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Meet Kristal Au-Yong: Senior Vice President of Innovation & Insights at Scotiabank

Kristal has enjoyed a career of almost two decades in the financial industry, specializing in risk management, global transaction banking, and financial regulations. In her current role as SVP Innovation & Insights at Scotiabank, she is responsible for responding to the needs of the market by partnering across Scotiabank to accelerate strategic priorities powered by Analytics, applying customer insights and intelligence to business models, as well as diving external FinTech partnerships. Prior to Scotiabank, Kristal worked for the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions Canada and IBM. Kristal is a passionate Board member of DAREarts, a foundation that is focused on building leadership skills through arts for marginalized youth. We caught up with her ahead of our spotlight event in Toronto on September 18th — The New Age of Business: How Digitization is Reshaping Your 10-Year Plan — where she will be speaking on the panel. 




My first job ever was… delivering the Mississauga News in grade 6 with my sister. 

I decided to be a banker because… I had a love for math and looked for a place where I could apply it to real life. 

My proudest accomplishment is… I can’t really pinpoint one accomplishment. Overall, I’d say that I’ve always taken risks by choosing opportunities that put me into a ‘discomfort’ zone and I’m proud of how I’ve consistently taken on these challenges throughout my career.  

I surprise people when I tell them… Career has not always been my number one priority. 

My best advice to people starting out in business is… Take advantage of this time to understand the details, learn as much as possible. Keep in mind that networks can last your whole career so always build relationships for the long run. 

My best advice from a mentor was… Be resilient and creative around how you approach challenges. Focus on bringing solutions rather than what went wrong once you understand the root cause. 

I would tell my 20-year old self… Relax and travel! There’s so much more to life and happiness than there is to ticking off the checkmarks of what adulthood is supposed to be like. If things don’t work out the way you planned it, there are so many options that are just as fantastic. 


“We don’t know exactly what to expect all the time, but we know that life gives us so many new exciting options when we choose to be open to it.”


My biggest setback was… Battling severe endometriosis on a daily basis. I’ve dealt with this for as long as I can remember and it’s not something that we speak about as much or truly know how to resolve yet, but it impacts at least 1 out of every 10 women. 

I overcame it by… I haven’t yet fully overcome it but I work hard every day to manage the physical and mental aspects of dealing with chronic pain. 

The best thing about being a banker is… Being able to play a role in a customer’s financial well-being and being a part of large Canadian organization that impacts the lives of many Canadians.  

If I had an extra hour in the day, I would… Practice the piano.  

If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know… Nothing makes me happier than when my plants grow and flower! 

The one thing I wish I knew when starting in Banking is… The Financial Services industry is constantly changing, whether through economic cycles, new types of competitors, or innovation in technology and business models. It is imperative to spend the time to stay on top of events and trends, constantly looking to the future for what is next. 

I stay inspired by… Learning about people, whether in history, current or just getting to know those I am surrounded by on a daily basis on a better level.  

The future excites me because… The world is innovating and changing at a rapid pace. We don’t know exactly what to expect all the time, but we know that life gives us so many new exciting options when we choose to be open to it.

My next step is… Focusing on my latest challenge and opportunity at work and rewarding myself by planning a great vacation in early 2020.