#318: How Finance Can Enable Innovation with Amy Radin

#318: How Finance Can Enable Innovation with Amy Radin

Our Guest Mentor:                                                                                                                               

AMY RADIN is an Operating Executive, Advisor, Board Director and Author with C-suite experience in Fortune 500 financial services, payments and insurance businesses. She is a strategic leader with a diverse functional and general management background including digital transformation, marketing, innovation, product development and P&L roles. With gravitas and a passion for making a difference, Amy has the rare combination of ensuring near-term value creation and transforming business models, through uncertainty and unpredictability, with discipline, urgency, structured thinking and leadership. She brings a global perspective to her assignments, navigating complexity, and a commitment to culture and diversity as business drivers.

Amy is currently a Director of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA) and is an Advisory Board member to startups Pebble Post, OpenReel and TribeCX.

From 2000-2009, Amy was an executive at Citi, serving on the Management Committee. Amy led digital transformation for the $5BB Citi Cards business, introducing new ways to work essential to digital success, leading a team of 800 and overseeing the division’s marketing and digital budget. Amy created one of the first corporate venturing units, advancing growth pilots globally, including pioneering peer-to-peer payments, embedding contactless technology in the NYC subway system, and launching in Asia the Bank’s first mobile platform.

In her last corporate role, Amy was EVP and Chief Marketing, Corporate Communications, and Corporate Social Responsibility Officer for AXA US (now Equitable), building marketing and digital capabilities to deliver financial results across brand and digital business model drivers. Previously, Amy built an innovation pipeline as Chief Innovation Officer at E*TRADE Financial and served as Global Chief Marketing Officer at the former Reader’s Digest Association.

Amy began her career at American Express in marketing, new product development and general management roles.

She developed a framework for companies to deliver growth through innovation, presented in her award-winning book The Change Maker’s Playbook: How to Seek, Seed and Scale Innovation In Any Company. She has been honoured by US Banker as a Most Powerful Woman in Banking, by NYU Stern Graduate School of Business as a recipient of the Nichols Award for Enterprise, Integrity and Service, and by BusinessWeek as a Top 25 Global Champion of Innovation.

Amy is a graduate of The Wharton School and Wesleyan University.

Key Quotes from the Episode:

[On the how helpful going digital is] “When this thing called the internet came along, I saw the connection between what I knew how to do, which was work with large data sets in a regulated environment. It’s about testing and learning. It’s about working very collaboratively with your data, your analytics, and your technology partners to create value for customers and to return value to your other stakeholders” [03:28]

[On how to convince people on the area worth pursuing] “You have to accept that you’re not going to convince everybody. We developed a really robust process for experimentation that was very collaborative, and that pulled in not just our finance partners but also great resources available to me who had decision sciences training, real estate statisticians, and people from the risk management function.” [07:00]

[On how key customer behaviours define the outcome of a business] “You think about all those behaviours, and you list them out. Then what we did was we brought together small, but diverse groups of people from different functions in the business; all people who had a little bit of a creative bit and were excited about contributing to the digital transformation of the business.” [11:55]

[On how to convince people on uncertainty] “You have to have that passion, work very hard to build alliances around the organization and not just with senior people, but with the people in the middle who actually do most of the work.” [15:20]

[On the importance of organizational support] “And so building that coalition, that army of the willing is actually quite important, and you need to have strong cross-functional support for any innovation or transformation effort to succeed. And you can find people all over the organization who see their future and want to be helpful.” [17:29]

[On reducing risks] “Our process was built off the process people have been using in the sector for decades. It wasn’t strange, it was familiar. That by itself takes down the risk, the perception of high risk.” [18:26]

[On the success of any innovation program] “There really is a unique set of skills and capabilities that accelerate and increase the likelihood that any innovation program will succeed. If you want to get anything done, you got to have the right skills and capabilities.” [28:08]

[On career advice] “Knowing what it is you’re passionate about and really sticking to that, not falling victim to what’s popular but being true to yourself. I think it’s a starting point to having a successful career.” [29:02]

Key Points from the Episode:

–         How Amy convinced her colleagues to do a major jump into digital, far from the traditional ways of her organization.

–        How she gained the support of her colleagues in investing in uncertainty and the importance of senior-level sponsorship in making it happen.

–         How Amy’s expertise as a corporate innovator and startup advisor got her a leading role within the finance community.

–          The importance of resourcefulness in any endeavour.

