After the ‘Shark Tank’ event: How BNY Mellon is Broadening Innovation Impact

By Kelsey Alpaio, Staff Writer

On ABC’s hit reality show “Shark Tank,” aspiring entrepreneurs vie for investment from a panel of industry “sharks.”

The Bank of New York Mellon, the global banking and financial services firm, runs a “Shark Tank” of its own. But instead of investors like Barbara Corcoran and Mark Cuban, BNY’s judges are selected from the company’s pool of senior leaders. They may be little-known outside of the company, but for the employees who participate, getting face time with them is a big deal.

BNY Mellon’s program is called A.C.E., for “accelerate, collaborate, execute.” “You’ve got senior leaders running business lines who are listening to pitches from employees who they may have never met,” says Adetola Abiade, Director of Global Innovation for the Americas at BNY Mellon. “[They’re] asking them questions, asking them about financials, asking them about concepts, asking them about the assumptions. ‘Is this a real problem? Why do you think this is a client need? How do you think BNY Mellon is going to make money?’ [The employees are] addressing all kinds of VC-style questions in real time.”

When Abiade moved into her current role in 2012, her main mission was to drive innovation engagement across the company, and to create a network of innovation champions. (BNY Mellon can trace its roots back to 1784, when it was founded by Alexander Hamilton.) One of the first projects she designed to pursue those goals was A.C.E. But Abiade says that the importance of innovation in BNY Mellon’s culture extends beyond events like the internal “Shark Tank.”

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