so now we tend to launch things and really iterate quickly, get feedback, get feedback from employees, get feedback from our customers and constantly be iterating faster versions and we've really taken that new development approach in terms of how we think about all of our customer journeys and customer offers. So there's lots of change in the marketplace and we you know, we hear about vintext and all kinds of stuff. Open banking is one of those and it could be your radical change in the facial services industry. What's the what's the take of the bank? Yeah, there await. Our CEO has voice to support for open banking. Way Back in January, two thousand and nineteen in terms of thinking it could be a good thing. My own view is, you know, often this idea of a connected ecosystem and partnerships across a sector is really what can provide additional value to customers, and so I think, whether it's open banking or in other ways, this concept of not doing everything yourself, figuring out the capabilities that you want to have and then figuring out how you partner within that ecosystem is going to be really important strategically in the years ahead. You...

...talked about sort of customers and employees and and the people are really a big part of of the financial services industry and clients. I know the bank has started an innovative strategy relating to inclusivity. Think it's called zero, zero barriers to inclusion. To tell you more about that, Jerry, we we launched our purpose a few years ago and the Bank Montreal's purpose is boldly grow the good in business and life, and one tenant of this purpose is this concept of working to constantly increase diversity and create a more inclusive society, and so we set some pretty bold goals for ourselves that really not only are about representation within the bank but also relate to our customers and our communities, and so we are trying to increase the representation within our bank in terms of diversity, as well as double the size of the banks indigenous banking unit, which is the market leader in Canada, and really drive more inclusive communities through the impact we can have through giving and through partnerships, and a great example of this is the ten million dollar commitment we made to United Way Partners in Chicago and Toronto, which really is working with partner organizations to have real impact in in communities that need it most. More and more clients are expecting the banks to do the right thing, you know, for their clients and and further employees and stuff. I think that's a it's a really cool initiative. The world is moving fast. It's difficult to keep up. Your executive team routinely needs new ideas to keep them ahead of the competition. Imagine having a plan in place in thirty days to focus your innovation efforts, improve customer experience, accelerate your move to digitization or increase speed to market. Our Guide to accelerating your innovation agenda provides you with insights and timesaving resources to plan your path forward content at Jerry to book a quick call or for your complementary copy at www dot linkedincom, backslash in, backslash Jerry Purcell, Ge Urry Pu are CEO, or email Jerry at Jerry dot personal at innovation three hundred and sixty groupcom the things that we're going on. You know, I talked to clients all the time and they talked about the the the challenges of the crisis and, in particular, some of the things that surprised them. So what's what surprised you at the bank? Well, I think there's been a number of learnings from this experience that we've all lived from on the on the very personal side, I can tell you that my parents are seventy eight and eighty and we, my brother and I, had often encouraged them around using online services and they really didn't do it until the pandemic. But but they're very proficient now and I think that's such a small example of for many of us, whether it's with our kids, our parents or a family member, we've noticed, you know, really profound and different behaviors that we've adopted through this period at the bank level. When I think about the reflections that I've had is one is maslow's hierarchy of needs is well intact, meaning that if people are worried about their health, safety or a SIC issues, it's very hard to get them to focus on other things. So this sense of really focusing on people's health and safety with those that needed to come to work, with the safety in...

