Early in his career, James Alexander thought that he would need to work for a software company in order to find an employer that valued and prioritized the power of technology in its business.
That changed when he met a group of JPMorgan Chase leaders at a networking event, where he learned about the company’s modernization strategy as it migrated into cloud computing.
“I was impressed by their fundamental understanding that without investing in technology and engineers, it would be impossible to operate a global organization of this scale effectively,” said Alexander, who had built his career with high-profile corporations. “They recognize the significant impact that software has on the way we do business.”
WHAT JPMORGAN CHASE DOES
With over 57,000 technologists globally and an annual tech spend of $15.3 billion, JPMorgan Chase is dedicated to improving the design, analytics, development coding, testing and application programming that goes into creating high-quality software and new products. Under the J.P. Morgan and Chase brands, the firm serves millions of customers in the United States, and many of the world’s prominent corporate, institutional and government clients globally.
Alexander soon stepped into a lead software engineer role on a team responsible for turning data into usable insights to help mitigate credit risk across day-to-day business.
“To do this, JPMorgan Chase is investing in public cloud infrastructure where applicable, developing cloud-native applications using the latest platforms and hiring the best people to support in the effort,” he said.
For Alexander, JPMorgan Chase’s commitment to continuous improvement sets the company’s approach to technology apart.
“Leadership recognizes that it is critical for our technical roadmap to be flexible, fast and cost efficient while meeting increasing market demands,” he said.
That support has enabled Alexander and his team to scale cloud-native applications faster with distributed architecture and update legacy systems to the cloud, both of which improves quality and saves costs. Built In heard from Alexander about his experiences since joining JPMorgan Chase and the possibilities offered for growth within the company’s Global Technology Center in Atlanta.
I am a lead software engineer within our finance, risk, data and controls team. My primary responsibility is helping JPMorgan Chase move forward with its technology modernization initiative, specifically as it pertains to big data migrations. I help establish best practices to develop cloud-native software in collaboration with software engineers throughout the firm. I also have the responsibility of identifying talent to build a team that will support these best practices as we modernize legacy systems and build new ones.
What pleasantly surprised you after you joined?
The biggest surprise has been the level of technical knowledge at the executive level. From my years of experience, it is not very common to find senior leadership with the strong engineering foundations that many of our global technology leaders have.
Since joining the firm, I have been able to personally experience the commitment from leadership to the success of the Global Technology Center in Atlanta and to the firm’s plans to further modernize its software applications and infrastructure. JPMorgan Chase values technology as essential to every part of the business. Leaders help us provision resources, overcome challenges and support us with day-to-day engagement.
“JPMorgan Chase values technology as essential to every part of the business.”
What prompted the company to focus on expansion in Atlanta? What impact will this launch have?
JPMorgan Chase has had a presence in Atlanta for more than 20 years and takes pride in employing regional talent. We are expanding our Global Technology presence in the area, with positions in artificial intelligence, machine learning, data science, product design and more. Atlanta has great universities and a diversified economy with a good business climate. This creates an excellent opportunity for a mutually beneficial relationship while providing customers with excellent service and familiarity.
What are you most excited to accomplish in the Atlanta tech center over the next quarter or year?
Our goals are pivotal to the firm’s success: Our modernization effort is not only to improve the performance, quality and cost of software engineering, but to future-proof our applications by modularizing them into refactorable components that can be updated with changes for the firm while incurring minimal technical debt.
I am most excited about creating the systems that will provide our users with crucial information that helps minimize the firm’s risk exposure. One of the most crucial metrics we provide is obligor grading. With the responsibility of managing trillions of dollars in assets, it is critical that our lenders make well-informed decisions — without this information, the firm could be overly exposed to risk.
With our refactored cloud-native applications backed by state-of-the-art cloud services, we can provide more cost-effective and timely high-quality data faster than ever before.
What aspect of your professional growth are you most excited to evolve?
At this stage in my career, I really want to focus on developing an environment that promotes innovation through collaboration. From experience, the most impactful and sustainable solutions are born out of many contributors. I am looking to grow my ability to foster an atmosphere that focuses on inclusive problem solving so that we are benefiting from all of the great talent that the firm has through knowledge sharing.
Whenever possible, I also participate in talent acquisition information sessions to help prospective employees become more informed about the opportunities available at the firm.
With our firm’s cloud-migration efforts well underway, my future plans are to encourage employees to obtain cloud certification by providing information on study resources and certification vouchers through training sessions.
At the Global Tech Center in Atlanta, Alexander is currently helping to facilitate Innovation Week, an annual event combining global keynotes, local hands-on learning and discussion sessions. “It is the chance for Global Technology employees to engage with the firm’s foremost innovation subject matter experts,” he explained. “My participation in this event, along with my colleagues, is to create events and plan sessions that help JPMorgan Chase employees become more knowledgeable of innovative products, tech stacks and modernizations, talent and DEI — as well as environmental, social and corporate governance.”
When you think of other companies in your industry, how does JPMorgan Chase compare in how it builds and launches new products and centers?
One of the great ways that JPMorgan Chase stands out to me is the firm’s engagement of local talent. From the launch of the Global Technology Center in Atlanta to the grand opening of community centers like Summerhill, there is a strong commitment in the regions in which the firm operates to work with local talent and bring value to the communities. I believe that no company in our industry does this better.