Podcast: Build momentum and change will happen

Megan Wright

Removing barriers and managing stakeholders creates the momentum necessary to achieve automation success, Charles Mulinder explains

momentum hero

Photo by Luca Campioni on Unsplash

It’s well known that banking and financial services is a sector ripe for digital transformation. In fact, much of the increasing uptake of intelligent automation and robotic process automation (RPA) can be attributed to the significant cost targets of European banks, says Charles Mulinder.

With over two decades’ experience in the financial services industry, Mulinder explains that there are inefficiencies and legacy costs which need to be pared down. And with a lot of that cost attributed to people, automation is a natural fit.

RPA allows you to come in, do a basic process optimization, and if you want to, do a full process re-engineering,” he says.

“[Automation] forces you to standardize your process. It creates in one way, shape, or form, a repository of the tasks that people are performing. It gives you process data electronically that you never had before.”

This is a winning business case for banks, says Mulinder, especially given that as much as 30 to 50 per cent of budget is spent on regulatory reform. “There's not an enormous amount of money floating around for people to say, ‘What am I going to do with this extra hundred million in my investment budget?’"

Tune in as Mulinder joins AI Network Podcast host Seth Adler to discuss the role of stakeholder and dependency management in the automation journey, as well as how to generate momentum for your project through communication and engagement.

“If you can get your momentum going, you're removing the barriers… Change just happens around you. You don't need to over engineer it. That's where your focus should be.”

Listen in: 


Seth Adler: Charles Mulinder joins us. First, some supporters to thank you. Thank you for listening. This episode is supported by the AiiA network, the AI & Intelligent Automation network is an online community focused on building the intelligent enterprise. Content covers a broad range of issues including digital disruption and transformation, task and robotic process automation, augmented intelligence, machine learning, and cognitive computing. Our goal is to help businesses apply these technologies and build the intelligent enterprise of the future. Go to aiia.net to join.

This episode is also supported by RPA & AI Week 2017. The world decision makers and doers in process excellence and shared services meet in London this November to collaborate on the direction of task automation and augmented intelligence, share best practice, and discover strategies, tactics, and initiatives, which industry leaders are already implementing for business success. 2017 is our second year of bringing this growing and exciting industry together. Go to rpaandaisummit.com for more.

Charles Mulinder joins us from the RPA & AI BFSI Summit in London where he shares that he's originally South African, spent a good portion of his life in the U.K. and currently lives in Zurich, Switzerland. He's worked within the financial services industry for 20 years and he notes that it turns out that while there are many people in the industry, counterintuitively, it's a small circle and a relatively compact network. Charles brings the straightforward perspective that European banks all have significant cost targets. Their inefficiencies and legacy costs, which need to be pared down. Unfortunately, a lot of that cost is with people. The number of people engaged in banking services must go down. Of course, one of the levers that you use to achieve that is automation.

Welcome to the AI & Intelligent Automation Network on B2BiQ. I'm your host, Seth Adler. Download episodes on aiia.net or through our app in iTunes, within the iTunes podcast app, in Google Play, or wherever you currently get your podcasts.

Charles M.: I am originally South African. I spent a good portion of my life in the United Kingdom. I currently live in Zurich, Switzerland.

Seth Adler: Okay, so you get around?

Charles M.: I get around.

Seth Adler: You can come away from any of these conversations and say, "People are doomed because of automation." You can come away from these conversations and say, "Well, this is great because everyone's going to have a better job in the future." You can come away from these conversations with a reality that is probably somewhere in between. Right? Is that fair?

Charles M.: I think that's entirely fair. One of the things, particularly in the banking industry and particularly if you look across a lot of European banks, which haven't been necessarily as strong on cost cutting as some of the America banks is, is they all have significant cost targets. They're all right sizing, backed on to the types of revenues and structures that they now operating within. One of the things that you clearly see if you look at the financials is you take cost start sustainably by closing a business or becoming more efficient. No one wants to close their businesses. Most of the banks have gone there already. They've changed the makeup of their business. They've started to close things down. They've created bad banks, various other things, but they're still inefficient and they still have legacy cost structures that they need to pare down. Unfortunately, a lot of their cost is with people. The number of people engaged and involved in banking services must go down.

