Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2017)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 6, 2016)
Here are some of the reasons why CIBC was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2017), Ten Best Companies to Work For (2016), Top Employers for Canadians Over 40 (2016) and Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2017):
- CIBC offers a number of alternative work arrangements to help employees balance their personal and professional lives and manages a formal "CIBC@Work" program to help employees design work schedules that suit their individual needs
- CIBC provides a number of communication and feedback tools to keep employees up to date and capture feedback, from the "Amazing Ideas" initiative that lets employees share and discuss ideas with colleagues on the company's intranet, to the intranet-based "Newsfeed", allowing employees to share photos and updates within an internal social network
- In addition to helping employees save for the future, CIBC maintains a "Retiree Advisory Committee" which represents the views of the bank's retirees on issues affecting them, provides input on communications to retirees and on policy review and development
CIBC takes the lead in digital banking
It's become a truism that the staid old banking industry is ripe for disruption by agile young fintech upstarts, but dig a little deeper and the situation turns out to be far more complex. Big banks like CIBC are proving themselves adept at innovation in ways that allow them to serve their clients better while attracting top financial technology talent. What's more, they've been at it for some time.
It was years ago, for example, that CIBC made it possible for clients to deposit digital cheques simply by snapping a smartphone photo of that relic of paper payments past. Since then the bank has, among other things, introduced its CIBC Tim Hortons Double Double Visa, which is both a Visa and a Tim's card all in one; rolled out a no-fee CIBC Global Money Transfer service; and brought Apple Pay to its clients.
"We look at disruption as an opportunity," says Todd Roberts, Senior Vice President of Innovation. "Partnership is a key part of our success going forward."
Another example of a CIBC partnership is the one it has forged with Thinking Capital, an independent fintech company known for its innovative financing solutions. CIBC small business clients can get fast and simple loans of $5,000 to $300,000 in as little as 24 hours with an online application that takes minutes.
As a consultant on CIBC's Digital Strategy and Innovation team, Courtney Campbell says she "gets to work on projects that seem really far out there but in reality are just around the corner." She delves into topics like artificial intelligence, virtual reality, biometrics, 360 videos, the role of voice - "things Facebook and Google are doing."
When Apple introduced its fingerprint reader, Campbell says, CIBC jumped on board and used the new technology to enable clients to sign on quickly to their banking apps. "To succeed in this space, we have to be smart and move fast," she says. "It's rewarding to see a project become a reality in the marketplace so quickly."
Campbell works with different partners across the bank as well as with CIBC Live Labs, which she describes as a kind of in-house think tank. The Live Labs innovation and digital technology centre is located in Toronto's MaRS Discovery District. "We challenge ourselves to see the world through the eyes of the client, then build and test our way to success," proclaims the Live Labs website.
CIBC Live Labs and its digital team have diverse skillsets. Campbell isn't an engineer or a coder nor did she work in financial services before joining CIBC last year. Her background is strategy consulting and brand management, and she brings those insights and recommendations to the team. "I'm always asking what clients need," she says. "Our clients are the boss."
Roberts emphasizes that as CIBC tries to make its clients' everyday lives easier, it competes not just with banks but with companies in other industries who are providing "outstanding client experiences." CIBC clients used to getting Amazon-level service, for example, expect the same kind of stress-free interaction with their banks.
To deliver client experiences that are "best in class on a global stage," Roberts says it's necessary to foster a fast-moving, innovative culture for employees. For those with engineering and technological backgrounds, he says, "we are a very interesting place for developing deep skills in financial services."
The digital team also enjoys a common tech company perk, the casual dress code. "I'm wearing jeans and a Blue Jays shirt," said Campbell on the day the playoffs began. "It wouldn't surprise me if my VPs are wearing Blue Jays gear too."
