A heritage financial services institution is not necessarily the first place a technologist turns to develop their career. But that hasn’t been a problem for JPMorgan Chase, which has established itself as an attractive career destination for technologists. “Technology is not an afterthought,” says Gill Haus, chief information officer of consumer and community banking at JPMorgan Chase. “It’s in everything we do, from our offices and branches to our contact centers and our web and mobile apps.”
Haus explains that being a technology company is not just about using technology to solve problems. “What really makes a technology company is how you think about how you hire teams, how you train teams, how you build software, how you deploy that software,” Haus says. “It’s how you organize around products, not around your business units.”
Like a technology startup, JPMorgan Chase’s technical teams solve problems in the real world. “Every day we release new features and products that make it easier for everyone. It’s incredibly exciting,” says Haus.
However, unlike a startup, JPMorgan Chase has scale. The financial services institution supports 44 million mobile active customers and 59 million digitally active customers overall. The company spends $12 billion on technology every year. “When we launch a solution or bring a new product to market, we don’t bring it to market for 1,000 people. We don’t bring it to market for 100,000 people. We bring it to market immediately for millions of customers, and c It’s amazing,” says Haus. “There’s amazing talent here, as you can imagine, because we have such a technical need. Talent begets talent. It’s exciting to go to a place where you know you are going to be challenged .
Laurel Ruma: From MIT Technology Review, my name is Laurel Ruma and this is Business Lab, the show that helps business leaders make sense of new technologies coming out of the lab and into the market.
Our topic today is the large-scale innovation. Established institutions across industries have found themselves competing with cloud-born startups that run lean and mean. Legacy companies must not only innovate, but do so at a significantly larger scale than the current generation and much faster to maintain that scale in a rapidly changing market. But success is possible.
Two words for you. Developing innovation.
My guest today is Gill Haus, who is the CIO of Consumer and Community Banking at JPMorgan Chase. Gill leads Chase’s technology team and is a member of the consumer and community banking leadership team, as well as the company’s global technology leadership team. This podcast is produced in association with JPMorgan Chase. Welcome, Gill.
Gill Haus: Thank you for inviting me, Laurel.
Laurel: You have worked at several different companies, including PayPal and Curb, formerly known as RideCharge. What is it like to work in a large financial institution after having been in several fintechs? And why did you join JPMorgan Chase?
Gill: I’ll answer backwards , that’s what led me to join a company like JPMorgan Chase. It’s incredibly attractive in size and scale, especially given the technological challenges we face. To put that into perspective, we have 44 million digitally active mobile customers and 59 million digitally active customers overall. Getting the experience right for them, having it load quickly, displaying all the information their customers need in a secure way, that’s a technical masterpiece, and that’s exciting to me and that’s why I joined a company like this. It’s just the Chase part of the business, not to mention our corporate and investment banking and other parts of our organization.
There is also incredible talent here, as you can imagine, due to the fact that we have such a technical need. Talent begets talent. It’s exciting to go somewhere where you know you’re going to be challenged. You will learn from others. But also, there is a culture. This one is important and it goes to the first part of your question. There’s a culture here of, “We can tackle these issues. We are a start-up on our own.
We look at all the challenges we face, whether it’s in our consumer business, whether it’s in our wealth management business, it’s in the international investment, and we look at each of these issues like a startup would. So it feels a lot like a startup here, like when I was at PayPal or Curb or other companies. The difference is that we have the scale, so we have the resources at our disposal if we need them. We have the money to be able to really make a difference. I love startups that have been there, but unlike some startups, when we launch a solution or bring a new product to market, we don’t bring it to market for 1,000 people. We’re not putting it on the market for 100,000 people. We’re bringing this to market for millions of customers immediately, and it’s amazing.
