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BMO Financial Group: Managing mental health amid COVID

In the latest COVID-19 edition of the Shift podcast, guest host Sofia Theodorou, Chief People Officer of PwC Canada, sits down with guest Mona Malone: Chief Human Resource Officer and Head of People & Culture, BMO Financial Group. The two have an important conversation around how BMO is helping their employees manage mental health amid unprecedented times. They discuss how organizations can better prioritize the mental health of their employees, key actionable steps you can take to create a more supportive environment, and how BMO is planning a return to work strategy that is keeping mental health top of mind for both their customers and employees.

Jon Finkelstein: Hey, thanks for joining and welcome to Shift, PwC Canada's podcast series, where we go behind the scenes with Canada's leading organizations to hear their digital transformation stories. I'm your host, Jon Finkelstein, Executive Creative Director here at PwC Canada, and three-card Monte expert. Hello, hello, hello, and welcome to the second quarantine edition of the Shift podcast. Now this episode of Shift is going to sound a little bit different than normal as I'm not going to host it, instead you'll be listening to the talented Sofia Theodorou. Now she's PwC's Chief People Officer, and in this episode she sits down with Mona Malone, Chief Human Resource Officer and Head of People and Culture at BMO Financial Group.

Jon Finkelstein: This episode is all about managing mental health amid the COVID pandemic. This is an absolutely unprecedented time, we're all living in a world right now that is causing us a lot more stress than we ever have felt before. And as a result, we believe that prioritizing mental health is now more important than ever now. Now luckily in this episode, Mona shares some tactical tips and tricks on how to create a healthy working environment that fosters open communication, equality, and support. It's a really important conversation, I hope that you listen, I hope you enjoy it, and most of all, I hope you learn something. I'll be back to my regular hosting duties next episode. Until then, stay safe.

Sofia Theodorou: Hi, my name is Sofia Theodorou, and I'm the Chief People Officer at PwC Canada. I'll be the guest host of this podcast on managing mental health amid COVID. It is my absolute pleasure to have Mona Malone, Chief Human Resources Officer and Head of People and Culture, BMO Financial Group, with us. Mona, welcome. Let's start off easy. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your current role at BMO.

Mona Malone: Thanks Sophia, and I'm delighted to join you today. At BMO, I'm chief HR Officer and Head of People and Culture. I've been with the organization over 20 years in HR roles, in business roles, leading retail branches, in marketing and product management. And what drew me to the bank over 20 years ago was our commitment to diversity and inclusion and the commitment to employee development. Beyond BMO, I'm a mother of three, a wife, and involved in the community with youth-based charities.

Sofia Theodorou: Fabulous. Thanks Mona. I understand that BMO has also recently revised their purpose and it's now, boldly grow the good in business and life. I love that. How has that served as a rallying point in North star for your employees throughout this crisis?

Mona Malone: I think at BMO, we really believe that it's the hearts and minds of our people that really create value for the customer. And we are an organization that involved our people and our customers over an 18 month period in defining our purpose statement. And so, the concept of, boldly grow the good in business and life, relates to what we do from a banking perspective. Banking is personal, helping people save for the future, helping people buy their first home, helping a small business owner expand their business, are deeply personal decisions. And so for us, boldly growing the good and helping people in both business and life, is the purpose.

Mona Malone: And as you mentioned, in COVID we have had some of the most difficult and fast paced decision-making that most of us have ever experienced in our career. And the purpose has really been a shining light for us or a lens, as we think about the pace of decisions that we've had to make, which really have been informed by the health and safety of our employees, as well as continuity of banking services. Banking is essential and making sure that people have access, whether it's large corporates in terms of the financial markets or institutions to individuals, has been a tremendous area of focus for us through the pandemic.

Sofia Theodorou: BMO has been prioritizing the mental health of their employees for a long time. Why is the topic of mental health a priority for BMO?

Mona Malone: It's a really important topic. Our commitment to mental health awareness, advocacy and action really does align to the purpose. Mental health is a fast growing issue, it's a business issue. When we think about the economic loss of productivity and time across small, medium and large businesses across Canada, mental health is an important issue for business leaders to be addressing. The workplace is one big component to that, and through our health and wellness programs that companies offer. Now, when you layer on to that the pandemic, and in a wave of increased mental health needs across the country, whether that's youth mental health all the way through, it's even more important that these supports and practices are in place.

Sofia Theodorou: Now, earlier this year you partnered with CAMH to produce a first of its kind, workplace, mental health playbook for business leaders. Tell us a little bit about this partnership, the formation of the playbook and how it has served BMO during the COVID-19 quarantine.

Mona Malone: Well, there's no doubt the Center for Addiction and Mental Health is a leader around research and the topic around mental health care. And they also recognize the role that business can play in advancing the mental health conversation. And so, we were proud to be part of groundbreaking research that they did and the creation of a playbook for Canadian business. And for us, that stemmed from one of our commitments from our purpose, which is really zero barriers to inclusion, ensuring that our employees can bring their best selves to work and that they have the support that they need and there's equal opportunity for each of us. And so, it was kind of through that lens that we helped fund and support CAMH's playbook, and then we're proud to extend the reach of the playbook with our commercial and business clients across the country. And we've used the playbook as a key resource ourselves through the pandemic, providing it to our leaders and helping to guide their own awareness and support in trms of tools.

Sofia Theodorou: Yeah, you mentioned leaders, and people leaders in particular are so critical to helping identify and manage mental health in the workplace. So beyond the playbook, how are you equipping your people leaders to help with mental health issues?

Mona Malone: Education is a big component of this, and so we have inclusion training that includes mental health elements for our people managers. And building in specific awareness around mental health and conversation guides and toolkits, and embedding that within leader training is a very powerful way that organizations can better support their leaders. Because the leaders are really the front line, they're the ones that are dealing with the employees on a day-in, day-out basis, having the career conversations, coaching conversations, supporting them each day in the workplace, or now in a more virtual environment using technology. And so, making sure that they're skilled and capable is extremely important, because many times these conversations are sensitive and the first person that an employee may reach out to or a first person who recognizes some of the concern would be the manager.

Sofia Theodorou: Right. And we know that right now people are facing such a broad range of stressors. What are some of the tools that BMO has implemented that are helping to alleviate some of these stressors?

Mona Malone: Well, throughout the pandemic we've been doing calls with both physical, medical doctors, as well as mental health experts, parenting experts, we call them wellness births. And employees can sign up, they're easily accessible, and they have an opportunity to ask questions and be involved in small dialogue groups with these professionals, and we have had over 10,000 of our employees participate in these sessions just over the last few months. We've also rolled out virtual health apps across North America, and it provides employees with, instead of having to go to a clinic or a doctor, both physical and mental health support through text chat and virtual connectivity. We've also done a lot more listening, and so we've always done employee pulse surveys, but through COVID we've turned those into more short burst, more often, so that we can really keep a sense of what the sentiment with the areas of concern are, and then really tailor our programs based on what we're hearing from our people.

Sofia Theodorou: We've spoken a little bit about the backdrop of the pandemic, but there are many things going on in the world. Right now there's really a heightened global focus and conversation on anti-black racism, how is BMO showing care for their black employees in response to all that's taking place?

Mona Malone: This has been a really impactful and important set of conversations. And what they've been is listening sessions, to really understand the experience that our colleagues are having, and to start with increasing our education and listening. And then to start to develop a set of actions, because for many decades, we have had a value of diversity and inclusion, and we have developed playbooks and we've set targets. We've set targets in terms of visible minorities, we've set targets in terms of people of color, we've set subsegment targets, but what we're really hearing is that the experience that employees are having, the experience that they're having through recruitment, through coaching and development, through development opportunities, isn't what we wished it would be. And so, the racial injustice and the Black Lives Matter has provided us a real opportunity to pause, listen, and learn, and it's through that lens that we are thinking about the path forward.

Mona Malone: Personally, what I've done is really think about my own education. I've increased the number of books, podcasts, I've spent time talking with my black colleagues and friends, just to widen my own sense of knowledge of the history about what's happening, about the impact of what's happening on my colleagues, and try to increase the purview of my own awareness. And then to reflect on what does that mean given my role as a mother, my role in youth, in Toronto, in terms of school boards that I'm on, in terms of charities that I'm part of, and my role as Chief HR Officer and Head of People and Culture at the bank? And intention is good, but what this has really created is a sense that more is needed, way more is needed, and leadership is needed at this time. And that no matter what we've been doing, we can all do better and we can all do more.

Sofia Theodorou: Yeah. And I have to echo that at PwC, we're taking very similar actions with listening tours, so I echo everything you've said, and it's very, very important. When we think about our work and diversity inclusion, part of our goal is to make sure that our organizations reflect the communities that they serve, what other things is BMO doing to achieve this?

Mona Malone: It definitely starts with one of our four values being around inclusion, and using the power of our voices and our privilege to stand up against injustice and racism. I think that as a company we were quick to use our voice to share our support around the issues at hand, but it's through the listening that we've had, it's really created a sense of awareness that we need the action planning to be something that is not just quick and reactive, but really impactful, and I think that's the stage that we're at right now, and why the listening and the collective planning that we're doing with a high degree of engagement of our employees is so important.

Mona Malone: We encouraged our colleagues and leaders to reach out to some of our black colleagues to check in and we created a racial injustice guide to help facilitate these conversations, that included articles and videos to help educate, and to help our leaders and employees to understand what they can do to help support their black colleagues. We also facilitated some of the systemic changes that need to happen, and the way we started that was by making a donation of a million dollars to the NAACP legal defense fund and the Equal Justice Initiative, Greater Twin Cities United Way, and the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, to support their work towards social and racial justice and inclusion.

Sofia Theodorou: That's great, Mona. There are so many things happening in the environment right now, the speed at which things are happening feels to be quite exponential at times, and communication is so critical. So, with the speed of the evolving changes, updates happening in real time, organizations need to have an agile way to enable the dissemination of information and resources to their employees. What methods has BMO been employing? For example, tell us a little bit about your internal webcasts and their successes, or other methods that you have to get the information out to your people.

Mona Malone: One of the mechanisms that's worked quite well for us, and it's been something that we've had in place well before the pandemic, but we've used it way more frequently through the pandemic, is something called the senior's leader meeting, that's virtual and it's our top 400 leaders and our CEO chairs. And through the pandemic, once every about two and a half weeks, we bring this group together really to just focus on what was happening, what was next, and really provide that leadership team support. In terms of being a global company, we had the benefit of the experience that our colleagues in Asia and the UK were going through in terms of the start of COVID. And so, learning from their experiences and their return planning was extremely helpful for us as we started doing that planning in North America.

Mona Malone: One of the things that was quite different that we did, we've always included the concept of mental wellness into our core leadership programs, and so we did meditations at the end of large meetings we brought resilience experts that people had experienced on leadership training in, but in the moment to deal with a specific situation. And so, having had those core leadership programs that have been around for decades that people have participated in, really became helpful to us in the height of the pandemic.

Sofia Theodorou: Yes, I can imagine we have something at PwC that we call, mental health first aid sessions, that we have ran with our relationship leaders or our people managers to help equip them to have better conversations and support mental health. And that actually takes me to the next question, there's a fantastic phrase that I love that's come out of the current crisis, toxic positivity. It's a term that addresses the idea that it's okay not to be okay, and we don't always have to have the glass half full mentality. How has BMO as an organization fostered a culture where their employees feel comfortable expressing their emotional challenges and how are you allowing them to have the space and resources to navigate this challenging time?

Mona Malone: Yeah, I think this is such an important point. At times of uncertainty, leaders can feel that they maybe need to be overly optimistic, but that often doesn't feel authentic or balanced. And we'll often talk about kind of constructive realists, and really making sure that you're recognizing this is kind of a marathon of sprints and you need to look at the facts of what's happening, and too much blind optimism can actually not be helpful at all. And so, the concept of kind of this realistic optimism around really finding progress points that help build a sense of self efficacy collectively with teams and groups based on what they've already accomplished, what they've already gone through, is helpful, but also just checking in with team members with open-ended questions, and providing the time and space for people to express how they're feeling and what they're thinking.

Mona Malone: And so, what we've been doing is having open conversation about this, but also reminding people about strategies in terms of managing their own resilience and mindset, and there's been three that we've highlighted. One is being really aware of your own self-talk and how you reframe and direct the talk based on that voice inside your head and what it's telling you. The second is the importance of routine. So individual routine, in terms of when you get up, finding time during the day to go outside, 30 minutes of just, it can be walking or some form of exercise, but then also how you create ritual and routines for your team. It can be as simple as daily calls, team huddles, one-on-one check-ins, but the benefit of that routine. And the third is reflection. And reflection about really thinking about how you want to show up through this period of time, and then reflecting on how that's going.

Sofia Theodorou: Let me shift the conversation to your customers for a moment. We're in a season where people are facing some of their toughest challenges yet, dissolution of businesses, job loss, et cetera. How is BMO helping their clients with their mental health?

Mona Malone: Well, definitely recognizing one of the first steps through the pandemic was our role in delivering relief programs to our customers, retail customers, small business customers, large corporate customers. Our customers were worried about their financial health in addition to their physical and mental health, and so working collectively with other financial institutions and with the Canadian Government to facilitate access to more than 200,000 customers in terms of putting emergency relief funds in their hands. I think also increased conversation with our customers and more reaching out and more connection with them, and this has been really profound for our bankers. Some of our younger bankers have just been absolutely impacted by having customers call them, really with tears of appreciation, around access to funds that they desperately needed, funds that helped them stay in business, helped them provide jobs to their employees, and it's been extremely powerful in terms of the employees that have been involved.

Sofia Theodorou: Now we're in a period where provinces are starting to open up, lift restrictions and organizations are shifting their focus on what a return to work may look like. How do you think we should be prioritizing our employee mental health as we build that transition plan and what the future of work may evolve to become looking ahead?

Mona Malone: Well, I think employee readiness and employee support is critical. For us, we've had over 15,000 people working from BMO work sites through the pandemic because of being a key core service and keeping our operations open through the pandemic. And so, for those individuals working on a work site, the health and safety and the support provided to them was absolutely critical. For those that were working from home, it was flexibility, technology, new tools, in terms of being able to connect people effectively and support them. And so now, as we think about return planning, we have a small number of employees that are starting to come back into work sites, but it's also making sure for the resilience of the bank that people are able to work more from anywhere. And so, this concept of flexibility I think is really important and where jobs have the ability to be done from anywhere, how we really support people and how we create manager capability around managing workforces that are more remote and work from anywhere is going to be increasingly important as I think about the next few years.

Sofia Theodorou: For the organizations listening to this podcast that want to make strides to help their employees maintain their health and wellness during this time, what would be the top three key tips you would provide them with?

Mona Malone: I think ensuring that you're getting feedback from your employees about what their concerns are, are incredibly important, because then you can tailor what you're doing based on the needs of your employees. I think the second point of advice I'd give is that mental health is health, and ensuring that we're educating our managers and ourselves about the resources available. And the CAMH mental health playbook is available to all businesses and available on the CAMH site, and really do encourage that as a resource for businesses of any size and scale. And then I think the third would be that crisis and points of disruption in the marketplace can create opportunity, and so as we think about coming out on the other side of COVID, where are there options in terms of thinking about your business model, how you deal with employees, how you deal with customers in terms of the experience, that really can be adapted or changed based on what we've just been through?

Sofia Theodorou: And so while we're on the topic of key tips, what are some of your personal tips and tools that you've been using to help stay both physically and mentally healthy during the quarantine?

Mona Malone: Well, definitely routine. I found that the sense of even the small things, like finding 30 minutes to get outside, the time I have for a walk, the sense of structure around what I do throughout the day, has really brought some sense of normality and control at a time when you really have so little control, and so that sense of routine has been very significant. The second has been reflection. And reflection has been something that we've taught in our leadership courses, as I've developed as a leader it's been something that I've done at different points in my career, in my week. But the sense of importance of that during the management of the crisis, in terms of just reflecting, what happened this week? How did I show up? What did I do? How aligned is that with the intention of what I want? What does that mean for next week? And those are simple questions, but just the power of asking them.

Mona Malone: And then the third is support. We had a great session with my leadership team kind of in early April, where we really just shared our fears. And it was really great to be able to be really open with the leadership team and share what I was scared about, how I was feeling and to hear how they were feeling. And so I think that sense of it doesn't matter what position you're in, what role you play, but really taking time and the support of others.

Sofia Theodorou: Well, in an effort to get to know you a little better, Mona, we have a couple of lightning round, rapid fire questions. Love to know what was the most memorable place you've ever traveled or visited.

Mona Malone: Definitely Kenya, Africa for a Safari.

Sofia Theodorou: Oh, wow. That sounds lovely. Favorite thing to eat, drink quarantine?

Mona Malone: Unfortunately, I do like salty snacks. It's not the-

Sofia Theodorou: Oh, you're like me. Salt over sweet any day.

Mona Malone: Yeah, absolutely.

Sofia Theodorou: And have you developed a new COVID-19 hobby or skill?

Mona Malone: It's not so much new, but I have enjoyed bike riding with my youngest son during COVID and I have practiced yoga, and I do find that has been a huge source of support for me through this.

Sofia Theodorou: Fabulous. How about an app? Is there an app you can't live without?

Mona Malone: I love Uber Eats.

Sofia Theodorou: Oh, isn't that a great app? I do too. Our listeners want to know, what's your favorite binge worthy show?

Mona Malone: I am not a huge basketball fan, but I have loved watching the Last Dance in terms of the Michael Jordan story.

Sofia Theodorou: Oh, I'll have to catch that one, I haven't seen that one yet. Are you an early bird or a night owl?

Mona Malone: Early bird.

Sofia Theodorou: Ah, just like me. How about working from home, dress up or dress down?

Mona Malone: Dress to be comfortable.

Sofia Theodorou: Oh, that's fabulous. And if you weren't doing the job you're in right now, what would you be doing?