Recognized as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2016)
By Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Feb 23, 2016)
Here are some of the reasons why CIBC was selected as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2016):
- CIBC recognizes individuals and teams that promote diversity both internally and externally through the Diversity Champion Award and the Team Impact Award -- and recently introduced the Inclusive and Consultative Leader Award, for an individual who has taken personal accountability to lead and enhance open and trusting environments, and the Community Impact Award, for individuals who positively impact diverse and inclusive communities outside of the bank
- CIBC established "WorkAbility", an employee network for persons with disabilities, and in partnership with the bank's technology advisory committee, organizes an Assistive Technology Showcase to promote awareness of accessibility issues and technologies and community partners that support persons with disabilities
- CIBC partnered with a number of national Aboriginal employment organizations to develop "Pathways to Opportunity", a program to assist Aboriginal peoples with their career search -- the program features a series of workshops to develop resume writing, interviewing and networking skills, a mock interview with feedback, and a community networking session to develop professional connections with recruiters and hiring managers at the bank -- additionally, CIBC established a peer support program for new Aboriginal employees, in partnership with the bank's Aboriginal Employee Circle
CIBC finds a soaring symbol of inclusion
Who could better reflect Canadian diversity than Suleiman Muse paddling his kayak? Muse works as an Analyst at CIBC's Corporate Services Help Desk. He immigrated to Canada from West Africa 21 years ago. A paraplegic since contracting the polio virus at age three, he developed a love of water sports and began para-kayaking in 2009.
Out of that passion emerged a rigorous training regime at Ashbridges Bay in Toronto that led to his competing for Canada in the 2011 and 2013 ParaKayaking World Championships. His colleagues at the bank raised $8,000 in 2011 to buy him a customized fibreglass kayak and paddle, and defray his travel expenses. "It really motivated me," he says.
Muse's story symbolizes CIBC's commitment to diversity and inclusion - a commitment expressed daily in its workplace but also in the bank's role as the Lead Partner for the Toronto 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games and as a Premier Partner of the Canadian Paralympic Team.
"Whether it's in the workplace or on the field of play, CIBC recognizes that inclusion strengthens performance," says Laura Dottori-Attanasio, CIBC's Chief Risk Officer and Diversity & Inclusion Champion. "Our sponsorship of the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games provided a great opportunity to promote inclusiveness both internally and externally and challenge perceptions about diversity."
Muse is one of 450 members of CIBC's WorkAbility Network of employees with disabilities. He and 60 other members were Brand Ambassadors at last summer's Parapan Am Games, promoting CIBC's accessible banking initiatives and its career opportunities. (His sport wasn't part of the Games.)
"A lot of the spectators came up to me to ask about para sports," says Muse. "They told me that they had thought people with disabilities could only sit in a wheelchair, but that once they saw the para athletes compete, it was amazing."
JP Guizzetti, CIBC Director of Channel Optimization, has also seen first-hand how inclusion gives individuals and companies that extra competitive edge. Guizzetti co-chairs the bank's Pride Network, the first affinity group for LGBT employees to be formed at a major Canadian bank.
Additionally, Guizzetti was a volunteer organizer of the PrideHouseTO Pavilion at the Games. "CIBC was the first corporate sponsor of a PrideHouse at a multi-sport games," he says. "It was a way for CIBC to celebrate the Games with the LGBT community and help create a space where people could learn about how to make sport more welcoming for everyone," says Guizzetti.
"We wanted these Games to be the most inclusive multi-sport event ever," he says. "PrideHouseTO was so important to that mission because many countries competing in the Games still have laws that make it illegal to be gay. This was an opportunity to show that this is a country that's progressive and values everyone and their differences."
In addition to CIBC Pride and WorkAbility, the bank has seven other employee networks, including the International Professionals Network (IPN) for employees who are new to Canada - which is another first in the Canadian banking industry.
Gerald Wu, once new to Canada himself and now Senior Director, Executive Talent Management, co-chairs the IPN. "Many organizations have recognized that immigrants bring a global mindset and a wealth of talent to the workplace," says Wu. "CIBC is taking this one step further by ensuring that newcomers not only gain access to opportunity through being hired, but that we as new Canadians are welcomed and included."
