Alex Sion, co-head of Citi Ventures’ D10X, shares his insights on innovating at large companies, and how leaders can manage through growth cycles in industries that are being heavily disrupted by technology and changing consumer preferences.
Alex Sion, co-head of Citi Ventures’ D10X, has been working on digital transformation at banks and financial institutions long before the concept of digital transformation entered the current zeitgeist.
“I’ve had a long history in financial services consulting strategy, and I’m basically a child of the digital era. I started my career in the 90s when the internet was new, and I was focusing on helping banks and financial services institutions figure out what to do with this new technology. I have ridden that from wave to wave,” he says.
At D10X, he leads the effort to incubate early stage products and new businesses that will drive organic growth for Citi. Before Citi, Alex was the GM for mobile banking at JPMorgan Chase and prior to that, he co-founded Moven, a neobank, meaning only mobile and digital banking operations and no physical presence. It was at JPMorgan where he found himself in the center of a new inflection point for banking: the emergence of mobile, social, and online payment reading.
“These three things [were] dramatically impacting how customers behave and, in many ways, transformed the nature of how money works and how it could interact with society. [Moven] was recognizing there were these enabling technologies that had the potential to change behavior,” he says.
Even though D10X is underneath the umbrella of a large, global banking organization, Alex subscribes to the same product development and innovation philosophies that he did at Moven: Every product is a jobs to be done for a consumer. “It’s a guiding light principle that we use within Citi, and I found it useful in product development overall. Thinking about every single product as a job to be done for a consumer keeps you laser focused on the task that a user really needs to accomplish.”
According to Alex, this jobs-to-be-done mindset paired with a startup or venture-like organization structure is the fastest and most effective way to explore growth opportunities and drive meaningful change.
“To me, product development is perfected by experimentation and identifying consumer need, but then very quickly get something out there,” he says. “Because of that, the structure of a startup is probably the best chassis to explore early stage markets and that kind of product development.”
In this episode, you’ll learn a lot about innovation opportunities, financial services, and digital product development.
Here are the highlights:
Early product development Alex learned at startups that he’s applying at Citi (13:05)
Why startup or venture-like structures can and should be replicated at large organizations (15:27)
What makes product innovation challenging in the financial services industry (19:10)
The next big digital transformation trends in financial services (23:59)
Alex’s advice for product leaders who want to inspire innovation in their organization (28:28)