J.P. Morgan is starting a big technology hiring drive in Asia, according to Sophia Leung, the firm’s chief information officer for the region.
“We plan to hire more than a few thousand technologists across Asia Pacific over the next couple of years,” says Leung, without providing an exact headcount target.
Some of these roles will be based in Singapore and Hong Kong. “They are sophisticated banking and finance markets that are hubs for some of our key businesses. This means we need to have a number of technology roles located there to support those businesses. We also value the quality of professionals and local graduates in these locations and base a number of the high-value technical roles there.”
Leung adds: “We have recently established a ‘corporate centre’ in Singapore that has become one of J.P. Morgan’s centres of excellence for IT globally, and we’ve been hiring technology talent to help build this.”
She says that globally J.P. Morgan has more than 40,000 infrastructure engineers and software developers. “It’s like having a large software company embedded within the firm. We have been enjoying significant growth over the past few years, particularly in Asia Pacific, and this growth story has meant that we have expanded our technology teams to support this. This in turn means we are continuously looking for top technology talent.”
So what type of tech jobs is the US bank recruiting for in Asia? “The need for innovative and skilled technologists has only grown over the years. This means we are always looking for talent across all areas of technology. Areas of focus include cybersecurity, strengthening our regional technology command centres, and monitoring and upgrading the software code that underlies the thousands of applications that we run for the firm,” says Leung.
The “pace of change and growing importance of technology” means there will always be shortages of quality IT talent in Asia as demand continues to outstrip supply, says Leung. To help tackle the problem and ensure it has a “strong pipeline of future technology leaders”, J.P. Morgan has been scaling up its graduate intake.
“In 2015 we hired over 40 final-year students to join us in our technology analyst programme in Asia Pacific. This number has doubled from three years ago as we build our technology capability in the region."
What type of traits is Leung looking for in fresh grads and experienced IT candidates? You don’t necessarily need to have an elite university on your CV to get a J.P. Morgan IT job in Asia. “Diversity brings strength, creativity and innovation to the firm and leads to the best solutions for our clients. That’s why we hire people from a range of educational backgrounds, and with diverse experience and skills sets. We want people from graduates to senior professionals to bring in fresh perspectives and ideas that can have a positive impact on our clients and our business.”
If you’re about to go into a job interview with Leung, she has the following advice: “I want to know about the experiences that a person has had, what have they learned, and what kind of attitude the candidate has around success and failure. What motivates that person is also important, as I think staying motivated is critical to success.”
Leung’s own career spans 25 years – she joined J.P. Morgan in 2011 after spending two decades at Morgan Stanley. “My career has taken me around the world to roles in the UK, US and Hong Kong. A career in technology was attractive to me as it provided a broad platform that would challenge me and put me on a path of continual professional development and personal growth. I was also excited to enter banking, a dynamic industry where technology plays a pivotal role.”
She says her long career has taught her the critical importance of teamworking. “Earlier on, when I moved jobs within the firm, one of the biggest challenges was learning to work with my in-built desire to try to ‘know everything’ before changing jobs. Over time I realised that this was unrealistic and that as a manager, building a strong team around me – with diverse and specialised skills and knowledge – is vital to both the team’s success and my own.”
The emergence of fintech start-ups in Asia is now helping to change the way banking technologists in the region work. “Asia Pacific is experiencing rapid change in the provision of financial services with technological innovation from fintech companies playing important roles in this evolution. J.P. Morgan has a dedicated function in technology which focuses on ensuring we have a comprehensive strategy, a firm-wide innovation agenda and key partnerships to drive the business. Connecting to the emerging technology ecosystem is just part of that strategy – we also continually look to use new technology to help us do business and our teams are continuously innovating within the firm, as evidenced by the number of patents we file every year.”
Leung still feels “incredibly blessed” to be working in banking technology today. “There has probably never been a better time to be in technology as it continues to transform how every company operates.”
Image credit: panumas nikomkai, iStock, Thinkstock