The other element, which is really great for a startup, is the goal. A lot of places I joined when I was in a startup were because we were going to change the world. We’re going to change carpools, which is why I joined Curb. At PayPal, we were acquired, but it was about changing the way money is used. The purpose we have here at JPMorgan Chase is incredible because finance is at the center of everyone’s life. There is nothing more personal than finance. Whether it’s an individual customer, a small business, a corporation or a government, money is extremely important. Every day we release new features and products that make life easier for everyone. It’s incredibly exciting. The technical challenge is huge and that’s why it feels so much like a startup almost every day, but also why I joined the organization.
Laurel : You started out as a digital technology manager and probably a bit like a startup, you grew quite quickly to run Chase’s technology organization as a than CIO. How has your role changed? And what advice would you give to technologists who might actually follow this career path?
Gill : If you had asked me years ago: “Do you want to be a CIO, whether here or elsewhere?” I don’t know Laurel, if I would have said yes. And now that I know, I could say “What, really? I don’t know.” But what really pushed me forward in my career were certain things. The first was the technology itself. I have always been passionate about technology. The roles I’ve had have been to solve technical problems, to have a curiosity and to be technical. Now I’m not as practical as I used to be, but I read about technology constantly. I got into architecture, and I’ve done that throughout my career.
It’s also an important thing, because I believe that anyone who wants to be CIO or CTO, especially in the way the industry is progressing, you need to understand the technology. So staying close to technology and curious and wanting to solve these problems helped me.
But it there is also another part. In each of my roles, there were times when I saw something that wasn’t necessarily working and I had ideas and wanted to help, but maybe it wasn’t my responsibility. I always leaned in to help, even though I knew it would help someone else in the organization, because it was the right thing to do and it helped the business, it helped other people . So that ended up building stronger relationships, but also building my skills. I think that was also part of my rise, and it’s something incredibly powerful from a cultural point of view. It’s something I like here. Everyone is in the same boat to work this way. But I also think it says a lot about an individual, and people want to work with people who work that way. The reality is that we all need help and there have been so many people who have done that for me in my career, and either I hire them or they hire me and we stay close. So that’s something else that’s been important in my career path.
The last thing I would say is that it is important to have two things. There is one, the excitement of work. And I have this here. I also had it in my last role here, which is to say there is an enthusiasm for the changes that you make every day, for the problem posed and the technologies that we can use and the opportunity . This is really important because it ensures that you will always be excited, even if there is a bad day.
The other thing I make sure is, am I a little scared? Not scared like something bad is gonna happen, but more scared like, can I do this? Do I understand how the technology works? Do I know how to navigate in this situation? It means that you will grow and you will acquire skills that you had not learned before. So you won’t get bored because you can get excited, and after a while the excitement wanes, but you’re still really excited about the things you’re learning. I urge people to find roles where they have both of those challenges.
If you have a cultural view of, I will try to solve the problems and it is bigger than me , it is about the company, and I will put in a situation where I am having fun, you will have energy. And I’m also a little scared, you’ll learn. It’s the best way, I think, to advance someone’s career. And what’s so exciting here is that we have so many amazing problems to solve, so many amazing people looking for help, that you just have an environment where people can grow their careers very quickly.
I was surprised to have become CIO so quickly, but you can cite so many examples in this company where people who bring the attitude, the aptitude, skills and passion, continue to grow because we do amazing things, and we respect and value that in our leaders.
Laurel: Speaking of problem solving, for many organizations the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation initiatives out of necessity. Some organizations may have had a five-year plan to roll out video collaboration solutions for remote work, but suddenly they had to make it a priority when everyone was at home for the pandemic. Where was JPMorgan Chase on its digital transformation journey at the start of 2020 , and have you felt the need to accelerate initiatives to get through this pandemic?
Gill : I smile because I joined JPMC on March 2, 2020, so it was just before we went into lockdown. I was able to see the before and after very quickly. One of the things that was incredibly obvious then and continues to be obvious is that our customer is our number one priority. It has always been the case and COVID has not changed that. In fact, it was a rallying cry for the organization, which we need to make sure even more, that we are doing well for our customers because our customers have not been able to go to a branch or perform the services they were used to. . And they have also been impacted by the pandemic themselves on their finances, etc. So, it was super clear on the mission we had here, even more, we want to make sure that we help those who really depend on us. You could see it in the way everyone pulled together to solve the problems.
