Job South Africa 2020 (Johannesburg) At Standard Bank Group

Job South Africa 2020 (Johannesburg) At Standard Bank Group

JOB TITLE: Trailblazer-Manager Innovations-Out of the Blue

Job Details

  • The Standard Bank Group (SBG) is a firm believer in the customer being at the centre of everything we do and leveraging innovation as a key to help us guarantee exceptional service and leading-edge financial solutions. Our growing global success reflects our commitment to solving for what really matters to the customer, within their ecosystem, through the art of what is technologically possible, yet in deeply humanistic ways. Recognising that banking, as it is currently constituted, is insufficient to satisfy customer needs, SBG seeks to create the future for our customers by being more than a bank.
  • To accelerate our transformational drive into this future, Digital Innovation has been established to develop new business models and platform businesses for identified ecosystems that both innovate and disrupt by always solving for the customer. By making lives easier, on a daily basis, through deep understanding of customer ‘pain points’ across the continent of Africa we contribute to building a commercially strong and sustainable group

Job Purpose Job South Africa 2020 (Johannesburg) At Standard Bank Group, Trailblazer-Manager Innovations-Out of the Blue

  • The purpose of the individual Trailblazer within Digital Innovation is to defy convention by bringing a multifaceted and unique spectrum of capabilities to bear on the customer, their ecosytems and the platform businesses that resolve their daily challenges and ‘pain points’. By working with other, differently multifaceted yet equally capable Trailblazers, in small agile teams, innovate highly valuable solutions in identified customer ecosystems.
  • The purpose of these Trailblazer teams is to provide a complete co-creation capability able to leverage partnerships and platforms to design, build, incubate, bring to scale and commercialise solutions for customer needs that may extend well beyond what is understood as the existing realm of banking. The realisation of the purpose of the individual Trailblazer cannot be separated from that of the team and hence the definition of a role as a spectrum, with each Trailblazer providing a unique subset of the total requirement.
  • To manage execution of the Innovation function across Group  and ensure an embedded innovation capability across the area. Encouraging creation of new ideas and solutions.  Work with business to identify and frame hyper-specific business challenges.  Lead the Innovation function across Group  to encourage creation of new ideas and solutions.

Key Responsibilities/Accountabilities

License to operate:

  • Key to understanding a Trailblazer role is the focus on the art of the possible and opportunity to define new boundaries, within the values of the organisation, the regulations governing the industry and the laws of the country, so that the common purpose is fulfilled and shared goals achieved.
  • As a customer led disruptor with an open ended mandate, what is of paramount importance is a huge appetite to learn, to act and to learn again in an unrelenting focus on solving for what really matters to the customer, thereby setting new standards of service and engagement along the way.
  • In particular, creative disruption cannot be constrained by legacy norms and practices in a world where the winner takes all.
  • The role will be instrumental in transforming culture by acting as entrepreneurial ‘start-up’ while rapidly leveraging to scale as part of SBG.


  • The strategy is simple in concept but very challenging in execution.
  • The strategy is to exploit the intersection of customer value and ecosystems, platform businesses and technology through innovating the art of what may be possible in ways that reveal new models of deep customer engagement, new sources of revenue or fundamentally disrupt existing business models.
  • By taking a fresh approach to established products, geographies, services and lines of business, identify and leverage synergies that realise opportunities for winner take all solutions. We leverage the massive wealth of knowledge within the SBG, use high levels of collaboration and identify partnerships and platforms that can be leveraged at scale to deliver full commercial success.


  • The client is at the centre of everything we do. They find themselves within an ecosystem that is underpinned by a Platform Business. We are the platform driver and take a holistic and open view of value, to solve for the customer, their jobs to be done, their pain points to be relieved, for a rich and frictionless experience.
  • We engage with customers with deep authentic curiosity and empathy to gain deep insights into their ambitions and needs.
  • We enter into co-design arrangements with them, business lines and/or third parties in order to develop highly appropriate solutions.
  • Develop relationships, alliances and establish partnerships to collaborate effectively with key players in order to position SBG to best advantage in the customer ecosystem.

Platform Business

  • The focus of the role is not about product, rather it is about customer ecosystems, and the Platform Businesses that underpin them.
  • Then, in the context of chosen ecosystems where we want to win, to generate a portfolio of platform businesses that solve for that specific.
  • In particular, the focus is deeply informed by data and on the art of what is possible with technology and digital disruption as it relates to client needs and the creation of innovative client value and new revenue streams.
  • This will require us to go beyond SBG to find partners and build deep relationships on both sides of the platform.

Financial Management

  • The role is both customer and commercially driven and in this framework, agile rapid learning is the basis for developing a winner takes all business.
  • However, success rates are not assured so, despite the fact that this environment is tolerant of risk and experimentation, the need for discipline around gated processes to ensure we promote the winners and stop those with lesser trajectories is crucial.

