A Q&A with New Director Liz Stretch

As Productivity Alberta transitions to a private not-for-profit company we think it’s a good idea that you get to know [your new directors](http://www.productivityalberta.ca/about-us/board-of-directors “”). Today we talk to Liz Stretch, the VP of strategy at ATB and a new director at Productivity Alberta.

We caught her on the phone just before she left Calgary to come up to Edmonton for a Productivity Alberta board meeting.

PA: Tell us about when you first heard of Productivity Alberta and how you ended up on the board
LS: I met with Lori Schmidt as an interested party. I wanted to know what Productivity Alberta could do for Alberta businesses. In a previous role I led strategy for independent business and agriculture and what was really appealing to us was the work that Productivity Alberta was doing and the question was around how do we bring the two together. How do we bring Productivity Alberta to some of our customers who were ready to embrace taking that next step.

The interest from the board was in having the perspective of a banker on the board. We’ve got some very successful business owners who have been engaged in the Productivity Alberta process and it’s another perspective to add to the board.

PA: As a banker, can you describe your relationship with productivity?
LS: I think the banks are very traditional in what they look for when a customer comes to the bank looking for credit. They typically go on the five Cs of credit: Character, capacity to repay, collateral, conditions and their capital. As you unpeel each of these productivity ties back into them.

When I put that banker hat on and think productivity and productivity improvement and what that means for small and midsize enterprises I look at what it can to reduce costs and increase revenue. Having a customer who is aware of what it takes to raise the bar for their business is the customer that we love to have.

PA: What can bankers do to help Albertan companies improve their productivity?
LS: Business bankers are typically very engaged in understanding what their customers do and what their business is all about. Bankers should be aware of opportunities like Productivity Alberta, lean and process improvement and things that customers can do to enhance and improve their business. I think that’s just the value add that a business banker can bring to their customers by pointing those things out and bringing them to their attention.

PA: You’ve just recently been named the VP of Strategy at ATB. I understand part of your new job has a link to productivity
LS: Yes, it’s called the business process management team. They’re a relatively newly formed team within ATB and a big part of their mandate is to look for process efficiencies, consistency throughout the organization, simplify processes and look for opportunities that cross over the entire organization As a matter of fact, before I took over the group I believe the business process management team met with Productivity Alberta to discuss synergies.

PA: What are you most excited about being on the board of Productivity Alberta?
LS: I’m interested in the opportunity for Productivity Alberta to work with Alberta businesses. I want to see what the outcomes will be for the businesses of Alberta when they bring innovative solutions, process improvements and productivity enhancements into their businesses. It really raises the bar for Alberta business and when I think of all the ancillary benefits that come from having successful businesses in Alberta I get really excited about it.

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