Mona Malone: Well first, I love the job that I'm doing now, and I've always loved developing others, and so if I wasn't doing this, I think I'd be teaching in some form.

Sofia Theodorou: Well Mona, it's been an absolute pleasure to have this conversation with you and to learn about so many things that BMO is doing. Thank you for being with us today.

Mona Malone: Thanks so much for having me.

Sofia Theodorou: Thank you to all our listeners for listening to this very special episode of Shift podcast.

Jon Finkelstein: Thanks for listening to this episode of Shift. You can get more details at If you enjoyed this episode and want to hear more, subscribe to our podcast series, you can find us on iTunes, Google Play, or your preferred podcast platform. Just so you know, this podcast has been prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP, an Ontario limited liability partnership for general guidance on matters of interest only, and does not constitute professional advice. Until next time.

TD Bank Group: Pivoting in a pandemic

In the first “quarantine” edition of Shift podcast we are in conversation with Michael Rhodes, Group Head, Innovation, Technology & Shared Services, from TD Bank Group. Michael sits down with Jon Finkelstein to share their organizational lessons learned. Michael shares how they were able to achieve operational resilience by taking insights learned from their operations in Singapore, and what TD is doing as an organization to prioritize both the client and employee experience during these trying times.

Jon: Hey, thanks for joining and welcome to Shift, PwC Canada's podcast series where we go behind the scenes with Canada's leading organizations to hear their digital transformation stories. I'm your host, Jon Finkelstein, Executive Creative Director here at PwC Canada and a drummer for 45 years. Welcome to Shift, COVID-19 quarantine edition. If you've been in your podcast platform of choice, you probably notice that we haven't had a Shift podcast in a little while because we've been busy at home getting our tech ready. I'm super excited today to have our first virtual podcast because we have a guest who is an expert in virtual work, Michael Rhodes, Group Head Innovation Technology and Shared Services at TD Bank Group. Welcome to the podcast.

Michael: Great to be here. Thank you so much.

Jon: Now, this is kinda neat because normally either we're face-to-face or in our studio, but I have the great privilege of seeing you at home.

Michael: Yes, I am at home. I've been here for a little while. Unexpected use of my time here. I've become a bit of an expert at work from home. Wasn't really my plans this year, but it is now.

Jon: You know, what's amazing to me is that we've been doing a lot of reading and a lot of stuff going on in the press in terms of how different organizations have really had to mobilize quickly. And in the case of the bank, I think you guys had a little bit of a preview of what was to come. Do you care to tell us a little bit about that

Michael: You're right, Jon. Thank you so much. And this has really been quite the grand experiment in work from home, and we're certainly in unique times, and obviously the bulk of our operations are in the US and Canada, North America, but we also have operations across the globe, including Singapore. And so when COVID actually first started really taking off, unfortunately, it was our group in Singapore was able to kind of give us some perspectives that you probably don't get in the media, that you don't get elsewhere, that no, this is real. Let us tell you how we're actually handling this. And they started their preparations in work from home on a grand scale that sort of tipped us back in February that we gotta get ready. And so we started weeks ahead of probably some other folks to ensure that we had the capability and capacity to work from home. And the good news is I think we showed a lot of progress.

Jon: You know, it's amazing to me, because you guys saw what was happening around the world, and then you said, you know what, there's a very good chance that we need to be prepared for this. And so you took it seriously. And I think that's a really interesting indicator when we see so much going on in the world that a lot of big organizations have been very slow to kind of believe. I'm really interested to know about, so you saw what was happening in Singapore, and then you guys took action right away. And before we go into the specifics of the action, I'm curious about something. When the world started to hear about COVID, was there anything in your organization you had to convince people that this was a serious, credible threat or not?

Michael: No, to be fair, we have different protocols inside the organization to treat incidents, and so we actually treated this as an incident from way back in January. And so we were actually monitoring on a global basis just to kinda see what was happening. And so we were tracking this well before it became evening news every day. We're a big bank. We had pandemic protocols and business continuity plans. And so we actually kicked a lot of stuff in place quite some time ago. And that being the case as the pandemic actually moved from Asia to Europe, the Middle East into North America, the speed of the change that happened ended up being really quite something, and I have to say the speed actually probably did surprise us. That being the case, we were absolutely working this as an incident from way back in January.

Jon: Yeah, I bet that gave you a leg up, too. It's almost like you guys had a couple of different things that happened sort of allow you to respond more quickly. One was you already had some semblance of protocols in place, which I think probably really helped. And the forewarning or the foreshadowing from Singapore?

Michael: Yeah, no, that's absolutely right. And so what'd we do back before the lockdown happened, we've recognized that we need to have as many people as possible work from home. And look, we along with a lot of large organization had remote access capability for our staff. If you think about us, we've got, call it 90,000 people, give or take, across the enterprise, of which maybe roughly 30,000 are kind of frontline facing inside a store or a branch. There's another 60,000 people who are not. They're operations folks or call center or product or risk leads. Our previous peak for work from home was probably about 20,000 people. We recognized we need capacity for 100,000. And so we actually started the effort to increase our work from home capacity well before it was a lockdown. And this ended up becoming kust in time delivery. I don't know if this is lucky or good, but in either case, the weekend the lockdown happened, that Monday, we were ready with enough capacity to support 50,000 people. And the reason we were there is we had started the effort literally weeks ahead. And whenever I had these conversations, and I've had a couple of them, I also do make sure that I do a big shout-out and thanks to our technology teams, and really people throughout the organization more broadly, because they actually move mountains in order to make all this stuff happen. You know, really we did about six months worth of work in about six days.

Jon: Okay, so I'm curious about something. Almost overnight, you guys had to increase your capacity to allow people to work from home. What was harder, spooling up the technology to allow people to do that, or just the whole mindset of getting your head wrapped around. I work for TD and now I'm doing this from home? What was more difficult?

Michael: The technology was hard, but we got that done. But we, to be fair, we got that done from an infrastructure perspective. We also had to deal with people's individual circumstances within their home, within their apartment or condo. And that was non-trivial 'cause that was all different. I mean, just for myself as an example, yeah, sure, I have wifi at home. I've had it for a long time. I hadn't really contemplated an environment where I was gonna be video streaming all day long. And my own personal circumstances, my wife and I are empty nesters, but, so my both kids came home, both working. So they're streaming all day long. My son brought his girlfriend. She's in graduate school. She's streaming all day long. She bought her puppy. That was a new dynamic we have to deal with.

Jon: And the puppy was streaming all day long, so that was weird.

Michael: Exactly. I think the biggest challenges, honestly, with work from home are how do you manage? How do you lead? How do you coach? How do you engage with your teams in a remote environment? And that's a new muscle for all of us and we're sort of learning as we go along. Everything from a contact center. If you're a team manager, you might have 15 people, and normally you work by kind of walking the floor and talking to folks. Well, how do you do that when you're working remotely? If you're working on a project team where you might've been in an agile environment kinda team of teams that you were working right next to each other, you could tap each other's shoulder and look at each other's screens, and now you're remote. How does it actually work? And so there was a lot of learning to just see how we can actually operate effectively. And then I guess the next piece of learning that came from work from home was a bit unexpected, and maybe in hindsight, it shouldn't be, that we take it for granted that you can just kinda set your laptop at home and go and work. But there are other personal challenges that are new and unique. Many of our colleagues have small children. They had daycare, and now they don't have daycare. And you'll be on a call and you'll hear a screaming child, and you just have to laugh. I mean, you can't do anything about that. Or your dog's barking all the time and, you know, I went to a cocktail party online, everyone brought their dog, 'cause then we could actually see the dogs and associate the dog with the voice. You also have people, young adults who are living alone for the first time, and they might've just gotten out of university where there's a big social environment, and now they're living in a condo by themselves in downtown Toronto with no support network. And there's a unique challenge with that. And then you have folks who are dealing with elder care, myself included. You know, how do you protect older members of your family in this environment? And so we've had to learn how to be really, really flexible. Even our scheduling in our phone channel, if you're in the phone channel, scheduling is an art that you need to actually exercise in order to manage your call volume and your resources. We've made thousands and thousands of scheduling changes really on the fly in order to support our frontline colleagues, because the way we kinda create their schedule and today's reality don't match. I think the biggest challenge, to your question, is really the leadership and the management in a remote environment. And to be fair, I think we've gotten pretty good about it and we talk about it a lot. But this was not a well-exercised muscle day one.

Jon: You know, that's a really interesting description of how things are. We're definitely seeing a lot of need for people to rethink coaching and mentorship and checking in. But I've also noticed, I guess, as a leader at the firm, I've noticed a really big increase in empathy. I don't know if you've noticed that, as well. But I really feel like one of the byproducts I've seen and heard from a lot of people is how this has actually broken down, this virtual work, if you will, has broken down a lot of barriers, not so much in hierarchy, but in terms of really connecting with colleagues and people who are kinda higher up the ladder than you, say, with a whole other degree of humanity, whether it's the barking dogs or the kids or whatever. It's like a lot of the artifice has been peeled away in a good way, and we're just treating each other like people.

Michael: Absolutely. One of the things that I do is that you always try to catch someone doing something good. And when they've accomplished something interesting, I pick up the phone and I call them. And I'm not talking about a direct report. So I'm talking people who are down in the organization, folks much closer to the work and what's happening. And I love giving folks a call for really two reasons. One is to say thank you. But the second, and I actually lead with this, is how're you doing? I say thank you, but tell me how you're doing. And you hear the stories. And they'll say, well, my child's in first grade. They're learning how to read. I'm trying to balance learning how to read with doing my job. High school kids can go to their laptop and do their work, but that's a different type of challenge. And so honestly having those conversations. I've had many, many of them. Bharat Masrani, our CEO, I'll feed him names and say call the following person and just thank them for a great job done. And just going anywhere in the organization where it makes sense. And I think people really like the engagement and they're, you know, I don't have any message other than thank you and how're you doing?

Jon: Yes, ask them how they're doing. But, and I said this to the rest of the teams, really dig in on the mental health side of things. People always go to, when you say how are you doing as a superior, they automatically go to the work. Well, I'm working on this and I'm working on that and I wanna let you know that this is good and that's good. It's like no, no, no. How are you doing? How are you feeling mentally? How is your health? How, are you, you know what I mean? And then it opens up whole other avenues that kinda get relaxed with, oh, you mean, how am I doing doing?

Michael: Yeah.

Jon: Oh, that's a different question, okay.

Michael: It's kind of funny. We've had these virtual happy hours, and we've gotten to get a lot of folks together, and you kinda pull up the screens, you feel like you're on, what was that old TV show? "Hollywood Squares," where they had all the people up there. And then you've got a beer in your hand. You're just kinda talking about things. And again, you try to make it not all about the work and all about the task, but you talk about what's going on in their lives and kinda compare notes and everyone has their own kinda successes and struggles with the environment that we're in, and you just gotta be really human about it, acknowledge it. And I think we can't expect perfection here. You know, if someone's on a call and a child comes running in the room because they bang their head, you take care of it. You know, one of my colleagues the other day, we were talking and I hear a child screaming, and I said, "Is everything okay?" He said, "Oh yeah, no, "my daughter was leaning as the dog moved." You know, so, like, these things happen, and you just kinda go with them, and it's the environment we're in. But look, we have to be flexible and we have to be empathetic in the environment that we're in.

Jon: I'm just curious, if you were to guess, out of your entire workforce, what percentage of the workforce do you think actually prefers working from home? Are you hearing any anecdotal evidence on that?

Michael: Hmm, well, you know, anecdotally, I don't know if I can give you a percent, but I can say the following. Folks do like working from home. I think the vast majority don't like working from home all the time, because there is a social element to what we do which is important. But I think they do like being able to kinda roll out of bed and then kinda get their stuff going. But I think there is definitely, I think folks are missing the social engagement that you get when you're kind of back in the office place together. And there's also, there's less of a separation between work and personal life, as, you know, for me, the difference between work and personal life is I leave the room I'm in now and I go to the next room, and then my wife or kids might be there, and, you know.

Jon: Well, I'm sure through all of this isolation and basically pivoting your entire workforce, you went from how many working from home to how many working from home now?

Michael: Okay, so our peak before COVID was about 20,000 working from home. And then on any given day today, we'll have about 60,000 working from home. But really, on a typical day, that peak was another, and I forgot what it was. It was a storm or a snowstorm or something like that. We were in the thousands of people working from home, and we've gone from thousands to 60,000, though. And so big, big jump.

Jon: Now, in that time, I gotta think that there are some ways of working that you guys have uncovered that when all this is said and done, when we've gone back to whatever the next normal is, there are some things that you're gonna wanna keep. There are things that people actually legitimately enjoyed about this work now that you don't wanna lose. Can you share with us any of those?

Michael: Yeah, it's a really good question, and it's interesting 'cause when the lockdown started and we were just literally changing processes and ways we worked on a very, very rapid basis, and I'll be honest, people were working very long hours, and they were working seven days a week and a lot of hours in every day. But if you did a kinda mental health check at that time, folks felt good because we were getting things done. And I think what happened was we as a bank entered this mode whereby we had rapid escalation of decisions. And sometimes in a large organization, decisions can kinda fester for a while, and we entered this mode where literally we empowered teams of folks working close to the problem, if they couldn't solve something, it was escalated to the top of the house very, very quickly, and you could get to the end of the job because you had an avenue to get there. And that that was absolutely a lesson and one that we kinda think about on an ongoing basis. But if I really go back and kinda ponder about why are we so effective in getting ourselves to both work remotely, but also be there for our customers in the right type of way? It's really kinda day one, we established some criteria of what's most important. And so let's focus on what's most important and let's stop doing things that are not on the most important list. So most important, there were two items, and then we actually added one. The first two items was ensure the safety of our colleagues, customers, and communities, and that that was a guiding principle. It means social distancing. It means work from home. And for our customers, same type of thing. How do we ensure that in our physical environments, they were safe and secure? It actually ties to the cyber agenda. That was one. Second is that we wanted our operations to be resilient, to be secure. So I had to be there for our customers. And this meant in digital channels or our phone channel. We increased capacity in many places where we had to upgrade our capacity. Our remote deposit capture capacity we took up by a factor of three. Another example I use there is as you can imagine, during the high volatility days in the market, lots of trading volume, enormous volumes, and we had multiples of what we had seen previously. We had to invest in the capacity so that we could actually handle that volume and be there for our customers when they want to trade in these very, very high volatile times. And so that stuff is incredibly important, And again, just really proud we were able to get that done. But the third thing, we talked about being there and being resilient and being operational and running effectively. The third thing we actually figured out kind of early on is we have to build self-serve capabilities. There are a lot of things that we used to do in person and we need to figure out how to do in a self-serve way. So we stood up literally the past six weeks something like 100 new capabilities from a digital perspective that can be done in self-serve, and have served literally hundreds of thousands of customers through capabilities that didn't exist literally just weeks ago.

Jon: So I know you guys really bolstered the sort of remote check depositing and some of those things to allow for that, which is amazing. But what are some of the highlights on that?

Michael: So, first off, there are a number of government programs that kinda came out, some small business lending programs, some consumer programs, and we had to build capabilities around that both in Canada and the US. And on the small business side, in the US, the Small Business Administration came out with this program, and 72 hours before it was to launch, they came out with requirements. And so we had 72 hours to stand up a capability, which we did, and we've taken something like 100,000 applications since we launched this program. That's multiples of, I think 20 or 30 times that we used to get in a year. And we actually had to create that in 72 hours. You know, a couple lessons learned there is agile teams working together can get things done. We also actually had a cloud-based infrastructure there, and in a cloud-based infrastructure, you can actually scale very, very rapidly.

Jon: Right.

Michael: And so we had the right technology stack and the right teams, and working really hard in kind of a team of team agile way to kinda get that done.

Jon: You know, sometimes we say, "Oh, we could probably do it that fast, "but if we do it that fast, "we're gonna let everybody know that we can do it that fast "and next time they're gonna ask for it even faster." Typically speaking in production, that's kinda how things go.

Michael: So I would actually flip that around. I think the question we ask ourselves now is how do we actually take that cadence and actually make that more of a business's usual way of doing things? Because people get a charge out of getting things done. If we figure out ways to kinda knock out the barriers so they can get things done, I mean, that actually boosts morale. It boosts, you know, folks get excited about what they're doing. And so I'd actually flip your question on its head and say the question for us is how we make that more BAU.

Jon: Mm-hmm.

Michael: And then we're actually, we're doing some work on that very question right now.

Jon: Yeah, we're doing a lot of work right now also on sorta BAU, and everybody, as I was just gonna call this morning with a whole network of people talking about all the challenges that they're having of what happens when we go back? I mean, how do we take all the lessons learned and make it an even better organization in a year or two years' time?

Michael: You know, and the thing that I'd also say there is our staff was there, but look, we had a lot of partners, including yourselves, who were there with us in the moment trying to sort things out, and we were all very singularly focused on the mission at hand, and when you have good partners you're working with and in a trusted way, you can get great things done.

Jon: Absolutely. I love the fact that you said the decision-making at sort of the most senior level who has a lot less latency or almost zero latency with some of this stuff. It proves the point to any naysayers that say oh, we can't work from home, or we can't have decisions in quote-unquote "real time," they've been proven otherwise, been proven wrong.

Michael: Look, we have to manage risk. We're a bank and we're the risk management business. And so we move fast. You can't not manage risk when you move fast. But there's multiple ways to manage risk. One way is to create lots of documentation and have committees and processes review the documentation. Another way is to get the risk experts in the room when decisions are being made as part of the team, and if you have confidence in your risk experts, you have confidence in technology, business, and your data folks, you can make decisions, and you can make decisions taking into account the management of risk in the right type of ways and still get the same outcomes, but just do it much faster.

Jon: Well, that's having the right composition of team.

Michael: Yes.

Jon: You know? And I think it's so important, if there's one thing I hope people hear loud and clear is that you have to have the right team and you can do these things quickly and efficiently when you have the right folks in the room. It's quite amazing. I'd love it if you could just tell our listeners, before COVID, what was your day-to-day contribution to the bank and what were you doing?

