indicatorAdvice for Alberta businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic

Leading through crisis: ATB's journey

Free on-demand webinar

By ATB Financial 27 October 2020



In the wake of COVID-19, businesses around the globe have been challenged to be more resilient than ever before. Beyond the pandemic, Alberta is no stranger to disruption. Business owners and leaders in all sectors throughout the province are continually being called to apply ingenuity and agility in times of uncertainty.

How can organizations lead through crises? Identifying not only how to immediately respond, but also recover, and hopefully find new opportunities to thrive requires a courageous commitment to, and elevation of, your purpose.

ATB’s Tara Lockyer, Chief People Officer, Carol Shmygol, Senior Vice President of Brand and Jon Horsman, Senior Executive Vice President of Business discuss ATB’s journey through COVID-19 while exploring:

  • How we activated our purpose to empower; our team members, the Albertans we so proudly serve, and business at hand.
  • Key learnings we will continue to integrate as we work towards recovery.

Key takeaways


Listen to your employees and clients to respond appropriately. 

“In order to support Albertans, we’ve been listening in real time to what that support [needs to] look like, what content do they need, where do they need us to show up in the communities to support them. It was that ability to listen and to pivot very quickly to respond was how we supported Albertans,” says Shmygol. 


Be a source of kindness and joy.

In May 2020, ATB launched a new initiative called Goodness Grows (#ATBGoodnessGrows). It aims to motivate Albertans to bring joyful moments to others through acts of kindness. 

“We found the intersection between what was originally corporate social responsibility, brand and sponsorships, and we created this team to recognize and deliver on the urgent and community needs of Albertans,” says Shmygol. Through Goodness Grows, ATB has hosted drive in concerts and raised $123,000 for mental health initiatives, fed frontline workers and truck drivers, as well as donated to women’s shelters to name a few.


Crises can build resilience. 

“As we went into this crisis, I spent a lot of time reflecting on prior crises whether it was the financial crisis or the collapse of oil and gas in 2014-2016, or even looking at what happened in the 1980s and 1990s in Alberta. We spent a lot of time taking those internal learnings of what was successful in other crises in order to get out and pivot,” says Horsman. Those previous lessons show businesses that with the right solutions it is possible to navigate through tough times—and when you do, you’re often stronger for it. 


The value and power of choice. 

“I spent a lot of time in the early parts of the pandemic [asking myself] what are my values as a leader? What do I believe are important as an outcome?” says Horsman. “One of the things that crystallized in my mind is the value of choice. We all have choices. We can choose to live in fear. We can choose to live in optimism. We may have external focus affecting us whether it’s a pandemic, economic and health authorities telling us what we can and cannot do. But we have a choice everyday in the scope of our responsibilities to make good choices for ourselves. For my team, [it’s about] creating the capacity for them to make life choices that are authentic to who they are is also deeply important.” 


Learn how to make decisions quickly. 

“As a leadership team, we learned how to make decisions quickly. I hope we never unlearn that. It’s a competitive advantage going forward. Fast is never perfect, but we learned and pivoted and learned and pivoted. I wouldn’t have given up speed for [doing things perfectly],” says Lockyer. “We also did a good job of pushing down decision making and giving people autonomy. I am always impressed at what people can accomplish when you give people the power to do that.” 

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