Leading the Future of Work
Excellent. Well Amy, thank you for taking some time to meet with us today and have a conversation about leadership, about your story and about current conditions and the ways to which KeyBank is helping clients be safe and protected during these uncertain times. So we're thrilled to have a conversation with you and welcome.
Thanks, Allison. And it's great to be together in this virtual world that we are finding ourselves in, but it's great to be here.
Great, well, thank you. So our Women in Manufacturing Summit, as I'm sure has been shared, brings together women and men who are connected to the manufacturing space from all over the country for a multi-day conference to talk about key issues that are being faced currently by individuals in the manufacturing space. And we always love to have individuals such as yourself join us to share a little bit about your story and expertise and to share with us today a little bit about your career path, how did you rise the ranks? How did you become Chief Information Officer and EVP at KeyCorp and as well, talk a little bit about your role and responsibility within the company present day?
Well, I'd love to share, I have to say, do we have an hour so I can talk about my 30 years of experience? No, let me just cut to the chase. I'll kind of cut it down, but starting with, I have to admit I never had on my career trajectory that I wanted to be a CIO of a Fortune 500 company. So let me just start with the end in mind there. I actually started my career as a management trainee after receiving a liberal arts education and joined NCNB, which then grew up over multiple acquisitions to become Bank of America. And I spent 25 years of my career at Bank of America. The first 14 years of my career, I was on the business side. So I was, I loved my job. I was running a region in Southeast Florida and I loved interacting with the clients and our teammates and driving business. And then I was asked to shift to lead and build an R and D group for Bank of America. And I remember thinking, why me? Why do you want me to do this? And the answer I got from the then president was, "Hey, you run a successful market, we want you to help us create what the bank of the future is going to be." I'm going to date myself, that was back in the year 2000 and I hate to say it, but many of the things we tested back then are now being used today, and video's one of them. We tested video presence in our branches back in 2000 to see if customers would adopt it. And fast forward to 2020, it's just a mirror 20 years later and think about how we're interacting today. It's phenomenal. What I learned during that time, however, was that I was really interested in what was going on in technology. So I was asked to then move after that role into the technology space. And I thought I would join the tech team and be there for about two years. I thought, "Oh, that'll be enough and I'll go back to the business." But what I found was I was learning more and more about how the business was changing and I could see that technology was changing everything and how we were interacting with our clients and how we were going to operate in the future. And I really wanted to be a part of that change. So I stayed in technology. And then my boss at that time, one of the division CIOs said to me, "Do you ever want to be a CIO?" And I said, "No, absolutely not. I really still want to go back to, quote, the business." But then I realized technology was the business. And quite frankly, today technology is everybody's business, whether you're in manufacturing or whether you're a teacher or whether you're a doctor or, you know, think of, think of, is there an industry out there that hasn't been transformed by technology or isn't being transformed by technology today? So I ended up staying in tech and doing a whole variety of roles. Until I got a call from Beth Mooney who was the then CEO of KeyCorp. And she inspired me to make a career change and join her as the first female CEO of a U.S. bank. And I just thought it was a journey that I wanted to be a part of and I've been here now eight years and I've never looked back on my entire career. I think I've been very fortunate to be able to say I've been from the front-end of a customer all the way to the back-end of the data centers and bringing all those pieces together. And when you talk about what's going on today, that's, I mean, it's just so critical. So that's kind of my journey here. And obviously my role at Key is a little bit broader than just technology, but I love what I do.
What an amazing story and journey and in an area, as you said, that we are all now, I think more, more aware of and more informed about technology now than ever having to be so relying on everyday just to get work done and to stay connected and collaborating with people.
So as you said, your role is something more expansive than just CIO and I believe that currently you oversee all of Key shared services for technology, operations, data, servicing, security and procurement. Can you talk a little bit about your strategy for Key technology?
Yeah, sure. So I do have a privilege of running kind of a broad group of shared services for Key. If you think about it, we talk about ourselves as kind of the backbone behind everything that our clients and our teammates do for our clients every day. My team kind of keeps it operating. And then once you've opened an account at Key, the operations teams are the ones that service those accounts and keep them going. And of course with security, we have everything responsible from physical security to cybersecurity to fraud and that's a very dynamic space, as you can imagine, especially in this pandemic times. But when I think about our role at Key, one, it's absolutely to enable a world-class client experience for all of the segments we serve, whether it's debit cards to derivatives, our team enables that to happen. Behind that, I always say it's our job to digitize our enterprise, so it starts with having really solid and exceptional interfaces for all of our clients in-house. So they can interact with Key, how they want, where they want and when they want, right, in a fast, easy, simple way. So whether it's mobile, their browser, whatever that might be, we need to make sure that our clients can interact in a great digital engagement and that our employees have the digital tools to interact with our clients and provide exceptional service. But once that interaction happens, our job is to digitize everything else, is to try to make it straight through where no human has to touch the process. Now we don't have many of those processes today. We're still as aspirational, but we constantly have to be thinking about how do we leverage technology to be faster, simpler, more efficient and more effective at what we do. And really, I think of my job as taking a 200-year-old institution and shifting it and making it act and behave like it was born digital, which is a lot of fun because you can harness the power of people, their innovation, the technologies, to look at problems differently and bring different solutions to our clients.