There have been some things that the pandemic has also brought about. There has been an increase in digital engagement. It probably would have happened anywhere about a five-year plan, but it was accelerated because people were at home and they needed to transact and they were using their digital devices because there was no other way. I believe it’s here to stay and digital adoption, this acceleration, we’re seeing it because we’re up 6% year-over-year. If you think of our digitally active customers, so 58.8 million customers. I mentioned the cell phone number, we’re up 11% year over year. This is something we continue to see happen. Once you use our mobile, or use the web, it’s hard to necessarily go back, but you can always.
This required us to deploy video conferencing globally for our employees in the space of a weekend, which is not for the faint-hearted. When you think of the 200,000 employees that we have, we’ve been able to roll out at this rate, which not only reflects the technical powers that we have more broadly in the business, but also our ability to adapt when this kind things happen. All because we wanted to make sure that our employees could serve our customers in the best possible way. Remember, we have people working in our call centers, and they’ve been affected, and we have people working in the branches, and they’re affected, and so on.
One of the things that was really clear when the pandemic happened was how quickly our teams could deploy new software. Many talk about being able to build quickly and being nimble. There’s the paycheck protection program, and that was the ability to offer small businesses that didn’t have as much traffic, etc., loans through the government. We had about a week to set this up, and we were able to set up this portal in about a week. We fully automated it in about two weeks, and we were able to provide more funding than any other lender in 2020 and 2021, which was just amazing. The fact that we were able to build this with the technology we’ve invested in over the last few years, build it so quickly, and scale it to such a large volume for our customers was huge.
But we were also able to make fundamental changes to mobile. We were able to improve things that might seem simple. We have a product inside our mobile app called QuickDeposit, and that’s where you can deposit a check. But as many know, sometimes checks are big numbers. Traditionally, we asked people to visit branches to help prevent fraud. With the technology we have, we were able to increase the limits in a way that allowed us to manage fraud appropriately and allow customers who previously would have had to visit a branch or ATM to make electronic filings. That’s the kind of stuff we’ve seen change, but the pace at which we’ve changed, it’s not just limited to the Chase part of the business, but we’ve seen it across all of JP Morgan .
There is a piece that I find important on this Laurel. I was in a meeting and here I am a new person in the organization working on the Paycheck Protection Program. I remember there was someone on Zoom. We were having a conversation and I assumed because I was new and they were at the meeting that they were on my team, and the person said, “Oh no, I’m not on your team. , but I know you’re new and you needed some help. And so I’m here to help you, and I just thought I’d navigate. And that stuck with me about the culture of this organization and how we focus on the customer both externally and internally, to really make sure that we provide the best possible service.
Laurel: It definitely requires an agile mindset. So how does JPMorgan Chase transform into an agile organization? You gave a few examples. Of all Obviously, you wouldn’t have been able to respond so quickly to the US Government’s Payroll Protection Act if you hadn’t already worked on a number of this s opportunities and capabilities to be more agile. So what lessons have you learned along the way and how have your teams and clients benefited from this change?
