The Iowa Idea: Aaron Proietti
“Make the offer.”
In this episode of The Iowa Idea Podcast, I sit down with Aaron Proietti. Aaron is the author of Today’s Innovator. He is an innovation expert with seventeen years of experience innovating in complex organizations. Aaron views innovation not as an activity, but as a core business competency that must be developed, led, and nurtured within both the individual and the organization. Aaron has spoken at numerous conferences on topics related to technology trends, innovation leadership, innovation strategy, and culture change. A former Chief Innovation Officer at Transamerica, Aaron is also an expert in technology trends and their impacts on people and businesses. Through his company “Today’s Innovator” and his writing, Aaron’s mission is to connect and empower the innovators found within each of us.
Aaron and I talk about his journey as a data scientist, innovator, and leader. We explore some of his lessons and insights regarding innovation. We dig deep into the leadership, organizational culture, and people challenges that impede innovation.
It was great having Aaron on the podcast. I thank him for his time and insights. I hope you enjoy the episode.
Aaron Proietti is an innovation expert with seventeen-plus years of experience innovating in complex organizations. Most recently, at Transamerica, a multinational Fortune 500 insurance company, Aaron built and led the company’s Insights & Innovation department consisting of six centers of excellence designed to fuel innovation. As Chief Innovation Officer he led a division- wide effort to transform the culture of 6,000 employees to a culture of innovation, collaboration, and trust. As Chief Customer Advocate he merged the company’s customer-centric service strategy with its forward-looking innovation strategy. And as the Head of Marketing Innovation he built and staffed a cutting-edge Research & Development team tasked with building customer experiences of the future and integrating them back into Transamerica’s core business.
After getting his Master’s Degree in Applied Mathematics from Georgia Tech, Aaron got his career started as a Data Analyst at Capital One, one of the nation’s largest banks — a role that for sure would be called a Data Scientist today. It is there that he gained his first exposure to innovation as part of a team that developed new products and processes that contributed over $50 million per year. Aaron later worked as a Product Owner in Capital One’s “Invention Factory,” as well as several other roles that would shape his career as an innovator. It is at Capital One where Aaron learned the value a strong corporate culture has in driving innovation. He left Capital One in 2007 to gain experience in the startup environment, working to develop a new way of packaging and selling life insurance.
In 2016, at the age of forty, Aaron stepped away from the corporate grind to decompress and reevaluate his career trajectory. He recently founded Today’s Innovator, a coaching and training company working to “connect and empower innovators.” Aaron is the author of the book Today’s Innovator (Motivational Press, 2019). He speaks at conferences and events on topics related to technology trends, innovation leadership, innovation strategy, and culture change. Aaron has also been a regular writing contributor at Future Shapers, InnovationLeader.com and Insurance Thought Leadership.
The Iowa Idea Podcast music written and performed by Paisley Bible (https://paisleybible.bandcamp.com/).