How Jo Hannaford hires at Goldman Sachs

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Jo Hannaford Goldman Sachs

If you want a technology job at Goldman Sachs in Europe, you really need to know the name Jo Hannaford. As head of EMEA technology at Goldman since March 2017, Hannaford starts her day with calls to the firm's junior technologists for a code review. She's custodian of 2.5 billion lines of Goldman code. She's also the woman who determines Goldman Sachs' European technology hiring.

In a new Goldman Sachs podcast, Hannaford says the hardest thing about technology is, "being able to find talented engineers," and that Brexit has the potential to make this harder still.  European graduates have a tendency to take first and second degrees, says Hannaford and the European mainland has "many technical colleges," and a "high number of engineering [computer science] graduates."

Bereft of this talent, Goldman's London office could find hiring technologists problematic. As we reported last month, Goldman Sachs has hiked pay for its first year technologists with Masters degrees to  £98k ($128k) in possible anticipation of this.

Fortunately, London isn't Goldman's only European technology outpost. The U.S. bank also has a technology office in Warsaw, Poland, where it has over 600 people working across technology, risk, finance, human capital management and securities division strats. Hannaford says the firm likes to hire French mathematicians and quantitative modelers for its trading strats jobs, implying that Goldman could yet increase the size of its existing Paris strats team after Brexit. 

Late last year, Goldman Sachs said it hired 850 graduate trainees into its technology class in 2018, seemingly up from 450 two years earlier. 

In the podcast, Hannaford suggested the technology underpinning Marcus, Goldman's new online retail bank, might be one of the most interesting initiatives to work on as a Goldman Engineer. Because Marcus has been created from scratch without a legacy platform, Hannaford said Goldman had been able to work very quickly and to build Marcus using its existing engineers, in only 12 months. 

While hiring technologists is hard, Hannaford suggested that keeping them isn't easy either. Goldman has lost engineers to medical research, said Hannaford: "The ton of applications that we have for market risk or credit risk, they're applying to cancer treatment."

Hannaford grew up in London's East End and initially aspired to be an academic. She said she only really went into banking because she wanted to, "buy my sister a really nice wedding present," and needed money one summer. Even when she joined Goldman 23 years ago, Hannaford said the firm was trying to automate its research products. 

Thirty years ago, Hannaford says computing was considered to be, "a really great job for a woman." Now, she says it's seen as, "the kind of career a man would do as opposed to a woman."

"I look around and I think, where have those women gone?"

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