June 30, 2021

Deutsche Bank’s Head of Digital Transformation on Digital Practices

Dana Safa

1Huddle Podcast Episode #9

On this Bring It In podcast episode, 1Huddle’s Founder and CEO Sam Caucci sat down with Mark Matthews, Global Operations Head and Head of Digital Transformation at Deutsche Bank

On this episode of Bring It In season one, Mark sat down with Sam and discussed digital practices, adapting, flexibility in work schedules, and leadership.

Audio available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts. 


Below are some of the insights Mark shared during our chat, edited for length and clarity. You can find more Bring It In podcast episodes here.

  • “The role of a leader is to attract and develop and retain talent.”
  • “Multitasking isn’t effective and it’s something we all are a victim to.”
  • “Put people in positions to optimize their best skills.”


Sam: Mark would be awesome for you to maybe if he could share a little bit about your background and your role. 

Mark: Oh, definitely Sam. 30 years in financial services at different large banks spaced in both the US and Europe, I’m focused on digital transformation of operational processes and business processes, and that’s the culmination of decades of working in both the business and a variety of infrastructure and change roles. So a really exciting space to be in right now.

Sam: Sure. The kind of a hot topic that’s come up right now with a lot of our conversations has been around this concept of the future of work and what that means to different organizations. When you hear of the future of work, what comes to mind for you and your business? 

Mark: Well, it was really interesting because before the pandemic, one of our strategic objectives and as part of a strategic planning session we have at the beginning of every year was in fact flexible working. We didn’t have COVID in mind when we started doing it, but the things we did have in mind I think are big opportunities now. So that includes things like diversity inclusion focus, which became even more of a focus area over the last couple of months. So being able to accommodate different people’s needs in terms of flexible working, but still being able to tap into talent and being less bound by physical proximity,and taking advantage of different tools and technologies that allow you to maintain a level of virtual intimacy with individuals and your clients, but don’t necessarily require them to be in one place. 

So, that was something we were already working on and now that’s taken on obviously a new perspective because the future of work focuses a lot on business resilience, and being able to keep your business running, stay connected to your clients, continue to service your clients, even if you can’t physically be in the office. And that’s something that we’ve been really focused on. It’s really opened our eyes to leverage a variety of new tools and really accelerate adoption, both inside and outside our organization. 

Sam: What’s worked? What’s been more challenging than you thought it would?

Mark: Well, it’s really worked in terms of leadership. You know, it’s a bit cliched, but it’s very true, the role of a leader is to attract and develop and retain talent. And in my position, that means making sure I have talented managers and leaders all over the world in the different products and functions that we support.

So the first thing it’s been is happily being leveraged that investment, and rely on the fact that we have a really strong team. And then we continue to operate a team, even in the face of this incredibly unique situation that we’re dealing with. So that’s worked really well, the investment in people. 

What’s been challenging over time, surprisingly people really do rally in a crisis. They say crisis reveals character. I think the character organization really came through, but over time, the physical and mental toll of people working at home, and people have different situations in terms of what they can and cannot accommodate. Sometimes there’s more than one person working at home. Sometimes it’s multiple people plus kids attending virtual school, that can create a lot of physical and mental stress that we’ve really been trying to help the team with different services and things.

And we had already done some leading work on mental health care in the workplace, but we’ve had to double down on that pretty significantly. The inability for people to make that transition which, on the one hand has been beneficial because we’ve gotten productivity uplift of people not wasting time on sometimes very long commutes, but the fact that people don’t have that separation between home and work and missing out on that transitional period has really been something.

And then you throw in the fact that gyms are closed and all the things people have had to adapt to different ways of keeping fit both physically and mentally. 

Sam: Yeah, I’m running out of Peloton workouts to do! You made a comment about talented managers, right? I think it is really interesting. I have a favorite book, I don’t know if you’re familiar with the book Gallup did on It’s The Manager. Pretty awesome study around managers being kind of the critical part of the employee engagement model. What do you say to younger managers today who are struggling to try to keep their employees or their direct reports connected and coach and develop and maintain culture while being a part of it? Anything that you’ve learned or any advice you have?

Mark: Yeah, it’s very situational. It’s very specific to geography and demographics and years of service. And so you find that people who’ve had maybe a decade or more experience in the organization or a certain point in their career where they have developed a level of expertise in a position and a value proposition in the bank, their feelings about this and their challenges are very different than an employee that’s got maybe two to five years of experience that’s still learning, still looking for opportunities, sill dependent, particularly in a large organization where networking and sponsorship are so essential to career development. You’ve got very different stress points there. 

And so the things that we’ve tried to do, and I think we still have a lot more work to do on this, is to replace the fact that a newer employee can’t just pop into the office of a more experienced employee and develop that conductivity, or sit down with a person and train up. We’ve really had to lean on virtual ways to do that. Now that could be with a zoom happy hour or virtual training, which is obviously something that we’re really focused on.