Michael: Certainly, sure, sure. And so my role at TD Bank Group is I run what we call innovation, technology, and shared services. And so what is that? That is fundamentally all the shared services of the bank, of which technology is one of them, as is digital and mobile and data and artificial intelligence, security as in cybersecurity, our phone channel, collections, fraud, payments, everything that kinda makes the bank run as a shared utility, I run. And most of my career I've actually worked on the business side of the house. I grew up really more on the product side at TD. I've been at TD now for eight years, six of those leading retail businesses and then some payment businesses, and the past two years have been overseen technology in all of our shared services. The reason I tell you the story of my career and what I'm doing is there's this fusion that's going on inside of big banks whereby technology and business have to be much, much more closely aligned, and you need your business leaders to be more adept at technology and you need your technologists to really understand the business. And so I was stringing cable up, which is true. But I try to do my own personal tech as much as I can. And not that I couldn't find someone who could do it for me, but I think it's important for business leaders to understand how all this stuff works. I don't expect business leaders go and code, but I want them to understand their business architecture and how that ties to their technology architecture as they think about what the world looks like on a go forward basis, kinda understand the art of the possible. And so just as I'm a business guy who's overseeing a bunch of shared services, including some very technical groups, I'd also like our technical leaders to really understand the business. But that's the world we're going into in the 21st century, and I think COVID has become the great accelerant. Things that were taking five years all of a sudden took five weeks. The moment creates the opportunity, and we've done things in our business continuity that are in production now that weren't even ideas eight weeks ago. 85, 90% of our traders are working from home. They're working from home using remote access points, which basically mimic the TD Bank Group network inside your own home. That wasn't part of our business continuity plan, but we actually figured out kind of early on that that was a better way for the traders to get their capability. And now actually you see the traders, they've got all their screens up at home and all their terminals and whatnot, and they're able to be quite effective. But it's the kind of necessity of the moment that creates the innovation.

Jon: Which leads me to my next question is as a bank, you guys have tremendous resources around technology and scale and all this kinda stuff. But there are organizations that we work with and organizations in Canada where technology and the lack of it potentially becomes a bit of a limiting factor or a slowing factor to how they can adopt virtual work. What advice might you have for folks who aren't able to sort of snap fingers and have laptops or have these wonderful trading network environments?

Michael: That's a great question. And look, at TD Bank, we have a lot of industrial sized tools that we can actually use and we've pressure tested and we know that they work quite well. There are actually an awful lot of tools that we don't use that are just basically publicly available. Now, the truth of matter is you need internet access, and so without internet access, a lot of these things don't work. I can't tell you how many people are now using Zoom. I think a couple months ago, very few people actually knew what Zoom was, and now we have a lot of folks who are using it on a day-to-day basis.

Jon: We're talking about tech. We're talking about the adoption and the scale of tech. TD tech war rooms. That's something that you guys have been doing a lot. I'm just interested if you could spend a second telling us a little bit about that and how it's helped the bank.

Michael: Yeah, so it's a great question. And so we set up these war rooms a long time ago, six, seven weeks ago when the sorta lockdown really first started happening. And the inspiration for them was actually we had what we call a cyber fusion center, which is basically a seven by 24 team of teams to actually identify and react to cyber threats. And what you do is you bring cross-functional groups of people together to kinda work on problems and task them with kinda dealing with them in the moment. But we actually realized early on that it'd be great to do that with just our technology needs kinda coming in day one. And so we've pulled our digital teams together, our data, security, our risk partners, technology, business leaders, and pulled them together really, we call it a war room. It was in a virtual war room where they were on with each other literally on a constant basis. It became an intake process for everything that was going on across the organization, everything from someone's having problem getting on online. Was that a one-time thing or was that a incident we had to deal with? There were laptop requests that were coming in. Not everyone in the company had laptops, and so you had to do a triage process. We had ordered, I think, 15,000 incremental laptops and just kinda gave them to people and doing the triage associated with that. Again, dealing with some of the prioritization in terms of what we needed to stand up. We created a team of teams to do an intake process and then a triage for what needs to be done, and then they also do daily reporting. The daily reporting is about a 30-page document. I read it every single day. It's a combination of statistics, here's what our service levels were for our phone channel, here's how many fraud starts we might have had, but also a narrative on kinda what's worked well, what hasn't, what was installed, what we need to work on, and just helped focus the attention of the entire senior management group on what needs to be done. We have a small cross-functional team who basically owns it.

Jon: I love that. That's getting the right people, going back to having the right people in the room hearing the right things, making decisions quickly. I'm curious, Michael, are you hearing stuff from customers? Requests, suggestions, even better if, with these products that you're making? Are you taking some of that customer feedback and iterating on the tools and the things you have to make the experience right now even better?

Michael: Oh, absolutely. And we have a standard business as usual process t solicit customer feedback at every interaction point, and so we kept that process up and going, and that actually serves as basically a feedback loop for things that are working well and maybe some places where you have some opportunities for improvement. And so we're taking customer feedback. We're also taking our own colleague feedback. We have a whole process internally where colleagues can actually surface ideas for improvement and we actually can take those and actually run with them. But yeah, the voice of the customer is incredibly important, and now more than ever.

Jon: Do you find customers are more or less forgiving right now?

Michael: Yeah, I'd say honestly more forgiving. You know, customers, they understand what's going on. And so hold times might be longer than they they might like, or there might be an appointment booking required at a branch, but folks understand the world we're in. And so, look, our job is to be there for our customers. We wanna be convenient. We wanna be available. I think we've done an excellent job doing that. If you've gotta wait another minute on the phone, the most important thing is that when we talk to you, we're able to take care of your need and we're able to actually first of all understand what the question is, what your need is, and then to resolve it the first time, and if we can do that, our customers will be happy. And again, I've been really pleased with what we've been able to do, and honestly, I've been pleased by our customer feedback. I mean, we're hearing they're really appreciative for the work that we're doing.

Jon: I think this is such an important time for brands. Think about all the goodwill and brand equity or affinity that can be generated now when you get it right or close to right. It's like, oh man, you know, even in the pandemic, TD, they were there for me. They made it easy. Like, whatever the case may be.

Michael: Absolutely. And to be fair, the nature of questions has changed, and let's be real, one of the unfortunate consequences of the COVID crisis is that financial stress has really increased among a lot of people, and so advice is taking on a different meaning than it might've meant just literally two months ago, and now a lot of folks need advice of the sorts of, okay, I've got a lot of bills and the following things have happened. How do I think about this? And the ultimate moment of truth is when a customer is facing financial strain, and look, we as a bank need to be there. We need to work with our customers in a really constructive and effective way. And if we do that well, we've got a great customer for life,

Jon: I love it.

Michael: And so this is our moment. And, you know, in Canada, we call our collections group, we call it customer assistance. The reason we call it customer assistance is our job is to help our customers in a challenging time. It's a mindset. And I think it's a very, very important mindset. And look, a lot of our customers are having challenging times. A lot of us are having challenging times. But if you've lost your job and you have bills coming due and you're expecting government support, but hasn't come in, how do I deal with that? Look, if we can work with our customers, which we're doing every single day, to make sure that we can help our customers land on their feet, you've got a customer for life.

Jon: Absolutely. So last couple of questions here. What's the one thing that you wish you knew before the pandemic hit?

Michael: The one thing I wish I know before the pandemic hit was how you build a sense of camaraderie, team-building in a remote environment. You know, we learned our way through that. But you've asked everyone to work from home. The kinda leadership elements of this are a new muscle for many of us. And I do wish I had kinda fully understood the way to do that most effectively day one. Okay, we got there, but it wasn't necessarily a day one activity.

Jon: I guess the follow-up to that question would be now that we're sort of, however many weeks in, eight, eight or nine weeks for most of us, what advice would you give to our listeners moving forward?

Michael: There's all this conversation about the new normal and what's the new normal gonna be, look like? And we're actually in an interesting position where I think everyone in the world has more or less a sense of what the current situation is. The news media has been talking about this nonstop. I know what's going on in China and New Zealand. I know what's happening in Italy, in Europe, in North America. And so understanding of the current world is, I think, reasonably well understood. What the future looks like, no one has an advantage in predicting the future. Like, I don't care who you are, you don't know. And so when I think about the future, I think about adaptability and how do we actually operate our own personal lives, our work operations, whatever it's gonna be, in a way that we can be adaptable and react to the moment. So I'm not gonna try to predict the future. I'm gonna be horribly ineffective at that. So I wanna create adaptability.

Jon: I like that. Being adaptable for whatever comes next. My advice to a lot of people would be, a lot of organizations would be now that the sort of impediments are mostly off, right, what kind of organization do you wanna be and what are the things that you wanna take from this sort of quarantine experiment, if you will, bring them over and it's like, wave your magic wand and create your future. Use your imagination. Invent stuff, right? Do things for your consumers, your customers, don't forget your employees. All that kinda good stuff. Okay, I'm gonna do a quick lightning round, which are completely random questions. What is the weirdest COVID quarantine habit you've developed?

Michael: The weirdest COVID quarantine habit I've developed. Aw jeez, avocado toast. 

Jon: Wait, I love it. Avocado toast, your inner millennial. I love it. What's your best working from home tip?

Michael: Best working from home tip. Actually, I set up multiple monitors, which is a big help, and so I'm able to kinda multitask with my screens. And I've actually found myself a quiet room, which is, I know everyone doesn't have that, but a quiet room with the multi screens is helpful.

Jon: Hey, what's your favorite movie or binge-worthy TV show right now? That seems to be on people's minds.

Michael: So I'm gonna give you a binge-worthy TV show that I just finished, and your listeners are gonna think I'm a little crazy when I tell you. It's a Netflix show called "Outer Banks." Have you seen this thing?

Jon: No, not yet.

Michael: Total escapism. You know, it's an escape moment. 90 Rotten Tomatoes. You know, pretty good.

Jon: What is your most used app?

Michael: My most used app, honestly, probably Facebook. I'm not a big poster on Facebook, although I did post a picture of my son's girlfriend's puppy just the other day. But I do like to see how friends and family are doing and kinda what's going on. It's a way to sorta feel connected, and so I've been using it a fair amount.

Jon: Do you ever use TikTok?

Michael: You know, it's funny, I've gotten a number of TikTok videos folks have sent me and I've actually challenged my kids to do a TikTok video, which they're actually working on today.

Jon: Nice. Last question, early bird or night owl?

Michael: Oh, definitely night owl.

Jon: No, is that right?

Michael: Yes.

Jon: Amazing. I can't make it up past 11 o'clock, man.

Michael: Yeah, no, it was funny, like, you know, with the kids now here, literally like at 11 o'clock last night, we had a glass of wine, we're just talking about what's going on, predicting the future. None of us are right. And it's a good way to kinda wrap up the day.

Jon: So that is the end of the podcast. I think we've covered a lotta ground. We've talked about a lot of really interesting stuff. I learned a lot. I'm sure our listeners did, too. Michael, I wanna thank you so much for taking the time out of what I'm sure is an incredibly busy day, doing it from your home, which we really appreciate, and you're now the first, you could say, "I was the first ever virtual guest on PwC Shift," which is great. So thank you very, very much. I hope to meet you in real life at some point. And best of luck from here until when we get back to the next normal.

Michael: Well, look, thank you, and thanks to you and the rest of the PwC team for everything that you do for us, and you've been great partners, and I appreciate the opportunity to have this conversation.

Jon: Thank you. And thank you to the listeners who've been on the journey with us. Hopefully you guys are safe at home or safe in your work environments wherever you might be. I look forward to recording another podcast in the future. And until then, be safe.

Michael: Thank you, you too.

Jon: Thanks for listening to this episode of Shift. You can get more details at If you enjoy this episode and wanna hear more, subscribe to our podcast series. You can find us on iTunes, Google Play, or your preferred podcast platform. Just so you know, this podcast has been prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, an Ontario limited liability partnership for general guidance on matters of interest only and does not constitute professional advice. Until next time.

Sun Life Canada: The future is bright with Sun Life

The future is bright for the 154 year old organization Sun Life - in this episode of Shift podcast we sit down with Jacques Goulet, President of Sun Life Canada. Jacques shares how Sun Life has created a culture that truly embraces change. From using emerging technologies to create their digital assistant Ella, to their commitment to upskilling their workforce, all while delivering an elevated experience for their customers. Explore the conversation to learn more.

Jon: Hey, thanks for joining and welcome to Shift, PwC Canada's podcast series, where we go behind the scenes with Canada's leading organizations to hear their digital transformation stories. I'm your host, Jon Finkelstein, Executive Creative Director here at PwC Canada and a lover of Hawaiian pizza. The future is bright, for the 150 year old organization, Sun Life Financial. In this episode of Shift podcast, I was lucky enough to sit down with Jacques Goulet, president of Sun Life Canada. Jacques and I discuss how Sun Life has created a culture that truly embraces change from using emerging technologies to create their digital assistant, Ella to their commitment to upskilling their workforce, all the while delivering an elevated experience for their customers. It's a great conversation, and I really hope you enjoy listening. Welcome to another episode of Shift. Today, we have a special guest. I'm joined with Jacques Goulet, who is the president of Sun Life Canada, that's huge. Jacque, welcome to Shift.

Jacques: Jon, thank you, it's a pleasure to be here.

Jon: Now, for those people who are listening, maybe you could just tell us a little bit about yourself, how you're involved in Sun Life and what it is you do on a sort of day to day basis as El Presidente.

Jacques: So I did, thank you, I joined Sun Life almost two years ago, January of last year. Prior to that, I spent almost 30 years with a large consulting firm that took me in various leadership roles around the world. I spent time in Canada, of course, in Europe and the United States. I feel quite fortunate to after having left the country for 20 years, to be back in Canada last year. It's a privilege to lead such an iconic company and such a great brand as Sun Life Canada, so yes, very delighted to be here.

Jon: That is a big role for a very big company. It's interesting because Sun Life has been part of Canada, for a really long time, I don't think people really appreciate how long, 150 years long.

Jacques: Actually 154 years to be precise.

Jon: 154, you heard it here first on Shift, 154 years ago, and now you're in 26 plus countries. Now it's interesting, I think, for people and for big organizations to be thinking about, transformations, how to keep relevant, I mean, this is a legacy company. Can you elaborate a little bit on how you continue to drive change, remain agile, remain relevant, how do you do that with such a big organization?

Jacques: Yes, as you said, an incredible history, an incredible journey, the company was founded 154 years ago, so think back 1865 and it was actually founded in Montreal. I would say we are quite lucky at Sun Life and the reason is, if you talk to Canadians and you dig deep into what is it that's most important in their lives, what you'll find is that most people will talk about their health or the health of their loved ones or they'll talk about financial security for themselves and their families. Those are major preoccupations that Canadians have. And it happens to be in perfect alignment with what we do and what we are as an organization. The purpose of the company, it's to help Canadians achieve what we call lifetime financial security and live healthier lives. It serves a little bit as a North Star for who we are at Sun Life and this is what drives this ability to adapt, this ability to innovate, I would say we wouldn't be in business 150 years later, if not for that.

Jon: You know, it's really interesting. I love that because if you're about Canadians financial security and well being, yeah, it might change over time, but the core of that's the same.

Jacques: Absolutely and the other thing that is important to note is the pace of change, it's faster and faster and faster. Think about Uber, it didn't exist 10 years ago. Like if 10 years ago, we sat here and we said to people, how would you feel about getting in the back of a car with a stranger that's gonna take you from A to B, people would have said, no. And yet, it's such an important and typical part of our life now, we don't even think about it.

Jon: So as we continue to evolve, and the pace of change keeps speeding up, it means, pre phenomenal when you think about it. As an organization, even though people don't wake up in the morning thinking about Sun Life and what Sun Life can do to provide them a more stable and better life, how do you go about delivering on products and innovations to remain relevant and to give people like the iPhone or like Uber, something so amazing, they didn't even know they wanted it until they got it?

Jacques: That's quite important. The engagement with Canadians, I would say to you Jon, in the last number of years has become more and more digital. So, we by nature of what we do at Sun Life, we are the largest provider in Canada, of what we call group benefits, employers that offer benefits to the employees, same thing with pensions, individual insurance and so we're a very important player in the market and we have a lot of data as a result of all the thing that we do. Canadians value their universal healthcare system and it's run by government, but employers also play an important role in what we call supplementary coverage. So if you make abstraction of the governments, Sun Life is the largest private payer of healthcare in Canada. So that means that we know the types of conditions our clients are facing, so we have a lot of data. And what we are able to do is to take this data to essentially leverage it, develop insights from it and then we serve this insights back to our clients as what we call nudges. I'll give you a couple of concrete examples. Let's say you have a situation where you put in $100, your employer puts in $50, we find that many Canadians leave money on the table 'cause they don't take advantage of this feature and their pension plan. In fact, our estimation is somewhere between three to $4 billion every year is left on the table. So we have this wonderful persona, it's a digital assistant called Ella. Ella captures all this data that I was talking about a minute ago. And then she will come to you and she'll say, "Hey, Jon, did you know "that you're leaving money on the table?" On the health side, she might mention to you for example, you've paid too much for a prescription, if you had gone to a different pharmacy, you could have saved some money. So, we are nudging our clients, we're engaging with them digitally in alignment with our purpose, as I said earlier, which is around financial security and healthy lives.

Jon: I'm a big fan of Ella because you think about personal assistants and you think about Siri or you think about Alexa, it's very much you have to go to them. Siri, what's the weather? Alexa, add blah, blah, blah to my grocery list. So it's very much a one way me to her. The thing I like about Ella is it's predictive and it's proactive and it's serving me as a consumer, as a person, as a Canadian, in a way that's really helpful to me, that opens up the aperture on all kinds of stuff. Hey, your child's turning 17, did you know? Or it's amazing.