So obviously, as you mentioned, the pandemic has impacted how Key does business, how many of our listeners today and our manufacturers do business and how they interface with their customers and clients. I'm sure that Key has experienced lots of changes in how you folks do work since the start of the pandemic. And I'm sure there've been many different outcomes, both positive and some process improvements throughout the course of the pandemic learning. What are those things that you've discovered through the course of the pandemic that you would like to incorporate or that you hope change forever within Key's culture going forward?
Well, that's a great question and a large question, right, so first off I have to say I'm incredibly proud of our organization and quite frankly, I hear this from a lot of executives and I'm sure many of the viewers right now feel the same way and how proud we are of the resiliency of our employees and our companies, right? Who responded so quickly to this pandemic and the changing ways we had to work and interact. It's been remarkable to see the human behavior and how everybody's been so terrific at adapting their ways of work. Underneath all of that, I've been really proud of the technology that our teams have delivered and to make all this happen, but you're right. Our teams have had to adopt a lot of processes and our clients have had to adopt, adapt to different processes, so I think about, I think about most, a really tangible example is with the payment protection program that the government launched, what we call affectionately PPP loans and we processed over 40,000 loan applications in seven days. Now, let me put that in perspective. In a year for the SBA prior to that, we were one of the top lenders in the United States, and we would process 800 SBA loans a year. So to do 40,000 applications in seven to ten days is pretty remarkable, right? And that was a combination of remarkable front-end relationship managers reaching out and contacting their clients in a time when everybody was pretty locked down, right. All the way through to our technology engineers coming up with new ways to process those applications. Well, first they had to develop the application 'cause it was a new program and the new ways to process it all the way through to the SBA. What we found in things like that was our client base, business companies, right, were very used to signing loan documents on paper, right? Our relationship managers would go out and they'd meet with you and they'd sign the papers. Everybody would sit there with their papers. Well, all of a sudden you couldn't do that. So we had to do digital signatures and digital documents, and the SBA had never accepted a digital signature. So all of those things had to be changed in a matter of days, which was incredible to watch come together. But it also, once you saw how customers would adapt to those new technologies and they would use them, I don't think they're ever going to go back, right. And our relationship managers who used to print out those documents and go to someone's office and say, "Let's sign the document." They're not going to go back, they now know how to do it digitally, so those things that we invented, if you will, or were created during this time, I think are really positive changes for how people will operate going forward. There is no doubt that in the last six months, I would imagine for most industries, we moved forward five years in our digital adoption of technologies and our willingness to use technologies that maybe we were a little resistant to before. So it's been exciting to see over this time, our real purpose at Key, which is to help our communities and our clients thrive, we haven't skipped a beat on that, right, we've just had to deliver it differently. And the power of our teammates coming together to create for our clients has been remarkable.
And it's so impressive to hear about how your team and your company were able to adapt to the volume of applications being processed. You know, that type of increase from what is normally done on an annual basis to be done in just the course of days and weeks, is so very impressive. And talking to manufacturing companies over the course of the last few months, it's amazing the number of small to midsize business owners and companies that would not be in existence and not still be thriving and surviving had it not been for funding through PPP and working with institutions like yours to keep their business afloat and their employees employed, and to be able to pay suppliers and to power the things that they're making. So kudos to you and your team, because you folks did a very impressive job.
We are proud of that, and I will tell you, I'm proud of our government for coming up with it as well. And now we're all entering that phase and many of your companies will be entering this phase of the forgiveness process. So we're not done yet, but we are glad that we were able to contribute and I will tell you that purpose-driven mindset, you saw our employees' drive during that as well.