...the workplace, providing them AIDS in terms of virtual healthcare, access to medical professionals around questions, was so critical. I think the second learning that I've had is people might forget what you've done, but they won't forget about how you made them feel. And this has been one of the most stressful periods for many individuals, whether it's home schooling your children or whether it's been in terms of the demands in terms of work and transformation, and I think the ability to connect with a human touch, even though we are sometimes isolated or feeling that way, is is really important and that can come at any level in the organization. And for me I've been just absolutely impressed at the strength of our leaders, the management spine of the bank, and no one fantastic example is a commercial banking manager in Chicago and he had an employee that was retiring after forty years of service to the organization and he knew he couldn't have the teams together to have what would have been normally a retirement party, but he organized a car honk off in front of the building on her last day. It was so impressed us if it got the local media and TV station out and she was on the six o'clock news. It was so meaningful to her and her family. And that's not anything that you can prescribe. That's not a playbook. This is the sense of humanity and and I think our purpose in action with with our employees. I think another aspect and learning, when I think about it more from an organizational standpoint, is, you know, we've done Herculean things that we never thought were possible. You know, if you would have said to me, Mona, you're going to have thirtyzero of your employees working from home in April, you know I would have said no way. Or if you would have said, you know, everyone would have been using digital technologies to collaborate the way they are. And you know, many of these things we have been talking about over the last real decade. But the way that sometimes urgency and the crisis caused us to do things that, quite honestly, we had mindset limitations on. Really makes you think, you know, where are there other areas in our business model where there are things we can be doing differently, and it's nothing outside of our mindsets that are getting in the way on it. Very cool. So so one of the other things that the bank and basically industry's been talking about for a long time is the is the future of work and sort of the changing business environment. I understand you've done something about that. Maybe you could tell me a little bit about that. Why? I think this links to what I had mentioned. You know, we have employees now that are still working on our work sites and we have people working at home, and as we think about the future, we know that flexibility will remain important to the workforce and so making sure that's been something that's been part of the BEMO value proposition for decades, but making sure that flexibility remains will be important in the future. I think this concept of realizing that you can be productive whether you're physically together or apart is also something that will play into how we think about work models going forward. But I do think what we won't do is have everybody outside of the office in a continued way. You know, we've also realized how much we miss the human connection and the sense of collaboration that comes from physically being together, and so I do think that you're going to start to see hybrid models emerge. What those exactly look like are going to depend on the kind of work and the different locations. And I also think what we've seen is our customers still value the power of of conversations and while many of those conversations are over the phone and digital, many of them are also facetoface conversations...

...with our bankers, and whether that's on the retail side, the business side or the institutional side, that will also still play a meaningful part as we think about banking going forward. So the bank needs to change or is going to change, or is changing, I guess. And and companies are going to change and the expectations and perhaps the even the role they play in society may change. Tell me more about how you think about that. Well, I think it all links back to the the purpose. Really I think that more and more that the importance of companies doing good and being successful is really important. This focus of having a higher order sense of what the company's reason for being is is incredibly important. The issues that we face as a society, whether it's around racial injustice or whether it's around the environment, are too big to put on any one, whether it's government, whether it's an individual company or citizens, and I think it really does take a sense of partnership between government, between private enterprise and individuals to solve those problems. And what that translates to means is that public companies need to have a sense of social conscience and many times the way that that comes through and their operating system is by declaring a sense of purpose. Because what purpose and values do is it tells the company what is allowable, what the guiding forces and terms of behaviors that it provides a lens for people to make decisions, and so I really think it's important that that public corporations have that sense of purpose to help guide decisions. And I want to give you a really practical example of this. You know, we've talked about bem saying boldly grow the good in business in life. We've talked about how we translate that and one tenant of that is creating an inclusive society, and I spoke about how proud I am of our market leadership and indigenous banking in Canada. But I was having a conversation with one of our commercial bankers the other day and he saw a market opportunity with women's Healing Lodge in Toronto, which is a an indigenous healing lodge, and they needed capital for the expansion of their lodge. But he knew with our existing lending protocols it was going to be very difficult to get this through. But you know what he said to me? Said, you know, Mona, I heard Darryl talk about our purpose and I knew this was in alignment with our purpose. So he took it among himself to escalate this and to get the approval to put it forward. And this is somebody that's in, you know, as first four or five years of his career. But he felt that the purpose created the air cover to really move forward with something that he knew was values aligned to the organization. And sure enough, the deal God approved and we've leant the organization the money and they've proceeded with their expansion and it's a wonderful success story and it's through, you know, the actions of many individuals across our organization. That really then allow for the growth of the business. So I think it's really powerful. Having a north stars, what I call it, really is helpful in terms of taking taking the organization or individuals towards towards that place you want to go. And I think that's a really that's an incredible story. It's one of those like the Fedex guy that crawls up the hill, you know, in this note, to deliver the bad deliver the package. So with all the noise and crises and stuff going on, must be challenging at times to keep the business in the employees of the bank focused on being innovative, being innovative and and folks you on growing the business. What what do you do in the bank to help to encourage that? Well, for us, the focus is always our clients and when you stay very focused on the client, you then align the whole organization on what we need to do to understand their needs, to meet their needs...