 Now one of the levers you can use to achieve that is automation. It's not the only lever. Your typically operating model outsourcing process efficiency are all levers that banks have pulled. Most banks haven't really pulled the automation, the RPI AI cognitive lever. The thing that makes it quite exciting from my perspective is actually it goes beyond just pure cost cutting. It's one of the things and one of the things that I said in my keynote yesterday was, one of the things I find so exciting is that you can take cost on but you can change the customer experience, you can improve quality, you can adjust the control. Those are things that, for those of us who have been working in banking, we really haven't been able to do with some of the other levels.

Seth Adler: Right.

Charles M.: We really, really struggle to do. With automation, it seems to be easier to change the production, the cost, the efficiency, and also be able to change customer experience. That, to me, is quite exciting.

Seth Adler: And more directly change customer experience. You mentioned your session. We're here at the RPA & AI BFSI event.

Charles M.: That's right.

Seth Adler: Yeah. I'm familiar with the alphabet. I do well with these types of things. As far as the customer experience, let's dive in there. In your experience, with customer experience, what has changed due to RPA and maybe even AI?

Charles M.: Bizarrely, I think I don't think any ... If you look at the penetration today of RPA and AI into actual banks and just look at them separately because they are somewhat separate things, your RPA is on the increase. There are three or four banks that have got to a point where they are starting to invest real life process. There are three or four banks that have probably gone upward of 300 to 400 real robots doing work. They are very definitely starting to see customer experience impact. One of the interesting things that I've observed is, as a bank, it's more and more upwards and you start saying, "How many FTEs have you saved? How many robots do you have? How many processes have you automated?" What they start talking about is actually we saved this money amount of money, but we're top of these league table. Our customer service index has skyrocketed and our response to customer queries is 30 minutes. They start talking about things that aren't related to RPI cost savings.

Seth Adler: Yeah.

Charles M.: That, for me, is a sign of that maturity starting to come through.

Seth Adler: Yeah.

Charles M.: Now the interesting thing is that if you actually then go and look at the broad industry and say, "How much money are banks really investing into RPA?" Well, that's starting to invest money, right? Banks are starting to sign the enterprise license agreements. They're starting to construct widespread horizontal programs where they're scaling off quickly. That's driving a lot of the market activity today. There aren't a lot of banks that are doing that.

Seth Adler: Right.

Charles M.: If you in AI, it's even more skewed than that. You'll find lots and lots and lots of proof of concepts. You'll find a few niche implementations, but you actually don't find many banks that are investing tens of millions into AI and cognitive technologies. There's a few, but there's not yet many that are doing that. That's a function again of the maturity of the market. Most of these banks, most of the large banks at least, have multi hundred million if not billion dollar change budgets. If you're investing less than 10 million in AI technologies, that's a fraction of your budget. You're not taking it seriously yet.

Seth Adler: Right. It begs the question why, which we'll come back to, because I want to unpack a couple things that you mentioned. I find it interesting that you want to talk about FTE with your colleagues and they bring up NPS. They're talking about Net Promoter Score and you're trying to talk, "Well, wait a second. Hold on. Why are we in this neighborhood of information?" It is because it is truly having impact.

Charles M.: I think it's both things. I think the cold hard reality of working within an organization is you have to take our cost in the current climate. FTE becomes a very important score. Interesting enough, if you look across some of the banks, banks are starting to talk about the number of robots they have. They talk about the number of FTEs they have. They talk about heir financials. You could make an argument and say that the reason they talk about both is because they may not trust their financials, so they'd like to see the corresponding reduction or adjustment in the head count. They don't talk about productivity and they don't measure it, which is actually the real thing that you should be measuring whether you're measuring what a robot does or an FTE does or something like it. It's just too difficult.

Seth Adler: Why is it so difficult? Let's take that tangent. To measure productivity anywhere? Yes, we're talking financial services. Yes, we're talking banking. Why have we?

Charles M.: I think it's a simple answer. It's such a multidimensional measure and it really depends on the function that somebody's performing and how you measure the output of it. In certain industries, certain jobs, you can very clearly look at productivity. As you start to consolidation that and become an all encompassing institution or organization, it becomes harder and harder and harder to measure productivity.

Seth Adler: Right.

Charles M.: If I pick an example of an interesting robot, you have a robot, an automation that runs tens of thousands of times a day and makes 5,000 of your client advisor's lives a little bit easier. Well, what's the productivity measurement that you apply to that robot? It's incredibly difficult to understand. There's a direct correlation to how many minutes of the day it helps them, but does that translate into more productive work? Hard to tell. There's a cultural element so they're happy it's a nice work environment. How do you translate that? It's a multidimensional, very difficult thing to do. Bizarrely, I'm not sure it's necessarily that important.

