Legends of Tech
A weekly podcast where Raymond Maisano interviews people across the tech industry. From veterans, to hall of famers, day to day tech industry people as well up and comers. Get to know them as individuals, find out what drives them, how they got into tech, and what they see now.
Good morning Australia, good afternoon in the US, good evening in Canada. My great pleasure today to welcome our special guest Todd Copeland.
Todd's a long-time friend of mine so very lucky to have him on and great to have him joining from all the way around the other side of the world in Canada, in Toronto.
So welcome Todd. Thanks Raymond, thanks for the invitation.
Yeah great to have you here. You know we're going to go through as you heard about previously you know the legends of tech and from my perspective you're certainly one of the the legends of Australian tech so it's great to see one of our legends moving across the other side of the world.
Before we get stuck into your career I always start with some fast questions so let's get going.
Coke or Pepsi? Coke. Wine or soft drink? That's an easy one Raymond, come on wine.
Yeah that's an easy one. All right this is a tough one.
Mustang or Tesla? Tesla. Good answer, finally someone answered correctly.
John Lennon or Paul McCartney? Paul McCartney. Oh okay. Trackies or jeans?
Trackies. Boxes or briefs? Boxes. iPhone or Android? iPhone. And my only religious question of the day is Star Trek or Star Wars?
Star Wars. Okay nice one. Well so thank you for doing my fast questions.
So let's start by going way back before the career started.
What got you into tech? What was the inspiration that that got you excited about technology and computing?
Yeah it's a good question. It's interesting when you reflect on where you landed and you know I see myself as a kid I was always tinkering.
I always liked to do things with my hands and my grandfather, believe it or not, was with the PMG in Australia.
So the Postmaster General which eventually you know turned into Telstra as well with respect to telecommunications and or telecom as it was.
So he under his house had a lot of electronic equipment, a lot of valves, he had all the valves and all sorts of electronic kits.
So you know as a kid I used to go over and tinker around under the house with soldering irons and doing whatever else and I thought it was pretty cool.
I didn't have any idea what I was doing but it sort of sparked my interest. Anyway so it was from that that I in when I was in high school I sort of my parents owned like a family business and I was at a point I used to go and work there and and did that during the sort of holiday periods and whatever else.
But I always wanted to get out and get going with my with my life and didn't feel like I needed to go to university at the time.
So I actually left school in grade 10 and went to a tech college and the tech college had a computer electronics course that just started.
And you know I left school and I remember the school I went to which was a which was a boy's school in Brisbane and I remember the principal sending letters to my parents and ringing them saying you understand your son's got really good marks he's got a lot of a lot of opportunity and why is he leaving school in grade 10 when he's got such opportunity in front of him.
And I remember my parents sort of at the time and I still remember this today but it's one of the things as a leader you sort of remember right which is you you know you back your team and you and you back someone and you give them the opportunity to do what they want to do.
So you know my parents said okay well if you want to leave school you've got to go and do something.
Now what are you going to do and you've got to create something from that.
So I ended up at the tech college and I did that and I had to do bridging and whatever else but ultimately that led me from probably tinkering around in my grandfather's basement.
It wasn't a basement at the time it was just a little workshed and ended up into computer electronics which led me into go and do a course that led to an associate diploma that led to basically going back part-time and then finishing my degree later on.
So it was a bit of a longer pathway to get to my degree and go to university but it meant that the five or six years in between that I managed to work and essentially wasn't an apprenticeship per se but I did work experience at a company that was fixing computers.
It was a hardware maintenance company so I was in infrastructure essentially.
I was a really crap coder so I was never a coder.
So I was really a service engineer fixing everything from PDP-11 to the people that remember the deck systems and the RL01 disk drives and trying to synchronize those things after they've had head crashes and all sorts of stuff.
So it was really in the mid-80s that some of the mid -range technologies and then from there I worked into many different sort of technology companies Honeywell and Bull Information Systems and worked my way through and so I was always on that side and then over the years I've moved into more obviously the leadership and management roles but I've always sat between the business and technology and many different sort of roles that I've played.
So yeah so that was the entry point Raymond. It was an interesting one and it's not until you reflect on it you realize those moments in your career.
How did you end up here and by chance it wasn't like a career development plan by any means and who knew that me playing around in the basement of my grandfather's yard would lead me to Toronto at some point in time.
Yeah that's completely fascinating.
I love those stories and you know great that there was an inspiration behind it and having your grandfather's electronics is a great way to get passionate about something.
I wish I could have the same passion around winemaking as my grandfather did with the barrels in my backyard but they're housing some plants right now instead.
At least I did develop the appreciation for drinking wine like he did so I'll take that from my grandfather.
So having done some support work, Honeywell etc, was MINCOM in there at one point?
I think it was, is it right? Yeah no we had no we didn't have MINCOM but I did work at BHP for many years which is where you and I sort of bumped into each other and that was when we had MINCOM but no I didn't actually work at MINCOM but actually my wife did a little bit of work with MINCOM but that's another story.
