FACILITYCalgary publisher Mark Kolke, in conversation with Barry Taitinger
October 6, 2020
Barry was born in Medicine Hat; his father a banker with Bank of Montreal (BMO), mom was a homemaker. His older sister has also pursued a career in banking – so you might think Barry Taitinger was destined to be a career banker – which it was, but his path and values might have been far more influenced by football and football coaches …
He describes his K-12 education as ‘bored’ but not challenging to be a B+ student. He got seriously interested in music/bass guitar, but with sports as his primary focus – where he played all the sports but excelled at football (slotback, linebacker, and defensive end). And his banker father got transferred a lot – grades 2-4 in Texas, grades 5-8 in Toronto, grades 9-12 at Harry Ainlay High in Edmonton. Sports and getting by academically, there was a chance to go to Montreal – he was being recruited to play for McGill; instead electing to stay in Edmonton where he attended the University of Alberta, played for the Golden Bears, and earned his B.Comm(Finance) degree. He met his wife Christine in high school (she’s now returning to teaching as time permits – they have five children aged 7 through 22).
Barry recalls his U of A days as a mixture of living in two worlds – managing school, their first child, football, learning to set goals outside of sports, and summer-intern work at BMO. While the prospect of playing professional football could have been an option, Barry opted to refocus and buckle down to earn Academic All Canadian status, getting honours academically while playing a varsity sport.
After convocation in May 2000, Barry went to work in banking – and he had an offer from BMO, but chose instead to take a better offer from HSBC, where he worked in Edmonton, Vancouver, and Kelowna.
A move to join CIBC in Vancouver, to lead a business banking group in 2012, provided both a great career move and learning experience – but over time, that fit wasn’t ideal.
An opportunity to join BMO was in the cards, but the best opportunity-du-jour was a Calgary position as VP Business Banking in 2015. That role prepared him for and led to his most recent promotion to Managing Director – working with business clients in the $20-100 million credit range.
Working from office, working from home, and managing that large family is, so it might seem – a lot like managing school, football, parenting, and playing guitar in a rock band – all at the same time.
Why are you successful? “Tenacity, having a positive attitude. I’m not prepared to accept something as ‘there is no other way.’ I stay focused on what I can control.”
What has held you back? “At times earlier in my career, I underestimated the value of collaboration. Engagement and compliance are not the same things – and I’ve had times where my focus alienated some people; great lessons.”
How do you see your business – commercial lending – going forward over the next quarter?
… we’re in a capital-constrained environment right now. Businesses are still trying to figure out what is happening now – and how best to react in very uncertain times, while bankers tend to not do well with uncertainty!
And over the next five years?
… I see more openness and transparency in banking, customers owning their data – not the banks; super-APPS, elements of banking being commoditized … technology and speed driving it
What qualities distinguish your preferred colleagues, collaborators, and suppliers?
… I think in terms of partnerships, ‘who do we partner with?’, integrity, looking for the win-win, and quality people who – so when things get tough, you know they are there, and you can count on them
What distinguishes you that causes people to choose Barry Taitinger, and why do they do business with you, why have they hired you over your competitors?
… my job is to add value – and be of benefit to both of us. Simply stated, I can’t add value for you, you shouldn’t do business with me.
How would you describe your leadership/management style?
… I try to be authentic and expect that in return – and to be the kind of person I want in a boss, making sure the team has shared expectations of what we want to create together, and play a role in defining their role
… yeah! You have to learn there is always something else that has to be done – but family is one thing I make a priority.
What do you lose sleep over, what do you worry about?
… I don’t have trouble sleeping, but like most parents, I worry about my kids
Who or what influenced you most – that has made a difference in your life, or that was a major turning point?
… birth of our son – it was a huge adjustment, we were in university, living with our parents who were enormously supportive, we grew up quickly. Brian Anderson, my football coach at Ainlay, who dished out powerful lessons about how our attitude toward our work – our work ethic and practice was a pattern we established for work and life. The issue was my performance in football, but the lesson was a foundational one for life.
… I’ve gotten back into music with a small bank, beer-league hockey, time with family
What do you read?
… personal and professional development books mostly. Currently reading Homo Deus: A brief history of Tomorrow by Yuval Harari
… 2014 Dodge Journey for me and Christine drives our Honda Odyssey – a van is a necessity in a family like ours
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