Seth Adler: Well, I take your point, but I remember when I used to hear productivity numbers, which were defined and explicit meaning we believed them. That started to stop happening. How much of this is tied into, let's go back to banking, let's go back to your neck of the woods as it were, to the fact that just industry in general, industries specifically, are completely changing? Take fintech's effect on big banks. Of course, we're talking about robotics within the shop and RPA and we'll talk about why on AI in a minute, but how much of it has to do with this just glacial shift in the way things happen?

Charles M.: I'm not sure it's necessarily a glacial shift in the way things happen. Maybe I should say it slightly differently. I think measuring something like productivity is important from a relative perspective, not necessary from an objective perspective. Comparing the productivity of two firms is very difficult.

Seth Adler: Fair enough.

Charles M.: Demonstrating your progress from an objective measure within your firm is actually very important because it shows you all sorts of things. You still need that, but yet, I guess to your point, if you use some of the measure we look at today, I think we'd find a chasm between where people measured a fintech as being productive on versus, let's say, a bank. The playing field is very different. The regulation, the type of customer, the level of legacy system or process is very different. While a fintech may be able to accelerate and build out in a particular area or particular product or particular segments of clients incredibly quickly and look like it's immensely productive versus a bank. That's only part of the story. You're really not measuring the same things.

Seth Adler: I'm feeling from you that on the fear spectrum, you're kind of on the low end as far as bigger banks and what's coming here from fintech. You mentioned specificity as opposed to generality. Is it simply because of the size? It can't be.

Charles M.: It's not. Let me step back nearly 20 odd years to when eCommerce first came around. The fear-

Seth Adler: We were never going to have another retail store ever again.

Charles M.: Well, there was that and now I'm actually thinking about banking now.

Seth Adler: Yeah, sure. Of course.

Charles M.: In the banking space, there was this rise in small fintechs. We didn't call them fintechs in those days, but these small internet firms you basically built into your trading systems. Some of the smaller banks, people like … went on to become quite substantive players. A small Scandinavian bank became quite a big player in a particular type of market, but the majority of those firms that you go back to no longer exist. Even some of the emerging players who, at the time, delivered systems into banks because they thought about it, they started building the system, they sold the system off to banks, but swallowed up by large organizations. The likes of somebody like AVT was bought by, I think, Thomson Reuters, and their product delivered as part of the suite of the… products. You saw them getting swallowed up, but what you didn't see is major banks-

Seth Adler: Shutting their doors.

Charles M.: Yeah, exactly. What you saw is a shift between banks of the relative power of eCommerce. If you pick somebody like UBS. UBS was a first moving in FX eCommerce that invested heavily in it, that had great strategy. The business really bought into their strategy and they went from ninth to sixth to first in the market. A lot of that's attributed to what they did in that eCommerce space. What you didn't see was people like HSBC and Deutsche and various other banks being replaced by small and upcoming startups that had built great FX trading systems. Part of that is that there aren't a lot of clients doing volume and size who just want effects. They want a range of products, they want to understand the regulation, they want to understand the cross pull implications, they want global footprints. All of that is knowledge that's inherent in a large scale institution.

Seth Adler: Right. So, you would be a person that is not running around with his hair on fire?

Charles M.: Absolutely. What I would say is that banks need to embrace and adopt some of the fintechs. What we'll probably see is a bunch of banks buying lots of fintechs.

Seth Adler: Sure.

Charles M.: You start to see that already.

Seth Adler: Yup.

Charles M.: You'll see a bunch of fintechs coming up and selling products into banks. You'll see a few fintechs make name for themselves and potentially become major players. I'm not a believer that there's a grand challenge from any single fintech. I think we'll see that consolidation happening. I think lots of the things that fintechs will bring in will become normal within banks and the banks that get their strategy right and adopt and buy some of those fintechs and adopt what they're doing and buy their products and those types of things. We'll see their relative revenues or productivity increase and it'll be a competitive advantage for them versus APS.

Seth Adler: Which brings us to AI. If we're not spending the money that we have in the budget on AI right now, one way is we could just buy something. We could just partner with someone. Why do you think that the money's not being put in? Why do you think that those transaction, those acquisitions aren't happening?

Charles M.: Again, I think the interesting thing is that if you talk to a lot of the banks, they are experimenting and actively involving themselves in AI cognitive technologies.