Time-Stamped Show Notes

[03:14] Amy shares her career journey from working at American Express and how the internet has reinvented the way she works.

[06:07] How Amy convinced her colleagues to do a major jump into digital, far from the traditional ways of her organization.

[08:44] The importance of customers and their relationship with their products.

[15:03] How to get convince people in investing in uncertainty.

[15:44] The importance of senior-level sponsorship.

[20:13] Amy shares on how a start-up company succeeded through resourcefulness.

[23:32] How Amy got into AICPA and what are her roles in it.

[26:04] Best advice Amy ever received.

[29:31] Amy shares her self-written book entitled the Change Maker’s Playbook and also her website.

[32:24] Amy shares her thought about working at home could affect serendipity.

[34:36] Amy’s parting thoughts for finance people on learning, unlearning and relearning.

Resources Mentioned

Book: The Change Maker’s Playbook: How to Seek, Seed and Scale Innovation in Any Company Hardcover – September 18, 2018 by Amy Radin (Author)

Article: How CFOs can enable innovation now, Financial Management, 1 December 2020, by Amy Radin

https://www.fm-magazine.com/issues/2020/dec/how-cfos-can-enable-innovation.html

Connect with today’s guest:

LinkedIn:    https://www.linkedin.com/in/amyradin

Full Transcript

[00:00:30]Andrew: [00:00:30] Hi everyone. And welcome to this weeks Strength in the Numbers. Now today’s guest mentor. I’m very excited to share with you is Amy Raden, and Amy’s rather special guest  to bring on the show today because not only is Amy helping drive a better future for finance and accounting with her work with AICPA  but it’s not often that we can get to bring on the show. One of the most powerful women in banking. As honored by, U S banker magazine, also praised by business week as a top 25 global champion of innovation and someone who served in the C-suite among a number of fortune 500 financial. Services companies oh, and I forgot to mention Amy’s also an author as well, so very honored to have her on the show.

[00:01:14]we had a very fast and engaging conversation over the Christmas period. And the really cool thing  was that even though Amy’s massively experienced and worked in a number of very senior roles, the content of the conversation was very practical because Amy was just kept reeling off experience after experience of how she did things like convincing her colleagues to make a big jump into digital in the financial services organization, which was far from the traditional way of her organization, used to do things also how she gained the support for colleagues. When investing in certainty, we all know about that in finance, in terms of trying to get people to, to make the right decisions about the future. And very much Amy talks about the importance of having a senior level sponsorship to make it happen also how she ended up in finance and accounting without really any prior background in it.

[00:02:05] And,  one of my favorite bits, as well as the conversation, that’s the importance of resourcefulness in any endeavor we undertake in our careers, whether it be in finance or even outside our careers too. So look, hope you enjoy this episode. If you did, please check out our show notes, transcripts waits, connect with Amy. Useful resources mentioned and more at sitnshow.com. Also for those of you who haven’t visited the website in a while, it was revamped as well over the holidays. So we’d love to get your feedback on what works well, what could work better? Im told it’s been optimized, which I’m told means you can access the resources quicker now, which in theory should help you make an impact on your finance career, even sooner and much faster.

[00:02:47]So I think that’s enough for me. So without further ado, over to Amy and the show .

[00:02:53] Amy, welcome to the show.

[00:02:54] Amy: [00:02:54] Great to be here. Thanks for having me.

[00:02:57] Andrew: [00:02:57] It’s our pleasure, Amy, I suppose what prompted me reaching out to you in the first place and having our conversation earlier as well is an article I’d read in a finance magazine, but you’re not. From an accounting and finance background, per se. So would you mind maybe sharing your story with our audience in terms of your career journey to where you are now.

[00:03:14] Amy: [00:03:14] Sure. And I’m definitely not from a finance and accounting background, although I do have a graduate degree in business.  I built my career really as a marketer, I spent about 14 years at American express, doing direct marketing. And when this thing called the internet came along, I saw the connection between what I knew how to do, which was work with large data sets in a regulated environment.

[00:03:37] And technologists to deliver value in a very measurable way. And I said, Hey, that should be really useful  in the internet. And so I jumped to a,  I was very lucky. I was recruited to lead the digital transformation of city groups, credit card business. Which in the, which at the time the us business was about,  a $5 billion bottom line.

[00:03:58] And in those days, nobody knew anything about digital. But I saw the conductivity between,  the basic skills I had to develop the direct marketing. And so even though, so to answer your question directly, even though, I don’t come from a finance or accounting background, I think the combination of my education, but more importantly, growing up professionally in direct marketing, which is all about measuring.