Jacques: Absolutely, you're totally right. And what's interesting about this predictive and personal comment that you just made, is if you have, let's say, an employer with 100 employees, it's possible that each and every one of these employees will receive a different message from Ella, 'cause the message, as you said, is personalized. You're leaving money on the table and maybe your colleague has some other things they need to be reminded of, for example, your child's gonna be coming to the age where they're no longer covered. So, she's very powerful from that point of view, because she has the ability to nudge people in a very personal manner. She comes to people in a bunch of different channels. So you might get an email from her. If you engaging with us on the web, she'll show up on the web. If you're engaging with us on mobile, she'll pop up on the mobile. And more recently, you can talk to her through Alexa, you just mentioned Alexa, so you can engage with Ella through Alexa and that's, we're just making sure that we're reaching people in all the channels in which they wanna be reached.

Jon: So, as the president of a really large scale organization, and we have, as part of our listener base, other leaders of large organizations, what would be a piece of advice that you'd give to someone who is listening, of how to create and embrace a culture of change?

Jacques: It's a good question, I would start by the purpose. And what that does is, it creates alignment in the organization because people all have, sort of a clear North Star and just a quick parenthesis Jon, if you look at the engagement of our employees, so, like most companies, we do engagement surveys and so on, there's a number of questions you go through, if you get into in a more granular way, and you focus on how people respond to the question, how engaged or how inspired are you by the purpose of Sun Life? We get 95% of employees, responding that they are very inspired. That is an amazing, powerful force to create change in the organization. So the first thing I would say to another CEO is make sure that you have a clear and powerful purpose of why you are in business, why you exist and what is it you're here to do. The second thing I would say is, as a CEO, you tend to see things in the organization that others don't see 'cause you have the whole view, the broad view of the organization, and people who work in particular departments, and they have a more, a narrower vision, need to hear from the CEO how the whole picture fits together, you need to connect the dots, you need to talk to your people about the things that you see that they don't see. Because, again, that helps to galvanize the organization behind that kind of a vision. Of course, the values of the organization are important. The last thing I would say is, what is it that you make a priority as a CEO? And I can tell you, in my case, it's talent, would be number one, number two would be talent and number three would be talent. It's a bit like Real Estate, location, location, location.

Jon: Location, location, location

Jaques: And the reason I say that is because in our organization, and it's probably the same in many organizations, we spend a lot of time doing what we call strategic planning. So, you analyze the trends out there, you determine where you're strong, where you're weaker, how you might go about capitalizing on these trends. And what I say insights on life to our own people, as I say, this is good because this is what we think. These are our strategies and those are important. But what really makes a difference is not what you think, is what you do. It's how you execute against that strategy. And the way that you execute successfully is all about the people in the organization.

Jon: Amazing, I love that. I really heard two things that stood out for me. The clear purpose and vision and making sure that everybody understands and buys in and talent. So we talk about people, talent, talent, talent, that is the core of success. Now one of the things that we're seeing a lot in the industry and CEOs are talking about is the skills gap. It's a big one for a lot of organizations. I'm curious, what are you doing as president and what is the organization in Sun Life doing to help close that gap? How are you upskilling? How are you educating? How are you making sure, as we like to say at PwC, there's no one left behind?

Jacques: The skills gap or upskilling is incredibly important. And the first thing I would say is that it's about the whole organization. It's everybody that is concerned by that. Of course, we hire people with specialty skills. So for example, these days, we hire people for jobs, that I don't even think we had a job title five years ago, these jobs just didn't exist. And we hire from hubs like Waterloo and Montreal and Toronto, of course, where there's more and more digital skills but it's more than digital in my view and it's the ability to adapt, it's the ability to think like a business owner. One of the things we're pushing a lot at Sun Life is we'd like to be the biggest startup in the country. So we want people to be agile, we want people to see a problem and to run to it, to take ownership, to take action, to be empowered and accountable for outcomes, and so that's, it's maybe more culture than skill specifically, but that's something that obviously we're pushing, we're obviously putting a lot of emphasis on diversity and inclusion, in our view, and I've lived it myself in prior life is diverse teams perform better, it's just the reality and the evidence of that is compelling. And so we wanna have people that reflect our clients, we wanna have people that reflect our communities, so we're definitely putting a lot of emphasis on that. One of the things I'm proud of in Canada, is 62% of our employees are women but the upskilling is a continuous process. It's never over because as I said, some of the jobs we have didn't exist five years ago, it will be, if I were to sitting here in front of you Jon, five years from now, I'd probably be saying the same thing, right?

Jon: Oh, yeah. Yeah, it's amazing how there are people in this room that have like PhDs in things I didn't even know existed. So you're going, wow, that's pretty incredible. Do you think that empathy plays a greater role in a company like Sun Life than it might in others?

Jacques: It plays a very important role. We're fortunate because we deal with people in probably the two areas that are most important in their lives, their health and their financial security. But flip that around and it means that we have to be really careful how we deal with them because when we deal with them, it can be at a moment of very intense emotions. A number of years ago, we created an organization, that's a small organization inside Sun Life that we call client advocacy. And what's really great about our client advocacy group is when people have an issue, they are the ones who get involved. And they're really there as an advocate of the client, and they're trying to find, how do we fix the particular situation? But more importantly, what do we learn from that, that we can embed into our processes so that it doesn't recur? So when they get involved in a case, we capture the learnings, as I said, but we also capture the story and when we have employee gatherings, to give you an example, every quarter, we have an all employee town hall, usually we'll try to have a client story there. And it's really powerful because there's a number of people in our organization that are not dealing day to day with a client. Some of the people are more working, let's call it in the function areas and the operations etc. So, for them to see and hear these clients stories, it's very, very powerful.

Jon: I love that and I think it's really important to kinda show the product of what it is you do, and again, that lives up to your values and purpose. It's like here it is, we're not just saying these things, there's proof of it. You mentioned, your client advocacy group, and how empathy and customer or a client centricity is really a cornerstone of how it is you operate.

Jacques: Just recently, we brought together in a meeting some advisors with clients and you have a client that basically explains, there's a bunch of leaders in the room from Sun Life, but basically explains that how two years ago, he lost his job in his mid '50s, with two kids in college, how do you and the ability to find a new job in your mid '50s is not easy. He had worked for this company for a long time, 30 something years, so he did have a pension, the pension was not as high as he would have liked because he was hoping to work till 65, how do you solve for that? And he went on and tell all of us about the incredible value of his Sun Life advisor. Sun Life advisor came and said, the first guy lost his job, called his advisor at Sun Life, advisor comes along, they sit around the table and say, here's what we're gonna do, here's how we're gonna make it work. You've got savings here and savings there, how are we gonna get the kids through college? And as this person is talking to us, you just see the anxiety level went down, obviously. So the value of advice is precious. Now, you have to find a good advisor that you can trust that will take the time to listen to you. And I would encourage people, your listeners Jon, to do the proper due diligence. Don't just take the first advisor you meet, interview a few of them and see which one and it's not just for you, it's your family as well.

Jon: I think a lot of us hide under a rock because we're afraid, we're afraid of the complexity. We're afraid of all the things that we don't know, don't you think?

Jacques: And what I encourage people to do two things, one, start early because sometimes people think, I need an advisor really just for retirement. Well, no, life insurance, critical illness insurance, those are important things. The other thing is, maybe somebody is in their '30s and they're saving money for a sabbatical. Let's get them trained, let's get them to develop that muscle of planning, of getting advice for those things that are shorter duration. I'm gonna take a sabbatical or I'm gonna change job, I'm gonna retrain to something new, I'll need some time off. And then as they develop that muscle, they can then apply that to longer term horizons. The other thing is to remind people that it's not just accumulating wealth, it's to protect that wealth and that's where life insurance is so important. As I said earlier, somebody has an unfortunate and the reality is it happens. We hope it doesn't happen but you've gotta plan for it. The last thing I mentioned there is, some people sometimes think, yeah but this is all going digital, we don't need to talk to human beings anymore and our view is, it's the combination. Yes, we're using AI, artificial intelligence and technology tools to help our advisors serve their clients better, to serve them more efficiently. I gave the example a few minutes ago, of the person who lost their job in their '50s. In that kind of situation, that person is calling their Sun Life advisors and said, "Hey, come on over we need to have a chat." If the need is to check whether I'm covered for certain thing in my policy, or I wanna make a change of address, show me a digital platforms at Sun Life that I can self serve myself and make these changes and then behind my advisor will be informed but I don't need to connect. So the combination of human and technology for us is actually the way to do it, it's the winning combination.

Jon: I love it, yeah, for sure because being able to choose how and when and what channel is all part of understanding your consumers and being consumer or customer centric. One of the things that I'm seeing a lot more awareness and buzz around is mental health. And as a provider of insurance and health benefits and really making sure that people are living, sort of, their happy, their best lives, if you will, I'd love to know how that's impacting Sun Life and what priority you're giving it.

Jacques: So let me start by saying that health is an area of more and more importance for us, just before I get into mental health, and part of that is what I explained earlier about all the data that we get and the fact that we are the largest payer of healthcare. And what is happening now in our organization, is we are using all this data to help people before the payment process. You go to see a physiotherapist, we arrive at the end and we reimburse or we pay. But the data that we have allows us to move further up the chain in prevention, we can nudge people so that they live a healthier life in a way that they don't end up at the physiotherapist. So that's an important aspect to understand about where Sun Life is putting it's priorities and it's focus going forward. Within the health area, mental health is something that we're seeing more and more of, and it's really unfortunate. And what I would say Jon, is that it's indiscriminate. It's touching from Newfoundland to British Columbia. It's people 20 years old, people 70 years old. It's broad and it's touching a lot of people and it's complex and so we're seeing it, with all the data that we handle, we see more and more greater volumes of cases of mental health. Now, it's not easy how you address that but let me give you some examples of things that we're putting forward for our clients to help them. So recently, we struck a partnership with a couple of companies on what we call pharmacogenomics. What happens when somebody has a mental health issue is it can sometimes take a while for the physician to figure out which is the right medication and which dosage and what pharmacogenomics does is through a genetic test, it helps to figure out quicker what is the best match for the particular patient. So, we've rolled that out to our clients, it's available and we think that is a very important step forward. We are also conscious that sometimes people are not close to where the resources are. So we've rolled out virtual consultations through a virtual care tool that we have. And the other thing that we're doing, we're making accessible to our clients, is something called cognitive behavioral therapy. So that's probably for cases that are less severe of mental health but these are modules that people can do online, and it really helps their condition.

Jon: Another thing that you guys are doing, which I think is absolutely incredible is Lumino. And that is, as I understand it anyway, a way to bring care to people in a way that is really user friendly and really kinda gives them access in a way that maybe they hadn't had before. Love to hear more about that.

Jacques: Absolutely Jon, this is exactly that. So we, Lumino will become the go to platform for all Canadians to manage their health and I insist on all Canadians because what we've done with Lumino is basically extended something we were doing for our 6 million clients and we've opened it up to 37 million Canadians. You don't need to be a client of Sun Life to have access to Lumino, you just go to and you sign up and you can go. And so what we do on Lumino is we help people find providers, trusted providers, because the way that, it's like Uber, it's one to five star. Those are credible, trusted ratings. It's a go to platform that we think is going to become, where Canadians manage their health and people can get, obviously find providers, they can book appointments with their existing providers, they can get health tips and pieces of advice. They can get discounts, they can join communities, so they can manage their health for themselves, but also if you have children or elderly parents, yu wanna renew a prescription for your aging elderly father, you can go on Lumino and you can do that. The other thing I would say is a completely different business model for us because it's not in our traditional business model of insurance, we're becoming essentially a tech type of company there. And what's interesting there is the way we went at that, is we created a startup inside of Sun Life. So the people who are today running Lumino, we started about three or four people a few years ago, we're up to over 100 people and they are a little bit managed on the side in a way, because startups have to be agile in how they operate, they have to be able to move fast and to pivot and to change in, as they see, the response in the market, so we've done that, we think it's a very good model, and it aligns perfectly with our purpose to help Canadians achieve lifetime financial security and live healthier lives.

Jon: I love it. That's a great message, I think for our listeners, is that you can be 154 year old, massive company operating globally and say, you know what, let's start a startup in the middle of this thing and create a new business model, because it's answering a need, it's providing access and that kind of stuff. So, ding ding This is the lightning round, where I'm gonna ask you a series of non sequitur type of questions just to get a little sense of a bit more of like who you are, 'cause we know you as the president of Sun Life, and all the great stuff that you're doing, but I'm kind of interested in, getting a little behind the scenes here. Well, let's just start with this one. Do you like roller coasters?

Jacques: No.

Jon: No, you wouldn't go on like that...

Jacques: I've been on because I have two sons. They're older now,

Jon: Begrudging

Jacques: 21 and 18. But when they were young, as a good dad, I went on the roller coasters, but it's not my thing.

Jon: Me either, I don't want them. What's one thing that you would like to be good at or know how to do that you don't right now?

Jacques: Now that I'm not able to do it but I would like to do a triathlon.

Jon: Nice

Jacques: And I'm a good cyclist and actually a very good cyclist, I'm not a good swimmer and I have a knee, the left knee of a guy in his mid '50s, so running is tough but if I could fix that, I would like to do a triathlon.

Jon: I love it, that scares the heck out of me, a triathlon. What's the one thing you know to be true?

Jacques: One thing I know to be true? I would say, in my case, I would say love and family.

Jon: I love that, biggest pet peeve?

Jacques: I travel a lot on airplanes and once in a while I come across a person who decides that they're gonna watch videos or listen to music on their iPhone without their earbuds, that just drives me nuts.

Jon: That's right up there with taking off their shoes and socks and putting their feet up on your headrest. What's the best place you've traveled to?

Jacques: Patagonia, spectacular, pristine, quiet. And we were hiking on the glaciers and it was and I will remember this all my life.

Jon: If you could meet anyone dead or alive and kind of hang out with them have dinner, whatever, who would it be?

Jacques: In my case, Robert F. Kennedy. I find this guy to have been a genuine leader, somebody who place the interests of the country ahead of his own, a fantastic communicator and that's why I would like to actually have dinner with him

Jon: Best subject in school?

Jacques: Math, I'm an actuary.

Jon: You're an actuary Math was probably my worst, I'm a writer, so there you go. So thank you so much for taking time out of your day to share with us your perspective on what Sun Life is doing and how customer centricity is so important. One of the things that's really impressed me, and hopefully the listeners will take this away is that you can innovate in large organizations and you can innovate against a consumer or customer need that really lives up to your values and your purpose. That's central to all of it. So thank you so much for sharing that with us. Thank you for coming to Shift, and to all our listeners, hope you enjoyed it, and we'll see you next time.

Jacques: Thank you.

Jon: Thanks for listening to this episode of Shift. You can get more details at If you enjoyed this episode and wanna hear more, subscribe to our podcast series. You can find us on iTunes, Google Play, or your preferred podcast platform. Just so you know, this podcast has been prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, an Ontario Limited Liability Partnership, for general guidance on matters of interest only and does not constitute professional advice, until next time.


City of Ottawa: Playing the game of innovation as a team

In the public sector, it often takes a spark to ignite innovation but so much more to keep it burning. In this episode of Shift - we share a great Canadian innovation story about the City of Ottawa, who learned the secret sauce on how to deliver innovation and service excellence to their front line employees and citizens. Live from FWD50 2019, Canada’s digital government conference, we sit down with Kim Ennis, Program Manager from the City of Ottawa to chat about how her team worked with PwC Canada to deliver the magic ingredient - “innovation at the edges.” Kim shares how her team adopted a citizen centric mindset to better understand their staff and citizens and transform the city’s parking experience.

Jon: All right, welcome to another episode of Shift. This time we're actually coming to you from Ottawa, at the FWD 50 Conference, at the Aberdeen Pavilion. This is one of the few times that we've been on the road, and we're very lucky, we have a great podcast for you today, and we're going to be talking about innovation in government, specifically the City of Ottawa. I have the great pleasure of welcoming Kim Ennis, Program Manager from the City of Ottawa, and our very own Meaghan Reinecke. I said it right. Meaghan, who is a UX manager at PwC here in Ottawa. Welcome to the podcast you guys. 

Kim: Thank you Jon.

Meaghan: Hi Jon, thanks.

Jon: I'm so glad that you're here. You know one of the reasons that a lot of people are at FWD 50 today, is because they really want to know how public and private sector are innovating. We all know it's a necessity. We all know we need to do it, but it's really hard. I've been known to say ideas are easy, execution is hard. Agree, disagree? 

Kim: I would agree. Thanks Jon, this is Kim Ennis, and I'm with the City of Ottawa, and I would agree, executing is hard. We often say we're not really interested in the good ideas club. We would rather take some of those good ideas and find a gem that we can actually use and execute on. 

Jon: I love the shiny gem that's going to make a difference. We often say, you know people are really into shiny objects, right? That's the proxy, or the euphemism for latest technology, and things that people want to plug in, right? But it's not always about the shiniest thing, it's about activities or tactics that are going to make a difference. 

And I think one of the reasons people are so interested in innovation and how to do it is because they want to deliver on rapidly changing customer needs, and they want to increase market share, and as I said, because ideas are easy and execution is hard, it's even harder, I perceive, in government, because it takes champions, it takes people who have a burning desire. Not just the spark, but be able to take the torch if you will, and go around an organization, and keep it burning, stoke the fires to really deliver the outcome that they want. So talk to me a little about what it's like, and what your role is within the City of Ottawa?

Kim: Okay, thanks Jon. So I've been with the City for over 30 years, not in the same position, but from various roles from the front line, all the way right up to Service Design. The area that I'm in now is called Service Transformation, and our Director, Marc René de Cotret, among other things, we're leading the charge on our Smart City Strategy 2.0, which I'll get back to at some point later on. For me, it's all about improving the client experience, in part by changing how we deliver services, so for staff, I want them to feel like we're actually helping them to work and serve clients differently.

Kim: It's a small and mighty team of organizational developers, and what we're doing, is we're architecting a culture shift change that will support our transformation. In part, we're looking for a culture of client centricity and a culture of innovation.