Yeah so let's get to BHP as the first sort of foray into a big organisation that set you on a path that turned out to be a leadership path.
How did you get into BHP and what was the focus there? Yeah it was interesting.
So I sort of before I sort of landed at BHP I mentioned I went and worked for a couple of different companies but I also went travelling and worked in the UK for a period of time in London sort of contracting doing technology stuff and like Aussies do, we and Kiwis like in particular, we like to travel and and rhyme and do things so I was on a working holiday for an extended period and then when I came back to Australia I felt like I needed to still had the travel bug so I ended up going to work for Honeywell in Townsville and then I ended up coming back to Brisbane working for Bull and it was when I was at Bull that I thought I needed to step out and go into like an industry line as opposed to just working for a technology company.
So BHP as you know was a great company and they were based at a big headquarters in Brisbane.
So I remember applying for a job which was for a, I forget exactly what the title was at the time but it was like a network support engineer or network support person.
I can't remember the exact title but that was in 1993 I think it was and the application was and I'd just gone back to university as well at that point part-time to finish my, it was actually computer science Bachelor of IT degree at the time and you know I remember thinking that you know BHP is a great company and they give you the support and do everything else so it was really the opportunity to sort of broaden my horizon that work for a great sort of Australian company which is what it ended up being and then you know from there there was a lot of other opportunities that came along and you know I got to meet a lot of people like myself and others that were sort of there at the time as well which was fantastic.
So it was a really sort of one of those moments in my career that you I made a hard choice and you sort of do it but you know if you don't take a risk and you don't put yourself into sort of those sort of uncomfortable positions you don't typically learn right so that was one of those steps.
Yeah so if I recall back you know the good old BHP, BHP Coal, very unusual business being in the network side for you having to deal with the complexities of of mine site connectivities and you know things that weren't necessarily an office-bound networking you know how does what you've done previously how does that set you up for being able to set strategies and and make decisions around you know building networks in mine sites and the connectivities between you know operations facilities etc.
Yeah it's a great question though in I suppose I've always had a good mind for problem solving and you know fixing and getting maximum value from sort of you know technology in some way or form and it's interesting right when you're working for a mining company and you know you're looking at a screen and you're working on PowerPoint it's not until you sort of you know go and go to the mine site itself and you you put on the hard yakka kit with the the blumstone boots which are which are more extensive to buy in Canada believe it or not let's try them there are fashion statements still here the um but but going and actually you know understanding and it was a really good I suppose lesson to me is you've got to understand the business right understand the business or what is it you're actually creating what you're doing so I remember it was at the time when we had some issues and you might remember this run but it was a we had drag line performance things and we looked at you know how the swing ratios and all sorts of things were going on and the engineers are talking to me about you know we need to get better performance dropping out whatever it might be it's like that was when I say okay you've got to go and jump on the actual drag line see it working understand the environment get an understanding of that so you know I think for me while I was a network operations person it was actually getting connected to really what we do as an organization and making it real and understand you know what we truly do as a business as opposed to look at it through a laptop or a screen right it's actually getting body contact on the ground with the people actually working and and it was a really sort of you know it's a highly manual business and um you know data and technology was a real differentiator back then so you know for us being able to to connect our process control systems to our computer systems that enabled you to get you know cold loading facilities operating more effectively for you to make sure that you're getting now the right haulage rates and you're not paying and excess you know you're getting the um the machine information or you know truck information off at the right pace and real time back into a control system so you can see if tires are heating up before they catch on fire and cost you $50,000 to replace right so it's whole understanding of the networking and the insights you get from data and the speed at which you respond to that inside of data is really really key and no matter which industry you're in whether it be in banking right now whether it's mining or retail or whatever it is it's you know that time is really important and a very complex time back then because there was no 2g there was no 3g 4g 5g it was not yes very complicated so uh so from mining um you know bhb big opportunities big companies you're moving to petroleum um you know how was the the differences between you know focus on exactly those those types of issues around drag drag lines and and running across cables and then coming across into uh into a petroleum uh organization yeah it's interesting i mean when i when i moved um in down to petroleum in melbourne from brisbane the uh it was sort of an extension and this was probably more of a transition out of doing more of the techie work where you know i was on you know cisco router monitoring and management and all that sort of stuff and configuration of mine site comms and whatever it might be into more of a how do we maximize value from the data we have and the technology that we want to create and an example of that was i remember at the time and was we were you know petroleum was was with upstream so it wasn't as an exploration primarily it wasn't in i didn't have a lot of refinery wasn't a lot of downstream so it was more upstream exploration and probability data probability and um understanding uh reservoir performance and a whole bunch of you know technical things that the engineers and the geophysicists like to actually look through is you can get a one percent greater accuracy on probability of a reservoir having so many barrels of oil in it or wherever it might be and drilling in the right spot it saves you a lot of money and time so the use of data um became in data and insight sort of an extension of what i mentioned earlier was really around how do you create speed and then how do you create insight off the back of that that you you create so an example was we had a team that was and