Stephen Menon’s path to becoming vice-president of product at Finn AI can’t be characterized as linear.
The 38-year-old Halifax native got his start in institutional banking at MBNA America’s headquarters in Delaware as the first Canadian to take part in the organization’s management development program.
The bank had designs on expanding its presence in Canada and called on Menon to help lead the initiative back in his home country.
“I was not expecting that, I will be honest – I was thinking I was going to be living in Philadelphia or New York and then all of a sudden a month later I was living in Ottawa,” he said with a chuckle, adding he was grateful for having the opportunity to immerse himself in American work culture when he was in his 20s.
His career at MBNA Canada allowed him to work and travel in India and the Philippines, and Menon found himself running all the bank’s call centres in Canada at one point.
As history unfolded, Menon found himself working at a U.S.-owned bank undergoing drastic cost reductions in the midst of the Great Recession.
The Canadian business was profitable but that didn’t stop the parent company from slashing, he recalled.
By 2011 he had been recruited by TD Bank Financial Group, where he began serving as an executive right before his 30th birthday. Among the highlights during the ensuing five years on Bay Street was working as one of the strategy leads for TD’s Aeroplan launch.
“One of [the largest], if not the largest, consumer product launches in the history of Canada – it was a huge deal,” Menon said. “There aren’t too many products that a million people use every day.”
While he had thought for years that corporate banking was his dream, his time on Bay Street helped him realize that may not be true.
He departed TD, took time off to travel the world and decided to shift into tech.
“I settled in Vancouver because it’s a people place, I missed the ocean and I knew it would force me to really focus on getting a tech job, versus in Toronto I would most likely [have] defaulted and be working at another big bank.”
Birthplace: Halifax, Nova Scotia
Where you live now: Vancouver
Highest level of education: Bachelor of commerce (honours)
Currently reading: The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
Currently listening to: The Politician soundtrack (various artists)
When you were a kid, what you wanted to be when you grew up: Intelligence agent
Profession you would most like to try: Intelligence agent
Toughest business or professional decision: Switch from big finance to tech startup
Advice you would give the younger you: Make the jump sooner
What’s left to do: Help scale up/grow startups, starting with the one I am at, Finn AI
Join us to celebrate the 2019 Forty under 40 Awards on January 30, 2020, at the Westin Bayshore. For tickets and event information visit https://www.biv.com/forty-under-40