Jon: I think that's really important, and you know, Meaghan, we're going to talk about design thinking in a second, but one of the mistakes I think a lot of organizations make, is they go around, and they try to figure out wholesale change, and they make a grave mistake. So, let's open up the hood a little bit here, and talk about some of the process that the city has done, and I know a big part of what PwC helped the City of Ottawa do, was really around co-design and design thinking. Meaghan, maybe you could spend a second telling us a little bit about the process and the lay of the land of how we helped the City innovate? 

Meaghan: Absolutely. So as part of the larger strategy in innovation work that we did, we brought in a staff, so first is we did co-creations with staff members, to understand what is our current landscape, and what does that look like? And then, beyond that, knowing what we know about the problem landscape, how might we? Where could we go? What could the future look like, and what does good look like, in terms of service delivery, for what we can do for residents? 

Then we looked with outside industry partners, and brought them in. How could we leverage, augment, what else could we do to collaborate with people in the industry? And so bringing all of those voices at the table, then bringing the senior leadership at the table, and looking for alignment in where we're going, then allowed that co-creation process to support a democratic bringing together of all of those voices to understand how might we better enable innovation at all levels of the City of Ottawa. 

Kim: One of the things that I really enjoy about working with PwC is that feasibility check, where we do that reality check, looking at where our capabilities are today, where they're planning to be, what we're hoping to have in place, in terms of those technology platforms, or even the organizational culture, and being able to then take that, and put it into a crawl, walk, run process, where we're able to say, "Okay, so what can we deliver first?" We want to be able to be agile, we want to be able to quick, we want to show the win on something in order to ignite the enthusiasm of the organization. So the crawl, walk, run, is very useful, and I still use it today. 

Jon: I love that. It's so important coming out of the gates, and I can imagine it's even more so with public sector, is showing success early and often, because I think it's really easy for people to go, "Well, you know that thing, that one thing? That didn't work. We're going to shut it all down." Right? And I think sometimes it's just easier to be negative about change than it is to be positive. 

Kim: Yeah, let me jump on that for a second, because when we're looking at it from a culture change, you'll hear folks say, "Well culture takes eight to 10 years to change." And sure enough, that's a long game, just as transformation is. There are things you can do though, to look at making those small changes in smaller teams. Proof of concepts, pilots, and by wrapping around those corporate enablers, what we're trying to bring, HR, finance, IT procurement, so that they're not barriers in a corporation of our size, but in fact enablers, then you're going to be able to bring value both to the client, and to the organization. 

It might be small things, it might be like a notification on your phone that you've never had before, but if you never remember whether to put your blue bin or your black bin out every week, that notification is gold to you. It didn't happen overnight, it takes a fair amount of work to do in the organization, but that's what we mean by deliver quickly, and make sure it's a win, and then you can replicate and scale from there. 

Jon: Mm-hmm (affirmative). So, one of the things I'm really interested about is, so the city has a record, and a history of being innovative. And one of the things that's interesting to me is this notion of innovation at the edges. Can you talk to me a little bit about how the city itself is known for innovation at the edges, and then how did you operationalize that? 

Kim: Well for me, I'll just go back to something, just to give you context about the City of Ottawa. We are not delivering one business line, we're over 110 business lines.

Jon: That's a lot.

Kim: We have three billion annually in an operating budget. We have 17,000 staff, which is larger than some small cities, and we have just changed the signs, we have one million population in the city of Ottawa. I don't know, here's a small fun fact, the size of Ottawa is 2,800 square kilometers. To go end to end from Ottawa, try to picture an ambulance traveling that distance. 

So that's the context we're working in, and so for us, the largest amount of the workforce, of that 17,000, are folks who are in operations. They're either directly delivering services to clients, or they're supporting those that do, or they're doing the infrastructure work, or some of the other pieces. And given that innovation at the edge for us then is, that's the staff people, those are the operations folks, where I can picture a little thought bubble above their head, as their doing their work, saying, "Oh there has to be a better way to do this." 

Jon: Yeah.

Kim: And the other side of that coin is the client who's struggling to find the information, figure out, navigate the system, saying, "There has to be a better way to do this." So to me, that's the edge. That's really where the gold will be, and the process that PwC helped us with was twofold. One was to identify and empower, inspire, and encourage staff, as part of our culture change. To see that innovation sometimes small, not always having to be big breakthrough. And the other part was to build it into a process whereby you're able to step back at the end of that service delivery continuum, and reflect with other staff, put yourself in the client's shoes, and now look at how you can take care of some of those pain points, so that you can do it differently next time.

Meaghan: Okay. So, and in fact, we didn't do this in isolation either. What we did was, as part of really opening broad, is we looked at what are other municipalities doing across the world, across the country, across North America? There were examples from cities all over the world, where we looked at, what else are they doing? How can we be inspired by what else is going on in the world, and then bring that to the staff at the city to say, "How might we? Look at what else is going on, how might we do something amazing like that? Does that spark anything for you. And then how can we go big on developing that future vision?"

Jon: Meaghan, tell me about the role of empathy in all of this? 

Meaghan: So, first and foremost, I think that the role of empathy is to understand the user, and when we talk about the users here, we're talking about residents, and in the form of service delivery, they become our clients. And so it's not about us going away, and closing the door, and coming up with solutions that we think will dazzle and delight you. Of course that's what we want to happen, but it's about bringing your voice to the table. 

It's about including citizens and residents into the co-creation process, and they become our clients, and we listen to what they need, and then in doing so, we really try to understand where they're coming from, look at the rest of their context, their motivations, their drivers, what they're seeing, feeling, saying, doing, and then from there, help to develop what could service excellence look like if we are trying to meet those kind of goals. So Kim, let me ask you, Ottawa is the hub of government in Canada, and as a result, I wonder whether all eyes are on what you're doing? Whether the stakes are higher? 

Jon: I was wondering whether, I imagine all eyes are on you guys, and as successes hit the market, and as other provinces, or cities, or even towns see what you're doing, it's like, "Well, Ottawa was just able to do X or Y with parking." For example. "Let's learn some lessons from that. Let's try and duplicate it." Do you find this happening? 

Kim: I think so, absolutely. Sometimes we are actually seen as being leading edge. And it's probably the same with a lot of places, where you may be perceived as being farther along than you are. So it's a bit of a validation exercise, even when I come to a FWD 50 conference like this, and my federal counterparts in Border Services, or somewhere else in the federal government, they are where we are as well, but just in a different place, and I think we're pretty excited to be working with them. 

Jon: Awesome. Well it's good because we're all expecting our cities and our governments to catch up with startups and such. Let's talk about one of your pilots. So for our listeners, you may not know about a really interesting parking project, a pilot, as part of the city's innovation blueprint that's happening, and I'm really interested to know, we talked a lot about co-creation, or co-design, and really bringing in clients to help co-create. Could you tell me a little bit about that, how you use the citizen mindset to really focus in on building the capabilities, and executing it? Proof of concept, if you will, of parking? 

Meaghan: Sure, so to start, what we did was, as an integral part of our design thinking process is to bring the voices in, we hosted co-creation workshops with residents. Invited them to come in, and because we were working the parking experience, one of the first activities we did is, "Tell us about a time where you had a bad experience looking for a parking spot. And then tell us about a time you had a great experience." And it's funny, because parking is a relatively mundane thing, and so sometimes a great experience doesn't actually make an impact, but it's the bad experiences that stand out. 

And so then based on that, we said, "Okay, tell you what, what if we could reimagine a parking experience? What might amazing, what might delightful look like? What if there were other companies here who were delivering parking experiences? What would that look like?" And take those high expectations that we have about service from the rest of the world, apply them to a municipal service, and then now we're starting to get really interesting and big about, "What could good look like for the future of the parking experience?" 

Kim: Absolutely, and if I could even just step back, I find even more impressive that we started this engagement with PwC not even talking about technology, or use cases, but about the digital client experience, and what was our North Star, and what we were trying to achieve. And of course, our North Star now is quite set in our minds as a personalized, customized, and then context experience. That's what we're driving for, for all residents, for clients. 

By doing that first, and helping us to then come up with the design principles that we could apply broadly, and some measurements, it was that work first, before we even then said, "So how can we apply this? Where should we apply this? Which use case would fit?" And that's when we went into parking, parking is a pain point. It's been on our radar a long time. It wasn't hard to figure out to take that one on. 

But if I could add to it, because it is broadly, and there is no one parking department in the City of Ottawa, it fit our criteria also to demonstrate in action, one city, one team. We have a cultural concept that we're building, which is, it's one client, not a water client versus a parks client, versus a CSS, social services client. But it's one city client, therefore one city, one team. And by-

Jon: I'm sorry, I love that.

Kim: Yeah.

Jon: Because, we are not separate people.

Kim: No kidding.

Jon: Don't treat me as separate. I don't want to be the water client over here, and the whatever over there, and the parking person over here. I'm the same person.

Kim: But what we want to do, Jon, is we want to say, "You are the same person." But we're not really going to say all clients are the same.

Jon: Right.

Kim: So where we're going to get to this segmentation now, is to be able to say, "Jon, the way you interact with us in the city, really needs to be personalized to you. You live out in the suburbs, you use a park and ride, you put your green or blue bin out at the curb. That kind of information is going to be more important to you. Meaghan lives downtown, she can't park at her apartment, so she applies for a parking, or needs to know if she can apply for a parking permit, and more importantly, doesn't even know where the park and rides are, doesn't even know how that works. So that's the kind of in context information, and they're gems. They're small pieces of information, but when we can take all of that, and combine it, and deliver it to you in a way that you want, anywhere, anytime, that's when I feel like we're delivering value to the client, to the resident. 

Meaghan: Something that City of Ottawa residents are really familiar with is the winter parking ban. 

Kim: Oh yeah.

Jon: Allow for plowing.

Meaghan: So as soon as there's enough snow coming, the winter parking ban, so we get email alerts. The radio tells us.

Kim: That's right. 

Meaghan: But it's not enough though just to say, "Well, you can't park on the street." Well, "Dude, where am I going to park my car?" 

Kim: Exactly.

Meaghan: So, now then, there are city lots, and which one is closest to me, and are there any spots available, so when I'm going home, maybe I need to reroute where I need to leave that car so that I don't get a ticket for winter parking, because that's going to be top of mind for a lot of people. 

Kim: Thank you for that, that's really, to me that's ratcheting up that personalized and customized and context experience to a whole new level, where we're able to combine the data that we have and we know, in such a way that will provide true value to you. And maybe you don't want to go to the nearest lot. That's fine. Maybe you want to know what street to park on. Maybe you're out, and you want to know when is the street plow, been already on my street, so I can come home? I see people nodding. So that's the kind of thing where we know it's a small thing, but it actually will bring value to people.

Meaghan: But you know, you're trying to find a parking spot at dinner hour, and take them to hockey, and do the thing, that is a critical time window. That's a high value.

Jon: That's worse than living in New York.

Meaghan: Right? 

Jon: Right? When you think about it. 

Meaghan: Yeah. 

Jon: So, now that you're on this innovation journey, what kind of skills are you building? What kind of capabilities are you building within the organization to actually help sustain this thing? Because earlier I talked about, it's one thing to have the spark, it's another thing to create a blaze within the organization that's going to keep going. So what are you doing to keep this thing moving? 

Kim: Well I'll tell you what we're not doing, is we're not planning to fire everybody and bring in folks with those skills. So we really have the concept that we're going to develop our people from within. I just want to step back a little bit to the work again we did with PwC on that innovation process, and the first thing we did was, they helped us set up a framework, so that we would look at all the innovation, and how we embed it in the organization from the strategic level, which is strategic plans, smart city, working with our partners, where you're seeding innovation, right down to the corporate level, which is where you have those enablers, you have the finance, the HR, IT, procurement, that kind of thing. 

And those are often in government, maybe in other organizations too, they're often barriers or roadblocks to true innovation, so our idea is really to work with them one use case at a time, work with them to be able to say, "Instead of being a roadblock or a barrier, let's be part of the solution, and be an enabler." 

Jon: I love that. And you actually said something that really caught my attention earlier, and that's, "Innovation is a team sport." 

Kim: That's right. 

Jon: I think that's a really interesting way of looking at it, because I think a lot of leaders think about, "Well, it's either innovation is my priority, or it's someone else's." It feels very binary that way, at least in my experience, and I love the fact that when you have buy in from the top, and the bottom, everybody's pulling in the same direction. It's so important on the outcome side, but it's also even more important culturally. 

Kim: To us, culturally, the great thing about this is that to deliver service excellence, we've been focused on that for a long time with the City of Ottawa, and I think it shows in terms of the kind of rating we get as employer of choice, the number of people who stay the length of years that we say. But I would say that we're ramping this up now to service excellence through innovation, and through innovation is the how you deliver that service excellence, and by not just talking it, but by supporting and enabling those folks to be able to do that, we're walking the talk as well. 

Jon: Amazing. So, you're doing pilots, you're innovating at the edges, you've figured out, are beginning to operationalize innovation at the core of everything that you do. What's next for the City of Ottawa? 

Kim: Well there are so many things, but if I just go back to the idea that being able to engage differently with the City of Ottawa, for your own personalized services, and to customize that engagement, and have it in context, is really key for us. So some of the key things you're going to start to see come out would be notifications that you can customize, and that will be personalized to you. Those notifications may come through the City app, the next version of the City app, or you can sign up for them, and you can still get them through text message or emails and things like that. Beyond that, which we're pretty excited by... Oh sorry, I just want to go back to the app. 

The app has geo fencing capabilities, so quite honestly one of the things we're looking FWD to being able to say, for context, where you live Meaghan, we can set that information, but you can also say, "I want to know traffic and road impacts as I'm driving to my favorite commute, or where I need to go." And by geo fencing, we'll be able to tell you there's actually a problem in this area. Not Google Waze kind of problems, but more like something significant such as a parade, things that we know about. A parade. The parade is going through, or race weekend is happening, and you may want to alter your route, because these are going to interfere with your traffic or your parking. So I just want to go back to something with the next, one of the next things, and in fact, I think we just hit the news today on this one. We're planning to use conversational AI. 

Jon: Oh. 

Kim: And by using conversational AI as a service channel, not just for analytics, so that would mean using it through a chat bot, so that people would be able to get their quest... Let's say you're a night owl, 2AM in the morning, you can engage with the City of Ottawa and get your answers really quickly.

Jon: Amazing.

Kim: And, be able to actually, if it's a request for a process now, or for a service, submit that through the chat bot as well. So that's our intent, and we're wanting to really move into talk. We're really wanting to do voice assisted, so you'll be able to ask Google, "So Google, ask the City of Ottawa what I do with this bundle of tinfoil?" And I want it to be able to return, and tell you, "Don't throw that in the garbage, Jon, put that in your blue bin." 

Jon: Don't chew it. 

Jon: I just like to be philosophical from time to time. So, one last important question, and I think our listeners are always looking for advice, or tidbits, or lessons learned, so as listeners are thinking about starting innovation, or continuing, what advice might you have for them as they're looking to keep pace with changing citizen expectations? I'll throw that to you, Meaghan. 

Meaghan: The number one thing, and frankly I think it applies to product design, it applies to service design, it applies to anything that is user centered, and human centered, is to make sure you are in touch with the human at the center. Really know thy user. Know thy client. Know what is meaningful and valuable to them, what will have the best impact on their life, and then if you're well in touch with that, you really can't go wrong.

Jon: Know thy human. 

Kim: And I would add to that, that you want to cut your teeth on something small, and you want to de-risk it, and try it out, and not be just chasing the next shiny thing. You want to be able to show the value for the client, and for the business end, and if you want to improve it, then it becomes something you develop further, and you can replicate and scale it. To us, culturally in the organization, that's also the best way to ignite enthusiasm among staff, so they become the champions to be able to share with other staff. 

Jon: I love it. 

Jon: It's time for the Lightning Round. 

Meaghan: Roll up your sleeves. 

Jon: What is it? Ding, ding. Okay, this is where I get to ask you unscripted, completely non-sequitur questions, really to get a sense of, more about who you are as a person than who you are in your role. All right, let's go. Kim, what's your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? 

Kim: Bacon. Isn't it for everyone? 

Jon: Potentially. 

Meaghan: Well I'm going to go with eggs. I will take eggs. 

Jon: I'd go for sausages over bacon. I know it's sacrilege, but I like the sausages. Early bird, or night owl? 

Meaghan: Dammit, I'm both, I'm a consultant. 

Jon: All right, that's honest. 

Kim: Night owl. 

Jon: Night owl?

Kim: 2AM, for sure. 

Jon: Amazing.

Kim: Yeah. 

Jon: I can't make it past 10 o'clock at night. I'm done. 

Jon: What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given? 

Kim: It wasn't a piece of advice, but it's my mantra that I'm living by these days, which is, "To build a team so strong, that no one can tell who the leader is." And I actually can't source that, that's social media out there just putting it out, and I don't know who. So if you know who that said that, I'd love to know. 

Meaghan: Best piece of advice, is make sure you're in a room where you're not the smartest person in the room. 

Kim: Or move to another room. 

Jon: Or move to another room. 

Meaghan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jon: Words to live by, and then I think finally, dog, or cat? 

Kim: Meow.

Meaghan: Dog. 

Jon: Nice. I like all animals. 

All right, well that wraps up another episode of Shift, I love the fact that we're talking about the City of Ottawa, in Ottawa, at FWD 50, where everybody's talking about innovation, and how to do it in both private and public sector. It's been super interesting. Kim, thank you so much for sharing everything you're doing in the City, and I think really leading the way. 

Kim: Thanks Jon, it was a pleasure to be here. 

Jon: Meaghan, thank you so much for sharing how we at PwC work with the city, and incorporated things like human centered design, and design thinking, and really opening up the hood to figure out what citizens want, figuring out what clients want, and how to deliver them in an impactful way. So, that wraps it up. Thanks for listening everybody So if you love this podcast, and I hope you did, become a subscriber. You can find us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever you find your podcasts, whatever platform you like. To listen to previous episodes, or to find out more about Shift, check us out at Until the next time. 