Seth Adler: Okay.

Charles M.: All of them are doing that. What they're not doing is signing up to large scale, multi million programs and projects. Spending two or three million at the moment on a machine learning that is going into a niche part of your business is quite a big deal. If I look at some of the firms that I've worked with, what makes it to the board is that AI project at three million because it's a big deal. It's new and it's exciting and they're trying to work out a way it's going to go. The next program on the program update is a hundred million re platforming of global business doing something quite substantive. They can see the opportunity. They're not quite sure how to adopt it. They're not quite sure how to invest in it.

Seth Adler: Why is that? Because as far the basics, as far as chat bots and voice recognition, those are here.

Charles M.: They are here, but there is a fragmented nature of organizations, which mean that as you start to look at the business cases ... Let's pick something like a machine learning engine. Say you're spending three or five million on your machine learning engine. How transportable is it between your multiple use cases you have within your organization? Can you find the business case to put it in? The context of banking today, extreme cost pressure, vast regulatory reform.

Most banks are 30% to 50% of their budget is spent on regulatory reform. Probably another 30% on re platforming simplification, those types of things, and 20 million just trying to keep up. There's not an enormous amount of money floating around for people to say, "What am I going to do with this extra hundred million in my investment budget?"

Seth Adler: Fair enough.

Charles M.: You're competing against things that you have to do or that are viewed as so transformation and critical to the survival of your franchise that they're on the priority one list. Then you've got something like a machine learning engine and you're saying, "Well, if I have this capability, I know I can make use of it. I'm not really sure how difficult it's going to be. I'm not really sure how transportable the knowledge."

Let's pick a couple of real examples. I know you might take a machine learning engine and implement it into a data center. It might reading alerts and error messages and information from systems all around it, and then generating out recommendation as to what a user should do or actually executing those recommendations themselves. How transportable is that into business process? Because in business process, not everyone calls the business process the same. The taxonomy isn't there. You're not dealing with alerts driven by a machine that is standardized. You're not receiving information or using commands that are defined. You're dealing with real people.

Seth Adler: Yeah.

Charles M.: How standardized is that business process within the context of your firm? Can you take that machine learning engine that you've created in your data center and actually transport it and put it into a business process, which is far less defined, has no taxonomy, and people have to go through their transforming of standardizing it?

Seth Adler: But RPAs here, right? We could just follow RPA through the wide open door.

Charles M.: Well, interestingly, one of the things that I love about RPA is it's doing exactly that. Because if you going to talk to a COO and you say, "I'd like to kick off a business process re engineering program." They go, "Oh god, this is like five million minimum spend, probably around it'll be not so successful over here." They're afraid.

Seth Adler: Yeah. Sure

Charles M.: That's probably the right thing to do, but it's difficult and everyone's struggled with large scale process re engineering for a very long. What RPA allows you to do is that it allows you to come in, do a basic process optimization, and if you want to, do a full process re engineering. It allows you to automate it along the way and it allows you to get a quick return on your investment. What I really like about it is that it also forces you to standardize your process. It creates in one way, shape, or form, a repository of the tasks that people are performing. It gives you process data electronically that you never had before. Now those as outputs to feed a broader conversation around any other type of cognitive AI or machine learning or transformation are invaluable. You've just done the first step in moving towards a more complex implementation.

Seth Adler: Certainly.

Charles M.: That's part of why I'm such a big advocate of it is you can start it quickly. You can tee everything down to a single commercial decision. You can make it pay for itself, but it allows you to move towards that end goal. As long as you are structured and have a really good framework in place, you can end up with a ton of assets that you can use for a far more advanced implement of AI or cognitive or machine learning in the future.

Seth Adler: So, this then sounds just so simple, doesn't it? This is just more of the same. The potential outcomes are unknown and expansive and potentially miraculous, but where we are right now sounds like you're talking about the going into the ERP implementations of the late '90s.

Charles M.: Yeah. Again, I'm not necessarily certain that's the case. I think one of the things that I like about current landscape is ... Again, you could look at the ERP implementations of the late '90s. You could also look at the roll out of eComm.

Seth Adler: Sure.

Charles M.: The customer take up as well as the speed in which it became an everyday part of businesses. I think we're closer to the eComm space. I think what you're going to see is this twofold impact. One is the impact people have on their daily lives. We are becoming more digital whether we like it or not.

Seth Adler: Sure.

