Ep. 139 – Vivek Bedi, Northwestern Mutual, on Digital Transformation in the Financial Industry

Ep. 139 – Vivek Bedi, Northwestern Mutual, on Digital Transformation in the Financial Industry

Vivek Bedi has worked in both corporate and startup innovation. His experiences range from positions at Goldman Sachs, to running his own company. Now at Northwestern Mutual, Vivek is the Head of Consumer Experience, Digital Products, working in both New York and Milwaukee. Brian Ardinger, Inside Outside Innovation Founder, talks with Vivek about Northwestern Mutual’s digital transformation.

Vivek Bedi, Head of Consumer Experience at Northwestern MutualVivek’s team is responsible for everything digital that touches Northwestern Mutual’s 4.3 million clients. Three years ago, 150,000 of Northwestern Mutual’s customers used their digital products. Today, over 1.8 million customers are engaged in the digital experience.

Culture Change

Northwestern Mutual is changing the culture around digital development, innovation, and collaboration.

  • New York had a startup culture, but Milwaukee had subject matter expertise. Both matter. How do they work together?
  • Pizza Pie teams – Developed small teams across two cities, tasked with one charter and putting something out every two weeks. Teams are virtual and cross-functional (product, design engineers and business) that have standup meetings every day.
  • Three years ago there were 89 digital releases. Last year, there were 4,005.
  • Culture has also become research and iterative, through research communities with both advisors and customers.


Vivek has had to overcome a variety of challenges, including:

  • Getting people to believe the new model will work. The right approach is not reading a book about Agile or Lean.
  • Highlighting the Pizza Pie team process as a model for other projects. Now Northwestern Mutual has 30+ teams.
  • Pizza Pie teams have both a product lead and engineering lead.
  • When building talent, Vivek looks for people who can bring people together, gel with groups, and understand different perspectives
  • Now Northwestern Mutual is trying to understand if the model can work with big systems and legacy components.
  • Access to customers is a big theme in Vivek’s work. 60% of his time is spent with advisors, learning the nuances of the business, tools, and concepts. On the client side, he must design for all types of customers, including those who type, swipe, and print.

For More Information

Connect with Vivek on Twitter @Vivbedior http://www.vivekbedi.com

If you enjoyed this podcast, you might also enjoy: If you enjoyed this podcast, you might also enjoy: Ep. 127 – Vanguard & CEC’s John Buhl on Lean Startup at Scale; Ep. 123 – Gatorade’s Xavi Cortadellas on Breakthrough Innovation ; and Ep. 42 – John Bungert with MetLife

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Episode 139

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