[00:04:23] It’s about testing and learning. It’s about working very collaboratively with your data, your analytics, and your technology partners to create value for customers and to return. Value  to your other stakeholders, particularly shareholders that I had, I was very grounded in the role of analytics in marketing decisions.

[00:04:42] And that stat set me up really well to work,  in digital, which initially was a little bit of a wild West. Nobody knew how to measure anything.  But  I had that foundation and then I moved on to become city’s first chief innovation officer, which again was just building, was a role I made up.

[00:05:01] But really building upon building again, it all ties back to my background in direct marketing. That skill set has really carried me through my career.

[00:05:11]Andrew: [00:05:11] But I suppose if you’re delivering value and you can demonstrate it via measurement and so on,  I think  that’s one thing we shared a lot with our audience that you can pretty much define a role for yourself in an organization. I mean, what organization is not going to keep someone on the books who’s delivering value, they’re going to put them in positions of influence.

[00:05:27] And I think that’s where a lot our listeners in finance and CFOs, I started saying, we’ve got this broad visibility in our organizations. We understand and can connect the dots across various different departments, areas, teams.  We can measure value. We can try and communicate it.

[00:05:42] So we’ve got quite an important role, an opportunity to add meaningful value in organizations.  But I think some of them are probably only coming to that realization now. Amy when you spotted that digital trend and I don’t understood it.  How do you convince people that this is an area worth pursuing?

[00:06:00] This is something worth following up. This is something worth I say, investing and spending time on

[00:06:07] Amy: [00:06:07] It can be very hard. And first of all, I’ll tell you, you’re never going to convince everybody that was something  that I realized when I remember when I first got to my first big digital job, I went around and interviewed all my colleagues to ask them, while I’m here, introduced myself, what are your expectations?

[00:06:23] And I’d say a third of them thought like, thank God you’re here. We need somebody to really focus on digital, but all this is very important a third of them or like, Well, we’re open to the possibility. We’re not sure that this is worth anything, but we want to see what you can figure out. And a third of them are like, why do we need to do this?

[00:06:42] And so I think you have to accept, at least I accept that you’re not going to convince everybody. And so after that, so once I, we kind of figured out, well, who are our allies?  We started to, we developed a really. Robust process for experimentation that was very collaborative and that pulled in not just our finance partners, but also, I was lucky to have great resources available to me in who had decision sciences.

[00:07:13] Training. Some real estate statisticians, people from the risk management function. So when you’re in a credit card business, there’s, it’s a business with heavily analytically driven, right? And so you have a lot of analytic talent, not just the finance team. And so we, tried to create a very collaborative process to come up with hypotheses that were if you do this online, then what happens to customer behavior and how does that affect the P and L and the balance sheet.

[00:07:45]But it’s really, really important to set up, to get the buy in first to testing and experimenting. With well-constructed objective tests that aren’t biased by past history. And I think that’s where finance many, some were many people coming from the analytics world have to do would benefit from a little bit of a mindset shift because you have to let go of the baggage of how you’ve always measured things in the past.

[00:08:16] And what’s always worked in the past and really, really take a clean sheet approach to testing out hypothesis just the way a scientist would. You have to think like a scientist in the lab, you don’t want to bias your outcomes. You want to do clean hypotheses and test them and then measure customer behavior.

[00:08:34]Andrew: [00:08:34] In terms of measuring customer, I’m imagining they’re not talking of measuring all customer behavior, but probably small, smaller samples or like these AB tests,  not everything has to be measured.

[00:08:44]Amy: [00:08:44] No, you really, you, especially, you have to look for are, you have to look for the 80 20. And by that I had one of my old CIO is he used to say, find the 20% that’s going to actually at 110% of the value, not just 80%. So prioritizing is really important, but  here’s what we did in payments.

[00:09:04] And I think, you could do this in any business. We said, okay. Let’s think about what are the customer behaviors. That drives the financials of their relationship with the bank. And it’s very simple. People get a credit card, they keep the credit card that use the credit card. They pay the bill or they don’t pay the bill.

[00:09:26] They extend payment, or they don’t extend payment. They take advantage of a loyalty program or they don’t,  they go into collections or they don’t. And so you come up with seven or eight. It’s not a very long list.  They get a balanced consolidation, they get aligned and crease. That’s pretty much it, I’ve pretty much named them all.

