Seven Questions With Chris Wiedenmann, Vice President of Commercial Systems & Product Innovation, Commerce Bank
Chris is currently Vice President – Commercial Systems and Product Innovation at Commerce Bank. He leads a team with a wide range of responsibilities, including the administration and strategy for the Commercial Lending and International Systems, International Product Management, Payments Innovation, and Commercial Project Management. Chris began his career at Commerce Bank in 2000 after graduating from the University of Kansas with a BS in Business Administration and emphasis in Information Technology. He spent his first six years at Commerce Bank as a Project Manager within the Bank Operations division before transferring to the commercial bank. He assumed responsibility for the team that administered the loan origination system as well as Shaw Commercial. Soon after, he was asked to join the enterprise Strategic Planning Office where he spent more than two years working across the different lines of business to develop and manage their forward-looking business plans. In 2009, he rejoined the commercial bank and built his current team.
What’s your #1 business priority for 2015?
I have a great team that is charged with a wide-range of responsibilities, including Commercial Systems Administration and Strategy, International Product Management and Commercial Payments Innovation. As 2015 comes to a close and we look towards 2016, my team is focused on delivering innovative solutions to both our internal and external customers. While it is appealing to focus on the new and exciting opportunities, we are also working diligently to maintain the bank’s high-level of processing efficiency across our existing systems. Our Commercial Systems team is focused on implementing automated solutions that provide increased efficiencies for our Commercial Loan Servicing and Commercial Banking teams, including the handling of Loan Exceptions and Loan Transaction Requests.
The leading characteristic of a financial services organization?
The rate of change within the financial services industry requires top financial institutions to be nimble and proactive in their strategy while maintaining a keen eye on risk and security. When looking back in a few years, the successful organizations will have shown strength in navigating the seas of regulatory change, increased competition from non-FI players and evolving technology.
Your top piece of advice for future financial services executives?
I am sure it has been said many times before, but it is important to take every possible opportunity to learn and grow across your organization. Building a network of trusted colleagues that provide you open and honest feedback is critical to success. If you pair a strong desire to learn with a willingness to grow from feedback and coaching, then you should have many opportunities for success.
When you were 20, what did you envision for your career?
At 20, I was a fresh-faced college student who could do no wrong. It was during the boom of the technology age and there was story after story of my fellow students entering the workforce with insane starting salaries at “cool” firms. I couldn’t graduate soon enough so I too could grab one of these jobs… then the bubble burst and the rest is history. Luckily for me, I landed at a great organization that has provided me a number of opportunities to grow as a professional within an ever-changing industry.
The most unusual job you’ve ever had?
When I was in college, I was a Blackjack dealer at a local casino.
Your favorite book or movie?
Favorite quote or motto?
“If you don’t cannibalize yourself, someone else will…” – Steve Jobs
Even if you are not a Steve Jobs fan, this speaks to the need for continuous improvement and challenging the status quo. The FinTech industry is a hotbed for startups and is more important than ever that we all look towards innovative solutions to improve our products, processes and grow our organizations.