TD Bank: Community, confidence, and customer experience

Creating a legendary customer experience is no easy task. In this episode of Shift we are talking all things customer experience with TD Bank's Global Brand and Customer Experience Officer Tyrrell Schmidt. Tyrrell takes us behind the scenes of relaunching an iconic Canadian brand, their marquee sponsorships across Canada, and the importance of instilling “confidence” when it comes to your banking experience.

Jon: Hey, thanks for joining and welcome to Shift. PwC Canada's Podcast Series, where we go behind the scenes with Canada's leading organizations to hear their digital transformation stories. I'm your host, John Finkelstein, executive creative director here at PwC Canada and hardened Blue Jays fan. Legendary experience index, or LEI. Have you heard of it? In this episode of Shift, I'm in conversation with the woman, the myth, the legend, Tyrrell Schmidt; the global brand and consumer experience officer at TD Bank. We chat about what it takes to relaunch an iconic Canadian brand, creating a customer experience centered around confidence and much more. Check it out. All right, welcome to another episode of Shift. Today we have Tyrrell Schmidt, Global Brand and Consumer Experience Officer.

Tyrrell: Thank you, thrilled to be here.

Jon: Now, for those of you who are listening, you don't know that I'm wearing my Blue Jays shirt, in support, not only of the team, but in support of TD's amazing sponsorship.

Tyrrell: Thank you, we appreciate that and you look amazing in it.

Jon: Go Jays! It's Guerrero Jr if anybody's interested. But anyway, let's start off with an easy question, why don't you just let everybody know who you are and what you're up to at TD.

Tyrrell: Yeah, absolutely, so I've been at TD for just about five years, it'll be five years in April. Time flew. I run, as you said, I run the global brand and customer experience practice at TD and it's been fantastic to work for a company who believes so deeply in both of those things. So brand and customer experiences, led at the top of the house, but felt deeply all the way through the organization. So it's been an absolute privilege to be able to lead that team.

Jon: So tell me a little bit more about that because, the notion of experience, customer experience, cx, whatever you wanna call it. That's one of those things that people are talking a lot about. What does customer experience mean for TD?

Tyrrell: Yeah, so I think firstly I would tie it to the brand. So, the reason why we've brought those two things together is because they are so connected. So we think of it as, your brand is your promise to your customers and your customer experience is how you interact with the brand and actually how that brand promise comes to life at each and every touchpoint that the customer has with you. The other thing that I would add, at TD we set a high bar for customer experience and so we measure what we call the legendary experience and act. So we look to make sure that we are delivering exceptional, legendary experiences, especially at those moments that matter for our brand.

Jon: The LEI.

Tyrrell: LEI.

Jon: Do you call it--

Tyrrell: We do call it, nope, we call it LEI.

Jon: I love that. Legendary Experience Index, did you guys make that up?

Tyrrell: So we did, pre my time. So it's been around for years actually, at TD, but it really just, I think talks to the aspiration that we want to deliver an experience that feels legendary to our customers. And so, you measure what matters and that matters to us and so we've been doing that for years. We have a brand that is really beloved by tons of Canadians, and that people are incredibly proud of, internally at TD. And so, in 2017, we actually started looking at the environment and recognizing that the market was moving really quickly. To use a stat that I think we all hear, we've had more change in the last five years than we have in the prior 100. We recognized that we really needed to look at our brand, and make sure that it was fit for the current consumer, etc.. And TD had had the same brand promise around comfortable banking that is pretty well known and was very well known actually in the Canadian landscape. And that brand promise had lived for 17 years. And so what we did is really look to say, as we look at what consumers and our customers are expecting, does the brand, is it as relevant today and will it be in the future as it has been. And so we did a huge insights study, we talked to about 15,000 consumers and really understood, kind of the equity that we had in the brand, what we really need to retain, and there was a lot. But then also really kind of stepping up, so we evolved from a positioning around comfort to confidence. Recognizing that 79% of Canadians don't feel confident in their financial future.

Jon: 15,000 people, that's a lot. And I think that's probably a lot more than most brands would research, talk to, think about. Why was talking to people so important?

Tyrrell: We really relied on insights and data, in part because we continued to have a leading position. And so we really wanted to make sure that we understood the needs of our customers before we evolved the brand. That was just really important. It also really helped shape the dialogue internally, as any large organization, especially one that believes so deeply in it's brand, we needed to be able to socialize and convince a lot of people that we should evolve the brand. Those insights and the data really took the discussion to a new level. And also helped us when people had a lot of deeply held beliefs about the brand, so it helped us really shape the dialogue, the need for change, but also what we were pulling through and keeping and what we're evolving to the next level.

Jon: That's great, because being in advertising for 25 years myself, one of the things that we often encountered was this notion of boardroom apathy, which is hey, we have a very successful campaign, now we're bored of it, let's change it. And then they change it, and maybe they don't talk to people, or maybe they're just making it different for different's sake and it doesn't drive the business in the same way that it did before. So you run the risk sometimes of having something that has a ton of equity in it, comfort, the green chair, we're very familiar with it. And then they we go and change it and people are gonna go, what happened to the comfort, I liked that? So how did you manage to bridge the gap between what people knew and understood TD to be, comfort, green chair, etc, to this new notion of confidence? And how did you bring them on that journey.

Tyrrell: Yeah, and it is, I would say an evolution, and so a lot of the equity that we built, and comfort, we've certainly retained. So the things that created a comfortable banking environment were convenience and service and longer hours, and we still have those things. Those are things that continue to differentiate us. Similarly, the green chair, we modernized it, we slimmed it down, we made it a little bit more current. But we retained it, because actually almost 70% of Canadians recognized that green chair. So to walk away from something that is such a powerful icon, we didn't want to do that. And so we really retained those core equities, and then built on them. And really started talking about the fact that we know that we're still delivering great service, we're still delivering convenience, but we also know that we need to deliver personalized experience and proactive advice and solutions. And really modernize the concept of convenience as well. And all of that to deliver and help our customers feel more confident about their financial future.

Jon: So talking to 15,000 Canadians and getting a fundamental understanding of what TD means to them or what they want from the brand, did you talk to employees?

Tyrrell: We absolutely did. And I would say we did that from top of the house and really got buy in from the CEO and his senior executive team, which is so important. We knew that our brand wouldn't succeed any kind of evolved brand wouldn't succeed if it were housed in marketing. And so we really needed to have buy in across the organization. So that started at the top of the house, but in terms of how it came to life and really understanding it from a front line perspective. That was very important and we continue that dialogue. One of our biggest learnings, one of my biggest learnings has been, something you kind of intuitively know, that you don't change a brand, or even evolve a brand, that's been around with the same positioning for 17 years overnight. And so we continue today, to really embed the brand and we do that through dialogue with our front line staff, our HR teams, our risk teams, because everybody has a role in terms of delivering confidence. And so we are constantly seeking input, guidance,advice, from those constituents. So that was important in the beginning and continues to be important today.

Jon: I think that's a really important thing for people to understand no matter what they're doing or what their organization is. So whether it's a massive relaunch of a brand, or something like an adoption program where you're looking at new technology and getting people to work differently, you have to have that buy in from employees. And they have to understand what it is you're doing, why it is you're doing it, because they are helping you deliver on the promise of the ads, or whatever it is that we're doing.

Tyrrell: Yeah, and we've come a long way in just two years, from just that deeply held foundation around comfort.

Jon: TD as a brand has really been ingrained or aligned to some of the most visible Toronto landmarks, hallmarks, etc... Rogers Center, Union Station, the Jazz Festival, all these things, I mean, we see TD everywhere. Perhaps you could talk a little bit about how people have responded to that, what the role of confidence has been in there, maybe a little bit about ROI?

Tyrrell: Yeah, for sure. So sponsorship plays a really important role in terms of bringing the brand out into the marketplace and creating engagement. I think if you look at any stats about brand, it's really important to help create emotional connections with the brand. And so we really leverage the sponsorships that we have and they extend beyond Toronto. Obviously we've got some very iconic properties here, but recently we did a deal with the Vancouver Canucks, a number of other places, we've got music across the board, the Junos, the CCMA's, the sheer... And all of those actually create these great engagement touchpoints with our customers. We also look for properties where we can actually create a legendary experience. So if you look at Union Station, we've been working with them. Our collective vision was to enhance the experience for visitors, commuters and our customers alike.

Jon: That's awesome. I love how visible TD is out in the world. And I love this notion of the legendary experience. I also am really interested to know more about the community sponsorship and how financial literacy and confidence plays a role in helping solidify TD's brand position in the market.

Tyrrell: We recently launched a program called the Ready Commitment, which is our commitment to citizenship and to really building an inclusive future that allows everyone to thrive. And if you think about that, that is directly related to confidence, because if you're not included, and if you don't have an inclusive future, you can't be confident. As we look at purpose driven brands, which we know now are so important to our customers and to our employees as well. The Ready Commitment coupled with the brand around confidence, just really driving that brand with purpose in the market.

Jon: So smart because, I don't think it matters who you are, or what level you're at, new to Canada or well established and ready to retire. We all wanna be confident. We're all looking for that, and I think, as an aside, our savings and our retirement is a little bit like, I think for a lot of us, we're afraid of it in the way we're afraid of death. We know we need it and we know it's gonna come at some point, but we kinda, we push it over here...that's someday.

Tyrrell: Yeah, we absolutely heard in the insight work that we did in the brand, that lack of confidence is not just for people who're starting off, right? We actually heard that every demographic, if you're getting ready to retire you're thinking about, am I gonna be able to live the life that I've always led, so it actually is quite pervasive. And when you think about 79% of Canadians, it's obviously pervasive.

Jon: Oh yeah.

Tyrrell: Across all sort of socioeconomic variables.

Jon: I find one of the things that's really interesting in the work that we do here, is hearing back from people on the impact that it's had. I wonder, are there are stories that you could share with us where someone has really felt the impact of the new platform of confidence, and you've heard that kind of reflected back in a positive way?

Tyrrell: Yeah, so really good examples are things like fraud, when you have fraud on your card or you have fraud on your account, that is a moment where we need to shine as a brand, because it's a massive moment of confidence. So we relaunched fraud alerts, and telling that story, launching that proof point, we know, had a big impact on people, where they feel like, I'm now in control, so I can be alerted if you suspect fraud on my account. So there are those everyday moments. The other thing that we've done is every year we launch a program that we call TD Thanks You. It's been a great program running now for four years, so confidence really comes to life in those stories. There are personal stories where our TD branch staff have built great personal connections with our customers and are helping them feel more confident. Last year we talked about our customers who were making a difference in the community. We had somebody in Calgary who was setting off to run across Canada in support of rare diseases. His young son was diagnosed with a rare disease and he just really realized that that was a gap in terms of research. So that was his mission and so our branch team knew him, worked with him, helped him feel confident about how he was gonna be able to do that and played a role there. Obviously he had a big support team around him. But, telling those stories, they happen every day in our branches, with our front line staff, in ways that enrich our lives as well as our customers.

Jon: Amazing. It's amazing when people take something that you're doing and kind of make it their own. Or they use it as a banner to really get behind. It's really, really super rewarding. When you think about confidence, it really does touch almost every aspect of the business and of the connections with people. So whether it's cyber or fraud or investing or savings or overdraft, or whatever it is, it's like you wanna feel in control and you wanna feel like your bank has your back. So I'm gonna ask a question, peek behind the curtain if you will, is there anything that you can share with us, any projects, any exciting something that you're working on right now that's really getting you excited?

Tyrrell: Yeah, tons of things. I think in brand and customer experience, it changes everyday, and the bar gets set higher every day. We always talk about our strategy, and our strategy for the last couple of years hasn't changed dramatically, because the mountain's tall and we're only part of the way up it. I think until we really own confidence and deliver legendary experiences everywhere, we're constantly striving for a really high bar. You talked earlier about the connection between purpose and community and brand, and we've got a campaign out in the market now that talks to the fact that four in 10 Canadians actually live with unstable income. And so, again, back to confidence, that doesn't create a lot of confidence for them. And so our citizenship group partnered with organizations around Canada who are putting in place programs and training to help people be able to get to a place where they have more stable income.

Jon: All right, it's the lightning round time.

Tyrrell: Awesome.

Jon: Yes, so, unprepared. You don't know want I'm gonna ask you. I don't know what I'm gonna ask you. Just answer as quickly and as honestly as you can.

Tyrrell: Okay.

Jon: All right, what's the best place you've ever traveled?

Tyrrell: India is the most unique culture.

Jon: Awesome, I have not been to India but I would like to go.

Tyrrell: Fascinating.

Jon: What do you eat for breakfast? Favorite thing? 

Tyrrell: One of two things, apples and peanut butter, or yogurt and blueberries, everyday.

Jon: Wow.

Tyrrell: Boring.

Jon: So, if you go to one of those amazing restaurant brunches, whatever--

Tyrrell: Yeah, yogurt and blueberries for sure, because they may not have peanut butter.

Jon: I thought, eggs...something, it's good though. What's your biggest pet peeve?

Tyrrell: Negativity.

Jon: Nice.

Tyrrell: Negativity.

Jon: Doesn't that suck the life out of the room?

Tyrrell: Yeah, right? Positive attitude.

Jon: Early bird or night owl?

Tyrrell: For sure an early bird.

Jon: What time do you get up in the morning?

Tyrrell: 5:30, 6:00.

Jon: That's pretty good, yeah. What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?

Tyrrell: I would say visualize a positive outcome.

Jon: Can you explain that a little bit?

Tyrrell: Yeah, so somebody told me once, that no matter what you're doing, so whether it's at work, you have a big meeting, you have a presentation, you should always visualize the audience being engaged. Or visualize a great outcome at the end. I'm a big runner and so, as well, going into a race that I'm not comfortable with, a marathon or something, I always visualize a positive outcome. Yep, I know I'm gonna finish that, I know it's hilly, but I'm gonna finish it.

Jon: Awesome. I think my final question might be, for our listeners, if you had to give them a piece of advice. Undertaking a brand refresh from such a huge institution as TD is monumental. What advice might you give someone who is thinking about or undertaking a major brand repositioning, brand refresh, what would you tell them?

Tyrrell: I think the biggest thing, and we talked to it, is engagement. So, engagement, get feedback, listen, to your customers. Listen to the market, listen to your employees and make sure that it's well socialized. I think you can't do, you can't take on a big brand refresh or evolution on your own. Or even as just part of the marketing department, it really needs to be felt, owned and believed by everybody in the organization, and by the customers that you're gonna talk to.

Jon: I love that. Awesome. Hopefully for our listeners, that'll give you a little confidence, see what I did there, on thinking about what you need to do to make these big transformation real. And impactful and work.

Tyrrell: That's the goal.

Jon: Well, that is the end of another episode, that went by really quickly.

Tyrrell: It did.

Jon: Thank you so much for sharing the insights around what TD's been doing on the brand refresh. And giving us a behind the scenes look on what confidence means and how it's articulated out in the market. Super cool. Tyrrell, thank you so much.

Tyrrell: Thanks for having me.

Jon: Thanks for listening to this episode of Shift. You can get more details at If you enjoyed this episode and wanna hear more, subscribe to our podcast series, and make sure you rate us too. You can find us on Tunes, Spotify, Google Play or your preferred podcast platform. Have an idea for Shift? We wanna hear it. Let us know on social by submitting your idea with #shiftpodcast. Just so you know, this podcast has been prepared by Price Waterhouse Cooper's LLP, an Ontario Limited Liability Partnership, for general guidance on matters of interest only, and does not constitute professional advice. Until next time.

ecobee: A smart thermostat buzzing with innovation

Complex ideas often begin with answers to everyday problems. In this episode of PwC Canada’s Shift podcast, we are in conversation with Stuart Lombard, CEO and founder of ecobee; a smart thermostat company that is revolutionizing how people interact with their homes. Stuart shares his Canadian startup success story and what excites him most about the future of technology.

Jon Finkelstein: Hey, thanks for joining and welcome to Shift. PwC Canada’s podcast series where we go behind the scenes  with Canada’s leading organizations to hear their digital transformation stories. I’m your host Jon Finkelstein, Executive Creative Director here at PwC Canada, and I’m a lover of the Internet of Things. 

Jon Finkelstein: Calling all gadget geeks - this episode is for you! We have a great Canadian innovation story coming your way. I was lucky enough to sit down w/ Stuart Lombard, Founder and CEO of ecobee. In this episode he shares how he decided to bring the thermostat, to the 21st century. Fueled by a desire to create an intuitive, connected, and eco-conscious home. We chat about competing against the world’s largest technology companies, continuously innovating ,and the future of smart homes. Have a list, I hope you enjoy and I really hope you learn something too. 

Jon Finkelstein: We're here with Stuart Lombard CEO of Ecobee. And we're going to be talking about a helpful home. 

Jon Finkelstein: So I’m sure it’s been an incredible journey for the company  to get to this point. How did you guys come about to do this? 

Stuart Lombard: We started the business with really a simple idea and an insight. And the simple idea was how can we help people conserve energy, save money, and reduce their environmental footprint. And the insight we had was that heating and cooling is 40 to 70% of your home's energies. So actually better managing your heating and cooling is the best thing you can do. And at the time, I was trying to reduce my environmental impact. So I bought the solar panels. I was on my way to buy the Prius, and my wife was like, honey, this ain't happening. We're not doing this, right I said okay, I'll program my thermostat. At the time thermostats were dumb as a doorknob. They were impossible to use. And one day we came home and we had three kids under the age of four, and our house was 10 degrees. And my wife was like, "Okay, one of you is going, either you or the thermostat. I'm not doing this anymore." Right? And that was really the genesis for how we started. It was really about thinking thoughtfully about how can we elp people solve this problem? Because we believe that people have the power to change the world. We believe that if you give people the right tools, they can make a significant difference, and we can change the world for the better and that's really how we started the business. 

Jon Finkelstein: Where did the name come from?

