Neal Pawar: Meet Deutsche Bank's tech guy with access to the €13bn budget

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Neal Pawar: Meet Deutsche Bank's tech guy with access to the €13bn budget

If there's a man to know at Deutsche Bank right now, it's Neal Pawar, the newly appointed Deutsche Bank chief information officer who's joining just as the bank prepares to spend an additional €13bn on technology as part of the new strategy unleashed last week by CEO Christian Sewing.

Some of that €13bn is likely to cover tedious things like software amortisation and core systems modernisation, and Pawar won't be spending it on his own. - He'll be overseen by Bernd Leukert, who's joining from SAP in September as a board member responsible for technology, data and innovation, and he'll be assisted by the likes of Scott Marcar, the chief information officer at Deutsche's investment bank.

Even so, Pawar will have power. And if you want to work in tech at Deutsche Bank, it will help to get to know him well. Here, then, is a quick Pawar primer.

1. Pawar is a technologist and an actor 

Pawar studied a double major in computer science and theatre at Brown University. Aged 17, he traveled around India with an acting troupe and put on a play about racism in South Africa. He also played the part of a teenage Jawaharlal Nehru in a Bollywood film.

Pawar has said his theatrical past allows him to better empathize with people using the software platforms he builds. 

2. Pawar is a very dedicated Liverpool football fan 

Pawar grew up in Milton Keynes and likes to watch Liverpool play. He has been known to take his mother to matches. You don't want to disclose a liking for Manchester United. 

3. Pawar wants to hire passionate coders 

It's probably the case that all senior tech people say this, but when he was at AQR, Pawar said his priority was hiring coders with passion and an interest in the finance industry. "We want people that love programming....people that really enjoy writing code and designing systems," he told Waters Technology two years ago. "We're looking for people who are curious rather than anything else." 

4. Pawar says experienced coders can be motivated by exciting projects

AQR isn't exactly Deutsche Bank, but its platform had to evolve all the same. When he worked at AQR, Pawar said he enthused experienced people with promises of "upgrading our system from front to back." Expect something similar at Deutsche Bank.

5. Pawar has come from a very open-source oriented environment 

Banks today are on Github, but not to the extent of most other industries. - Deutsche Bank's Github page is a pretty dead place, although the bank is making 150,000 lines of its Autobahn code public. Deutsche could come as a shock to Pawar, given that AQR has been a big Github contributor with tools like the Pandas data analysis community. 

 “This is a firm that writes academic papers about its strategies,” Pawar told Waters Technology in 2015. “You look at our industry in general, and you see it more as a closed industry. There is a lot of secret sauce. We’re writing papers about our secret sauce.”

He added that at AQR writing software was seen, "as a craft." Deutsche Bank could be in for a culture change.

6. Pawar is big on cloud computing and data visualizations 

Deutsche Bank isn't commenting on what Pawar is up to but the expectation is that he will focus on Deutsche's use of the cloud, which was an area he championed at AQR.

7. Pawar is used to working with Bengalaru-based programmers to implement new systems

As part of its technology review, Deutsche Bank intends to "internalize" 5,000 contractors and make them into full time employees. This doesn't mean those new roles will come to London or New York. Deutsche Bank already has technology centres in Pune and Bangalore, as well as Romania, and roles are likely to go there instead.  

The same applies to any new cloud and data-oriented jobs.  At AQR Pawar oversaw the opening of a Bangalore office with 150 quantitative engineers and data scientists who built a cloud-based platform, including the fund\s trading systems, data and visualization tools. 

8. Pawar is going to be all over Deutsche's investment bank 

Lastly, it's worth noting that Pawar is not the sort of technology hire who will be happy to tinker with retail banking in Germany. As well as working for AQR, he's worked for hedge fund DE Shaw, where he re-engineered middle and back office technology and operationsDuring his time at UBS, he worked on a major electronic banking project in APAC. Pawar specializes in big transformational projects. His time in tech at Deutsche Bank is unlikely to pass quietly - but many people, including his new colleagues, would argue that's no bad thing.

Photo: Tristan Bejawn, copyright eFinancialCareers

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