we're doing a lot of exploration in pakistan at the time looking for gas and we needed to get data from the uh all the the geo work that was taking place back into our computer systems in melbourne that could then be used by engineers sitting in london and um i used to jump on a plane and put tape now tapes on a dhl flight to get it back to melbourne and took two days versus we built a like a satellite let's say like a digital sort of microwave sort of service usual radio service back to the capital city and then deemed it through satellite back to melbourne almost in real time and we turned like a 48 hour into like a six hour turnaround for the data it meant that you your ability to then make decisions on where you the data that you need to collect and when you're paying like a crew geocrew like a hundred thousand dollars a day yeah every hour every every day makes a lot of you know economical sense to sort of get more efficient at it so this is all around how do you use the data more effectively and then be able to make decisions on that data in a very timely manner and if you think about how we operate in the world today that holds still holds true today whether it be in that scenario or how you respond to a customer insight or how you do whatever it might be in whatever industry you're in so for me you know that was a bit more of a transition for me how do i create a strategy and value from the technology as opposed to me being the technologist and you know writing code and being the techie to fix stuff it was that transition point for me in that role that really took me into that okay this is great how do we maximize value how do we define strategies to extract that value and then how do we lead teams to sort of really go on that at mass um so yeah it was a really it was a really fun role i was there for a few years and you know one of those um was i got the opportunity to go and do hewlett training which was something completely outside of my job title but it was the helicopter underwater escape training which is pretty good when you're flying off short so all weeks so as a scuba diver that was fun but you don't get to do that in your job every day right no very true that was one of the great things about bhp you did get very strange opportunities that you might normally not get uh you know i i think you're just following through on the career there's you've you've you've found great ways of being able to attach uh you know the real business operational value to what technology is doing and i think that's an important link that people sometimes miss is get obsessed about the technology and what it can do as opposed to the outcomes that it provides for the business it's a perfect leading to becoming a consultant so you know what what made the move from having you know strong leadership roles and and doing scuba training as part of you know helicopter offshoring uh into delight yeah so the delay was a it was a tough decision actually it was um i think the thing that drove it was more just recognizing the opportunity to go into consulting was you know to go broader and to get more uh experience across different industries um get to get a sense to sort of you know work in in on multiple projects in different environments and that sort of thing so for me it was it's quite a big step uh it was funny because the um yeah my first when i first landed at uh at deloitte and it was 1999 so it's just before this was when dot com was going crazy e-commerce business e-business was nuts uh there was you know crazy prices on companies i've been flipping from mining companies become tech companies and and um so and then there was that the whole y2k thing that was going on in the background as well thinking the world was going to win because of y2k so it was a really bizarre period of time and i just moved into consulting and it was so many different projects on the go it was just this massive uh of activity across many sort of different fronts and i ended up on a really big program um one of the big banks and it was a large erp project and it went for many years and it was a very large expensive program that had a few issues along the way and it was one of those moments that you learn from when things don't go so well and uh it was one of those those moments that um i look back on the career again thinking yeah that was actually a really good time to experience you know and a large-scale project which is sort of you know what we want to stay away from these days how do we get smaller increments of value out the door quicker to sort of you know be more agile and and rapid change etc versus these large-scale multi-year you know very complex uh monolithic things that you sort of land and they don't typically could go well like this by the time you implement it's already out of date so now for me that was a really good lesson learned in in and i was on a project for two and a half years and and we i remember on the day it was i think it was march 18th in 2002 where the whole project got walked off the floor so you know finished now delight leave um so it was one of those things where you think okay let's just reflect and do a retro on what actually happened and things that you did and what could you have done differently whatever else wasn't specifically me per se but you know i think you just you recognize those things and then you take them with you so i think consulting opened my eyes to a whole range of things like things you don't want to do in certain ways speed of change diversity of business you know working across multi -industry government telco banking a range of things you know i worked in the in the eti group which was the electronic the key business and technology integration practice which had this was in the early days we had i remember one of our first things was mobility and we were connecting erp systems into wap if you remember and and getting you know real-time updates in production performance and a whole bunch of interesting things through devices that weren't iphones but you know first generation devices that were using sort of wap as a data mechanism so um so that was back in the early 2000s and uh anyway so then uh yeah so then then i sort of moved on but the delight experience was great it sort of really opened my eyes to a range of different things and i think consulting companies do provide that sort of exposure for people in a development because of the you know the difference of of projects you get to work on it was funny it was one of it was actually an sap implementation and i remember being asked by my um my lead at the time and said you know anything about sap so i can spell it said right you're in you're on the project so it was uh you sort of just had to work it out right you you don't have always have all the answers and you don't always know the content but you just know what needs to get done so uh and and a very different experience from being the one driving the directive to having to to give advice about um to another company around how they do that is was that part of the challenge of of why the project failed was was the organization you you were consulting into didn't want to change at the