From: Delivery lead, Over-the-Counter Derivatives, London.
Through: Delivery lead, Operations Data Warehouse, Wroclaw and Group Chief Operating Officer IT regional representative.
To: Wealth Management Americas, IT Poland Lead.
Why did you decide to move roles & locations?
Fundamentally: visions of possibilities, with a side order of persuasiveness. My old boss essentially plied me, daily, with ideas about new, exciting opportunities; offered glorious visions of possible new roles, new responsibilities and challenges. When, finally, my willpower began to crumble, he finished the task by sending me to Wroclaw for a weekend in summer 2015. It was 40 degrees Celsius. FORTY DEGREES! Coming back to a rainy and cold London, I was pretty much a broken, defeated man. So I said I would go.
While all of the above is pretty much true, the chance to build a new organization from nothing, mentor young professionals starting their UBS careers and help guide and mold the new structure was, and is, a stunning opportunity. With no real ties in the UK, it became irresistible.
How different do you find the job compared to your previous role?
Initially, chalk and cheese (oil and water). In the UK, I led a very focused, virtually static IT team; a team in which I had grown up from a baby Java developer to being "Dad." I knew everyone and we were very comfortable working together.
In Poland I knew no-one, knew nothing about the projects and nothing about the various functions. We had a new, transitioning structure and, every month, shiny new developers to integrate and help become efficient.
I was responsible for bringing every developer into Wroclaw, aligning them with any of a dozen project teams – each working on apps I had never even heard of – and do all of this in controlled, organic manner.
So, what is your current role?
Today I look after a growing team of over a hundred women and men here in Wroclaw, delivering services and software for Wealth Management Americas (WMA). I’m doing my best to recruit the best people to make the best delivery teams and finally, once here, make them happy and help them deliver. I have a great leadership team to help me, a solid successful foundation to build on, and, apparently, a bunch of people patient and tolerant enough of my crazy ideas and occasional forays around the office with Nerf Guns!
One of the cool things about being in a growing environment is the potential. Sometimes for me, sometimes for others. In this case, it’s both. Last year I moved from IT delivery (aligned to the Investment Bank), to a regional role (aligned with Wealth Management). By doing this, I transitioned my old role to my colleague Krzysztof. This cemented the ownership in Poland and proved, if it were in doubt, that we are a mature location, able to deliver critical business change.
What makes you different from any other fin-tech software group? Better cake? Free pizza? Lots of Nerf Guns?
Well, yes, all of that (pizza with lunch and learns, the Nerf Guns are mine…).
We also have many different projects within “WMA-IT”, giving opportunities for growth and experience. Those project teams are/will be part of a "full-fat" delivery organization. In other words, they’ll be functional teams with front/back end developers, aligned quality assurance and business analysts, in turn supported by architects, DevOps, release teams, delivery managers and project managers. We own the process from requirement gathering, to delivery, to production (and beyond). So, we’re looking for people searching for new challenges, flexible in their working approach and excited about what they do.
What do you like the most about the technology teams in Poland?
Enthusiasm and freshness. The dynamic and vibe here is simply wonderful. The Polish Java development community is rated one of the best in the world. The women and men here are dynamic, challenging, intelligent and scarily talented. Combine all that with a growing, young office, this creates a vibrant energy that is addictive and invigorating.
The optimism of youth and the sheer talent here means these people will try anything and often succeed at tasks thought to be tough/impossible.
“The women and men here are dynamic, challenging, intelligent and scarily talented.”
Technology in financial services is sometimes associated with a few stereotypes, such as the teams being unappreciated. Do you think this is a fair?
When our users, our actual business contacts, work hand-in-hand with the teams, then there is a real camaraderie and positive feeling. It’s a shared journey – successes are appreciated and problems are handled together. Whenever we put something in front of users that makes their life easier, there is always a real sense of satisfaction and appreciation from the business.
(As a note; developers like cookies and cakes – feel free to send your developers food parcels. Courtesy of me!)
What have you learned and what advice would you give to colleagues from your mobility experience?
Don't look: leap.