Peter Aceto, President and CEO of ING DIRECT Canada, received the 2010 Communicator of the Year  award from IABC/Toronto this morning at a ceremony downtown. ING DIRECT Canada is the largest direct bank in the country.

If you’ve seen Mr. Aceto in one of his videos or read his tweets, you know that “what you see is what you get.” He carries this sense of transparency in all of his communications.


Powered by two lovely cups of coffee, I’ve captured some of his remarks for you.

Truly a “social CEO,” Peter Aceto places the highest value on communications and connecting with people, referring to this strength as the biggest predictor of leadership success. Of course a CEO must be concerned with profit, but he contends that the leader must also be held accountable for valuing people and communications, for behaving responsibly, for providing value and service, and for always telling the truth. “Communications will become the most valued leadership skill in five years,” he predicted.

To be effective, messages must be simple, transparent and honest. He believes that there’s no longer a need to communicate differently to different stakeholders.

Throughout his speech, Peter Aceto emphasized the excellent contributions of his team at ING DIRECT Canada (some of whom were in the room – along with his wife and mother), and introduced a few of the staffers who so capably handle internal and external communications.

He reminded us that communication occurs when the message is understood, not just when it’s disseminated.  He then shared a story of one time within the bank when leadership assumed that all employees were aware of a new program. Thanks to Peter’s brown-bag lunches with call centre and operations staff, he discovered that this wasn’t the case, and that employee communications needed to be improved in this particular area.

When asked about internal communications, Mr. Aceto told us that the bank has recently implemented Yammer, an internal Twitter-like micro-messaging tool. “It’s important for us to hear what people within the organization really care about,” he said.  

Responding to a question about the time he himself devotes to social media, he said: “We know that social media is not going away. We need to be there, to be a part of the conversation.” He cited the example of ING DIRECT Canada’s new Thrive account. “Online we’re getting direct feedback from people, from customers,” he said. The public responds through social media much more easily and quickly than they would by email or letter.

All the IABC/Toronto members I spoke with were impressed with Peter Aceto’s passion for his work and his dedication to constantly improving as a communicator.

We were also inspired by a speech by Priya Bates, ABC, who has been named a Master Communicator, the highest honour bestowed by IABC in Canada. Congratulations, Priya!

Thanks to the organizers of IABC/Toronto for this worthwhile morning, and to the event sponsor, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority.



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