Gill : Oh yes. An agile transformation is a really hard thing to do. Lots of people do agile transformations, so it looks like it should be easy. You have your scrums, and you have your various ceremonies and retrospectives, and you use a tool to manage your backlog and you’re golden. One of the big challenges we faced as a business at JPMorgan was that we were organized more around our software and our platforms than around our customer and the experiences in return. This made it very frustrating for the teams, as it meant that it took probably 10, maybe 12 different organizations to agree on building something. It was unclear who the owner was. The architectures were sometimes a little more fragile because you were working with several teams. If you want to act fast or want to innovate, this is not a model you can actually operate in. You can force it, but it takes a lot more meetings. It is difficult to know who the decision makers are. You can move slower and sometimes an app or solution looks like many teams have built it. There’s Conway’s Law, and you’ve probably mentioned it on other podcasts, but Dr. Conway said your software will reflect how organized you are. That’s really what we saw. So instead of just trying to find a way around that, we said as an organization, “We’re really going to get agile, and we’re going to accept Conway’s law, and we’re going to organize around our products. “
In the community and the consumer bank, we have organized about 100 products, so we have a thousand teams that are aligned around these products. A product, for example, is something like opening an account. So, I want to open an account on mobile or web. There is a product for that. There is a product manager, a design manager, a data manager and a technology manager who are responsible for this product. We now know who can handle the backlog. We now know who can support any type of architectural decision. We now understand who is responsible for ensuring we have innovation and an understanding of customer needs. It’s allowed us to pivot quickly, because if I have to move, I can work with the account opening team, they can make the decisions, they can manage a backlog, and they’re able to adapt when we have things like the Paycheck Protection Program or other types of efforts that exist. But it also gives more meaning to individual teams as they define their destiny, they have more autonomy and they work together across technology, product design and data, so we can build the right solutions we need. . This creates a great experience for people in the organization.
Moreover, the whole of JPMC is preparing to operate in this way. This not only allows us to act faster, but also provides a better work-life balance for our employees and less frustration because it’s easier to know where you stand. You have this goal and you agree to be part of a particular team. I mentioned that we can react faster when there’s a challenge, but it’s not just those challenges like PPP or a pandemic that we have to deal with, Laurel. There are places where the needs of our customers change every day. And by organizing ourselves around products in this way, we can understand our customer data, and we can experiment, and we can adapt in a really agile way for what our customers really need, versus what we think that they might need and build something that doesn’t really resonate with them. It allows us to operate in a really agile way, which we couldn’t do before and it’s pretty amazing to be able to make a change like this on such a scale.
Laurel: With these hundreds of products and millions of customers, what challenges and opportunities do your teams face when operating at this scale?
Gill: We are a company, so it’s a job. And there will be the normal things that you would see in a business, which is that we have to prioritize. We are like any other company in this regard. However, working here, in my opinion, is amazing. When you write code in this organization, you deploy it at scale. The issues we fix can be frustrating because it might be a day when this code doesn’t work or I encounter this blocker I can’t figure it out or I need to support another change that’s coming up. is produced – when we bring these changes to our engineers, to our product, to our design, to our data stewards, we deploy them at scale.
The other part is that we include feedback from our millions and millions of customers to improve an experience and improve the lives of those customers. It’s something that drives me forward every day. Yeah, maybe I feel like this project was a little harder than it should have been. However, the difference I make every day for a client is tangible. Someone buying groceries for their family, someone buying their first car, someone refinancing their home, etc. – the list is long. Because the work that is done every day has a positive impact, I feel amazing about it and I think everyone else in the organization does too. It’s the kind of thing which makes me happy to be here. Even if there is a challenge on a particular day.
Now there are things we want to do. We want to deliver software faster and we are constantly working to improve in this space. We have a ton of products that we keep improving, but that’s the opportunity is that we have thousands of engineers. We hire thousands of designers. And every day we improve it, but we also learn. And that’s the career opportunity for people because what you’re doing today in the business might be something different than what you’ll be doing a year from now. It’s exciting because what we’re learning to do in one of our other divisions, we’re like, “That’s wonderful, bring that. Career opportunity, mobility opportunity. And that’s a career mindset every day for people that’s exciting and that’s the opportunity, I think, for our technologists here and at scale, that’s really sauce because most engineers, that’s what they want, from an engineering point of view. I want to ship code at scale.
