IT leadership: How the pandemic can shift your perspective for the better

While challenges remain, so do opportunities. BNY Mellon's Hans Brown shares lessons learned regarding employee sentiment and resiliency
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For many of us, the pandemic has changed how we work, how we live, and how we spend our time – redefining where work gets done and bringing new opportunities.

The redefinition of work has influenced our workspaces, our location strategy, the need for contingency sites, and the pace of digitization for clients and employees. For our BNY Mellon teams, redoubling our work to enhance our scalable and resilient operating model will likely be a core part of our strategy. This enables us to optimize and streamline the interactions across our businesses, as well as technology and operations, all in the interest of servicing clients and driving growth.

Here are a few ways the challenges of the pandemic have sharpened our focus on technology.

Employee sentiment

Over the last year and a half, we recognized the heightened need to continuously assess employee sentiment and identify opportunities to improve, so we accelerated the implementation of a checkpoint tool across the enterprise. Each week, employees spend a few minutes anonymously answering questions and commenting through an internal feedback-driven tool, which turns engagement scores and insights into perspectives. This allows leaders to understand and respond to the needs of employees in real time while helping us to reinforce a strong culture of ownership and accountability.

Until recently, the onus was entirely on individual managers to address the concerns they were hearing from their teams. This worked in some cases, but many issues needed to be solved by a manager two or three levels higher in the organization.

[ Want more leadership insight? Read also: IT leadership: How to find more ways to pay it forward. ] 

In April 2021, Global Operations and Technology (GOT) began to systemically operationalize the feedback we have received in the tool. Dedicated forums and taskforces meet regularly to collect comments, discuss common themes, and make tangible and impactful commitments to resolve the root concerns of our teams.

This continual review of all the information we receive at the individual manager level as well as at the divisional and global levels will help us gauge what is working and what needs to be improved upon, with the goal of providing the best work environment possible for our teams.

Resilience and reliability

One lesson the pandemic has taught us is that resiliency and reliability really matter. The investments we have made over the past several years validated our strategy of consistently investing in technology, cyber defenses, and operations themselves. This enabled us to deliver compelling digital experiences to our clients and employees. 

One lesson the pandemic has taught us is that resiliency and reliability really matter.

Resiliency is at the center of everything we do. Over the past three years, we have made great strides in modernizing our infrastructure and application landscape. We also understand the importance of the role each of our employees plays in the resiliency environment, and we give our employees the tools they need to be resilient and secure. It is emphasized at every turn – in our training, in our priorities, and in our goals. Adhering to our resiliency principles helps to protect the bank, which ultimately enables it to run smoothly for our partners, clients, employees, and even our global economy.

Throughout periods of extreme market volatility, our systems performed well, and our clients recognized us for it. We also managed to surge our capacity and activity at the peak of the pandemic.

Our focus on cyber and fraud protection has served us well. The benefit of scale, the redundant technology, and our global operating model provide us the ability to work successfully from any location and this allows our clients to take advantage of our resiliency.

Even while we remain realistic about the challenges that remain, we are hopeful, recognizing that the ability to manage those challenges varies across the world. With that, I believe we will come out of this with opportunity.

[ Get exercises and approaches that make disparate teams stronger. Read the digital transformation ebook: Transformation Takes Practice. ]

Hans Brown
Hans Brown is the Head of Enterprise Innovation and Chief Information Officer for Corporate Technology at BNY Mellon.