Charles M.: You can talk about cross training people. Actually, if you've got a mobile phone and you're using Siri and you're asking questions, you change the way you ask questions unknowingly. You're becoming more digital whatever happens. Right?

Seth Adler: Right.

Charles M.: You're being trained in that space by your usage. Similarly, if you're coming from the other direction, one of the things that I like to talk a great deal about is how do you horizontally scale things like RPA and process across an organization? How do you create an imperative? How do you create excitement? How do you create lack of an art, if you just pick FX and process engineering? Like it or not, if you're going to talk about process engineering to large groups of people, there's a third of them, some people would argue there's two thirds of them that fall asleep before you finished your full sentence. That doesn't happen when you talk about robotics.

Seth Adler: Right.

Charles M.: If you want to talk to them about robotics, they're excited, they're interested, they like the demos, they can see it if you make it contextual  like something they recognize. They walk away enthused. Interestingly enough, when you're talking to them about robotics, yes, you're actually talking to them about FX.

Seth Adler: Exactly. Precisely. I just want to make sure that we cover, Charles, why ... You've just demonstrated that at least you sound like a smart guy with it seems like a fair amount of experience. You said you were from South Africa. How much time did you spend in your early life there and when was the first move type of thing?

Charles M.: I didn't. I finished university in South Africa, took a gap year to travel around the world, ended in London, and I never left. I've actually never worked in South Africa.

Seth Adler: I see.

Charles M.: Other than my days as a bartender at university. Bizarrely, I started my career in a gun factory in London putting an MRP in an ERP system, which is an incredibly unlikely space to start your career.

Seth Adler: Indeed.

Charles M.: Particularly if I tell people that it was owned by Chanel.

Seth Adler: The gun factory was owned by Chanel?

Charles M.: Yes. At the time. I don't know if it still is. Chanel, one of the plays that they were making was to move into hunting and shooting.

Seth Adler: Huh.

Charles M.: They bought up one of the major gun manufacturers in the U.K. or possibly the world. I spent the first part of my career doing that and then moved into consulting and from consulting, got enthused by the whole eCommerce space and simply switched from my current consulting client to one of the Swiss banks. Worked there for a number of years. I've worked extensively in Switzerland. Then moved to a German bank, a Dutch bank, a U.K. bank, and then back to a Swiss bank.

Seth Adler: Interesting.

Charles M.: I've been through a number of the large players. I've seen probably three or four significant merges or changes. I worked extensively in capital markets technology as well as emerging markets technology. Part of what I love about this space is this context of, how do you enthuse and drive a global movement of change across multiple countries, multiple cultures, multiply ways of doing things? I've spent probably the last 17, 18 years of my career working in large scale financial institution, predominantly driving change, running departments, front office, back office, middle office, and large regulatory reform.

Seth Adler: What would be, if you could crystallize one key in terms of change management? All sorts of different institutions, many of them similar. What would be one key? Two keys? Three keys? You get the point.

Charles M.: To me, there's a couple of things I absolutely believe in. The first one is I spend the first three months of any change program structuring it, I would say.

Seth Adler: Structuring the change?

Charles M.: Structuring the change. I'm a big believer in structure. That structure has to fit your institution. To me, it's one of the single biggest failures of large scale change. You did it one way at one particular institution. You should do it the same way at a different institution. It doesn't work. That's the first thing. The second thing that I believe is that once you have your structure and you have your machine, your focus has to move to stakeholder and dependency management. As a change manager, most of what I should be doing is managing dependencies and managing stakeholders. Then the third element is around generating momentum. You generate momentum through communication and engagement. If you can get your momentum going, you're removing the barriers, which almost always issues of stakeholders or dependencies, and you've got your momentum. Change just happens around you. You don't need to over engineer it. That's where your focus should be. I always spend those first three to six months building momentum, structuring the change, getting myself into that space. I'm managing dependencies and stakeholders. If necessary, you do some evangelizing.

Seth Adler: You've just made the argument that change management should not be Sisyphean. Right?

Charles M.: What do you mean by that?

Seth Adler: Oh. Sisyphus, he pushes the big huge boulder up the hill and he can never quite get there. It's a Sisyphean feat to do it. It's both tiring and impossible.

Charles M.: Yeah. The classic example and I'll give you a real example. When we started RPA, the very first video that we did on RPA, I did.

Seth Adler: Yeah.