same rate or didn't want to implement um as was was determined or was it just too much too too big and too cumbersome to to succeed yeah i think it was i think it was enthusiasm ahead of capability it was around our we had a desire to do all of this stuff but really you know our ability to execute on that was was hamstrung by a number of things and um so yeah on reflection i think the the scope was way too big and more complex than it needed to be uh i think the outcomes that were set were were probably not achievable in the way that people expected and from there you're sort of really you know you're in a difficult situation and when you when you're running to sort of tight time frames and things you know when you've got a high burn rate on a project everyone knows how quickly that adds up so it was one of those things right it was just a combination of things that just sort of didn't play well and there was leadership changes and a whole range of things that didn't allow decisions to be made at the speed they needed to be and once you start getting delays in that then everything concertinas and things become you know not great so yeah so lots of lots of lessons learned i still reflect on those in things today when you're sort of thinking about big projects and how do we sort of change it so which is why i've sort of the last 10 years has been how do you fundamentally change how work gets done think about work differently and how do you execute it that way so in a more much more of an agile sort of construct which a lot of companies have adopted these days yeah um so having taken the time four years i think it was at delight um now you're facing you know another decision what's what's the move there what what's the rationale about jumping back on the other side and and joining one of those big banks those big cumbersome monolithic banks well it was an interesting idea i went to i went um for a year i went consulting and just contracted with uh sort of on my own really and then i one of those the connections i had from that project that didn't go so well was actually at um at nat so i i worked there for a period of time in the contract and then uh got offered a full-time role so then i jumped across to become a full-time employee which i did for sort of 13 years before and that led me through many different roles like nine different roles in a 13-year window and ultimately um was the was the last job before i moved to to obviously canada here with td so but yeah it was it was a really you know fun time i spent the first oh seven seven years would have been spent um in technology so lots of different roles head of around architecture for a period of time i i ran a transformation program uh for a period of time and then i was cio for a couple of different businesses for a period of time as well before i i moved across and ran the digital business which is where i sort of you know did that for five or six years yeah i do recall uh i do recall having conversations with you when you were running the digital business about how long it was taking you to get your uh apple watch app running so uh so thank you that's it yeah there's always good feedback there's always good customer feedback um so but uh but being uh chief digital officer for for australia's one of australia's biggest banks um there's there's the desire to to innovate and the the complexity of what's existing how do you bridge those how do you how do you steer the teams to bridge those two complexities because they don't always align and you know again to your point around the consulting pieces you know enthusiasm continually outweighs the practicality of what you can do yeah it's um it's interesting right so you've got um large um large organizations uh especially corporate organizations there's a lot of matrix and it's hard to sort of navigate right so i suppose grounding grounding what you do in outcomes and looking at what are the things that really sort of matter as opposed to don't getting don't get outcomes confused with activity and making sure we're really sort of truly lining up towards you know the performance elements of uh and the value components so a lot of the roles that i had before that if you've gone back to bhp and others was all around value creation so how do you actually drive you know value and commercial return and customer outcome and a whole range of things so having that sort of you know embedded in um in in my sort of leadership sort of behavior and just psyche was always sort of something that i took with me into different roles and it's funny like when i go you can go way back and i think i missed this part of of my career that one of my first jobs was i had a pager and i worked uh for a technical technology company that was a computer maintenance company and we had a contract for you know probably showing my age but now the taa transaustralian airlines which was actually then moved into australian airlines which then moved into quanta's but even when it was taa this is back in 95 86 um and i was this trainee guy that was trying to fix computers and do whatever else uh and i was on call and we used to look after the reservation system and and you know you sort of take it for granted now when you're um uh booking a flight and you don't even do anything right you just do it all on the mobile phone well these were the days when you went to the airport and you actually got your ticket printed at the print at the ticket counter yes and so on a friday night it would be the worst time to be on call because you know if the ticket printer went down on a friday night at the airport there were people out the door and around the corner and then the person that turns up to fix it everyone's staring at you going hurry up when's it going to be fixed what are you doing what are you doing so the value of what work you do is really well understood so you're sitting there and so yeah how do you sort of hold your nerve and and keep focused when you've got you know hundreds of people sort of lined up trying to get fly back to their home city so they can see their family for the weekend so you know at the time it was all around customer value and how do you do it so that's always stuck in my mind whichever job it is whether you work in a retail sector or whether you work on the phone in a contact center or whatever might be for me it was actually working in a job where i was you know while i wasn't serving the customers i was serving the customers indirectly but had you know they were they were very much in in front of you so as i moved into different roles and in my digital role it was like i was serving customers but serving customers in a way that they were digitally connected which was quite a change from when my first you know the first days of my career where i was very manual and very you know three generations of technology ago that but the fundamentals don't change and so for me is always having a lot of what you do is anchored towards that and then making sure your your people have a similar sort of view and aligned means that you tend to be able to get more things done but you don't lose focus and so having that focus i think it's really important