What JPMorgan Chase does to develop female tech leaders

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JPMorgan Chase may have found part of the solution to the tech talent crunch — and a way to diversify its workforce in the process.

In a sector where banks compete with big-name tech companies and brash startups for the best employees, Lori Beer, the company’s global chief information officer, has championed a program called Tech Connect to seek talent from untapped pools. So far, 200 people have graduated from Tech Connect and the majority are women, according to Beer.

“Tech Connect has brought in some great women technologists who might have otherwise embarked on a completely different career path,” she said.

Tech Connect is a training program for aspiring software engineers who do not have computer science or computer engineering backgrounds. In other words, it teaches non-techies to become techies.

After six weeks of immersion in the Java programming language through Tech Connect, graduates move on to JPMorgan Chase’s own software engineering program. Here they learn about the banking business and more about development methods, and quickly start working on software projects. Assignments run the gamut — design, analytics, coding and testing.

Extra effort to recruit top female technologists is necessary, in part because there are so few of them. According to the National Center for Women and Information Technology, 26% of professional computing jobs in the U.S. workforce were held by women in 2017 — including 5% by Asian women, 3% by African-American women, and 1% by Hispanic women. And those numbers don’t seem poised to start going up, considering that women earn only 12% of computer science degrees, according to Girls Who Code.

Last year, 17% of Fortune 500 chief information officers were women. That includes Beer, who has been global CIO at JPMorgan Chase since September 2017. She oversees an operation that has 50,000 technologists and a budget of $10.8 billion.

Though she declined to share how many women are in her group, 49% of JPMorgan Chase employees overall are women, including 17% of those at the senior level.

Beer said recruiting and nurturing diverse female tech talent is a priority for her, and the company has several programs in place to support that goal.

Another initiative, the Technology Executive Leaders Program, was created in 2013. It’s a course held on-site that’s intended to help female tech employees become “exceptional leaders."

Tiffany Polk, who is now managing director in global technology, is among those who have benefited. She and about 25 other women in the global tech division went through this program, which they refer to as TELP, for six months in New York.

They honed their public speaking skills through improv class, and colleagues critiqued their presentations, which were typically videotaped. The program also gave Polk and her classmates more exposure to senior executives, who would brief them on the company’s strategy in areas like finance and real estate.

One of the TELP sponsors was Saul Van Beurden, the CIO for consumer community banking. “Saul became an excellent advocate and sponsor for me after that; we were able to develop a relationship that probably would not have happened without TELP,” Polk said.

See the other 2018 Top Teams:

Polk credits her ability to advance at JPMorgan Chase to a women’s sponsorship program and TELP.

“A lot of what it takes to get to the managing director level is attributable to the exposure I was able to get through TELP,” she said.

Another program, called Take IT Forward, aims to build a pipeline of women in technology who are ready to advance to bigger positions. It provides career advice, training and networking for junior and mid-level technologists.

Additionally, the company holds a three-day instructor-led training course designed for women at the associate and vice president level.

Though many bankers complain about the difficulty of hiring tech talent (one bank CIO referred to it as “hand-to-hand combat”), Beer does not.

“We’re pretty successful bringing in top tech talent,” she said. “But as technology continues to evolve at a faster pace every day, there’s more competition for the best talent.”

Headquarters: New York

Assets at June 30: $2.2 trillion
Return on equity: 12.68%
Return on assets: 1.25%

Female representation among corporate officers: 36%
Female representation on operating committee: 50%

The team: Anu Aiyengar, Lori Beer, Joyce Chang, Kelly Coffey, Thasunda Duckett, Mary Callahan Erdoes, Stacey Friedman, Teresea Heitsenrether, Kelli Keough, Marianne Lake, Kristin Lemkau, Robin Leopold, Emma Loftus, Sandie O'Connor, Jennifer Piepszak

JPMorgan Chase also had a Top Team win in 2016.

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