Banking Without Boundaries

The Faculty of Arts newsletter

Time-saving, convenience, ease, efficiency and security. Popular buzz words in our digital age, when everything from shopping to banking is just a simple mouse click away. These are words not lost on Lloyd Darlington, BA’67 and his team at BMO Financial Group, who have been working hard to tap into new technologies and revolutionize the way Canadians do business.

Darlington began his career at the bank as a management trainee in Montreal, shortly after graduating from McGill University with a B.A. in English and Psychology. He says his humanities background was a decided asset in his career.

“In many ways, I felt at an advantage,” recalls Darlington of his early days at the bank. “I held a belief that in the humanities you gained a deep understanding about how people worked and lived, how they related to one another, and how they initiated and responded to change”

Darlington, who did go on to pursue an MBA, never lost his interest in human behaviors. Before long, he was moving up the ladder in a rapidly changing industry. He refers to the eighties and nineties as a period of “phenomenal revolution” when the banking world was undergoing “frenetic change,” mostly due to the advent of the Internet and more advanced computing and communication technologies. New and exciting developments, such as paying bills online, managing your bank accounts from home and mobile devices, and using technology to enhance the roles of employees, were drastically changing the face of banking.

But as Darlington points out, while change yielded new opportunities, it also brought some difficult challenges at head office.

“With the introduction of new technology came both the elimination as well change to thousands of jobs,” explains Darlington. “The key was ensuring people were placed in new roles, that there was a good reason for this new technology. Many of the make or break challenges were not technology challenges, but people challenges.”

Darlington was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of Technology and Solutions in May 2000, a role he performed until a year before retirement in 2007.His priority was to improve the leadership capability of the executive team.

“The goal became how to attract and retain the best tech people,” he says. “And that was not just through compensation. You had to create an environment of equal opportunity, an environment where people wanted to come to work, do their best and be recognized for their contribution.”

The commitment to create equal opportunity in the workplace led to Lloyd Darlington’s decision to establish the Carol & Lloyd Darlington Arts Internship Award for undergraduate students enrolled in the Summer Internship Program. The award supports internships with the goal of improving the economic or social welfare of the poor in a developing country, with the use of more innovative and creative approaches. To date, numerous students have received the award.

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