as a leader to keep your teams focused and so for me that was that was sort of i'm sure it answered your question directly raymond but that was sort of you know where where my thoughts were in that role and and um you know how i sort of kept people engaged and focused was key so you've had uh you've had a couple of well actually let's just uh close out on this one uh chief digital officer at the time i mean there's still a new term uh even for the bank um you know how do you how is how is that defined as is it defined as an innovation uh role or or was it defined as part of you know just recognizing that digital is part of what what the bank actually does yeah it's interesting i think the i mean there are a lot of companies that don't have a chief digital officer role now and that was always my goal is to do myself out of a job meant that you actually you know probably had succeeded because when your business is digital you don't need that because it's just who you are and you grow up that way but as a bank when you're transitioning from organizations that had a you know legacy business or something that was more you know 160 odd year old organization you typically have a few things that are culturally not necessarily in the modern world so you have to change a few things um so from a from a digital perspective you know my sense is that uh yeah the roles are well i have digital in the title it was very much a you know commercial uh commercial business role that was looking at how do you drive performance and you know from a technology view i think those roles are really important too because you know you work side by side with technology teams and you know i saw the team that we had which was an awesome team that grew from about 50 people to when i left combined it was probably close to 800 people across both tech and business and it was a really integrated team it was a really focused team solid team looking at um and delivering amazing value so i think innovation was embedded within the in the cultural dynamic it wasn't a thing you did on the side it was just you know always looking for improvement always understanding customer pain point always understanding where there's opportunity looking for sort of value opportunities and then creating the capacity to execute on it there was always you know things that you did as whether it be partnering or whatever else and you know we did end up standing up a lab separately and doing other things but ultimately you know it's actually creating the space for your team to to be able to to have some think time but also create time and then the key thing then true innovation is how you how you turn um you know ideas into value and and that whole sort of process of how you create that is really building an environment and a culture where people feel that they can actually do that as opposed to you know it's a classic one that you know companies don't have ideas people do so it's actually you just need to unleash them from the people and if you can do that then you've got innovation right so it's not a complicated equation yeah it's it's it's it's great to hear i know so many times uh organizations well big organizations get stuck with they forget how to say yes as opposed to um you know everything is i don't know if we can do that or no it's it's you should start with yes and then figure out how it works as opposed to trying to i guess snuffle out ideas i guess is that is that something that you've always you've tried to achieve is is let people drive the creativity absolutely yeah so i mean our job as leaders is really to like i said create that space create the the environment where people feel like they can both come up with the idea but also execute on it and you know you need to make that process really easy so if it's a six month business case process to try and justify something then you know it's going to it's going to torture your team and it's going to torture the team through the ability to and squeezing the life out of them with respect to this is way too hard it doesn't need to be that hard so how do you create that environment and um just something to get the team to create that environment to to build the tooling the capacity the space um to sort of execute quickly so uh so okay now you've moved your family from from brisbane to melbourne now uh melbourne you know you've had had many years in melbourne built great friendships uh um what what decides to pick up and move to canada or how how what's the what's the point the sliding door moment that says actually i want to jump and do this all over again for another bank in another country yeah well i think our first winter here my family was asking me that exact question why did we do this and um so i think the the the short answer was that uh yeah it was probably that it was the next challenge and it was the next challenge which was probably beyond the australian shore where you know when you work for a big bank in australia and you work for a big company uh top 10 sort of company in australia you sort of you've sort of done that thing and and i felt that was sort of part of my career i sort of really enjoyed the role that wasn't anything to do with the company i was working for it was more just the opportunity that sat there so and then there was just one of those things that end up right it was just a sequence of events that was you know very um uh it was in the moment and it sort of happened and then all of a sudden before you know it i'm flying over for interviews for a company that i you know i knew of very well and held them in high regard so i always wanted to work for a company that i wanted to work for another company that was you know had uh had clear values and really stood for who they were and had a role respected and a great sort of leadership culture so um td was it and i visited td a few times in my career and had had watched them and their performance was always excellent so that's sort of how i ended up here and um but it was definitely one of the toughest moves that internationally and with three teenage kids and three pets and you name it so if anyone wants to put themselves out of the comfort zone um and i traveled a lot in my life i traveled a lot as well so you know and um the kids had done a lot of traveling but moving schools moving and moving countries moving friendships moving moving companies pretty much moving cities moving everything was um was a big move and you know it's been it's been a great challenge and um you know no no regrets on that it definitely took a while for the family to to to adjust um but uh you know that's sort of behind us now and now we're sort of exploring and doing the things and it was one of those things if you you know as i said to the kids is you're not feeling uncomfortable you're not going to learn and just seeing you know people develop has been has been great and seeing their family sort of rise to some of those challenges has been has been good and hey canada's a great place to be at the moment and you know even during covid and everything else the and it's a commonwealth country so there's a lot of similarities to the australian market there's a lot of