Northern Trust’s Metamorphosis is More Than Just Digital

Northern Trust believes its team members are “made for greater” — and has empowered employees to take on ambitious challenges. Take an inside look at two career journeys.

Written by Brigid Hogan
Published on Apr. 12, 2023
Northern Trust’s Metamorphosis is More Than Just Digital
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When Bruce Grossman joined Northern Trust as a freshly minted college grad, he began learning the business from a client-facing perspective. But as he refined his career goals, Grossman realized he wanted to move into a role that would allow him to think strategically about improving digital experiences across the company — for both clients and for his colleagues.

Now, almost five years later, Grossman is taking a longer view as a business strategy analyst focusing on digital services portfolio management; a role in which he is also able to draw on his account management experience to provide practical context to Northern’s Digital Metamorphosis team.

Grossman’s journey to his current role isn’t unusual — Northern’s commitment to the belief that each employee is “made for greater” leads to a collaborative culture that supports growth for team members at every point in their professional lives.

Michelle Wick’s journey with Northern Trust is another example of this culture. When she joined Northern Trust after building a career in consulting, Wick was looking for a professional change that would offer new challenges. She had spent years cycling through projects, and knew she wanted an opportunity that would allow her to grow while supporting long-term change within an organization. In her role as a data and analytics product manager at Northern Trust, she has been able to do just that.

For Wick, the Northern Trust team has been integral to her success at the organization, — not just because of the collaborative culture, but also because of the mindset individuals bring to their roles.

“The people who work here are passionate about being here,” she said. “And when you’re passionate about what you’re doing and the company you’re with, it’s easier to overcome challenges and find opportunities.”
 

“When you’re passionate about what you’re doing and the company you’re with, it’s easier to overcome challenges and find opportunities.”

 

Five key promises support Northern Trust’s belief that its employees are “made for greater”: a culture of care and collaboration; a focus on individual and career success; an opportunity to innovate; dedication to a globally diverse, inclusive and equitable workplace; and the ability to make a meaningful impact.

Wick and Grossman shared more about how their experiences at Northern Trust have fulfilled those promises while they work to shape the company’s ongoing digital metamorphosis.

 

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A Culture of Care and Collaboration

Business Strategy Analyst Bruce Grossman: The Digital Metamorphosis team is very open to new ideas, even the ones that might feel silly. I love how our collaborative environment has let me think and stretch as we improve our systems. It’s not taboo to ask where we can make them better, and those open conversations have given me the opportunity to flex my own research opportunities and to learn.

Product Manager Michelle Wick: There is no idea or question not to propose to the team. Even if we don’t use that initial idea, those conversations drive us to a better outcome. If those ideas and questions aren’t brought to the table, we lose the opportunity to build something better. That view is universal here: Be bold. Be open to sharing new ideas. And spur a conversation that will help us create something new.

 

“Be bold. Be open to sharing new ideas. And spur a conversation that will help us create something new.”

 

An Opportunity to Innovate

Wick: One of the things that was really important to me when I joined the organization was that there isn’t an expectation of perfection. Instead, the expectation is that we will figure it out, learn from what didn’t work and apply that learning to the next thing, which lets us build better and better with each iteration.

I have been given the space to figure out things in unexpected ways — often leading to a better outcome. Struggling through that process wasn’t seen as failure but as an opportunity to learn through challenges. There is a lot of trust required to build that culture, and that support gives me the confidence to keep trying and taking on new challenges. That has been a transformative level of latitude to have across the organization and from our leadership.

Grossman: At the end of the day, we’re delivering to our internal partners, making sure that their experience is as seamless as possible so that that extends to the clients. It’s especially rewarding to me to feel like I’m improving the daily experience of our account managers because I know the challenges of that role.

I had a meeting with a team working on an experience update, and as they showed me the process, I realized that this tool was going to create a hurdle for our relationship managers and was able to share that feedback with the team. Because they hadn’t worked in those roles, they hadn’t foreseen that issue, so being able to leverage my experience is extremely rewarding.

At other places, people might be resistant to that type of feedback from other teams when it creates additional work, but at Northern, our response is always appreciative. That change might not be in the next sprint, but feedback is heard and valued throughout the process. 

 

 

A Diverse, Inclusive and Equitable Workplace

Grossman: On the Digital Metamorphosis team, everyone’s input, thought process and perspective is really valued. And because I have had the experience of being able to share feedback with others, I too appreciate opportunities to accept feedback. There is an openness to anyone within the organization who is bringing fresh thinking forward about ways we can improve. We want people to come in and provide those outside ideas that can change our thinking. We want to hear it.

 

“We want people to come in and provide those outside ideas that can change our thinking.”

 

Wick: Our leaders have empowered me to be more challenged than I’ve ever been in my career, and I am able to tap into other people across our team on that journey. I’ve been able to hear about challenges and struggles in their roles and bring that work to the forefront in discussions and planning. We talk about whose world or line of business we can improve with our work and then drive that vision to completion.

 

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The Ability to Make a Meaningful Impact

Wick: We’re a legacy company, and so there are many opportunities to reimagine how our systems work. That creates an environment great for people who want to take on challenges, grow and have an impact. The most rewarding thing for me is that I get to see how the work I do impacts people in their roles.

Recently, I was tasked with building an application that automates the classification of all assets by leveraging the ingestion of market data, and running through a series of business rules to classify every single asset within Northern Trust. Now, all assets are presented on the same classification schema, allowing a client’s entire portfolio to be presented in a singular view rather than a hodgepodge of data. When a client sees an asset the same way an internal partner sees that asset, it provides clarity by allowing us to all speak the same language both internally and with our clients.

Grossman: The work the Digital Metamorphosis team is doing isn’t only improving the front office but also every process we have in place. By improving the underlying architecture of all our tasks and systems, we are making everything more streamlined and efficient, from how we onboard new clients and how we move money for them to how those same clients use our platforms to check their investments and balances. Long term, getting this right will allow us to service clients and internal partners in the way we want to.

 

Community Impact

Northern Trust’s promise of impact extends beyond employees’ work within the organization, as well. The company offers two paid days off per year for team members to volunteer within their community or for a charity of their choice. It also connects them with nonprofits that may benefit from the team member’s unique talent. The result so far has been more than 1 million volunteer hours in the last decade, and countless communities made stronger.

 

A Focus on Individual and Career Success

Wick: In my current role, I am split between analysis and strategy, and with the increased expectations I am taking on, I am moving deeper into the strategic role. As I grow, I am able to empower people to take over some of that analysis work, which offers them opportunities to grow as well. Knowledge is to be shared, and so I am actively passing on what I have learned to allow others to take what I’ve built so far and run with it.

Grossman: My transition into the analyst role was a big shift, and I am grateful to all the people who took a chance on me as someone who was unproven in the work I do now. I’ve had an amazing opportunity to quickly build a deeper understanding of the business and understand how our leaders envision where Northern is going and growing.

 

Related ReadingWhat Does It Mean to Be a ‘People-First Company?’

 

Both Grossman and Wick plan to continue to advance at Northern Trust as the legacy company continues its digital metamorphosis. And with opportunities to bring fresh skills, ideas and technology to their work every day, Northern Trust's partners are able to cultivate personal and professional growth while staying at a company committed to supporting them. As Wick said in summarizing her experience, “I've been able to grow my knowledge and increase my challenges without having to go anywhere else.”

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images provided by Northern Trust and Shutterstock.

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