...and how we need to evolve to meet their future needs. And so, you know, I think that sense of client focus is extremely important. I also think a sense of empowerment is really important. You need to get the full cognitive capability of the workforce that you have, and it's not just about following playbooks or following guidelines. You need their full sense of ideas, ideas for improvement, and that can be really localized improvement of how to improve a small process or how to make the team more effective in a branch or, in human resources or finance, or it can be a big idea that can actually transform the organization. So creating a sense of safety, that people can put up their hand, that they can share ideas, that leaders are listening and that there's an ability to continually improve the place is is really a tone from the top and is essential to creating a culture that then spurs innovation. If we were together to take a peek at the future, how would how the role of HR change in terms of Datta experience of employees and and although stay colors of the bank, for that matter, I think hr, similar to many other aspects of our business, needs to be delivering more digitally based solutions, and so in January of this year I'm delighted to share that we launched globally a fully mobile new platform called Work Day, and this allows all our employees to do basic HR transactions time and attendance go on that leave, you know, these basic transactions digitally from their phone and it's simple, it's easy to use and it's one platform across the whole organization. So the same thing that I mentioned about our customers applies in terms of how we think about the experiences for employees. I also think the advice and council and the partnership with businesses has never been more important. Businesses are transforming and changing. They need to they need to increase their efficiency, they need to digitize from end to end and all of those things things have human impacts and so the partnership in the support of human resources and understanding those human impacts is critical. I also think with the pressure and the challenges from a competitive standpoint, making sure you have the right talent in the right role couldn't be more important that you're attracting the right people, you were chaining the right people and you're putting people in the right opportunities to have the most impact for the organization. So talent management and talent development is so critical to competitiveness today. Yeah, people, people get excited about where they work if they feel like they fit there, you know, and it's all. It's all about the culture and in the fifth and then also satisfying their basic needs like getting paid on time and kind of things are always very, very important. Thank you for that. If we were talking to some some newer emerging leaders, what, what kind of advice would you give them about going forward in the financial services industry? Why? Think, whether it's financial services or not, this concept of innovation and change. We've been talking about it a lot in terms of a corporation. It also applies to us as individuals. The sense of reinventing yourself, the sense of continuously learning, the sense of recognizing that you're not just going to have one job, but you need to be constantly building your skills and you're going to be moving and doing different things is really important, and so that sense of openmindedness, a sense of being a continuous learner seeking feedback, are our attributes that are essential when I think about anyone's career in the months and years ahead. So it's clear why the by the bank is is a leader...

...in the in the marketplace, and I really enjoyed our our conversation, Mona. Thank you very much for that. That wraps up this episode. As always, I look forward to hearing thoughts from our listeners on today's show. Keep the conversation going. If you like the show, tell your friends and please take a minute to rate our show or to come comment on Linkedin, go to www innovation three hundred and sixtycom or your favorite podcast site to find out more. Until less the more shows. Stay safe. Let's see you next week. Mona, thank you very much for chatting with me today. Thanks so much, and have a great day. You've been listening to the fin of a show with Jerry purcell. If you like the show, share it on your network and subscribe on Itunes or wherever you listen to podcasts, and you can go to www dot innovation three hundred and sixtycom to listen to more shows, download the transcription from today's show or to contact today's against. This is the fin of a show financial services innovators bringing you the future today.

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