[00:09:45] And so you start with the customer and what is their relationship about with the products then? We’d say, okay what if people apply for the card online? Versus through traditional channels in the mail, like what happens? That triggered a whole lot of work because we discovered in our initial application tests, when we were using risk scoring models from direct mail online, And it turned out those models drove adverse election.

[00:10:14] So then we had to rebuild our scoring models to be channel specific. And but if you ends up with a very, with a big, it’s a tree that keeps sprouting more and more branches, but if you start with. What are the customer behaviors that define the ultimate financial outcomes and start saying, well, what if I do this?

[00:10:34] What if I do that? And the what ifs, if you’re able to bring together people with diverse perspectives and we brought people together for brainstorming to talk about what should we test? What makes sense to the group and then constructed the experiment. So it took us in say just in new card acquisition, which is really.

[00:10:55] One of the core engines of the business model for that business is the ability to bring in profitable new cards. Took us about two years to figure that out of constant iteration and experimentation and the rebuilding of the models and all that, but just work, define the branches on that tree and then work them in a collaborative process with a diverse group of people. . And when we did that was very successful is we started with the customer and we said, okay, what are the key customer behaviors that define the financial outcomes with our business, which in our case was the credit card business. And there’s a list that you can derive pretty simply.

[00:11:33] And I think this would be the same for most businesses. People get the product, they keep the product that use the product, they pay their bill, or they don’t pay their bill. They call customer service or not. With a credit card business, you might get aligned in crease. You might consolidate a balance. You might get an additional card.

[00:11:51] So  you get those or those are pretty much it you’re in the loyalty program or not. And so you think about all those behaviors and you list them out. Then what we did was we brought together. Small, but diverse groups of people from different functions in the business. So obviously product technology, our decision sciences partners, CFO is part of it, different people, but all people who had a little bit of a creative bit and were excited about contributing to the digital transformation of the business.

[00:12:22] So an open-minded mindsets and we’d brainstorm. And we’d go, okay, let’s take the core customer behavior. So start with getting the product, because in the case of the credit card business, acquisition of new customers is really one of the core engines of the business models. So you, that would be very high impact.

[00:12:41] So you have to prioritize, right. And so. You said, okay. What happens to the customer relationship? When the card is acquired through the internet? First is through the traditional channels, which in our case were direct mail or telemarketing. And initially, what was, so when you start to do you start down this path and all of a sudden you have to add a lot of branches to your tray.

[00:13:02] Because one of the things we discovered was that there was very high, negative selection. When we took the credit scoring models from the direct mail channel and applies them online. And so that led to us saying, okay, well, is the channel bad or there’s something wrong with our modeling application? And in fact, we discovered that we had to develop channel specific.

[00:13:25] Credit scoring models. And that required an immense amount. You can imagine of analytics support and also convincing internally that it was worth putting resources against that because some people have the initial reaction of, Oh, this is a bad channel. And we’re like, no, no, no, no, no. The model and the analytic approach is wrong.

[00:13:43] And so you just go through this process of, you start with the customer behaviors, you prioritize, which ones are the most significant. And then if you’re able to bring together a diverse group of people in terms of skills and mindset to brainstorm the, what ifs. That can lead you to constructing experiments and you just keep drilling and drilling and drilling until you get to the answer.

[00:14:11] And basically we did that across all the customer behaviors, and that was the foundation for transforming a $5 billion business for the digital era. It was really exciting.

[00:14:25]Andrew: [00:14:25] Yeah, where do I start to lose so much to ask questions on there? Amy and it’s only to flesh it out for our audience. That the first one that comes to mind is,  when you’re challenging, perhaps you’ve uncovered, Oh, maybe it’s our model that we need to review. And develop, and it’s going to take a bit of investment to solve for that.

[00:14:41] How do you get people to prioritize investing in uncertainty? Just it starts to be our budget’s already done and it’s probably to be a capital budget , and an operational expenditure budget. How do we convince people to invest in this bit of work that will deliver a return in the future, or has a good chance of delivering a return, like a nice sort of tips to get our CFOs and finance professionals to loosen their grip on the budget of it.

[00:15:03]Amy: [00:15:03] So I did a few things and I think first of all, I’ll say on a personal note, I’m the middle of five children. And my mother will tell you,  I’m nothing, if not persistent. And I had a team of a very, very strong of chief who really believed. That this was critical to the business and we’re very passionate.