Laurel: Some people may be surprises how big a team is, so you talk about data, design, customer service, as well as product managers, as well as your actual software developers. So with that, you really need to invest in a collaborative and goal-oriented culture. And that certainly seems like something that draws you to this organization, but it also creates an attractive workplace that can develop and retain talent. Like you said, it’s about building this goal-oriented business for the customers themselves. So why are you passionate about this idea of a goal-driven culture and what are the benefits you see every day?
Gill : Yes, as a goal-oriented company, it’s more than the services we provide when you think of technology. We make differences in communities. Because money is at the heart of people’s lives, when we make a difference in our mobile app, it’s huge. But we also have an extensive branch network and many people still use us through branches, and if we can be your community bank and can help a family or a small business, that makes a difference. If we are able to help a large company that is working to invest in new technology such as electric vehicle, we are the ones helping to change the world in a positive way, and the list goes on. This sense of purpose is what really draws people to the organization.
But we also recognize and are passionate about diversity in general. We know that diverse teams are more innovative, more productive, more efficient. You name what the teams should be, and the diverse teams are like that. We spend a lot of time making sure we focus on diversity, both internally and how we ensure you can be your true self and fully engage at work, in communities that we help. These are things that really make sense and make a difference to the people who work here. That’s why people want to come work here because you make a difference every day.
Laurel: There is obviously an incredible demand for developers and other software and IT professionals in all industries, including banking. So how do you specifically address this challenge and what is JPMorgan Chase doing different from its competitors?
Gill: Technology is not an afterthought. It’s in everything we do. This ranges from our offices, to our branches, to our contact centers, to our web and mobile applications. This is central to our goal. When people look at our organization, they should see that’s what we do every day.
In 2021, we hired thousands of software engineers with skills that span the entire development, cloud, data science, machine learning, and engineering stack. You name the technology, we invested in it. Now the market is incredibly hot, and one of the things we’re focused on is making sure that when we bring people in, you come here for a career. You don’t come here just for a job. There is training. We bring people to entry level, and we train you, so that you learn to work in our environment.
We also offer additional mobility and opportunities within the organization, so that you learn and grow. This is another interesting point. Our desire for diversity. It’s a welcoming culture. You work with people from different backgrounds and walks of life. All of this makes it a really nice place to live. We recognize that attitude and ability make the difference. So that’s what we look for in the talent we bring. We’re looking for that truly amazing talent who wants to change the world, because we’re at the center of what everyone does every day.
We’re hiring across the country. We hire worldwide, honestly, Laurel. We have our careers page that people can visit at careers.jpmorganchase.com. What really excites us is our focus on being a technology company in the sense of how we build software. We are moving towards building our software in a truly DevOps way. You build your software, you test your software, you deploy your software, you manage your software in your agile team. We operate in such a way that we can release more and more software all the time. If you name the cloud provider, we are there, and if you name the technology, we think of that technology or use that technology. Because we’re also deploying it at scale, it’s one thing to say “I use the cloud” or “I built a mobile app.” It’s quite another to regularly use these technologies for 60 million customers. It’s not just incredibly challenging from a user experience perspective, but also from the background of the plumbing and how we rethink or reimagine the way we provide the fundamental services to achieve this. This stuff is really appealing to engineers. That’s what excites me and the people here too. This is what we believe really draws people to the organization.
Laurel: Service delivery at scale is clearly important and also, as you said, one of those attractive features. But what is it about banking that makes it so attractive to technologists?