Risk, Regulatory, Prudential & Compliance:

  • Although the role is designed to operate with the minimum of constraints, it is necessary to gain a clear understanding of industry, regulatory and other compliance requirements as they relate to the work and the solutions likely to be developed.
  • We always operate within the law and values of the group recognising that fresh interpretation of the old guard rails in a new and exciting digital world will evolve. Where necessary, we seek approval or rulings from the relative parties to ensure that we remain compliant.

Organisation Design

  • Digital Innovation is designed to operate without a conventional organisation structure.
  • We work in a highly fluid arrangement of small, focussed and dynamic teams which expand, contract and pivot frequently as circumstances dictate.
  • What structure does exist is on a basis of teamwork involving deep and diverse contribution by all, there is no place for lone geniuses supported by teams of ‘helpers’. Incredibly lean, our aim is to have a staff compliment of 5% of a conventional bank as a factor of customer count.
  • Comprising a web of flexible teams in a flat network arrangement of roles we seek to actively promote new ways of working by removing barriers and ensuring rapid and effective development of solutions. With common goals and a respect for diversity where anyone can lead at any given time we seek to operate at speed and with agility in ways that encourage a culture of collaboration, curiosity, innovative thinking and continuous improvement.


  • This is a team role and not the home of the lone genius, everyone is a trailblazer and works to the same purpose.
  • Individuals are expected to fulfil different roles on different initiatives, leading some, supporting others, taking a technical lead and providing mentorship where required. The work covers the complete life cycle, from initiation to full scale operation.
  • Hence management skills involving teams of peers that enable a highly collaborative and creative work form the backdrop to these roles.

Technology & Architecture:

  • Technology is the enabler, not the solution and our focus is not on Code, Cloud, AI or 4IR based models but rather on the art of the possible.
  • Certainly this may well utilise the latest technologies but in a ‘tech lite’ manner.


  • Leveraging data to exploit value opportunities and create valuable insights about client needs are critical skills.
  • However, data and insights are ubiquitous, the key in the role is to use these resources better than anyone else, and in new combinations to radically redefine operating models and value.
  • Drive the prioritisation of innovation ideas across Group.
  • Create Innovation campaigns to drive key business imperatives and challenges, e.g. Hackathons.
  • Ensure good working relationships with Vendors and ensure that we are working in the most cost effective way.

Drive the Innovation Capability in the Group to ensure an embbeded Innovation Stategy and Culture acorss the group:

  • Drive the prioritisation of innovation ideas across Group.
  • Create Innovation campaigns to drive key business imperatives and challenges, e.g. Hackathons.
  • Ensure good working relationships with Vendors and ensure that we are working in the most cost effective way.
  • Ensure that the innovation strategy promotes commercial pragmatism
  • Interface between Business and Execution; consultants to business. Scout for solutions.
  • Understand the execution process.
  • Own the challenge throughout the process – ensure right people in the execution process and ensure MVP is delivered.

Preferred Qualification and Experience


  • To the extent that tertiary education in a relevant field is often a precursor to further learning as well as an indicator of a level of cognitive ability, professional qualifications are an important, but not the only, underpinning of the minimum qualification required.
  • To fulfil the role of Trailblazer a fully competent level of capability, that is recognised by the ‘profession’, in two or more fields of expertise is required. In a formal technical field this would be a professional certification but in emerging fields of expertise peer review would define the standard. The spectrum of appropriate technical capabilities required are listed below in the section titled Fields of Expertise.
  • Diversity and breadth of skills are known characteristics of highly innovative individuals and hence the preferred qualifications for the role are as above but in widely disparate fields. For example, an engineer with a post graduate degree in liberal arts could well be an ideal qualification set.


  • Malcolm Gladwell’s analysis in his book “Outliers’ of the need for 10 000 hours of focussed study and experience in order to truly master a field of expertise captures the sense of what is required in this role. The required level of experience should prepare an individual to be in a position to provide a profound input, with appropriate cognisance of the associated fields, in order to deliver both the depth as well as the breadth of contribution essential to the team.
  • In certain types of expertise this can all be acquired through experience in the field, in others through both study and practical experience. It is unlikely that academic study of a field, no matter how deep, without significant time in application of the knowledge gained would adequately prepare an individual for the role.

Knowledge/Technical Skills/Expertise

Knowledge :

Digital technologies:

  • Digital platforms (data, content, technology and tools) functionality, technical and information architecture.

4th IR technologies:

  • Artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, blockchains, API & Open Banking.


Job South Africa 2020 (Johannesburg) At Standard Bank Group, Trailblazer-Manager Innovations-Out of the Blue

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