[00:15:20] So I think you have to have that passion because a lot of people, so there will be people who will think you’re crazy and you’re diverting resources in a bad way, but we did a couple of things that really helped us. First of all, Work very hard to build alliances around the organization and not just with senior people, but with the people in the middle who actually do most of the work.

[00:15:44] Right? So you need senior sponsorship. And I had incredibly strong sponsorship for this work from our CEO. So that really mattered. We also had an unbelievably, open-minded and forward-thinking CFO. Who was who I went to frequently for guidance on advice. So I took the time to understand what were his expectations, what were the, where was he going to set the bar and really in his pain?

[00:16:12]I used to keep a list that I call the army of the willing of people who would reach out to me from the middle of the organization,  who really cared about the digital transformation work and want it to be involved. And those are the people I would invite to the brainstorms. Because I knew they were, I knew they wanted to help.

[00:16:30] They wanted to participate and they saw it as very critical to their personal career development. And I think that’s another really important point. And I think not to stereotype finance people, but very often they pursued the argument on totally  rational grounds, you’ve come up with the spreadsheet and it’s all about the numbers.

[00:16:49] And we all know that numbers can be used very creatively to tell any story. That, so  that’s a whole other conversation, but you have to keep in mind that people are motivated to do things at work. On emotional grounds as well.  Marketing 101 is kind of what’s in it for me, how is it going to affect my career?

[00:17:07] Am I going to look smart in front of my boss? Is this going to help me meet my goals and get my bonus or my increase at the end of the year? How is this gonna make me look in front of my colleagues? Can I be successful at this? Am I affiliating with people in the organization who have influenced so.

[00:17:23] Let’s face it, all of those factors play a role. And so building that coalition, that army of the willing is it’s actually quite important and you need to have strong cross-functional support for any innovation or transformation effort to succeed. And so you can find people all over the organization who see their future and want to be helpful.

[00:17:48] Along with that. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of senior level sponsorship. So I think, kind of working both ends of the organization,  and being practical. I think this model, this process that we came up of saying, let’s look at the customer behaviors and build a discipline test and learn process.

[00:18:07] It was very practical and people could relate to it because really. That is it’s all based on how to direct marketers drive their business. And a credit card business is fundamentally a direct it’s a direct consumer business. And so our process was built off the process people have been using in a sector for decades.

[00:18:31]It wasn’t strange. It was familiar. So that by itself takes down  the risk , the perception of high risk.

[00:18:39] Andrew: [00:18:39] yes. That’s music to accountants and finance professionals is reducing the risk of making it a bit more familiar. And I got about, it’s not

[00:18:46] Amy: [00:18:46] Yeah.

[00:18:47] Andrew: [00:18:47] It’s just how our minds are wired.

[00:18:49]Amy: [00:18:49] The other thing that I think is particularly important is you really have to, founders talk a lot about fail, fast, fail cheap, and we’ll, we have to talk about failure on this call too,  but we never saw the big budgets early on for what we were doing. We said, let’s, how small does the test need to be to get a statistically legitimate result?

[00:19:14] And the good news about testing things through digital, it’s very inexpensive.

[00:19:21] Andrew: [00:19:21] That’s a great point.

[00:19:23] Amy: [00:19:23] Yeah. So if you could set up small tasks, you’re not spending a lot of money and you know that tests don’t always work. You have to engineer into the process, the expectation that not all tests work, if they all work, you would need to test.

[00:19:39] But so there’s that expectation that some things are not going to work. Hopefully they’ll all yield learnings. That are valuable for the next test to be better.

[00:19:49]Andrew: [00:19:49] I just think it I have so many questions I could ask you right now, but there was one thing that did come to mind though, was more a comment that I remember hearing somewhere. There’s no such thing as a lack of resources, more, a lack of resourcefulness. And is that resourcefulness improved?

[00:20:03] When I think you mentioned that a lot, you’re bringing people with diverse mindsets and skills.  Is that key to resourcefulness in your mind?

[00:20:13] Amy: [00:20:13] Absolutely. And it’s funny that you mentioned that because I don’t know if you’ve looked at my book, the Changemakers playbook, but there’s a whole chapter in the book about resourcefulness

[00:20:21] Andrew: [00:20:21] I don’t believe it. Sorry, I hadn’t, but that’s a great

[00:20:24] Amy: [00:20:24] tell a great story about  I’ve really been impressed by the resourcefulness that I’ve seen in the startup world.