Gill : When I was first approached about joining a bank, Laurel , in full transparency, I said what I thought most technologists generally think: “A bank. I don’t want to join a bank. I want to join a tech company.” I know I explained a bit about what a tech company is and how I think we are a tech company. When you think of the banking industry and you think of the technology that we have, we use technology on a massive scale. So the first part is that in order to provide the services that we have, it is impossible for us not to use technology. But what really makes a technology company is how you think about how you hire teams, how you prepare teams, how you build your software, how you deploy that software, as I mentioned. It’s how you manage this software production. It’s how you organize around products, not around your business units. This is how you obsess over customer experience. That’s what we do at JPMorgan Chase. And when you think about the technology problems we’re solving, how we’re solving them, there’s no better place to be because we’re moving from many legacy technologies to modern cloud-based technologies. We are rebuilding, re-engineering our entire repository platform in a cloud-native way. This is something that generates trillions of dollars from our deposits. And we’re going to move that to a modern ecosystem that we’re rolling out regularly, in a controlled, well-managed way. It’s incredibly exciting. It’s exhilarating actually, when I talk about it. We make a difference in people’s lives. People ask if we are really committed to this kind of change. We spend JPMorgan $12 billion a year on technology. In my division, only $4 billion. So there’s a thing for all the words I’ve used about what we do, but also we put our money where our mouth is, which is amazing.
Laurel: And you mentioned some of these technologies that you invest in, like machine learning, artificial intelligence, microservices and all these technologies are driving product development and digital engagement for customers. Looking ahead, what do you think about the future of banking and banking technology?
Gill: There are a few areas where I think the future is. One is the general collaboration between our different business units. One of the reasons we’re doing this transformation and really modernizing the way we operate is to move – and I’ll use the API as an example – but to enable our teams to be able to innovate at pace beyond their mere division. Organizing around our product teams makes it easier for us to create those products. Also by ensuring that we have APIs and data accessible in these teams, teams can innovate and explore in a truly agile way, which allows our engineers and designers, data, etc. to be able to do things that they once couldn’t do. I think you’re going to see more things happen, where I can use data items or a service from other parts of the bank in my mobile app, which makes the experience more engaging for our customers.
But I think the other part of the future of banking is really personalization. We know you just booked a trip. We may make other recommendations while you make this reservation. If we find that a flight is delayed, we can act immediately. If we identify that you have a large inflow of money, we can help you know, in real time, where you could be spending that money more efficiently, what you should be saving. The list continues with the types of experiences we can create. And they’re not just limited to our mobile or web app, but our entire ecosystem. When you’re in an agency, that kind of data can tell us, I know you’ve called us about other types of products, or I’ve seen you run an experiment on our mobile app, and we could tie it all together to a really personalized experience where you’re a customer of one, and that’s a really amazing future, I think.
There is also just e a little less traveled road. We know there will be things we need to do or technologies that we haven’t really exploited yet. You can see this happening regularly. That’s why we’re always looking for the best technologists in the industry and what our technologists do here is what we haven’t unlocked yet. Because there are certainly things that we know we will have to do in the future. We are not looking for people who can do everything today. We are looking for people who are curious, eager to know and eager to learn: “Okay, how should I do this in the future?” Because all the things I just recommended, I’m sure there will be something far beyond in the years to come.
The other part of the future is diversity. I mentioned before that diverse and inclusive teams are simply better teams. We know that from science, not just anecdotes, and we want this to be that kind of place. We want our teams to be like this. We want an environment where everyone gives their all at work. I think you’re going to see it more and more, not just here, but even more widely. It’s important, because I think it’s a secret sauce in how we develop products, because remember, the millions of customers we have, they’re also diverse. So no matter who you are, our employees should reflect the people we serve so that we can make better products and better understand our customers. And that, I think, is extremely exciting for me about what I think the future of banking holds.
Laurel: Excellent. Thank you Gill, for joining us today on the Business Lab.
Gill: With pleasure, thank you for inviting me.
Laurel: It was Gill Haus, who is a CIO responsible for consumer and community banking at JPMorgan Chase, whom I spoke to from Cambridge, Massachusetts, home of MIT and the MIT Technology Review, overlooking the Charles River.
That’s all for that episode of Business Lab. I’m your host Laurel Ruma. I’m the director of Insights, the custom publishing division of MIT Technology Review. We were founded in 1899 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and you can find us in print, on the web, and at events each year around the world. For more information about us and the show, please visit our website at technologyreview.com.
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