And this strange guy calls me from a Vegas Poker Table, saying I’m busy right now playing poker. And I’m like… who is this guy?

📽️ About The Series

Welcome to our new video series, “The Founder Mindset With Onova” — where we peel back the layers of Fortune 500 innovation and meet the changemakers that are rewriting the rules.

In this series, we’ll be interviewing founders and leaders who have helped build and shape long-lasting innovation cultures within their companies. More specifically, we’ll be delving deeper into the mindset it takes to be a founder within a large Fortune 500 company.

This “founder mindset”, covers all things, such as where to begin when looking for inspiration, how to start a new initiative and assemble the right people. This series also uncovers the emotional elements and risks behind proposing a new venture.

🎙 About The Episode

Bradley Hadfield is the founder of BMO Destination Digital and a Lead Technology Officer at BMO Insurance. In this episode, we uncover the origin story of BMO’s internal hackathon. We delve deeper into how Brad was able to help someone within his organization with a problem, and effectively find a way to engage people and create meaningful connections.

Season 1 Episode 1:

  • Intro
  • Brad’s technology career and BMO journey
  • Hearing about Onova and getting in contact with Victor
  • What was at stake and why pursue a hackathon?
  • Helping someone solve a problem and putting yourself in other people’s shoes
  • Listening for opportunity and waiting for the right timing
  • Putting your career and reputation on the line (Brad’s “home run” at BMO)
  • The most enjoyable part of the planning process
  • Assembling the right players to move fast
  • The long-lasting impact and ongoing legacy of Destination Digital at BMO
  • Things that Brad would do differently, if he were to do it again
  • The multi-year journey of new initiatives
  • Brad’s advice for other aspiring intrapreneurs and founders
  • What’s next for Brad — life living with his family in Lausanne, Switzerland 🇨🇭

🤔 Key Takeaways

1. Listening for pain points and opportunities:

Being a founder is about helping people solve problems. It can be as simple and easy as helping someone within your organization with a large recurring problem that they are having.

2. Sticking through it and waiting for that right timing:

Sometimes you might have the right solution, but just the wrong timing. It’s important to not be discouraged by past failures and rejections, and to maintain a high level of conviction in the value of your particular solution.

3. Structure works well at a bank:

Planning and organizing something new, like a hackathon, requires many different people to collaborate and play their role. It is important to have a system and structure in place that resonates with the people  you are collaborating with.

4. Assembling the right people to move fast:

It is important to have people who are very keen to try new things. In order to assemble these right people, you need to have somebody on your team who is an expert at connecting the dots and bringing the right people together on the team. You need people on your team who can quickly make decisions, communicate well and effectively, and network with senior leaders within your organization.

5. In companies, you need people, money and investment in order to realize great ideas:

Without effective follow-through and commitment from people who can act as hackathon “challenge sponsors”, it is much more difficult to translate ideas into a product that you could see in front of a customer.

6. Do not dilute your primary objective:

Stay aligned to your operating committee’s major theme or goal. If the main goal (in Year 1) is around bringing people together and collaboration, then do not dilute your focus by prioritizing other goals (such as immediate product implementation).

🗣️ The Best Quotes from Brad

  1. For me, it was just cool. Cool as in I wanted to participate.
  2. This works very well at a bank. Everything is organized month by month, week by week.
  3. And the person that I was pitching it to had a problem and they were trying to solve a problem. And I said this might seem kind of farfetch, but what do you think about this idea [running a hackathon] and that person loved it”.

🔗 Connect with Brad or Victor on LinkedIn

Brad | Victor

🔊 Episode Transcript

Download the episode transcript

Interested in seeing how we can support you and your business in your innovation initiatives? Book an introductory call with Victor Li, Founder & CEO of Onova.
Share on socials