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Allan Fielder
Allan Fielder

emerging roles

The people person with an eye on the big picture Add to ...

As change has become a mantra in the business world, executive responsibilities and job titles are evolving quickly. An occasional series this summer will ask Canadians about how their roles are changing.

New title: Chief talent officer

Who: Allan Fielder, CTO and head of organization development, TD Bank Group

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What’s your role?

I lead the design and development of TD Bank Group’s talent and organization development strategy, which aligns with our business priorities and overall human resources strategy.

My team of about 100 people undertake activities such as talent management, succession planning, recruitment, learning and development, diversity, organization design and effectiveness, performance management, career development and employee analytics. We work in close partnership with businesses and functional areas across TD, including colleagues across the human resources team.

Where did the title come from?

It’s a new role created last year. The talent responsibilities were formerly shared by the head of human resources, the head of organization development and human resources departments within the bank’s various business lines.

The executive team decided it was important to put a more dedicated focus on talent with someone spending full-time effort on talent acquisition and development, because that’s how TD will continue to compete and win in a macro-economic climate that is getting tougher and more challenging and the competition for the best talent continues to grow.

It’s a recognition that we have grown enormously in scale and complexity. In 2002, TD had about 42,000 employees. The organization now has more than 85,000 employees globally and we are one of the top six banks in North America. At the same time, the business environment in which we operate has grown more complex.

How do you prepare for a job like this?

A deep technical experience in human resources is the foundation. You need to have expertise in recruiting, assessing, and developing people, and you need to understand the importance of building a diverse and inclusive workplace to compete in today’s world.

Business knowledge is also vital – you should have an excellent understanding of how your industry works, the drivers of revenues and profitability and what your organization’s priorities are so you can help find the right people to meet the needs of the company today and in the future.

Your training and background may vary, but the key is to be able to recognize strengths and opportunities across a diverse pool of individuals and be able to achieve a balance of both developing your current employees and attracting new talent. And you need to surround yourself with great people – you cannot do the role on your own.

What is your typical day like?

I meet with a lot of people – both internal and external contacts. I connect with senior business leaders regularly to discuss their business and people plans. With my own team, I meet to talk about the programs that help us attract, develop and retain top talent. And I spend a significant amount of time assessing talent – whether interviewing external candidates or speaking with high-potential TD employees.

A few times a year I spend the better part of a week facilitating a business leadership program for our executives called Build for the Future, which reinforces our strategy and culture and establishes a consistent approach to decision making and strategy on everything from risk to talent management. We’ve held eight three-day sessions per year since 2008, and they’re all led jointly by TD’s most senior leaders, including our president and CEO, Ed Clark.

What have you learned so far in the role?

Canada has been very welcoming to talented people from all around the world. A recent interesting experience for me was a mentoring event for new Canadians – an opportunity for TD executives to meet qualified newcomers to Canada and talk with them about career strategies.

It was incredible to learn about the global experiences these folks have had. Canadian companies have access to a very impressive pool of talent, both including people born and raised here and increasingly the new immigrants who bring a rich blend of education, experience and diverse perspectives. It’s exciting to think about how such a broad talent pool can help any organization be more powerful, flexible and sustainable by providing access to the most diverse and creative thinking and talent.

I can confirm that people are willing to do a lot of things – move their homes and lives, consider lateral moves or different industries, take on challenging learning opportunities – if they feel they’ve found an employer that shares their values and keeps them engaged, and gives them the opportunity to work with great people.

Why should other organizations have CTOs?

The CTO designation is an emerging title in the United States and Europe. HR departments have always had talent management on their agendas and a part of their team looking after talent acquisition and development, but the responsibilities are evolving quickly as organizations come to the view that their success is directly correlated to the quality of the talent they have in the organization.

I think chief executives and human resources officers will be looking at putting a more dedicated focus on talent. The more successful and progressive firms will say “people are our most important asset. … We have to attract and develop people who are better than those of our competitors so that we stand a much better chance of sustaining success. ”

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