Ren Zhang

Chief Data Scientist (Head of AI CoE), BMO Financial


Ren Zhang is the Chief Data Scientist for BMO Financial. She leads the enterprise’s AI center of excellence and is in charge of defining its enterprise data science and intelligent process automation strategy, driving adoption of AI capabilities to automate processes and deliver better predictive decisions. This strategy will help the businesses drive accelerated revenue, cost productivity and customer outcomes.
Zhang has more than 15 years’ experience as a senior AI leader within various financial organizations. She has served as Prudential Financial’s Vice President and Head of Data Science and Executive Director of Data Science and Innovation at Commonwealth Bank of Australia. She has also held several senior roles at American Express, ranging from credit risk management to loyalty analytics, fraud risk strategy and risk capabilities, culminating in her role as Vice President, Risk and Information Management of Enterprise Growth.
She holds a PhD in Statistics from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Getting to know...

Why do you think organizations struggle to attach tangible value to their AI projects?

This challenge may come from three fronts: 1) Lack of the commitment from executives to drive a data and analytics based culture, 2) lack of the talent to translate the business problems to the appropriate AI projects or 3) lack of the infrastructure to enable affordable AI implementation.

Research from risk and corporate finance specialist Adeva suggests that 40% of teams struggle to transition from waterfall to agile methodologies. What are your thoughts about this?

The organization can increase the success of transitions to agile methodologies through the following actions: 1) Implement appropriate change management, 2) acquire or train staff with the right skills, 3) establish suitable operating models or organizational structures to enable agile and, importantly, 4) drive the agile culture change across the all levels.