So very impressive. And what a great resource for companies. So, you know technology and operations probably better than many of us leading a very large organization in this space and obviously we have this unique backdrop of COVID-19, which can, as you said, cause differences in processes or changes in processes, which as I talked to executives in manufacturing, you know, the new mindset is that things aren't going to go back to normal, they're going to go back to a new future that looks probably a lot different and has the forever adaption and adaptation into new processes and procedures. When you talk about Key's client base and your customer base, obviously meeting customer expectations and making sure they have a positive experience is always, you know, I'm sure a top priority. What would you say are those things that Key is doing to ensure that customers, clients have an excellent experience that you're kind of exceeding expectations and also kind of, how does that deploy both from this corporate level to then as well, to your regional level where I know you have a strong footprint where we have many members.
Yeah. You know, I think, I think the biggest change that we're all going to see as we move through this, right, is our expectations have changed. Our expectations for interactions have changed. So when you log on to your system, when you want to do a video conference, or when you want to interact on your mobile phone with your favorite app, I'm sure it's KeyBanks app that you want to interact with, but whatever it might be, you want it to be easy. You want it to work and you want it to be seamless, right? And you have very high expectations of those interactions. Even if you're going to have a physical interaction with someone now, you're going to want that interaction to be somewhat different. You want it to be intelligent. You want people to be informed. You want people to know you. And so I think all of those things contribute across industry and I think these are industry agnostic, where we have to be thinking about how we use technologies differently. On top of that, I think the big change, and this is a change I think for many manufacturing industries, I have the fortune of sitting on the board of DuPont, so I see this when I'm in our own board meetings where we would companies, manufacturers, banks, whatever would make big investments in technologies and they would last for 30 years, right? Well now, sure, equipment is still going to do that. But some of these technologies, you're going to make investments and they need to be tweaked. They need to be listening to your customer and constantly enhancing things and modifying and changing. And so I think the big change for all of us is this mindset of continuous improvement, agility, responsiveness and speed. And all of that changes your culture. It changes the way you work. It changes how you listen to your customers, right? You really need to listen to what's going on and then adjust to what they're, what they're telling you because they're having a good experience somewhere else and they're comparing you to that. And so I think you have to be really nimble. And I think this resiliency that we've learned during the last six months will play well if companies can build that into their ongoing culture and how they work.
That's one of the topics has come up a lot, Amy, when we've talked to executives, especially these female owners of small to mid-sized businesses, many of them that are family-owned, they're third, second generations culture continues to come up and kind of the people impact of the pandemic. You know, now that you have work teams that are remote, you've got disjointed individuals who maybe might not be connected to those on the shop floor or the factory line, you know, culture improvements are being made in manufacturing and it's one of those questions that leaders are kind of struggling with presently, how do you continue what was that culture when everyone was in a physical office in a brick and mortar building, where it was easy to communicate culture, how do you continue that with now new work environments and work situations? You know, and how do we make sure that these employees that are being brought on, both current employees and then newly hired employees, that they have those right skill sets for the cultures that companies are trying to support, you know, how has Key, how is Key combating that or supporting kind of that culture development given the current conditions and future conditions?
So I think this one, honestly, I think the jury is still out for many of us and I read an article this morning in Wall Street Journal that quoted a range of CEOs across industry. And there is no consistency around the working model. The operating model worked from home in the office combination, culture impacts, you know, so there is a broad spectrum of belief on how all of this is going to play out. At Key, we've done two things. I think we had the immediate of, we had to shift to the work from home model and make sure our employees were safe, secure, and productive. And we need to maintain that. And we have slowly started bringing waves of employees back to the office specifically where we knew they are more productive, either they needed, they needed something in the office that we couldn't give them at home, right. So we have done that to make sure that everyone's productive and we have altered our space to make sure that they are safe and secure. So all of us are doing that and again, as a country, I think we have responded extremely, extremely well. At the same time we are starting to discuss, well, what does this mean for the future of work and how can we learn from what benefits we've seen out of all of this, some of the flexibility, it gives people, some of the flexibility it gives women. No offense to the men, but it does give, I mean, women who tend to have more of the caregiving responsibilities, not in all cases, but in the majority of cases tends to give more flexibility. So how can we preserve the best of what we've experienced and not lose our cultures? I think personally, I think at Key, we're going to see a mix. We're going to talk about mobility and flexibility, but still have to have that connection. Financial services is a people business. It's all about helping businesses thrive. It's all about helping humans thrive, right, with their financial lives or their business financial lives and making dreams come true. And so it's all about people and making that connection is important. I had the fortune of going out to our tech and ops center this morning, actually, and walking around and seeing the people that are working there and to a person, everyone who's in the office was saying, "I love being here, I like seeing my teammates, I like being able to talk to my teammates." So I think it's going to be a blend. I think we have to be patient. And I think each company has to really think about what's important for their business and not worry about the noise of what everybody else is doing and do what's right for your company and your culture. At the same time, I do think there's a difference in workforce in the sense of, we see some of our younger generation, our newer teammates, they want to get back into the office. They want to get back in because they want to collaborate with people that they thought were their mentors and the people they were going to learn from. And if those people aren't there, how do they grow? So you have to have this blend to help the next generation as well, so there's a lot of complexity here. The good news is the technologies that are available, allow all of us to have that flexibility and to design workspaces differently and to design work schedules differently. I think that can be more conducive to people's work, family balance as we move forward.
