Five questions with Jen Wagner, Head of the Pittsburgh Innovation Center | April 2016
Get to know more about Jen Wagner, Head of the Pittsburgh Innovation Center and planned initiatives for the Center in this short Q&A series.
Jen Wagner: I have been at BNY Mellon for nearly 16 years now, all of that time spent in Technology. It’s been an interesting journey that — for me — comes down to helping people understand technology and how it will benefit them. Most of my career has been as a project or program manager for our large, enterprise-wide initiatives, like an operating system upgrade or changing email platforms; things that impact most every employee in the company.
For the past three years, I led a team of product managers focused on improving the employee experience with our Digital Workplace and, most recently, I’ve shifted to lead the Pittsburgh Innovation Center. Around the globe we have 10,000+ technology employees and, locally, there are more than 1,300 technology employees. We’re doing something very different in Pittsburgh and a big part of my role is exciting because it’s driving culture change and designing the employee experience with technology at the heart of our tools, services and solutions.
Jen: As part of our overall strategy for Innovation, BNY Mellon leverages its innovation centers as accelerators for change. I could not be more excited that Pittsburgh is our sixth global Innovation Center, with others in Silicon Valley, Jersey City, London, Pune and Chennai. Additionally, we have a few more in the pipeline.
Why Pittsburgh? Turning that around – why not Pittsburgh? Pittsburgh has really changed in recent years and is emerging as a player that can punch above its weight class in the tech space.
We are a richly academic region with top universities, and we are quickly becoming known in the tech space with major tech companies opening locations in Pittsburgh and new startups taking hold. We’ll be working to connect with fintechs that are here, and hopefully, help to grow their presence.
The region also has really robust and globally recognized corporate names and a great quality of life. Our company has been in Pittsburgh for more than a century – and we keep transforming. That’s what I love about Pittsburgh and my role.
Many of the recent start-ups in Pittsburgh are focused on robotics, biotech and consumer products and services. However, between the colleges and universities and the presence of several large financial and insurance companies — BNY Mellon included — there’s a lot to offer for fintechs.
We see upside potential given the combination of intellectual horsepower and a diversified economy. And, Pittsburgh has a legacy of public-private partnerships too.
Jen: When people think of high-tech companies, BNY Mellon has a 230-year history with deep roots in Pittsburgh and on Wall Street. We are probably not top of mind, but we will be - we are a global giant that also operates in some ways as a startup. Our scale is considerable - we deliver investment management and investment services in 35 countries and more than 100 markets, with Pittsburgh being the single largest employee location around the world.
Our company’s services and solutions are delivered to global and local clients at any point along the investment lifecycle. As of December 31, 2015, we have $28.9 trillion in assets under custody and/or administration, and $1.6 trillion in assets under management, and we’re a single point of contact for clients looking to create, trade, hold, manage, service, distribute or restructure investments
On top of this, we’ve built a new cloud-based, API-enabled digital ecosystem called NEXEN, which allows us to harness data in new ways. NEXEN gives us unprecedented agility and scalability while opening up new avenues for collaboratingwith our clients. We will have an app store component that will allow third-parties, including fintechs, an opportunity to offer their services through NEXEN.
Much of this work is happening in Pittsburgh. Every day, 1,300 of the company’s over 10,000 tech employees, are right here ensuring the company’s resiliency and leadership. One of the phrases I like to use is … through our Innovation Centers, we’re incubating new ideas and technologies to change the future of the financial services industry. That’s how to think of us. And that is also why we invested in establishing the company’s Pittsburgh Innovation Center.
Jen: For me, it’s fun to be a change agent. I am extremely passionate about the role technology plays in our world and the opportunity and responsibility we have to harness it. I am in a place where I can make a difference every day and I am still learning from my team and from the people I work with around the world.
While all of our Innovation Centers have common goals to help drive BNY Mellon’s industry leadership, ICs are also designed for the future workforce where our talent is concerned, as well as to expedite our ability to be nimble and collaborative. Each Innovation Center has a specific theme or focus area they are working to advance.
Our Innovation Centers embody our intellectually rich culture and encourage the collaboration that results in the delivery of cutting-edge solutions for our clients. Collectively, they are fueling the digital and cultural transformation of our company.
In Pittsburgh, our theme is perfect – it’s about the co-location of business and technology teams. We have over 7,000 employees in Pittsburgh and nearly every aspect of our global businesses and technology teams are represented. We’re aligning the business and technology teams in the Innovation Center, and by virtue of being co-located, with new ways of working, we believe these teams can be even more productive with higher quality solutions.
I do think human nature is somewhat resistant to change, so I always want to be on the front foot of change-making where we are producing better collaboration, better solutions. Winning people over and convincing them to change is the marathon (not a sprint) that I thoroughly enjoy.
Jen: Our Innovation Centers are focused on employee engagement. We want to provide avenues for learning not only for people who happen to sit within the innovation centers, but for all employees. Every center hosts a series of learning sessions, featuring internal and external speakers. Our centers also host events to engage employees and their local community. For example, one of our ICs hosted Blockchain Day. We’ve hosted Meetups and we are also working to be a regional leader in women in technology initiatives, extending their mission of advancing gender parity in the tech industry.