In recent years, online technology has shifted its focus to industries such as finance, or financial technology, in a move to innovate outdated banking systems. Financial technology includes everything from mobile banking to investment and financial strategy platforms.
Companies like TD have realized both the impact of financial technology on consumer trends. In fact, TD has recently pledged $4 million toward the Rotman School of Management to form the TD Management Data & Analytics Lab, which will further contribute to advancements in the field of data analytics. The lab is an addition to the Rotman Financial Innovation Hub in Advanced Analytics that encourages students to build on their analytical skills, particularly those relevant to the financial industry.
The Varsity corresponded with Sladjana Jovanovic, Vice-President of Online Technology at TD and a U of T alum. Jovanovic completed her undergraduate degree in the Department of Computer Science and recently earned her Executive MBA from the Rotman School of Management.
The Varsity: What kinds of projects do you work on as VP of Online Technology and what relevance do they have at TD?
Sladjana Jovanovic: While our customers continue to use our online applications, they are also interacting more and more through our mobile applications. With that, our online platforms are transforming to support multiple channels and put mobile first. It is exciting to drive that transformation.
We are driving the digital transformation for many TD’s businesses including Banking, Wealth and Insurance. One digital capability at a time, we are creating legendary experiences for our customers and building the bank of the future.
TV: How do you think your education at U of T shaped your journey? What experiences led you to pursue tech?
SJ: My path to technology was not a straight one. While I initially considered engineering, as a young woman, I did not have a lot of support. [Furthermore], none of my female friends went into engineering. Instead, I enrolled myself into architecture, which was a good fit based on my interest in math and creative arts.
Two years later, I knew that architecture was not my passion and I decided to give Computer Science a chance. I had mixed feelings about it to say the least as I had never tried coding before. One of my worries was that my creative and artistic side would not be fulfilled. Getting into Computer Science at U of T was a critical decision for me.
Only few months into the program, I knew that I had made the right choice. I learned that it required a lot of creativity to write elegant, reusable, and expandable code and create user-friendly, life-enriching applications. Writing a computer program was like creating artwork. This set a basis for me on how I view technology and why I have such a huge passion for it. Being a part of the technology club has been awesome and I am very happy to have followed my gut feeling and chosen this career for myself.
TV: What would you tell your younger self about pursuing a career in tech?
SJ: Don’t let anyone tell you that you shouldn’t do something because you are categorized in a certain way – a woman, a person of color, an aboriginal, an immigrant … the list goes on. I know that there is nothing I cannot do.
TV: Budget 2018 has outlined some ways Ontario can promote equality and diversity in the workplace. What do you think could be done in the tech industry to better support women?
SJ: This is a very important question that led me to be an active observer and listener, so I can get closer to the issue. I feel that we have to look at the high school period as a time when our children make critical choices.
Several high school students told me that there was a lot of focus on science in their school, and less focus on technology.
If we can empower teachers and high schools to champion technology with all students equally, then I feel more students would consider it.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.