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Thoughts on Innovation – Curtis Stange


Curtis Stange is the President and CEO of ATB Financial, Alberta’s largest home-grown financial institution. Curtis has been in the financial services industry for more than 30 years. Leading a purpose-driven organization, Curtis is passionate about innovation, customer obsession and giving back to the community. At ATB, he has focused on growing Alberta’s economy with a concentration on helping entrepreneurs and transforming ATB’s banking systems—the company’s biggest technology challenge in a generation. 

When he’s not speaking with customers, reading their letters and engaging with them on Twitter, Curtis maintains a healthy and active lifestyle and focuses on connecting with family.

What is your definition of “innovation”?

Innovation means listening to ATB Financial’s customers, anticipating what they are going to need and then doing what we can to be there. It’s about knowing what to do to remain competitive and relevant well into the future. It’s about being curious, open, vulnerable and disruptive. It’s about agility, failing fast, learning and recreating.

Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies?

Business today has never moved this fast and yet, it will never be this slow again. Companies that don’t innovate or invest in modern technology will become irrelevant to their customers. Modern technologies combined with new ways of working enable nimbleness and flexibility within an organization. When you marry that technology with innovation, you create new business models, new value propositions, new ways of monetizing relationships and ultimately, economic sustainability.

What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation?

Leaders need to role model and team members need to be all in when it comes to change. That means developing a high adaptability quotient, challenging current thinking and changing current paradigms that may exist. Investments in innovation won’t amount to much if people are not open to doing things differently. Keep innovation focused on a common purpose. At ATB Financial, our customers are at the centre of everything we do. The modern technology we leverage, the new work we design, the capabilities we develop are all focused on delivering a remarkable experience each and every time we interact with a customer.

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