Sylvia Chrominska Speech - April 3, 2012

An address by Sylvia Chrominska
Group Head, Global Human Resources & Communications 

Presentation to the 
180th Annual General Meeting of Shareholders
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

April 3, 2012


Thank you John, and good morning.

We’ve heard John and Rick talk about how important our team of Scotiabankers is to the Bank’s success, and I certainly couldn’t agree more.

Of course, I have to admit that I am a little biased… because building that team is one of my key accountabilities.

It’s a responsibility that I’m truly honoured to have, and I’m pleased to be here to share with you how we’re building our team for the future through our focus on leadership.

As you know, Scotiabank is committed to our very successful 5-point strategy, which guides absolutely everything we do across our organization.

That commitment and focus has been critical to our success.

All of the elements of our strategy require a dedicated and high performing team of exceptional people to execute them successfully – but the one element that stands somewhat apart is leadership, because it’s the only one that’s purely about those people.

And in fact, Scotiabank is one of very few organizations in the world to make leadership a major component of its overall business strategy.

And there are some very compelling reasons for that.

We succeed because of our team, and our leaders drive that success – so there is a powerful business case for building our leadership capability.

The business case for leadership

First and foremost, it’s our leaders who ensure that we execute our strategy. Even the best plan in the world won’t work without the right people to see it through.

We need to make sure that we have the right people in the right jobs to execute our strategy now and long into the future.

It’s our leaders who help us attract the best talent. And in fact, we hear quite often that the quality of our leaders is a key factor in why new employees choose to work at Scotiabank.

And, fundamentally, strong leaders build strong teams –and raise the level of performance across the organization.

At the same time, across the business world, and particularly in North America, we have a demographic challenge that is now upon us.

There’s a wide swath of knowledgeable, experienced leaders who will leave the workforce as they retire.

This is not just a Scotiabank issue; it’s happening across the board, and we want to be ahead of the curve in dealing with it.

Not only that, we’re very uniquely positioned relative to many of our competitors to do so.

Our multinational presence and diverse businesses offer us an incredible pool of talent to draw from. We have people with broad, global perspectives in our organization –and that’s a significant business advantage.

And it requires considerable effort to ensure that we’re using this advantage to its full potential.

Our progress on leadership

Our leadership strategy is straightforward: identify talent, develop talent, recognize and reward success and measure our progress.

We have a very well developed process that we use to identify talent wherever it may be located in any of our 55 countries around the globe. Last year we held more than 300 roundtable discussions across the Bank to identify talented people, discuss their development needs – and also discuss our needs for the future. 

This is a consistent theme across our leadership strategy. It’s not just about top talent. Leaders exist at all levels, at different stages of their career. We dig deeper, to identify and develop talent from the ground up. Not many organizations do this, and I believe we’re one of the best at it.

We have clearly outlined the skills, behaviours and experiences that define what it means to be a leader at Scotiabank, so that anyone who aspires to a leadership role knows what’s expected of them.

We provide resources to help employees assess and develop their own leadership skills. And we strongly encourage cross-divisional career moves to help broaden the knowledge and experience of potential leaders.

Finally, we take a balanced approach to measuring our progress on leadership – and accountability goes all the way up to the executive management level.

We track the representation of women in leadership roles, because we know that having broad diversity at leadership levels leads to better performance.

But it’s not just about the measurable results. We focus on the process of how people become great leaders.

For example, we know that working collaboratively leads to superior outcomes, so we help employees develop their ability to engage others, cooperate with others and inspire others.

These skills are critical in a large complex business like ours, where building relationships is still the most important thing we do.

Competitive advantage for the future

I strongly believe that leadership is one of Scotiabank’s competitive advantages.

We already recognize the imperative of the global market, of our diverse customer base, of demographics—and we are meeting that challenge head on.

We have the ideal team. Our people are collaborative. Our talent pool is deep, and inclusive of people of differing backgrounds, beliefs and abilities.

As Rick said earlier, we know that our diversity makes us stronger.

We’ll continue to develop leaders with a global mindset. Leaders who have the broad experience to handle the complexities of today’s rapidly changing world. And the diverse perspectives of our employees will continue to be a great advantage for us.

Thank you!