Wells Fargo’s Strategy, Digital And Innovation Chief Ather Williams III: The C-Suite Interview

Williams, who was recently named to Forbes CEO Next list of leaders likely to lead some of America’s largest companies, talks about crypto, curiosity and the “multiyear journey” to regain trust.

Ather Williams III calls them “insanity metrics.” Those are the eyeballs, patents, number of PhDs and other measures that he saw companies use to register success when he worked as CFO for a Bay area startup during the dot-com boom. The euphoria was so over the top, he says, that “landlords wanted warrants over cash” when renting new office space.

That ended with the company shutting down and Williams taking away lessons that would shape the rest of his career. “When business models are based on how you’re financing the company, not about the work you’re doing on behalf of a client, that’s a fundamental problem.” says Williams.

That philosophy has propelled Williams to senior roles at three top financial services firms—Wells Fargo, Bank of America and JPMorgan—and made him a leader to watch on the Forbes 2022 CEO Next list. As senior executive vice president of strategy, digital and innovation for Wells Fargo, Williams is credited with transforming the bank’s digitization efforts while managing to stay above the fray during recent scandals. Regaining trust, he says, “is going to be a multiyear journey.”

Click on the video above to hear Williams thoughts on crypto and his strategy for fostering innovation in a corporate environment. Curiosity and creative conflict are just the start.

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