similarities to the banking system there's but um don't quite get the same jokes that the aussies do so and we're still training that one but um and they don't watch afl which is a bit tough so um but go the lions yes this is the year yes that was uh our teams played a couple of weeks ago and yes we uh yeah thank you thank you for reminding me about that one uh yes we'll park this season out and that's teddy by the way yes i'm gonna say um yeah so i think he's barks worse than his bite if i recall i'm back in a second i'm just i'm just closing i'm just closing the door so he doesn't come back in again but uh yeah he'll lick he'll lick that person um and so so just coming back to the move not only did you make the move but you make the move when when your family's i mean teenage is probably the most complex time to make the move so yeah uh now you've gone from you know just not just career moves but but the the change of of of all the all the comforts that that you know your kids have uh how do you how do you sort of contend with okay i'm gonna dive in to to do you know great work and invest myself into this while i've actually got a you know balance and manage you know family and changes and and schools and all this sort of stuff how do you how do you do all that at the same time yeah it's um it was tough i mean first of all you know leaving my wife has been huge massive support in in sort of juggling all the things you do so you know your partner in a lot of this has to have to sort of really been be there working with you and um now she's been fabulous the kids have also embraced it while the first few years or first like six months was really quite tough for a couple of my um my girls i think the transition out of the back of that now and the confidence that they've had in balance having to deal with sort of adversity a little bit and deal with that it's a bit more of a real world experience so now i think on on that front and on my world is easy because i was immersed in work and um when i first got to and it's funny when i first sat when i came to canada i was asked a question during the 17 interview process seven you know 17 different interviews which was the longest i've ever had i think it was made to make sure why would an Aussie be coming to canada we better just double check and make sure this is just like a free trip the um but years ago i actually traveled through canada and i hitchhiked across canada and it was like uh when i sent people said why would you come to canada i've actually been here i've traveled and then i think people realize i'd actually seen more of canada than a lot of the canadians so um you know to me it was actually coming back to sort of explore the bits that i hadn't explored and you know i think that's what we did as a family sort of looked at and and have used the opportunity to you know to visit a lot of countries and see a lot of places in north america that we would never get a chance to do coming out of australia so you know that's that's been a really good eye opener so that was a little bit of the that was a little bit of the sell and um you know i think everyone's sort of really adapted and it's really a different perspective in life i mean i still stay connected obviously what's happening in australia and know what's happening in melbourne at the moment with all the lockdowns and things like that and it's almost like you're rolling with the experience even though you're not physically there you sort of know what people are going through so it's a bit like that moving here is that people that have moved with their jobs internationally and travel there's a you know there's a lot of the excitement and the positives but there's also a lot of hard work and and leaderships like that too um yeah it's hard work uh so it's probably a good segue that we we did receive a question and uh you probably may guess who the question came from uh you seem to be very fast on quick answers uh and overachieve on your kpis for efficiency rating at work is that is that uh is that your uh standard of being able to to manage your kpis you set low expectations so you can overachieve uh you've got you've got to always measure your outcomes raymond you know that so i'm not sure who that person was that sent that in but uh clearly they had trouble actually achieving their own goal so they need to yes i think it happened to be last week's guest who's got his own challenges uh to as you would expect um so let's get let's get into into the last couple of roles uh so make it into td bank uh first role um what's the first role in there uh yeah so so i came i came to to run digital for td in north america so that was so i was based in toronto i had a team had teams in montreal had teams in new jersey so we have um so td has a really big bank in has a td bank in the u.s which is actually a bigger retail footprint than the canadian bank so you know it's a really big u.s footprint so top 10 bank in north america um 25 million 26 million customers 13 14 million digital customers spread across the north america across canada and the u.s so that was my role it was um everything from the strategy from a delivery side from sales performance experience uh adoption across everything from our direct investing platform through insurance through retail through business banking uh so it's a very broad role so you know 90 of interactions that we we had on a daily basis pretty much came through a lot of the digital platforms and capabilities that we that my team supported so it was a really it was a very broad role it was um it was great from an exposure into the u.s market so you know i was i was down there you know several times a month um so a lot of travel was involved a lot of travel supporting our retail networks as well so a lot of travel uh across the country with respect to that so it was one of the you know it's a sort of role that i wouldn't have got exposure to sort of in the u.s oh sorry in australia in that sort of scale and that was um yeah understanding the different regulatory regimes too between the u.s and canada and the different lines of business and the scale of the business and td is a big operation it's like 1 000 people so it's a big company when you look at um you know as a bank and north america so yeah so that was that was the opportunity and then that that took me through that i was there for two and a half years in that role and then i've recently moved into into another role in still in td still in canada but on a different sort of mandate now which is uh which is interesting as well well it's a very timely mandate so ironically you started this before covid and and the consequences of just your title so if if i if i read correctly your your title is uh senior vice president of just lost it now senior vice president of next evolution of work transformation so you know that's the strangest digital transformation title i've seen but incredibly timely given we're in covid but this started beforehand was there something that you knew before the rest of us how did this come about yeah no it was um i mean i think we've all gone through a bit of a bizarre period this last six months and um back in february