After nearly two decades of experience with one of the world’s leading consulting firms - McKinsey & Company, Joao Dias has seen a vast spectrum of business strategies play out particularly in the area of digital transformation in financial services.
“From that experience I have taken two key lessons,” He says. “First, that digital transformation requires at-scale approaches that put customer experiences at heart, effectively change operational processes and revamp the technology, all while implementing agile ways of working and organisations. Those approaches are still at use in our transformation at Novo Banco and remain extremely helpful. Second, digital transformation needs to be driven by strategy, not the other way around. This means that banks need to be clear about how they can win in the marketplace, and only then define how digital transformation enables a competitive edge.”
Dias favours a dynamic and transparent style when it comes to management in the face of challenges posed by the pandemic. “We need a leadership style that relies on clarity of context and objectives, and that focuses leaders on supporting and unleashing the teams,” he says. “This is to create the conditions for teams to be as autonomous as possible while sufficiently coordinated across-teams. In this context, my style tends to be one that inspires people on a vision, forces clarity on objectives, is open for feedback, focuses on coaching and asking, prefers to over communicate and err on the side of transparency, and makes clear that a leader’s role is to work to make people successful (not the other way around).”
The journey towards complete digital transformation is as much about people as it is about technology, points out Dias. Fostering a culture that embraces change in a positive way is essential to success, he says, “at Novo Banco we are clear that to succeed in digital transformation we need to change the culture. In that respect we are probably not very different from other incumbent institutions,” he explains
“We need to become more collaborative and cross-functional, more focused on customer experience, more data driven, more tech-savvy, more agile, etc. We are approaching this culture transformation combining bottom-up change focused on the digital transformation teams, and top down support from the top management team through governance and messaging. This is a long term journey that requires continuous focus and reinforcement, and this is a key focus for me personally.”
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