I think it's exciting. I think, as you said, it will be an individualized decision and journey for many companies to navigate how best, if it's their workforce, their priorities of their customers, their products, it'll be very interesting to see how we all respond and look and how we operate differently for the next six, twelve months and years to come.
And I think we have to be patient, right, because right now where schools, you know, some children are working from, learning from home and some are not, I mean, it, and we have a footprint across the country that we have to be respectful of. Each county is different. And so our employees are all struggling with different demands right now, like I'm sure many of your participants are.
Definitely. So leadership is a key topic we talk a lot about as an organization, we do a virtual learning series that has many topics that gear and are connected to a topic of leadership for women, for leaders in industry. So leadership is critical, no matter what industry or the team that you're on and wanted to hear from you as a leader in your industry and space, what leadership qualities have you learned along the way that you feel and believe are the most valuable and that will be the most valuable moving forward into the future?
First and foremost, I think the most critical thing for leaders is to embrace diversity. And when I think about diversity, I think about diversity in so many aspects. So it's diversity of gender and race and ethnicity. It's diversity of experience, thoughts, education, background, I learned when I was running innovation that you cannot innovate if you surround yourself with people who look like you, think like you and act like you, you can incrementally improve, but when you do that, you get too much group think if everybody is the same. And so I think great leaders are leaders who surround themselves, who with real diversity and are comfortable with challenging themselves with someone else in the room who's smarter than them. Someone else in the room has an opinion that's very different from them, but are willing to engage in that dialogue and create the space that harnesses that diversity and creates the inclusivity so that you can really capture everyone's real ideas. So I think number one, it's really building powerful teams that are diverse and bring that to the table. Number two, I think the most important quality for all of us and I would say this to a person getting out of school or a person who's 30 plus years into her career, is learning agility. What I learned five, ten years ago, what I did five, ten years ago to make me successful today is not the same thing that will make me successful five or 10 years from now. I am going to need to learn new skills. I need to learn new technologies. I need to learn new ways of working. I need new ways to learn new ways of engaging employees that maybe I hadn't used before. I need to learn what the next generation is going to want, what new clients want, so learning agility to me is the second most important thing. And then I think the, what has been highlighted over the last six months is resiliency and critical thinking and emotional intelligence and innovation and collaboration, right? If you're not doing those things right now, you're not moving forward, right? And as a leader, if you're not embracing those things and bringing those qualities out in other people, you're probably not thriving, right. And those things to me are probably the most important leadership qualities that we all need to bring to the table.
Excellent words of wisdom, Amy, great guidance. I think for all of our current and future leaders that we have as part of our virtual conference today, we are thrilled to have you and KeyBank be a part of our 10th anniversary of our Women in Manufacturing Summit, so we appreciate you taking time to be with us today and thanks so much for sharing your insight and your story with our audience and our community today. So thank you.
And congratulations on your 10th anniversary. I'm sorry we're not together in person, it would have been a lot more fun, but I hope that what I've shared is helpful. And by the way, when sharing my thoughts, I'm also talking to myself. So it helps me to be grounded. I hope the rest of your conference goes extremely well. And Key is very proud to be partnering with you.
Thank you so much, Amy. We appreciate you being here and have a wonderful rest of your day and we're back in Cleveland next year. So hopefully we'll get to meet you, our audience, some of our folks next year we're in Cleveland. So thank you.
Terrific, take care.
Take care, thanks.
The crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on the way we live and work. It has presented many new challenges that previously didn’t exist, testing our collective ability to adapt and requiring a well of resiliency some may not have known they had.
Lessons can be learned in overcoming every obstacle and leaders guiding an organization through this unprecedented moment have a front row seat to what’s worked, what’s changed, and what the future of work looks like.
Women in Manufacturing President Allison Grealis explored this topic in a wide-ranging discussion with KeyBank’s Chief Information Officer Amy Brady. Access the replay of Leading the Future of Work to hear their discussion, including Amy’s perspective on the expanding role of digital tools and technology, how the work culture will look like moving forward, and the qualities leaders must embrace in the future.