[00:20:33] And when I left the corporate world the last five or six years, I’ve been, I have. Set up, I’ve created a number of advisory relationships with founders, and I’ll tell you, there’s a founder I met a few years ago and  he’s one of the people I profile on my book who was wanted to, had this idea about a medical device.

[00:20:52] That basically was almost like an airbag and inflatable bell that if the senior citizen was wearing it and they fell, it would automatically inflate and shield the fall. And the statistics, the number of deaths that occur  and like horrible injuries that the fall seniors from falling is, it’s like it’s a health crisis at least in the United States.

[00:21:14] And I’m sure it is around the world, the citizen, he wanted to solve a very important problem, but you can imagine the bar on proving. The validity  of a medical device is very, very, very high and he had no money. He’s a founder, the guy has four children, so he’s not some kid in a garage. And I actually had a family to support through his first proof of concept.

[00:21:35] He actually went on a Saturday with his son to an auto parts junkyard, cut out airbags from jumped cars. That were still usable, took them to his tailor and had her modify them for him to build into a prototype, and that prototype was sufficient to convince a hospital system, to do an alpha test with him.

[00:22:05] Which set him on his way. And this is a going business now  that’s building up to be very successful. So I always tell that story because I’m like people who are in established companies. There’s an expectation of the budget that you need to do the market research problem to do the test, to build a prototype.

[00:22:24] And it’s been eyeopening for me, having spent several decades in the corporate world where I had those expectations to seeing what founders do and I’ve really, hit the reset button. You have to be a lot scrappier. And say, like, what do I, what’s the problem I’m really trying to solve and what do I really need to solve it?

[00:22:44] And if I strip away the bureaucratic requirements that may exist in my company, what do I really need to do? And,  it’s amazing what you can get done,  and what you can get permission to do. If you start to abandon, it’s a matter of reframing your assumptions of what does it really take to solve the problem that I really need to solve now so that I can get permission to go to the next step.

[00:23:10]Andrew: [00:23:10] Yeah, that’s I love the questions,  but you’re really just setting it down to its essence.  So I love that Amy, look I want to be respectful of your time and I really did want to ask also, Was as much as your background, didn’t come up through accounting and finance, you are influencing and impacting our profession at the moment. What’s your role on the board of the AICPA? How did you find your way into that position?

[00:23:32]Amy: [00:23:32] Right. So that’s a funny story. And I’d say it started with,  I’m open-minded I like to try new things. And so I will never say no to something that seems plausible. And so I’ve left the corporate world and I didn’t really know what I was going to do, but I knew I was ready to turn the page and start a new chapter.

[00:23:54] And I was trying to stand how I could apply my expertise in moving, from an insight to a concept, to commercial reality, as an outside of working with executives in a number of companies. And so I started to get active on social media, mostly on LinkedIn. And one day I got this cold outreach.

[00:24:17] I’m an executive AICPA to keynote their big digital conference that they hold in the US every December digital CPA. And I’m like, great. I’d love to do the accent and you, I was writing my book. And so speaking as important. And so AICPA CMO was actually the first entity. That paid me as a consultant or an advisor to do anything.

[00:24:41] So I will long remember them. And, one thing led to another, they invited me to speak to their major firms group. They have a big meeting of just their top firms every year. And I just started to build relationships with the organization. And I love the fact that it’s mission led cause coming and it’s really. Centered on the membership.  Because coming from the corporate world, we’re so much, especially publicly traded companies. So much of the orientation is on shareholders, right? And so I love the fact that the customer, the user, the member was really at the center. I love the culture and the values. And so we were just, in touch for a couple of years and one day, one of their executives. Who runs their tech division, which is called cpa.com gave me a call and said  Hey,  we have several seats on our board for people who do not have accounting and finance credentials.

[00:25:33] Would you have an interest in joining our board? And, I just about flew out of my seat. I was so excited because I had a goal of being on a board. It’s very hard to join a prominent board and. I love the fact that I could really, that I was really bringing something unique to the team. And so I’ve been in, I’ve been serving the association for, I think about four years and it’s been a very,  mutually exciting relationship.

[00:26:00]And that was how I came to published in, FM magazine as well.

[00:26:04] Andrew: [00:26:04] Yeah, I heard that again. That’s where I spotted, cause I heard your name on some circles. I couldn’t place, then I’m going to read that because I, now I know, and it’s actually really, I was really delighted. You took the time to write that article and I know we’ve not covered there’s loads in that we haven’t covered on the show and even bits of your book, we haven’t even covered yet.