i started this role in i think it was the middle of february so uh but ultimately just a bit of background on the role the role is all about how do you optimize how work gets done and for those that have worked in digital or worked in tech and just know how frustrating it can be to actually get things done for customers and the cost of doing that and the complexity that comes with it so that relies on a whole bunch of things that relies on you know good technology architectural sort of strategy having a roadmap that you're partnering with the people the talent the capabilities how do you actually allocate resource how do you fund it how do you then um you know build cross-functional teams to sort of smaller more agile sort of uh capabilities that you can sort of execute faster are supported by all the necessary uh enabling teams that you need around that as well that your side of it in the right way and direct them at and committed work that you plan and don't re -litigate halfway through so you stop and start essentially a production line all the time you're actually letting it flow all the time that was my job and my job is now how do we do that on scale so i was doing a lot of that in my digital role because without that digital businesses just don't operate you need to have speed of execution you need to be able to sort of continuous continuously deliver value otherwise you don't remain competitive and it's not just activity you've got to make sure you're really driving it towards those commercial outcomes so how do you then take that same you know um recipe and outcome and put that on scale for the organization so i suppose a lot of what i was driving sort of led to the natural sort of progression to how do i do that for for the organization and so that's that's been the brief the outcome is is that how do we shorten cycles how do we deliver greater efficiency for our teams to execute how do we make sure people come to work feeling like they're not having to be tortured to get stuff done and um how do we make sure that customer outcomes get delivered at the best possible speed and give us a competitive edge so high level story easy to say on powerpoint hard to do in practice so part of my job is actually taking that theory into practice and and putting that to now bring that to life across the organization and i must say that the degree of difficulty went up when you end up having to have everything through uh through video conference uh as opposed to whiteboarding and you know having uh face-to-face you know meetings with you know people that you need to influence and and get on board or whatever it might be and definitely it's created an extra degree of challenge of having the remote part of it it's a virtual working which we've all had to adapt to and i suppose the beauty of that ramon is we probably wouldn't be doing this though if we if we if we didn't have the capability and the technology right so the reach that it gives you is great and um i mean the outcome is still very much achievable even in a remote sense um but it has it has created some some interesting dynamics for people just to sort of see how do we put this on scale now across an organization so so i think i've got a job for a little while to sort of help bring that to life um but to your point it's it's probably no more you know important now than it was before in the sense that now we we've got you know this change in customer behavior the change in work style the flexibility that's coming with you know um adaptable work etc is even more relevant now than it probably was when i started so no i didn't have a crystal ball and that wasn't something that i'd ever planned on it wasn't something that i think any of us planned on um and i never thought coming to canada that i probably would never be able to sort of fly back to australia any point in time which at the moment it's it's a it's a very you know difficult thing to sort of even do that so the world's changed we've had to change and we then we need to change so that's that's my job at the moment and i know on that note i know you missed your dad's birthday which um yeah a bit of a challenge but uh you know yes i i expect at some point our borders will will reopen and uh we'll welcome you home um the just the the the challenge that you're dealing with in and the circumstances uh given the executive buying that you still need to get has has that accelerated because if i look at you know my analogy of of how we've seen businesses move in in a in the australian market the australian and new zealand market but that we address here uh you know massive Internet usage and you know reliance of the tech piece has been you know core to what's kept us going through what is a very frustrating lockdown period did that help get some more of the senior sponsorship to uh to drive some of these transformation pieces uh or is it just still the same complexities as it would normally be yeah i think i think it did i think everyone sort of felt the the need to to be able to make faster decisions right i think having it was one of those things where people that have typically had a i've got time to go into a business case i'll justify why we need to do this go through a sort of a literary process and do whatever else but now it was more like okay we just reset the strategy what do we need to do for the next three months we need to keep our people safe we need to get everyone working from home we need to make sure our customers get access to funding that the government's providing and we're providing with respect to relief so there's a you know keep our operational resilience up so protect the bank all those things but that was just the outcomes we didn't have necessarily a playbook or a plan for it we had contingency plans and td did very very well because we had offices in singapore that we we could see what was happening earlier on before even cancer toronto so having a global presence was was helpful so a lot of plans and things we had in place were there so i think from an executive perspective it definitely opened up eyes across a couple of things one is when you have a great and well-architected tech stack you can you can really sort of move with the times and where we had the ability to scale quickly where we had the ability to sort of ramp up things and turn on certain capabilities because we had the enablement underneath it it sort of gave us and mitigated a lot of our risk so it's only in those sorts of times so i think what it did do is highlight the importance of how those things working together i think it worked you know it also highlighted the trust we have between the teams between our business teams and our tech teams around not telling you the solution this is the outcome and then just go get it done right so so i think that created that i think people saw the ability to fundamentally change the way people operate and if we had have said okay but two weeks to get everyone working from home in a non-covid environment how well do you think that would have gone it just it wouldn't have happened anywhere near what it did so a sense of urgency clarity focus and very very clear priority it really