27 April 2017

Innovation Essentials: In Conversation with Saket Sharma

Watch this series examining top tips from leading innovators in the financial industry on how to make innovation a success. This week: Interview with Saket Sharma, BNY Mellon.

saket_sharmaInnovation Essentials - Interview with Saket Sharma, BNY Mellon

An admirer of Thomas Edison, Saket Sharma believes that failure is an integral part of success. Sharma, Head of Treasury Services Technology at BNY Mellon explains, “When you talk about innovation, what is very important to consider is the uniqueness of what you’re doing, to understand what exists today, what you are going to change, and realise that you are not going to be successful on day one. Your ability to learn from your mistakes, keep trying again and maintain focus to drive the change is critical to innovation.”

The ability and appetite to fail and apply learnings to the next iteration of a project is one of Sharma’s best practices for innovation. He also emphasises the need for strong collaboration between business partners, such as product, technology and operations teams, as well as working with clients. Constant feedback from clients contributes to the creation of meaningful products and services in more effective ways.

I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.

Thomas Edison

Every organisation has a different model for innovation. With a 232-year history, BNY Mellon incorporates innovation with a framework that focuses on three main areas: people, process and technology. With respect to people, the firm operates seven innovation centres worldwide to help provide employees with an effective work environment to collaborate. For its innovation processes, BNY Mellon uses lean and agile models to develop products and services. Finally, the firm develops applied technology solutions based on open source principles.

When you are fostering innovation, you need to make sure your entire organisation is focused on the same mission, values and strategy so everybody is working towards creating value for your clients and shareholders.

Saket Sharma, Head of Treasury Services Technology, BNY Mellon

Sharma also emphasises the importance of strategic alignment within the organisation. “When you are fostering innovation, you need to make sure your entire organisation is focused on the same mission, values and strategy so everybody is working towards creating value for your clients and shareholders. If you have that focus, you tend to create more value-added products for your customers,” Sharma says.

Effectively incorporating innovation within organisations is as much a cultural issue as a strategic one. Sharma encourages organisations to nurture an environment where no idea is a bad idea - but all ideas should be vetted by a strong governance process. Sharma elaborates, “You need to provide a culture and an environment in which ideas are appreciated. It’s also very important to really vet ideas in a consistent way, so the organisation is not overwhelmed, and you can differentiate ideas that should be taken to the next step. At the same time, empower your people to come up with ideas associated with your mission and values. This really helps to foster innovation in the large sense.”

Read related interviews: