No idea can exist in isolation and Mayda Lim, ANZ’s head of technology for Asia Pacific, Europe and America, is working on a project to spark innovation and make change happen.
She has been driving a project for the bank to open an innovation lab in Singapore, which is part of the city state’s drive to become a financial technology – or ‘fintech’ – hub.
“Everyone calls me the fintech lady,” she jokes.
It’s been quite a change; so far in her career, she has been the infrastructure lady, the person who keeps systems running without disruption. But that hasn’t held her back in leading the charge to set up the innovation lab, where she is hoping to change people’s workflows - and their mindsets.
“Even though women are considered a minority, I have managed to stay in the technology world because I am doing something I like. I look forward to doing something new every day,” she says.
So far, Mayda has reached 300 bank staff through digital bootcamps and innovation masterclasses that have formed the lab’s pilot programme. There have also been other events, such as the ANZ-NUS Financial Services Innovation Challenge, a collaborative event for students that brought together partners from outside the bank.
The financial services industry is abuzz with the potential of emerging technologies, and like many banks, ANZ is adapting to a world in which fintech blurs the lines between business and technology. “Every company is now a technology company,” says Mayda.
Of creations such as mobile apps she says “That is just aesthetic. It is not life changing”. In her quest, she is looking to make a real difference and create an ecosystem that can catalyse true innovation.
That process is like having brain neurons, she explains. Having a single neuron in isolation is useless: “You need two neurons for innovation. When information is shared between the two, that is where intelligence is created,” she says.
The innovation lab will be an open collaboration area where ANZ and its partners can come together and engage in rapid prototyping of their ideas. “This is how we create innovation – by creating a central neuron system for the digital ecosystem. When we connect them together we will create something great,” she says.
Through this innovation work at ANZ, Mayda has also learned some life lessons. “The biggest lesson is being humble,” she says. “Innovation is an art, it is not really technology. You have to learn how to appreciate it. When you want to appreciate art, you have to have an attitude of humility, and learn how to connect with partners, how to listen to great ideas.”
And with having so many people to work with to get the initiative off the ground, how does she exercise her influence?
“Part of influencing is about sharing a common interest,” she explains. In her role she has to influence people who do not directly report to her. “We share a common interest where the passion becomes our engine.”
On top of this, open communication is important. “We are not striking a deal – it is about how to get our interests moving. That is how I influence to get our digital partners to come on board,” says Mayda.
And how does all of this come together to make a difference? “For change to happen, three components have to come together: people, technology and the customer.”
Writer: Jane Cooper
Photographer: Stefanus Ian
Video: 90 Seconds