Stuart Lombard: It was part of a long focus group at the very beginning when we started the business. When we started the business there were like three engineers and my sister said, "Three engineers, you guys need to do some branding." So we did focus groups and I remember we were explaining the concept to people and you're sitting behind the two way glass and people aren't getting it. And I'm like pulling my hair out and anyway, out of that came the name Ecobee. And it's really about a few things. One is obviously, we have an environmental positioning to our product, we are really trying to help people reduce their environmental footprint. But bees are also social animals. They help each other out, they live in hives, actually air conditioning  their hives. There are lots of reasons why bees work well with what we're trying to accomplish.

Jon Finkelstein: It's fun. Yeah, the packets it's just a great brand.

Jon Finkelstein: I’m super into gadgets as you guys know, I have an ecobee at home. The thing I love about where new gadgets are going and new we'll call it smart devices is how simple they are for customers to install. Tell me a little bit about really making a connection with customers right out of the box. 

Stuart Lombard: I think the first thing is, we tell people we compete with Apple. And it's not because Apple makes thermostats, but it's because the experience that we want to give consumers is the same one that you have when you take your phone out of your pocket. And if it's not that good, then consumers would say like, it's kind of crappy. Right?

Jon Finkelstein: Right.

Stuart Lombard: I think that's the first thing, how do you create a really awesome experience? Then some people are tech focused, and they love new gadgets. And if you think about the way we live our lives, our lives are now, revolve around our phones. And so the ability to control my heating and cooling on my phone is an awesome experience. And then we can use science to basically help you reduce your greenhouse gas emissions. So I have $26,000 of solar panels on my roof. I have a $250 Ecobee. My Ecobee saves me 80% as much energy as my $26,000 in solar panels. It is a massive impact. And that's because we're thinking thoughtfully about we learned the way your home performs, we learn about weather, we learn your occupancy patterns, and all those things go together to help you save money, but also make sure that you're comfortable. 

Jon Finkelstein: I love it. 

Jon Finkelstein: What do you think people are saying about Ecobee versus Nest? If they had to kind of talk about one versus the other? I'm just curious. What do you think? 

Stuart Lombard: It's interesting. I tell people when we started, we were the only smart thermostat in the category and people were giving us high fives and it was really exciting and all that kind of stuff. And then nest came out. Nest was created by a gentleman named Tony Fidel. And he was the gentleman who created the iPod. He is really like the godfather of consumer electronics. When Nest came out, it was like, Oh, geez, right? Because we thought we were champions. We thought we had this awesome product and all that stuff. But we were really champions of the North Toronto minor Bantam Hockey League, we weren't playing in the NHL. And so really credit to the team. What we did was we really retooled and we went back and really changed the way we did everything. And that has created a significantly better company. And we believe that we are really focused on innovating, on really solving problems for consumers.  When you look at things like room sensors, for example, we invented room sensors. We were the first to come up with a mobile app. We were the first to spot Apple home kit. We were the first with Alexa voice integration. It's really about innovating but at the same time innovating with a purpose which is how do we solve problems for customers. Jon Finkelstein: When you said that you retooled or rethought, about how the company operates, it went from what to what?

Stuart Lombard: I think the core thing is, we always set a high bar, but I'm not sure we realized how high the bar needs to be right? I liken it to kind of when I was in high school, and you put in a paper and if you got B, you were like, "Oh, that's pretty awesome. That's pretty good." Right? And the reality is, I think, to succeed in consumer electronics, you have to provide a 97, 98, 99% experience, where consumers think it's crap. That's how high the bar is. And that's why I say when we think about how we compete, we compete with Apple, because, yeah, they don't make thermostats, but that's the experience that consumers have come to expect.

Jon Finkelstein: What is your stance on net new innovation versus taking things that exist, and optimizing them or new uses or whatever. I'll give an example, Ecobee does a great job of integrating Alexa or weather data, all these different things and bringing them together to create something new. I would say that's kind of taking the existing and putting it into new use versus, "Hey, we're going to come up with a brand new way of doing X or Y." Thoughts?

Stuart Lombard: We're doing both right. I think innovation is really about integrative thinking more than anything else, right? I think the people who are innovating are a lot of the time being able to see something in a field that's maybe totally unrelated, and relating it back to what you're doing over here in creating a new product or a new functionality or new way of doing things. A lot of innovation, I think is around that. The other thing that we've done is we've opened up Ecobee labs. Ecobee labs is really about creating dedicated time, space and resources to just work on problems, right? I think as a product company, often you're on a product release timeline, right? You're trying to get this out for that quarter. We need to get this out for the holiday shopping season as an example, right?

Jon Finkelstein: I love the fact, if I'm hearing you right, you're creating a culture of innovation. You're giving your employees permission to imagine. And you're allocating resources and time to do that. Has it backfired at all?

Stuart Lombard: I don't think so. I think, when we think about our strategic framework and how we win, being the innovator in the space is a core part of our strategic framework. I think it falls into what are our core values. Two of our core values are really important. The first one is this idea of transparency. Transparency is really about how do we make sure people have access to the information they need to do their jobs well, and so we've really tried to be thoughtful about eliminating any silos, any barriers? Nobody has offices, not even I have an office, right? You can ask me any question anytime, and I should get it. I should be able to give you the best answer I can. But also in the way that we construct our office. If you walked into our office, we have a town square. And we have a town square anthropology says that people have got together and town squares for centuries to share ideas, learn news, and all that kind of stuff. All our hallways are at least 10 feet wide, so you can carry on a conversation of three or four people and you never have to stop.

Jon Finkelstein: Is that right?

Stuart Lombard: Yeah, all of our walls are whiteboard wall. So if you have an idea, you can jot it down. We believe people learn visually, and we give people tools. So we have things like Creative Labs that have all kinds of construction paper and markers and sticky posts and plasticine. We have 3D printers. Really trying to enable people to be creative, but then also giving them time. We do things like hackathons where people spend two or three days and they can work on ideas that they'd like to. There's some amazing things that come out of those hackathons. And really this idea that good ideas can come from anywhere. And how do you enable your employee base who are working most directly with customers who are on the front lines, who are seeing challenges and opportunities to surface those in an awesome way until we try and do a lot of those things.

Jon Finkelstein: Amazing. I love it

Jon Finkelstein: Are you surprised at how quickly sort of home automation has become a bit how lucrative it is, how willing and open people are to adopt it? 

Stuart Lombard: I think connected home is probably one of the three most interesting areas in consumer electronics right now. And if you had told me that when we started, I would have never believed it, right? I think especially the thermostats would be at the center of that connected home, right? It's interesting because when I started, I had this cushy job. I was working as a partner in a venture capital firm. I was 44th floor of a tower, I had an assistant and I was like, whatever. And I gave it all up to start a thermostat company, and my wife and my friends were like, you are crazy, right? It is like, "Why are you doing this? Nobody cares about thermostats. What are you going to do six months from now?" And the implication was that thermostats were as good as they were ever going to be. I think one of the things that we're very focused on is this idea of continuous learning. If you think about our products today, we're talking about machine learning and AI, we're talking about voice recognition, we're talking about digital assistants, all kinds of things around Smart Grid, it's really changed. But everything that we knew ... when we started, people say like, how did you start the company? Were you in the HVAC business? Or did you know consumer electronics? None of us had ever created consumer electronics product before. And none of us had ever been in the heating and cooling business. But I think we had this core belief that if you can open up a book, you can learn anything, right? And I think that's carried through one of the things I'm really excited about for the company is that it's really sort of carried through and you see it every day. Every day we're learning something new. Every day we're different and we're a very different company today than we were three years ago, than we werewhen we started and we'll be a very different company three years from now.

Jon Finkelstein: I heard through the grapevine that you can spend days of your time answering calls, service calls yourself, tell me a little bit about that. What's up with that.  

Stuart Lombard: I think we're very focused on consumer led innovation. Consumer led innovation is really about understanding what your customers are saying. And I think certainly as we've gotten bigger, it's been easy for me to sit in the office, I don't have and say, "Hey, everything is wonderful." Right? But actually getting down to the trenches and listening to your customers and hearing what they have to say is incredibly valuable and therapeutic. Every time I do it, I come back with insights or ideas about what we could do, or maybe things that we should fix or things that don't make sense. We encourage everyone in the business to do it. When we started, actually, everybody in the company used to get every single customer service email. We can't do that anymore. But it's really that idea of how do you understand what your customers are saying about you

Jon Finkelstein: Right. When you're on the phone with customers, do you tell them who you are?

Stuart Lombard: It depends, sometimes I do. Particularly difficult ones I do.

Jon Finkelstein: You know I'm ...

Stuart Lombard: Sometimes you have an irate customer is it helps to say, "Well do you know you're speaking to the CEO of the company." Some of them are like, "Go on, I don't believe you."

Jon Finkelstein: That's like, "I'm really irate right now, let me speak to your manager." "Well, actually, I'm the CEO."

Jon Finkelstein: Let's talk about privacy for a sec. Do you feel like people ... give a moment's thought around the privacy, especially around Alexa. There's been so much in the news and people talking about that, privacy concerns. Let's talk a little bit about that what do you say to skeptics who are wary of either, "This is something that's going to break, I'll just stick with the mercury thermostat. Thank you very much." Or "I'm worried about Alexa listening to me, or what are you using my thermostat data for my queries?"

Stuart Lombard: Privacy is really important. It's something that that people care about. We've been very thoughtful about privacy, and we believe that customers data belongs, frankly, to customers. It's not ours to decide what to do with it. It's really yours to decide what to do with. One of the things that I think makes us very different than lots of other companies in the space is what our business model is. We're not trying to monetize you by selling advertising or we don't have some other business model. We consider ourselves invited guests into your home, right? And if we want to do well we need to provide products and services that you value, and we need to be good guests in your home. When we stop being good guests, you're going to say, thank you very much you're out of here. We really live that, every single day. It's about being really explicit about how we think about your data, what we do with it, those types of things in a very transparent way.

Jon Finkelstein: Consumer electronics, home automation, all the smart stuff, it's a very competitive industry for talent. How do you keep morale high? How do you develop talent and really make sure that people are kind of performing their best and not losing sight of what the company stands for?

Stuart Lombard: I think we're trying to create the company that we all always wanted to work for, right. I think as entrepreneurs we have the opportunity to actually create a different future, right? It's interesting, we were sitting in the room and we were like, "Yeah, I think we can do that. Yeah, we can't do that. We're in charge." Right? We try and create, first of all, a company that people want to work for. That's about a company that has strong values, that has a point of view, that sticks to that point of view. Maybe does some things that people wouldn't think we would do, right? One of the things we have is a program we call A Better Tomorrow. And a better tomorrow is all about how we make our cities more sustainable. We're working with Community Housing groups where we donate literally thousands and thousands of thermostats, to help bridge the energy poverty gap. We're also working with researchers, and all kinds of institutions, really trying to solve all kinds of problems, everything from energy efficiency problems, to how do we help seniors live longer in their homes? And one of the very cool things we did is, we work with this group in Indiana. We proved that they didn't need to build a billion dollar gas fire generation plan. We saved the ratepayers of Indiana billion dollars. But we also say massive amounts of greenhouse gas emissions and those types of things. If you think about the future you want to have and how you create a company that's both compelling for consumers but compelling place to work, you can be both aspirational, and build a good business.  One of the things we say is that we're very optimistic about the future because we believe that we can help people create a better future. 

Jon Finkelstein: What do you think the future holds?

Stuart Lombard: As I said, I'm really excited about the future. I think there's lots of negative news about climate change that you read almost every single day. But I think the reality is that there are three seminal trends that will change the future of climate change. The first is that renewables are the cheapest energy that's out there today. If you're in California, you can buy renewable solar power at two cents a kilowatt hour. It is the cheapest power, cheaper than the fuel that actually goes into a gas fired power plant, right? Over time, you're going to see more and more renewables come on the grid. The second is electrification of transportation. If you have met anyone who has an electric car, they will tell you hands down, it is a better car today already, right? That trend is only going to continue. And 10, 15 years from now we'll all be driving electric cars not only because it's good for the environment, but also because they're just way better, right? Then the third thing is increased urbanization. With increased urbanization, people tend to live in smaller dwellings and people living in smaller dwellings tend to consume less energy. Overall, you're going to see a significant reduction in the amount of greenhouse gases that come over the next, call it, 10 to 20 years. I think that bodes incredibly well for the future. 

Jon Finkelstein: Is there anything else that you could talk about what you're working on right now that's really getting you excited. 

Stuart Lombard: I think artificial intelligence and machine learning will change the world. And I think they will change the world, not to similarly to the way that the internet changed the world. We're really at the forefront of that revolution. I think it will change the world in so many different ways almost like the internet, where it's really impacted virtually everything we do. I think you will see machine learning and AI change the way we do everything. We use it today to do everything from predicting, like how many thermostats, we're going to sell on a Best Buy store on a given day to how do we make our products easier and more intuitive to use? Right, and it's really amazing what those tools can do for you.

Jon Finkelstein: I can't wait until whether it's my thermostat or my home automation greets me when I come in.

Stuart Lombard: Yeah, yeah.

Jon Finkelstein: I don't know if anybody is doing that right now. But I would love it to be that kind of thing where you walk in it's, "Hello, John, welcome home. Would you like me to set the temperature to 18 degrees and pour you a drink?" Or whatever. My future companions are always English. 

Stuart Lombard: I think those are all reality. Right? I think those are all coming in and they're all within the next three to five years for sure.

Jon Finkelstein: Well, it's amazing. 

Jon Finkelstein: Let's do. Okay, it's the lightning round.

Jon Finkelstein: Okay. Best place you've ever traveled. 

Stuart Lombard: China. 

Jon Finkelstein: Was it for work?

Stuart Lombard: I was in China. I lived in China in 1992. And at that time, China in that period and where I was right in the middle of central China was unbelievable.

Jon Finkelstein: I've not been there. What about favorite movie?

Stuart Lombard: I don't watch movies, 

Jon Finkelstein: Okay, biggest pet peeve

Stuart Lombard: I would say it is, dishes in the sink.

Jon Finkelstein: Dishes in the sink. If you could meet three people who passed on, who would they be?

Stuart Lombard: Ben Franklin would be number one. 

Jon Finkelstein: Ben Franklin.

Stuart Lombard: Ben Franklin's amazing, I got a chance to read his biography, amazing. What he was able to accomplish. Ben Franklin would be one. I think Leonardo da Vinci would be two and maybe Einstein would be three.

Jon Finkelstein: Wow, that says a lot about you. I'm totally getting a good picture of you right now. I'd like to come to that dinner. What's your favorite food? 

Stuart Lombard: Well, you didn't say people who are still alive.

Jon Finkelstein: No, no, that's great. But I mean, it's like they're all very similar in a way right? Inventors?

Stuart Lombard: They're super similar.

Jon Finkelstein: Favorite food?

Stuart Lombard: I don't know. 

Jon Finkelstein: Well, let me ask you this-

Stuart Lombard: Brussels Sprouts, how about that? 

Jon Finkelstein: Okay. Wow. I was going to say if it's not favorite food, do you like breakfast lunch or dinner the best?

Stuart Lombard: Breakfast.

Jon Finkelstein: Breakfast. You don't have breakfast-

Stuart Lombard: Brussels Sprouts don't go breakfast.

Jon Finkelstein: They don't really go for breakfast. My wife has these Brussels sprouts with a pan fries, they're so good. I love them.

Stuart Lombard: Yeah, those are awesome. Yeah. 

Jon Finkelstein: What is the best piece of advice that someone's ever given you?

Stuart Lombard: Be focused?

Jon Finkelstein: Are you scattered? Or that was just something that they said? 

Stuart Lombard: I think when you start a business, you think you're going to be like the Maytag repairman, which is maybe I'm dating myself, but this sort of idea that you're going to sit there at your office or your desk, and nobody's going to call. And you're going to be worried, what am I going to do next? I think the reality is that once you get into it, there's so many options, there's so many things you could do that really focusing on the things that are really important and cutting everything else out is really the key to success. Being focused, being able to say no, that is the hardest part, I think.

Jon Finkelstein: Awesome. 

Jon Finkelstein: Well, that wraps up another episode of Shift. Thanks, everybody for listening. Stuart, thank you so much for spending your valuable time with us and sharing some insights about Ecobee the company and how much you like Brussels sprouts. Which I do too. Hopefully everybody got something out of it. And thanks so much for creating a great product. I love my Ecobee and I certainly recommend it to my friends when they come over, it's right in the front. Until next time, this is John signing off for shift.

Jon Finkelstein: Thanks for listening to this episode of Shift. You can get more details at If you enjoyed this episode and want to hear more, subscribe to our podcast series, and make sure you rate us on Itunes. You can find us on iTunes, Spotify Google Play or your preferred podcast platform. Have an idea for Shift? We want to hear it. Let us know on social by submitting ideas with #shiftpodcast. Just so you know, this podcast has been prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, an Ontario limited liability partnership, for general guidance on matters of interest only and does not constitute professional advice. Until next time.

Scotiabank: Rebranding Scotiabank Arena

Clinton Braganza, CMO, of Scotiabank, was tasked with one monumental marketing challenge: changing the nomenclature of a nation. After the 2017 acquisition for the naming rights of the former ACC arena, Braganza and team started a full-scale campaign to reprogram the vocabulary of the Canadian people. In the Season Two premiere of the Shift podcast, host Jon Finkelstein sits down with Clinton to learn how he took Scotiabank’s alignment with sports beyond the scoreboard. Clinton shares how through the acquisition of the arena he was able to tap into the minds and hearts of Canadian people to create lasting change and a stellar customer experience that reaches beyond the bank.

