At work with Tyrrell Schmidt

Tyrrell Schmidt is the Chief Marketing Officer at TD Bank in America along with being the Head of Global Brand for TD Bank Group. She spoke with Efma’s Boris Plantier about her well-traveled past, how she constructs a high-performing team, and works to motivate runners in their endeavors.

At work with Tyrrell Schmidt

Tell me a little about your background.

I have more than 30 years of experience in marketing and brand management. Most recently I served as the Global Brand and Customer Experience Officer for TD Bank Group, based in Toronto. During this time, I led the bank's brand and sponsorship strategies; customer experience vision, framework, measurement; insights and innovation; and North American creative services. I also led the evolution of the TD brand in Canada with the introduction of their new confidence platform and the transformation of its customer experience practice. Before joining TD, I held senior leadership roles at several global health care and financial services companies, including Cigna, Standard Chartered Bank and Discover card. I've also lived and worked in the U.S., Europe, Asia, and Canada. I'm well-traveled!

What does your workplace look like?

I've been working remotely like the rest of our colleagues – we pride ourselves on being the 'human' bank, so I definitely miss the 'water cooler' type conversations and face-to-face interactions, but I've adapted and continue to find ways to connect and collaborate with the team. I'm only a few weeks into my new role, so now I'm in the process of moving my workplace to the U.S. My workplace is constantly changing and evolving. I'm looking forward to creating my virtual workspace in Philadelphia and returning to the office in the future.

Could you describe your usual working day?

While I'm not new to TD, to be effective in my new role in the US requires gaining a deep understanding of the market dynamics, our local business strategies, and building new relationships – so I'm on a listening journey. I've scheduled 1:1s, roundtable discussions and small group meetings, and I'll drop in on various team meetings and planning sessions to get up to speed. On top of this, I'll also meet with business leaders and executives across the bank – I've worked with many before in my previous role, and I look forward to diving in and learning more.

I've also committed to holding small virtual roundtable discussions with the entire Marketing team (all 240+ employees), which will start in the coming weeks. We'll meet in groups of 8 or 10, so it will give me the opportunity to get to know everyone in a smaller setting and learn more about what matters to them.

What is your favorite food?

Definitely pizza! I'm a native of Chicago and as we moved around the world, our first job was finding the best local pizza – which morphed into Friday Night Pizza for our family.

What do you do when you need a break from work?

I'm a board member and guide for Achilles International, a global organization focused on transforming the lives of people with disabilities through athletic programs and social connection. So, in my free time I use my passion for running to guide athletes of all ages and ability levels through endurance events including the Boston, New York, Chicago and Philadelphia marathons.

I also enjoy spending time with my husband, two daughters and son-in-law. As a family, we are avid travelers and can't wait until we can jump on a plane again!

How do you build a successful team?

I am a big believer in connecting with people personally – and that means being open, honest, and transparent. Leading with authenticity and compassion is so important to me and is essential in today's environment. I empower my leadership teams to make smart decisions that drive business growth, protect and own the brand, and meet the needs of our customers.  

There is a saying that we learn more from failure than success. Tell me about one of your failures and what you have learned from it. And what advice would you give to someone who wants to succeed in financial services?

I agree with the saying for sure. For me personally, some of my learnings have come from not seeking perspectives from the right stakeholders early enough in a process.  Through those experiences, I've learned the importance of engaging with the right people at the right time and having the 'meeting before the meeting' in certain instances to help drive a better outcome. That ties to my advice – which is that success usually comes not only from the 'what' you do (your functional expertise) but even more so from the 'how' you do your job including how you collaborate and build relationships.

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