[00:26:21] But  what for me was, I was just like, it feels very. Practical how you wrote it. And even down to the point, I think you answered the question in there. Do we need, a CIO or not a chief innovation officer or not? And it’s I love how you answered that, but two ways, which was, yes, you have, you had one to be good because you’ve got the expertise someone could see across it or whatever, and then got through to a no, because then you’re sort of taking responsibility away from everyone.

[00:26:43] It’s everyone’s responsibility  to innovate and try and do better. And so on. I love that answer.

[00:26:48]Amy: [00:26:48] Having been a chief innovation officer twice. I have mixed feelings about it because I think it’s very, when I first became the chief innovation officer at city . What I noticed, you said it sends a very strong signal to the organization that management cares about this topic.  Cause people read a lot into titles would work structured.

[00:27:07] So the fact that there were resources being dedicated,  there were people who were saying like, thank God, like they recognize this as important. And the other positive is that. There really is a unique set of skills and capabilities that accelerate and increase the likelihood that any innovation program will succeed.

[00:27:27] And so, if you want to get anything done, you got to have the right skills and capabilities. So it forces a focus. On the other hand, it does cause some people to say, Oh, they’re taking care of it. And it truly is a team sport. You must bring in, it’s not, innovation is not a technology problem.

[00:27:46] It’s a business. It’s a business opportunity that requires all functions and expertise areas to contribute.  But maybe to contribute and not waves, not to bring their old bag of tricks. They’ve got to, they’ve got to, unlearn and relearn, some new skills to contribute productive takes. It does have different.

[00:28:03] It has its own requirements.

[00:28:05] Andrew: [00:28:05] Yeah, I looked at that. That’s a great bit of advice, actually, Amy thinking about it, you know, you’ve been giving us great advice. What’s been the best bit of advice you’ve ever received?

[00:28:14]Amy: [00:28:14] Oh, I’ve gotten so much advice over the years.

[00:28:19] Andrew: [00:28:19] tough to filter it down right. Or one.

[00:28:21] Amy: [00:28:21] I think one of the best piece, I think knowing, Knowing what it is you’re passionate about and really sticking to that, not falling victim to what’s popular. But sort of being true to yourself. I think it’s a starting point to having a successful career. I mean, I swam against the tide.

[00:28:41] Sometimes I get things that were not the typical things to do, but I said, this is what I really care about. I know I’m going to work hard and commit to it. So I darn well be doing, want to be doing things that I care about. I think also  it’s, you know Nike slogan is,  just do it. You have to, innovation is not something where you can sit on the sidelines and judge from PowerPoints or spreadsheets, you have to be in the game.

[00:29:05] And so if you have a concept, if there’s something that comes up, that seems viable, there’s some basic logic to, if there’s a hot hypothesis, that’s worth exploring, you’ve got to go do it. You’ve got to find ways to actually be in the game.

[00:29:21]Andrew: [00:29:21] Yeah fantastic advice. And I suppose, look in terms of resources are I wrote in, could turn into, I know you mentioned your book there. If I’ve got it right. The change makers playbook ?

[00:29:31] Amy: [00:29:31] Yeah, it’s called the change makers playbook how to seek seed and scale innovation in any company.  You can also go to my website, which is Amy Radin R A D I N.com. And. There’s some free content there on the book. I have a newsletter.  So I’m happy to be in a resource. This is really at this point in my career, you know, I thought a lot about purpose and really, I feel like what really gets me excited  is using my expertise to help people drive the success of their innovation efforts.

[00:30:01] And I’ve wanted particularly to speak to the finance function because. People in this function have such an important role to play, and bring such important training and skills. And so helping people in this area, Understand how they can contribute because their role is so critical is something that, has taken out a lot of meaning to me, because I know how important my finance and analytics partnerships for me and my team in all the roles that I’ve held there, they’re vital.

[00:30:34] Andrew: [00:30:34] That’s it. That’s great. I think,  our audience are probably falling in love with you and what you’re saying, because it makes it probably feel more appreciated. I think so they should, we’ve got a tremendous opportunity, facilitate a lot of these change and innovation conversations. I had to bring our own expertise or at least make sure the right things are getting done. 

[00:30:51]Amy: [00:30:51] Yeah. And if I could give one piece of advice, I guess it’s next time you go to a meeting with your colleagues and people bring up some idea that you think is absolutely nuts. Before you express that opinion, catch your breath and just ask one simple question. Like just say, you know, that’s kind of interesting.