Charles M.: That's great. It makes you feel important. You get out in front of the whole organization, you show it on the internet.

Seth Adler: Sure.

Charles M.: The relative value of that is actually very low. If you can find a senior ish manager running a team who has a great experience and talks about it on a video and identifies with all his colleagues, the impact of that is substantively more than having somebody like me going and talking about how great robotics could be in the state of the organization. The quicker you get to that model of where you're finding those points within the organization who can help you generate momentum, enthused and excited and successful, the quicker you generate that momentum. To me, if you look at, go back to those eCommerce days, is who was really successful? It was the organizations that saw the vision, they adopted it. If I look at the experience I went through, we started off multiple strands.

Every business had its own eCommerce trading system. Then somebody said, "You know what? Why don't we rebrand as a single bank? Why don't we bring together the front end? Why don't we start to give the client an integrated experience?" That was transformational and it generated a completely different conversation. We could've gone very differently. We could've just picked FX and spent all our time getting FX to the nth degree and gone very deep within that process. It wouldn't have worked and the organization wouldn't have seen that multi culture benefit that was pervasive at the time across the entire bank.

Seth Adler: Just to tie it back here, it seems like it should be getting easier and if it's getting more difficult, you're doing it wrong.

Charles M.: It should be getting easier. Yes, I think if it's getting more difficult, it probably means you need to change direction. I'm never a fan of saying it should be necessarily getting easier. I think one of the things around large scale change is that you need to provide that air traffic control. If you're not constantly adjusting and redefining and you don't have this culture of accepting that some things you won't be that efficient at, some things you won't necessarily get right, you'll probably fail. In this whole RPA space, one of the things that I speak quite passionately about is your first five robots, you want to high, high chance of success.

Seth Adler: Sure.

Charles M.: Maybe you picked the easiest, simplest things and may not have the best business case, but you want them to be successful. You could choose a high business benefit complex robot as your first robot. You're making a rod for your own back. If it's unsuccessful, you'll be hung. Again, I think all of these things come together. You need to look at all the threads of what you're dealing with at particular time, gain that organizational confidence in your delivery capability, generate the momentum. They all need to come together and that's part of your job as a change leader.

Seth Adler: Yeah. We could go on and on and on. We don't have that kind of time. I hope we can speak again sometime in the near future. In the meantime though, I'll ask you the three final questions. I'll tell you what they are and then I'll ask you them in order. What has most surprised you at work? What has most surprised you in life? Then on the soundtrack of your life, one track, one song that's got to be on there. First things first, along the way, you mentioned a few stops there. What has most surprised you at work?

Charles M.: I'm not sure there's necessarily one thing. I think one of the things that always surprises me when it comes to large scale change is the projection of the fears and challenges that people will face and how routinely people get it wrong. We talked about eCommerce already. You won't buy anything in the high street.

Seth Adler: Yeah.

Charles M.: We got it wrong. Not everyone got it wrong, but lots of people got it wrong.

Seth Adler: Exactly.

Charles M.: It's the same with robotics. 100% of the jobs will be automated in 10 years time. I just don't believe it.

Seth Adler: Right. We should mention the caveat that there are no music stores. If you're on the music guys, there are no more stores.

Charles M.: There's a few. There's one about 300 meters down the road.

Seth Adler: Sure, but they're selling vinyl. It's a completely different experience than the virgin mega store, for instance, Tower Records.

Charles M.: Absolutely. Yeah, if you look at the example, it's not just a function of eCommerce, it's a function of a complete media change. It's a function of the way you listen to music. There are multiple factors that come in.

Seth Adler: Sure. Of course.

Charles M.: I think the thing that surprises me is we always feel the worst and you don't necessarily need to feel the worst. I'm a professional pessimist, personal optimist. I always think things will take longer than they really will because they almost always do.

Seth Adler: Yeah

Charles M.: Actually, if it comes to something like saying, "How will this impact me in five or 10 years time?" Actually I'm a personal optimist. I think this is great, right? We'll have a much, much more satisfying work environment to work in.

Seth Adler: I'm going to pay that forward if you don't mind. Professional pessimist, personal optimist. Love it. What's most surprised you in life?

Charles M.: Again, I think part of it is just the unpredictability of it. If I look back at how I envisioned my future and what I'd be doing ... When I grew up in South Africa, I absolutely didn't think I'd end up living in London. I absolutely didn't think I'd work in banking. I had completely different career plan. Would I change it?

