Michael Todasco, Senior Director of Innovation at PayPal sat down with GDS Group ahead of speaking at the upcoming Banking Innovation Summit.
What is the main hurdle keeping people from innovating at the moment?
I’d say it is time in prioritization in most companies. Anyone can truly be innovative but one of the things that it takes first and foremost is time. If innovation isn’t a priority, if it isn’t being rewarded, or if it is viewed as being something that “is the responsibility of those R&D teams” then it won’t happen. At PayPal, Innovation is one of our four core values and likewise it is the expectation from managers and senior leaders that teams need to do that. And in order to do that time must be allocated as such. If it is important at your company, you’ll make time for it.
What is the biggest opportunity for innovation in the banking industry in 2020?
We have over one and a half billion people around the world who are unbanked. This is an enormous opportunity to help empower those and ultimately it is the right business decision as well to embrace this massive market.
What lessons can the industry learn from the work you’ve been doing?
We launched an exciting event internally last year called our Global Innovation Tournament. This was an idea tournament where PayPal senior leaders put forth problem statements which they wanted broad input. Over 1500 ideas were submitted by PayPal employees and over the following five months the ideas were filtered down and improved upon until we had our winning idea. It was an amazing event that can occur in any company that wants to embrace innovation. We will be open sourcing the tournament structure and content soon to make it that much quicker for any company to run their own program.
How do you foster a culture of innovation in your organization?
We innovate because we have to! We are one major technical development away from being made irrelevant. And innovation will be one of the keys to that success. Innovation is not the responsibility of some engineering group or senior leadership, but it is the responsibility of every employee at PayPal no matter what their role. We tell our employees this from day one and build programs to ensure this happens in their day to day.
Can you give us a taste of what you will be discussing at the upcoming Banking Innovation Summit?
I will be talking about our Global Innovation Tournament that we created at PayPal and how this is something that any mid-large sized company can use to empower all their employees to innovate!
What drives you to participate in events like our summit?
I want to learn from others who are dealing with similar problems we are and help out other companies to further empower their employees.
To hear more from Michael, join him at the Banking Innovation Summit this June 15 – 17 in Florida.