[00:31:11] Can you tell me more about that? Because very often, if you drill down a couple of layers, you will find there’s something there. And if that first reaction is what a crazy idea. You’ve got to ask yourself, okay, am I bringing my preconceived ideas to the table? And maybe I need to listen to this differently.

[00:31:33] So I just find that’s a very, very valuable question. And it’s one, as I do some angel investing when  I’ve heard a lot of crazy pitches from founders. And I always ask that question, like, that’s interesting. Can you tell me more about that? And there’s always something else there that you didn’t realize.

[00:31:52] Andrew: [00:31:52] Yep. I am.   That’s the, one of the things I actually miss about,  the lockdowns and everything like that. Amy is there’s those hallway conversations where,  you’re just walking between meetings or whatever, just walk around to see how people are doing. And then you can have  those moments.

[00:32:05] And it’s like, there’s probably something there. If you just took the time to delve a little deeper.

[00:32:10] Amy: [00:32:10] Yeah, I really miss that. I mean, I think that  a lot of, a lot to talk about. Productivity from work from home and how people are more productive. I worry about the loss of Serendipity

[00:32:22] Andrew: [00:32:22] Serendipity. That’s the word? Serendipity.

[00:32:24] Amy: [00:32:24] how you captured that, that, because so much I can sync back so many of the great outcomes that my digital and innovation teams have achieved over the years have been because of they came out of serendipitous conversations or even the things I’m doing now, the advisory relationships I’ve built.

[00:32:44] The fact, even that I wrote the book. Came out of a serendipitous encounter with someone I met networking years ago, who’s a journalist who have to listening to me, Yammer on and on and on innovation said like, you should write a book. And he planted that seed in my head. And so if I hadn’t had that encounter.

[00:33:01] Somebody who a friend of mine asked me to meet. Like I never would have done that. And it’s been, helped me reframe my entire career. So I think you, we all need to find ways to have those serendipitous encounters because, and listen and take advantage of them. They’re not, they’re often seen as  unproductive time.

[00:33:23] I think they’re the most productive time. And we have to find ways to build that back into our days.

[00:33:28] Andrew: [00:33:28] I love that. Yeah. It’s just, that’s just everyone’s focused on how great the productivity has been, but really what’s been the opportunity cost of that extra productivity on the serendipity moments that we all know businesses. Yes. About execution and a bit of luck probably as well.

[00:33:44] Amy: [00:33:44] Yeah,  we’ve become very task list oriented and I’m sitting here with my book. And I got my list of stuff I gotta do today, but you know, we all need some time for our minds just to wander. I’m really lucky. We have a puppy and I go for walking for walks every day and walking is great for creativity and you just let your mind go.

[00:34:02] And that’s, we all need to do that.

[00:34:06] Even finance people need to do that,

[00:34:07] Andrew: [00:34:07] Well, especially,

[00:34:09] Amy: [00:34:09] people need to do.

[00:34:10] Andrew: [00:34:10] yes. I asked Chris is it easy to get stuck behind our desks. So, yeah that’s a more great advice. Amy and look, again I added a word to stop I’m recapping, but it’s just amazing conversation. Really enjoyed it. You’ve made something, you know, a concept or an innovation change, very practical and accessible, during our conversation.

[00:34:29] Some great bits of advice in there as well, I suppose, in terms of wrapping up.  Would you have any maybe parting thoughts for our audience?

[00:34:36]Amy: [00:34:36] I think, we’re all, we’re in a world now where the old model for careers of  go to school, get my degree in certification, go to work and be a practitioner is fading away fast. And I think it’s really important. For people in the finance function or really  any place to,  heed the words of Alvin Toffler, just, we all have to learn unlearn and relearn and find ways to boost your curiosity and keep learning and find, think about how you can take the fundamental skills that you have that are so vital to this area and reshape them a little bit.

[00:35:18]I think it will be very satisfying and you will make yourselves incredibly valuable to whatever organization you’re serving.

[00:35:26] Andrew: [00:35:26] that’s fantastic. And I love how you brought the conversation back to around value again, which is where we started to Amy. Thank you so much for being such a great guest on strength on numbers today.

[00:35:36] Amy: [00:35:36] thanks. Really fun to meet you. Thank you so much and happy holidays.

[00:35:40]

[00:37:10]

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