"The simple truth is that everyone wants to belong," says Dottori-Attanasio. "When people work in an environment where they are accepted and valued, that's when people perform at their best and true innovation can flourish."
Recognized as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2017)
By Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Jan 9, 2017)
Here are some of the reasons why CIBC was selected as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2017):
- CIBC manages a comprehensive co-op program featuring lunch and learn workshops, coaching, mentoring, social events to help students across the organization connect and one-on-one career development sessions, which include resume and cover letter review -- in the past year, CIBC also partnered with MaRs Discovery District to create an innovation lab where a small team of co-op students and developers helped create the bank's Apple Watch mobile banking app
- CIBC manages a Risk Management Development Program for students completing their final year of study in business administration or a related program -- the 2-year program includes four 6-month rotations in market, credit and operational risk
- Additionally, CIBC offers a number of rotational programs in a variety of areas including a Commercial Banking Associate Program, a Human Resources Development Program and a Graduates Matter Rotation Program for students in their final year of study for a Masters of Business Administration or related program
- CIBC and the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation issued a fundraising challenge to encourage college and university students to learn about breast health and support the cause
CIBC banks on attracting top talent early
For his undergraduate degree, Jonathan Vukson studied international business at five schools in four countries on three continents. Summers, he worked for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources fighting forest fires. Then, when he graduated, he went into banking at CIBC.
If that seems incongruous, it's not. "The banking industry as a whole is changing fast," explains Vukson. Word's gotten around about how CIBC is innovating with fintechs, how it's a leader in digital, and how it offers a collaborative and inclusive workplace environment that appeals to younger employees.
Vukson was hired by CIBC as part of a rotation program for Risk Management Development Program analysts. Now in his third rotation, he's on the frontlines learning how to create an excellent experience with credit-seeking clients. He spent his second rotation in credit risk, number crunching, and his first, in retail risk.
Vukson is grateful for the training and opportunities available at CIBC, including a "hackathon" at CIBC Live Labs and a "mindfulness" session that went beyond traditional leadership methods. "It was not just a professional benefit," he says, "but also a great balance of work and life."
As CIBC strives to attract and retain top young talent, rotation programs like Vukson's are playing a key role. The bank wants job-seekers to be aware of the many different opportunities an institution like CIBC can offer ambitious young professionals.
The bank especially wants to nab talent early in the digital field. In recent years, CIBC has beefed up its co-op programs with universities and colleges. If a student proves a good fit on a co-op stint, CIBC will make them an offer even if they might not join full-time for two or three years.
Aayaz Pira, Senior Vice President, Digital, says that when those future employees return to school they serve as "brand ambassadors" for CIBC and "nodes for talent attraction", spreading the word about opportunities at the bank.
Genevieve Neal-Ellis discovered CIBC through traditional campus recruiting. Impressed by the bank's opportunities for women as well as CIBC's commitment to investing in communities and causes she cares about - CIBC Run for the Cure and United Way, for example - she accepted a summer position in corporate banking in 2011 and then an offer to return full-time the following year once her schooling was done.
She now works with the securitization group, providing financing to large corporations and financial companies. After two years she was promoted from analyst to associate. "Every day is very different," she says. "I might meet with clients one day, and then the next might be very analytical work."
Both she and Vukson are involved with different professional networks in the bank. He joined its Indigenous Employees Circle where, he explains, "we use an Indigenous lens to look at leadership in a corporate setting."
Neal-Ellis participated in CIBC's Capital Markets Analysts and Associates leadership program for women and is now part of Women in Capital Markets, a membership paid for by CIBC. In addition, she co-chairs CIBC's GenNext team, which encourages young professionals to get involved with the United Way and mentor individuals at its agencies.
Pira emphasizes that the type of talent that the bank is looking for now and the way it develops people is as different today as is the nature of banking itself. "More than 80 per cent of our client's transactions occur in our digital channels," he says. He expects future leaders of CIBC may well come from its digital operations. "You can build a really great career at our bank if you're ambitious and have the right skill set and attitudes."