Matt Edwards specializes in transformation. As Director of Business Transformation at ATB Financial, he has expertise in relationship and project management. Matt finds creative ways to bring resources together to successfully deliver a project and to manage change for employees and customers. But business transformation was not on his mind in 2003 when he graduated from the University of Alberta with a BSc in Computing Science with a Business Minor. He had never even heard of it. He began working as an application developer writing software and saw his career path leading to a leadership role of some kind. However, his business management and people skills soon came to the fore and made him a natural choice for his present position.
Matt first heard about Junior Achievement five years ago through a colleague who spoke enthusiastically about how the company courses allowed business people to share their real-world expertise with students. Since Matt began volunteering with JA in 2010, he has been applying his gift for transformation in a classroom setting as well. He has taught classes in Grades 4, 5, and 8 as well as a summer leadership skills course to a mixed class of Grades 10-12. On April 27, 2015, during Financial Literacy Week at NAIT, he was part of the drive to teach hundreds of students, and, that day, he thoroughly enjoyed teaching the Grade 8 “Dollars with Sense” course.
In the classroom, Matt is energized by the students’ enthusiasm and eagerness to participate. He is a natural teacher instinctively able to build upon students’ knowledge. In Grade 5, he uses students’ awareness about what their parents do for a living as a springboard for conversations about business. In Grade 8, quite a few students have had part time jobs, and so this is the perfect time to introduce the topic of credit management. In each class he teaches, Matt combines his extensive knowledge of banking and finance with his skills in relationship management to effect a transformation in the students’ outlook.
Matt understands that he has the most impact when he makes the subject matter relevant. Although he knows a theoretical understanding of business concepts is important, he has learned to pay particular attention to the questions students ask. He believes that students do the most learning when the class discussion focuses on a student’s real-life query. These queries provide the teachable moments that lead to transformation. For instance, if students want to know exactly what happens when someone declares bankruptcy, then Matt takes the time to examine the practical implications of this situation. In Grade 8, he finds that students understand stocks and bonds and mutual funds better if they imagine what happens when they invest $20 of their own money in the stock market.
With a full time job and two young children, two-year-old Allie and three month-old Jude, there is not a lot of time left over for recreation at the moment. However, Matt believes in maintaining a balance between the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of his life, and many of his hobbies centre on health and wellness. He enjoys lifting weights at the gym, playing ice hockey and squash and going for a run when the weather is good. In the winter, he likes to ski and snowboard. His wife Dana, who works at ATB in the People and Culture department, is also thinking of becoming involved with JA in the future.
Matt champions JA by using his twitter account — @wastedgenius —to tweet about company events like the Financial Literacy Week at NAIT. He fully intends to continue his involvement with Junior Achievement because the company’s mission speaks very strongly to him. He believes in the idea of giving back to the community, teaching students basic business concepts and how to effectively manage their money. Matt believes that when students have a better grasp of financial matters they are set up for success, and he wants to be an active participant in this transformation.