Jon Finkelstein: Hey, thanks for joining and welcome to Shift, PwC Canada's podcast series where we go behind-the-scenes with Canada's leading organizations to hear their digital transformation stories. I'm your host, Jon Finkelstein, executive creative director here at PwC Canada, and backyard grill master. Brands, banks, and basketball. That's what we're talking about in the Season 2 kickoff of Shift. In this episode, we go behind the headlines with Clinton Braganza, the CMO of Scotiabank, to learn about their record-breaking acquisition of the Scotiabank Arena. I came in thinking, "it's just about the name." But I discovered, and you will too, that it's so much more. Have a listen. All right, welcome to Season 2 of Shift. Amazing that we're in our second season. So today we have an amazing guest. A topic that's super close to my heart, and that's marketing, and today we have the CMO of Scotiabank, Clinton Braganza, welcome.

Clinton Braganza: Thank you. Thank you, nice to be here.

Jon Finkelstein: So for people who are listening and maybe they're not super familiar with what a CMO does, what you do for the bank, maybe you could just take a second and kind of fill us in on all the great stuff you're doing.

Clinton Braganza: Yeah, so first of all for Scotiabank, we are Canada's international bank. The origins of the bank are in fact, Scotiabank is older than the country itself; it's older than Canada. It started out in Nova Scotia in a coffee shop is where it first started. But we operate in 40+ countries around the world. And really my role is to work with each of the teams in the local markets to make sure that we have a solid brand architecture. We also are the customer advocate so it's marketing's role to speak on behalf of the customer internally. And then I would say more classic marketing, sponsorships, communications, those are the three functions of our team.

Jon Finkelstein: Let's talk a little bit about what it means for Scotia to be intrinsically wrapped up into the fabric of Canada.

Clinton Braganza: Yeah, and really if I think about Scotiabank and the fact that we serve so many million Canadians, one of the big pillars that we've invested in over the course of the last decade is hockey. Quite simply, we are investing in hockey because Canadians love hockey. When I say "we invest in hockey," I mean all the way from grassroots, supporting kids' community hockey right to the top where we are sponsor of the NHL and several hockey teams, professional hockey teams here in Canada.

Jon Finkelstein: Let's start at what's on, I think, a lot of people's minds a few years ago, cause we're talking about the bank's investment in hockey. When you think about hockey it does become part of Canada in a way that I think no other sport or activity can do. You went ahead and you got the rights to what was previously the Air Canada Centre. I think that blew everybody's mind because the numbers were staggering. For those who don't remember it was like $800,000,000 for 20 years.

Clinton Braganza: Correct.

Jon Finkelstein: Talk to me a little bit about the thinking, the strategy, why that was important for Scotiabank to do.

Clinton Braganza: So you're right, Air Canada had taken over naming when the building was first built. That was 20 years ago.

Jon Finkelstein: Yeah

Clinton Braganza: So for 20 years that building has been called the ACC. And when Air Canada and the Toronto MLSE Team couldn't come to a deal, we looked at this as a very, very unique opportunity. In many ways, this is the crown jewel of buildings in Canada. There's a basketball team, there's a hockey team, and then premiere concerts, so many, many nights during the year that building is full.

Jon Finkelstein: Hmm!

Clinton Braganza: The fact that we are now part of the social fabric of this city, but also of the country, that's a really, really unique proposition.

Jon Finkelstein: Yeah, well I mean working down here at 18 York, and for those of you who are listening and may not know where we're recording from we're at York and Bremner, which is across the street from the Scotiabank Arena. And we get to witness firsthand the mayhem that happens around there and it really has become a hub, a social hub of excitement and passion, and sports and music, and all the things that make us individuals which I think is super cool.

Clinton Braganza: And that happened very organically. If you actually think about the origins of the building it was built below Front Street. 22 years ago, there was nothing around the building

Jon Finkelstein: No

Clinton Braganza: And I remember coming down when it first opened thinking, "Oh my gosh! "Why would they build this building so far away from "the heart of it all?" That being Yonge-Dundas at the time. And now you're absolutely right, this is the heart of our city, what we as Torontonians and we as Canadians experienced in the last couple of months was nothing short of spectacular and I feel very lucky to have been involved in a deal of that magnitude.

Jon Finkelstein: It can't have been easy. You want to take us through a little bit about how it came to pass?

Clinton Braganza: I guess the first thing that we needed to do is we needed to make sure that we were aligned on our strategy. This started with us being the official bank of the Toronto Maple Leafs and frankly a desire to protect that really, really important asset. And so, much like the best house on your street that goes up for sale once every 20 years there's a bit of a conversation that starts in the street and the price tends to go north and that's exactly what happened and that's an oversimplification in many ways. But we knew that we had to protect our asset with the Toronto Maple Leafs. And then we started becoming extremely excited about the proposition of having our name on the side of this building. Again, north of 280 nights a year that building is full and to have your name associated with hockey and basketball, and concerts and pop culture, from a bank's perspective? It really orients towards banking in the future versus banking in the past. And by that I mean, banking these days is much, muchmore digital than it has ever been. 80% of our transactions now occur outside of the branch. You can do so much on your phone, open up credit accounts, open up savings accounts, open up a mortgage. So as we think about tomorrow's generation the health of our brand is really gonna be propped up by integrating into popular culture with assets like the Scotiabank Arena.

Jon Finkelstein: How do people react when Scotiabank took over the naming rights? I mean, we're so used to calling it the Air Canada Centre and I mean there was a fair amount of negativity around when SkyDome changed from SkyDome to Rogers Centre and I think, you know, you see people on the street and they have the shirts that said "I Still Call It SkyDome!" or "I'll Always Call It SkyDome!"

Clinton Braganza: Yep.

Jon Finkelstein: Right? So, take me through that, I mean, how do people feel; did you have a lot of work to do around correcting them or helping them understand what's going on here?

Clinton Braganza: Yeah, you're spot-on in many ways we were trying to break a 20 year habit. We had to do a lot of heavy lifting 'cause the reaction that we got was change and generally speaking, consumers don't like change. And so we really, once the deal was signed that became for year one, our entire focus. Which was how do we really embrace Scotiabank Arena in Toronto and across the country? And how do we really accelerate name adoption? 'Cause our work with Google Analytics suggested it would take about two and a half years to really have that name cement itself. And we had some good luck along the way. So the day that our sign was going on the side of the building, was the day that the Leafs signed John Tavares. Two weeks later the Raptors sign Kawhi Leonard. And so suddenly the narrative started to shift around ACC, Scotiabank Arena to "Wow! "What's truly happening in that building?" Which is these sports franchises are setting themselves up to really take a serious run at the championship.

Jon Finkelstein: Yeah, I mean talk about a perfect storm. But I think it's really fundamental for people who are listening in to understand that when you go and do an undertaking of any type, sponsorship, some sort of alignment, whatever it is has to be true to your brand value and I think it's really important for Scotiabank. That's kind of like you have it from, as you said earlier end-to-end; grassroots to the, basically the crown jewel building in the country. What do you think that does for the consumer experience? How do you think people really internalize that and what's the attribution like toward Scotiabank as a result?

Clinton Braganza: When we focus in on hockey and we drive affinity and brand association with hockey, what we see is that more Canadians are willing to consider Scotiabank for more products and services than the average. And that's really, really important in our category 'cause you don't switch banks that often.

Jon Finkelstein: No.

Clinton Braganza: If you think about your own life and your family's life you choose a bank and generally speaking, that's the bank that you go with. And so our data shows that those Canadians that are aware of our association with hockey, have a higher consideration for Scotiabank than those that don't. So in many ways, hockey allows us to punch above our weight class relative to the category leaders.

Jon Finkelstein: Yeah, I read some articles basically on the return or at least the supposed return on, at least the investment on the naming rights. Can you talk more specifically about what it's done for the business?

Clinton Braganza: Yeah, so again, let's get calibrated on the numbers. So $800,000,000, 20 year deal, wanted to make sure that if we were gonna do this, we were gonna do it at a length of time that we had time to not only change adoption but really drive business value for our shareholders. So I would say from a name adoption perspective, exceeds expectations and again, a lot of it had to do with the success of the Toronto Raptors.

Jon Finkelstein: Yeah.

Clinton Braganza: We got national coverage, we got international coverage and so, from that perspective this was a lightning strike, winning changes everything. In fact it's the quickest side there, the number of people that saw those final games against Golden State continued to break records in Canada on a national basis.

Jon Finkelstein: Oh I believe it.

Clinton Braganza: We'd just never seen basketball numbers that high in Canada before. And that's 'cause everyone across the country rallied around the success of the Toronto Raptors.

Jon Finkelstein: Scotiabank spends $800,000,000 on naming rights. I'm just wondering, was the average Canadian pissed off? 'Cause I'm just trying to think it's like, here is a bank. I give the bank my money, they charge me you know, sure I make interest, and all that stuff. They charge me for transactions and making profits and all this kind of stuff. And now they went ahead and used that money to put their name on the side of a building. How do people feel about that?

Clinton Braganza: Yeah, I think we monitored the reaction really carefully on the day the announcement was made. 'Cause we wanted to make sure that we were being, we were listening to both our customers and what Canadians were saying. And certainly there was some noise that came through around, "well now my fees are gonna go up; "and you're gonna charge me a higher interest rate." I'd say timing worked in our favor in that those signings really changed the narrative to "wow the reason we got Tavares, "the reason we got Kawhi Leonard "is because of the $800,000,000 deal that Scotia signed." So, suddenly Canadians were giving us credit for, you know, big off-season signings on the team. But yeah, there was originally some noise and then that turned very quickly to optimism about the team's performance.

Jon Finkelstein: That's amazing because I think that the average person probably doesn't really make the connection between what does...

Clinton Braganza: What do they do...

Jon Finkelstein: What's MLSE gonna do with the money? "Oh great, it's gonna go into our shareholders, "blah, blah, blah," whatever the thing is. And they don't really make the connection that they're gonna use the money to attract talent to be able to do these signings. So yeah, talk about a perfect storm that would've been amazing, for sure.

Clinton Braganza: Literally, it was July 1st and they announced our building name was being raised on a crane. And Brendan Shanahan, you know, "Live from Scotiabank Arena "we have important news for Leafs fans across the country. "We've just signed John Tavares." I mean, that, as a marketer, you're gonna get lucky in your career once or twice; that one, served my entire career as far as luck is concerned.

Jon Finkelstein: Right.

Clinton Braganza: It was spectacular.

Jon Finkelstein: Let's dig a little deeper on name adoption. So, we're so used to calling it the Air Canada Centre, and then we're changing it, or you change it to Scotiabank Arena. How did you really get people to reconsider, rethink name adoption, did you have any sort of tricks in your bag to speed that up?

Clinton Braganza: Yeah, so let me tell you first, one of my biggest fears is that someone was gonna come up with a cute acronym for Scotiabank Arena.

Jon Finkelstein: The Vault.

Clinton Braganza: And suddenly that's what it was gonna be called for the next 20 years. So if you ask me what I was worried about, by far it was you know, what happened to Air Canada. So again, for a generation that calls it the ACC I suspect some of those people didn't even know the connection to Air Canada Centre.

Jon Finkelstein: Oh, that's really interesting.

Clinton Braganza: So the nomenclature was incredibly important to us at Scotiabank that you actually call it Scotiabank Arena,

Jon Finkelstein: As opposed to SA.

Clinton Braganza: SA, or you know, The Vault, to your point, or a whole host of other names that were talked about at the grassroots level.

Jon Finkelstein: Yeah.

Clinton Braganza: Again, we monitor this but it really never gained traction. And so, number one was to make sure that we really cemented this name, Scotiabank Arena. My theory was if Ron and Don say, " The Vault," on TV, well guess what's gonna happen the next day.

Jon Finkelstein: Yeah.

Clinton Braganza: So once we determined, okay, Scotiabank Arena, this is what we want to call it, we started brainstorming with our agency partners, with our internal team. What are the things that we can do to really improve the customer experience? Or the fan experience? And so some of the things we did, we did a partnership with Metrolinx, where we gave out free PRESTO cards that were branded Scotiabank Arena and we pre-loaded them to give fans free rides on the TTC or the on the GO Train. Those are the kind of tactics that really, really, for those that weren't aware, you hand them a free PRESTO card that's got $8 on it and now, suddenly that becomes their PRESTO card for their lives. I mean that worked remarkably well. And again we leveraged our hockey ecosystem; we had Darcy Tucker handing these things out at GO stations and at TTC stations. So we spent a significant amount of money on outdoor, in and around the arena, to really promote the fact that, you know, that this was now our house. It had a new name, but we wanted to be respectful of the heritage as well, right? So we made sure that we were never denigrating Air Canada or ACC, this was all about looking ahead. And I'd say finally, the last thing we did is this is a 20 year building, and it doesn't look like a 20 year old building. And so in collaboration with MLSE, we've made some improvements to the arena itself. Actually, at the moment there's a crane across the street that's taking down the Videotron board at Jurassic Park and we're making it 30% bigger and high definition. So the experience for the fan is gonna be much, much better in September of this year than it was watching the playoffs.

Jon Finkelstein: I love the fact that you're looking at it from the fan experience, or the consumer experience, or whatever you want to call it, back toward the organization 'cause I think if it was toward the other way, it wouldn't be as effective. Right?

Clinton Braganza: I agree.

Jon Finkelstein: And I think it's really interesting, too, because when my initial reaction was probably aligned to the naysayers, right? "Oh they're spending $800,000,000, good for them." You know, "must have been a good year," kind of thing. But one of the things I think is really great is that you're using that as an opportunity to fuel passion, to generate excitement, to give something back to the fans, to change the experience to make it better. And to make the partnership much more than a name on the building, but instead make it meaningful for people, and that's really where the power is.

Clinton Braganza: Absolutely. In fact, internally that's how we started promoting it is that this was much, much more than the name on the side of the building. We really wanted to start with the fans whether they were here in Toronto, or frankly, across the country and really embrace that excitement of winning. Certainly we're really, really proud of first year and name adoption

Jon Finkelstein: Oh yeah, man! You should be, absolutely.

Clinton Braganza: Where it really started to hit me, personally was when the signs started to change underground and on the highways and it said Scotiabank Arena right? This wasn't our signs, this was part of the fabric of Toronto. And that's when the extent of the deal really became magic. Google started automatically flipping if you started Google search of ACC, it changed it to Scotiabank Arena. Uber did the same thing, right? So again, we took advantage of our entire ecosystem to make sure that name adoption was there.

Jon Finkelstein: I love that. I never even considered that would be something that you would do.

Clinton Braganza: Yeah.

Jon Finkelstein: So think about that, you start typing in Air Canada Centre in Uber or Google,

Clinton Braganza: Yeah

Jon Finkelstein: and there's an algorithm or whatever that changes it to Scotiabank Arena.

Clinton Braganza: And it gets better, what we did is we work with our ambassador and our partner, Austin Matthews, we created short videos and he would pop up and say, "Hey! It's called Scotiabank Arena now! It's our home." So we had a little bit of fun along the way to really embrace the fact that after all, it's sports, it's the Leafs, there's passion, there's heritage. As much as it was a really serious marketing complex problem to solve, we took advantage of things in a very Scotia-like way.

Jon Finkelstein: Amazing! Alright! Welcome to the lightning round. Where we put you in the hot seat to learn a little bit more about who you are outside your day job. So, what's your favorite movie?

Clinton Braganza: Star Wars

Jon Finkelstein: The first one?

Clinton Braganza: First one.

Jon Finkelstein: Ah, awesome!

Clinton Braganza: Yeah.

Jon Finkelstein: Are you an early bird or a night owl?

Clinton Braganza: Night owl.

Jon Finkelstein: Do you tuck in your sheets at the bottom of your bed or do you kick them open so you feet can hang out?

Clinton Braganza: Kick them open.

Jon Finkelstein: Nice. Favorite food?

Clinton Braganza: Bacon!

Jon Finkelstein: Wow!

Clinton Braganza: And then bacon wrapped in bacon.

Jon Finkelstein: Best place you've ever traveled?

Clinton Braganza: Cape Town, South Africa.

Jon Finkelstein: Have you ever gone parachuting?

Clinton Braganza: No.

Jon Finkelstein: Would you?

Clinton Braganza: No.

Jon Finkelstein: Favorite campaign?

Clinton Braganza: Where's the beef?

Jon Finkelstein: Wendy's! Wow, nice!

Clinton Braganza: Yeah.

Jon Finkelstein: That was a great campaign!

Clinton Braganza: It was terrific.

Jon Finkelstein: If you weren't working for Scotiabank, where would you work?

Clinton Braganza: I would be a contractor.

Jon Finkelstein: Like building houses?

Clinton Braganza: Yeah I mean, I grew up watching Bob Vila I know "Homes and Homes" and "The Power of an Hour" but the man that for me, my hero was Bob Vila.

Jon Finkelstein: Bob Vila

Clinton Braganza: So on weekends, you can see me, channeling my inner Bob Vila.

Jon Finkelstein: Swingin' the old hammer?

Clinton Braganza: Oh yeah.

Jon Finkelstein: Nice. Do you have a pneumatic nailer?

Clinton Braganza: I do.

Jon Finkelstein: Me too. 

Clinton Braganza: They're awesome.

Jon Finkelstein: So that wraps up the first episode of Season 2. Clinton, thanks so much for being here, man. That was a great conversation.

Clinton Braganza: My pleasure, thanks for listening.

Jon Finkelstein: Thanks for listening to this episode of Shift. You can get more details at If you enjoyed this episode and want to hear more subscribe to our podcast series. And make sure you rate us, too. You can find us on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, or your preferred podcast platform. Have an idea for Shift? We want to hear it! Let us know on social by submitting your idea with #shiftpodcast Just so you know, this podcast has been prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, an Ontario Limited Liability Partnership, for general guidance and matters of interest only, and does not constitute professional advice. Until next time.

About the Shift podcast

Successful business transformation is taking on the demands of today while preparing for the challenges of tomorrow. In each episode of Shift, we amplify the voice of leading industry experts, to share their unique perspectives on what it takes to transform.

Join us to learn how these leaders are approaching and executing on their transformation journeys while ensuring they perform as they transform. Listen as they describe what they're doing to create sustained outcomes for their employees, customers and communities.

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