How do you invest in and develop your employees in really a virtual environment and replace the praise and replace that sort of teacher/student relationship with something that you can do in a virtual fashion and still get all the value out of it. So I think that’s something that’s definitely work in progress, but definitely one that we’re very focused on.

Sam: What do you think about the impact that being virtual has on maybe some of the more serious trainings? You mentioned diversity and inclusion, equity, implicit bias, those types of topics. What do you feel like, given the climate at the moment, with the way the world is, what have you learned or what is your perspective on how those types of training can move forward and still build on the momentum that it seems we had before COVID?

Mark: One of the interesting results of being in this pandemic environment is focus. And it’s very typical in organizations to pile on with loads of objectives and goals, and focus gets diluted and it is a fact that most of us try to ignore, but multitasking isn’t really effective and it’s something we all are a victim to, but the crisis has allowed us to really focus on things because we’ve had to. Focusing in the early days were just keeping up and running. Focus after that, well how do we continue on when the worst didn’t happen?

And on things like diversity and inclusion when you have the events that happened, not just in the United States, but, my role is very global. I work in a very global organization. It’s remarkable when you see things like this that are becoming cultural impacts, not just in the United States, but all over the world. That becomes something people can focus on because everyone is interested in it and they are not distracted by other things.

So we have probably made more progress in the last few months than maybe in the prior few years, simply because of the collective global sense of urgency and attention, and we’ve really got people’s attention and focus because they’re benefiting in the current environment from really just needing to focus on what’s very, very important. And certainly diversity inclusion is something that’s always been very important, but certainly right now is on top of the mind for everyone.

Sam: On the point of the talented managers, it’s just a bunch of businesses that the HR team has sort of been emptied depending on the industry and the reliance has passed down to middle managers and you see how certain organizations that develop those managers the right way, they were ready versus the ones who have maybe just continued to promote and promote based off of performance, not based off leadership skills. And it’s very clear to us in certain industries that we’re interacting with.

Mark: You mentioned Gallup, which is that there are two sorts of schools of thought that I think are really valuable for the forward. One is Buckingham wrote a book Now Discover Your Strengths, and it was basically the concept or a team concept is put people in a position to optimize their best skill and mitigate whatever their weaknesses are, which was a much better, sort of a sports approach to things which is, don’t run the same offense all the time if your players have different skills. 

And it’s a big departure from organizational theory that it existed before, but the second guy is Stan McChrystal who used to be in charge of all JSOC forces post 9/11, and he really introduced this idea of trust through transparency, but in particular to your manager analogy. And he’s got a really interesting insight, which is that if you really want organizational transformation, you’ve got to convert that first-line manager to whatever it is and make them part of the change because if you don’t, the top-down stuff doesn’t work. It’s really interesting stuff there, but, yeah, lots of cool things.

Sam: Like trickle down training, as sometimes we call it, never quite get to get to the people that need it. Mark, I have one final question that we kind of wrap with, and we appreciate your time. On this topic of the future of work and asking leaders what your hope is for the future of work, as you think about the way that work inner impacts people at all corners of the workforce, vulnerable populations, different business models from retail to restaurants. What is your hope for the future of work? 

Mark: Well, I think that we take the current situation and jump on all the silver linings that are emerging in this pattern. If someone had asked me to model up, Hey, see what it’s like if every single person works from home, or 95% of your team works from home, I would have said that’s a ridiculous scenario, that’ll never happen globally. And yet here we are. 

And so what my hope is is that we continue on and it could be specific to our business, clients are adopting digital solutions at a much faster rate than they ever did before. They were always good solutions, but now there’s a collective sense of urgency to the fact that we’ve proven that people can be effective and incredibly productive in some cases, more productive trading in that the time they spend commuting for work, that people can be more flexible in terms of when they need to be in the office. And I hope we hold on to that. I hope we hold on to outdoor dining. Outdoor dining has been a great thing. So, um, I think there are a whole bunch of things that actually we’ve learned that can absolutely work.

And I really hope that, that digital adoption, which was already underway but has seen a massive acceleration, I hope we see that. And the fact that we can really diversify our workforce is going to create loads of opportunity for people, but for companies as well, to dip into different labor pools, without having to go through the effort of lifting and dropping their centers of operation from one place to another. Now talent, talent can be available  pretty much anywhere. And that’s going to create a really, really interesting workforce dynamic, I think, in the decades. 

Sam: Absolutely. Mark Matthews, thanks for joining us. 

Mark: Thank you, sir.

Topics Discussed: Leadership, Remote Work, Training, Adaptability, Tech, Workforce, Jobs

Dana Safa, Manager of Digital Marketing at 1Huddle

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