Seth Adler: Yeah.

Charles M.: Absolutely not.

Seth Adler: Let's tap into that bartender mind. You're there, you're in university, bartender, got to having an enjoyable time I would imagine.

Charles M.: Yeah.

Seth Adler: What did you think the path was?

Charles M.: At the time, I think I thought I was destined to go into law and take a very different career path and end up in commerce. As it happened, I ended up in banking. As I said, I've worked across a number of countries and my hobbies have changed from windsurfing and surfing to skiing and biking. I wouldn't change it for the world.


Seth Adler: Right.


Charles M.: The interesting thing for me is that you never really know what's around the corner and you can embrace change or you can fear it.

Seth Adler: On skiing and biking, two questions. One, do you care about the Tour de France?

Charles M.: I absolutely do.

Seth Adler: You do?

Charles M.: Yeah.

Seth Adler: All right.

Charles M.: Actually it was something that we talked about over dinner last night. I mean if you want to look at transformation, Britain hasn't had a winner of the Tour de France for, I think, it was 50 years or plus. In the last five, six years, they've won five times.

Seth Adler: Yeah.

Charles M.: Talk about a transformation in British cycling.

Seth Adler: Sure.

Charles M.: Really interesting use case. How do you achieve that sort of success in a sport that is probably one of the most competitive in the world?

Seth Adler: I think they would've preferred World Cup wins but they'll take the Tour de France wins. On skiing, I just want to because you've kind of mentioned how you've been on earth as far as the time periods are concerned, so I know it's not skiing, it's jumping. Eddie the Eagle. Being a guy that has lived in London a long time, what were your thoughts when all of that was happening? Maybe even tell us what I'm talking about if folks don't remember.

Charles M.: I think Eddie was probably pre my time, but Eddie was, I think, the most well known ski jumper ever to come out of Britain.

Seth Adler: Indeed.

Charles M.: He galvanized the world. Well, he certainly galvanized Britain if not the world with his antics and his passion for ski jumping, although it was very clear that he would never compete at the level that some of the professionals were already competing. It's a great story because you've got somebody who built a name for himself, he competed at the highest level, he loved the time that he spent going to the Olympics. He's not a natural ski jumper.

Seth Adler: Right.

Charles M.: He didn't grow up in a country that even has a ramp to learn how to ski jump.

Seth Adler: As we discuss this, I'm realizing that he is certainly a professional pessimist. He never believed that he would be at the top, but certainly a personal optimist.

Charles M.: Personal optimist. Yeah.

Seth Adler: On the soundtrack of your life, one track, one song, that's got to be on there?

Charles M.: That's a difficult one. You're asking me if I'm going to play once. It would probably be something from Louis Prima.

Seth Adler: Okay.

Charles M.: Simply because that's what we played at our wedding.

Seth Adler: Oh, did you? What song was it?

Charles M.: It was I'm Just A Gigolo.

Seth Adler: I was going to say, was it, I'm Just A Gigolo? Then you said your wedding and I thought to myself, "Well, it's not I'm Just A Gigolo," but it was.

Charles M.: It was. It was. It's got nothing to do with the words. We just like the song.

Seth Adler: Yeah. And everywhere I go, people like the song I'm singing, I think?

Charles M.: Yeah. That's the word.

Seth Adler: There was Keely Smith was involved.

Charles M.: It was Keely Smith. I think she was still married to him at that point.

Seth Adler: Yeah. They both sang on it. She sang on many of the tunes. That is one of the guys. All you hear is his attitude in that music.

Charles M.: Absolutely.

Seth Adler: In the entire band.

Charles M.: Absolutely. It's really interesting. I don't know if you've ever watched any of the songs he did with Keely Smith when they were married. You can actually see the relationship that they had coming through in the songs.

Seth Adler: Certainly. 

Charles M.: Yeah. There's nothing more profound around the fact that we just liked the song and it's the song that we played at our weeding.

Seth Adler: I love it. Here's to Louis Prima. Charles, it's been a pleasure. Very much appreciated.

Charles M.: Thank you very much.

Seth Adler: You got it.

Charles M.: Lovely talking to you.

Seth Adler: There you have Charles Mulinder. You'll find lots and lots and lots of proof of concept, a few niche implementations, but you actually don't find many banks that are investing tens of millions into AI and cognitive technologies. There are a few, but not many are doing that right now. Thanks to Charles for his time. Thanks to you for yours. Stay tuned.