helped i suppose get laser focus on what are the things that are really important and you know it's always always remember something earlier said to me once you know what is it time for now and well what is it time for now is to be absolutely focused on what we're doing for covid and how we're going to keep our people safe and customers access etc so it helped remove a lot of the things that probably are happening that aren't sort of that critical and i think you know when you think about how do you know the program that i'm sort of you know running is very much around that how do you get focused on the things that really matter dedicate that from an execution perspective and then actually enable that to flow and then you get the next lot through and then the next lot through so it's really simplifying how that works and i think covid even in a crazy sense created and enabled people to see things that they probably never thought was possible in a time frame and you know really interesting perspective from you know from a different market different industry a different country getting the same sort of outcomes i think the channels to market continue to evolve with with your customers engaging in different ways and i i'm not sure if i'm accurate in saying this but you know the the volume of contactless payments in australia were already very high and you're a big leader of of driving that while you were here uh was the same thing in in canada as well as that continued to evolve and change because i know the north northern america was well north america is a bit more challenged that way well certainly haven't quite adopted as fast as we have yeah no definitely the the shift in customer behavior was was massive right and and i think for for a company that had a big physical presence you know we also had a very good digital uh core and digital experience for people so our ability to switch that was you know held up very well and you know that was both sides of the border in the u.s and here and you know it's funny because you know look at some of the stats and you know you can you can do all these amazing things over a short period over a multi-year period and you move the dial but then you have a material event like covid and things move the dial in three days you sort of look at that and go wow how things have fundamentally shifted um and there's going to be an element of correction but i think the behavior shift is has definitely you know created opportunity and and also forced us to adapt to to that but yeah ultimately it has i mean the the customers typically will use whatever you put in front of them and you know having both a branch digital and a phone and whatever else may be a voice etc there's multiple different pathways now for customers to choose and i suppose what it's created is choice of people and um an optionality and you know the opportunity there is for organizations and td's no different is to sort of how do you use that to the best advantage to make sure our customers get the same experience and um so i think i think everyone has a different view on what it is i think what we know is that you know i think the baseline has been reset and um we will see a change going forward but you know i think once we once we get through this period you know there will be there will still be an element of a physical presence there's always going to be so that's not going to completely disappear but i think how we do it what we how we adapt adapt to our customer behavior and their expectations is going to um you know be our next sort of area of focus which it is at the moment yeah i think it's uh it's very interesting to see how how we evolve from from this period and it's good to have uh you know strong strong innovators uh leading part of that change as well uh i guess in in sort of coming coming toward the end of our our little segment um you know starting as starting as that uh network engineer and you know you're from your grandfather's soldering irons and and electronic tubes and all that sort of stuff uh to to td bank is you know such a such a vast array of of experiences does anything sort of one experience sort of single out as you know this is the one that really guided my path this was my my sort of sliding door moment where where this decision sort of put me on a trajectory um for for where you ended up today um i think it was um yeah i think it was that uh the moment where i moved well when i was leaving school and you know you your my parents gave me the opportunity to sort of take a path that that was probably i'm sure saying i'm not sure this is the right path for you but you know you seem very confident in what you want to do and we'll back you in doing it so you know backing backing someone in decisions and letting them sort of work it out is is a key one so for me that's sort of i suppose part of my style leadership style is okay you own the decision what you want to do and you've got to own the outcome that comes with it and the consequence that goes with it so now step into the space and it's all so there's an element i suppose for me that was a that was a key moment and if i look back you know i remember at the time that um i don't need to go to university i need to do that sort of thing i don't need to you know have a certain view at the time i just want to get on with life and for me it was that i went back and retraced steps because i needed to but at the time it was now i made the opportunity and credit and for me if i look back on it it did open a lot of doors that if i had tried to plan it properly i don't think it would have landed where i did and that's the that's the beauty of your career right you don't always know where you're going to land and you you take with you your values and the things that you know your behaviors and the things that hold true that frame you and then the rest of it you sort of you know you you can continue to navigate but that sort of anchors you in and who you are so to me that was probably a big moment in my career and right back at the start that that helped frame it and then there's been lots of lots of experiences along the way so so finally i guess you touch on this a little bit is uh you know if someone's looking to to move or someone's looking to sort of direct themselves into into technology what's what's the biggest advice you'd give as we in the final minute uh challenge yourself take the opportunity that feels like the most uncomfortable one to learn uh be curious and um you know push the boundaries really just put yourself in the in the uncomfortable space to learn and and be curious is probably the two key ones for me excellent so todd thank you so much for for joining us today i really appreciate it um i won't say thanks to covert for allowing the time for us to happen because i know sort of taking your time would be difficult please don't spend too many uh non-stop hours in front of the zoom calls or the web chats or whatever it is that that you guys are using for for all those calls on i know we're both having this discussion before but thank you for joining us today really appreciate an insight into your career one the legends of tech thanks berman