For companies to stay relevant to customers and employees, the coronavirus crisis may prove to be the watershed moment of the 21st century.
While pre-pandemic, financial institutions were already part of the steady shift to digitalise their products and services; during and post-pandemic, that transition at marathon pace has become a sprint.
Naturally, that means attracting the right IT talent and it’s here the financial services industry faces intense competition. Whether it’s manufacturing, food supply, retail or healthcare, hiring managers, in their digital transition, are all trawling from the same talent pool. Amidst this competition, and at a time when millennials and experienced IT talent are being lured by tech startups and tech unicorns, long-standing financial institutions are developing enticing offerings.
One financial institution that recognises the need to reposition their systems and company culture, so to remain relevant and attract the best technologists, is the bank and financial services stalwart, State Street.
“To stay competitive, we must provide the latest technology to be able to offer relevant solutions to the client. Clients are looking for advanced technologies that enables them to do business easier with their bank,” says Dagmara Bocoń, Managing Director at Global Technology Services and IT Site Lead in Poland.
“To attract people from the market, the challenge for IT departments is to change the perception that financial institutions are using legacy technologies. Technologists in Poland are still not yet fully aware of the emerging technologies being used at financial institutions such as at State Street”.
Under Dagmara’s leadership, the IT department in Poland has grown by 50 percent in the last year. The team is now 150-employees strong with plans in place for additional headcount in 2021. It’s a diverse department with subdivisions that include infrastructure services, application development and software engineering, robotics and digital transformation, production support, technology risk and corporate information security.
In addition to opportunities to develop their digital skills, competitive compensation and benefits, State Street has built a company culture that allows employees a more in-depth understanding of the business behind their role.
Dagmara moved from HSBC to State Street a year ago and one of her key initiatives is to help to position State Street as IT employer, help to drive IT location strategy for Poland as well as look for opportunities to improve collaboration with business located out of Poland.
“State Street allowed me to work more closely with the business and understand even better how financial organisations operate,” she says. “It doesn't feel like a traditional bank. I’ve gained new skills and a better understanding of the core business.”
Another part of her role is to lead the way and act as a mentor for internal and external potential diverse IT talent. “As a person who originally doesn’t have an IT degree, I know you can succeed in this field regardless of background. We continuously present internal mobility options to employees considering moving to tech world as well as work with various external non-profit organizations that support career change and upskilling, for example for mothers returning to work.”
Banking on Europe
Dagmara notes that along with Poland, State Street’s offices across Europe were proud to celebrate the bank's 50th year anniversary in Europe. In 1970 the company opened its first international office in Munich, selected for its proximity to all major cities in Central Europe, and now an important neighbour to the growing branches in Poland. State Street in Europe offers services that span the investment spectrum, including investment servicing, investment research and trading, and investment management; all representing a significant portion of the company’s revenue.
As Dagmara’s role exemplifies, State Street has grown as a global company with a deep commitment to individual markets, clients and communities. In Poland, there are now multiple offices across Kraków- and an office in the Baltic port of Gdańsk, for over 6000 employees.
State Street’s Polish branches are multinational, attracting English-speaking tech professionals from numerous countries including the UK, USA, Ukraine, India. Within the IT division, 15 percent of hires are international — indicative of the bank’s commitment to hiring the best talent available to push the technology-first initiative.
Poland is reputed to be crisis-proof. The country proved to be resilient during the global financial crisis of 2008 and during the Covid pandemic its GDP shrunk by just 4.3 percent in 2020 - the smallest expected drop in among EY countries, according to Bloomberg making it one of the countries least affected by the pandemic crisis in the European Union. According to the World Bank, growth in Poland is expected to reach 3.5 percent in 2021. This is particularly fitting to the IT industry which has been continually growing at an average of 3.3 percent each year and was expected to reach 3.5 percent in 2021.
The coronavirus crisis catapulted State Street teams into an efficient system of communication when working from home. “You don’t want employees to feel disconnected from the organisation when they do not come to the office regularly and we ensured everyone still feels the integral part of the company. We emphasised to our managers and leaders how important it is to stay connected with our staff to be able to maintain high level of integrity between employees and company in those unique times,” says Dagmara. “State Street encouraged good communication between managers and employees, provided tools required to work from home and as a result, ninety percent of our organisation is now working from home as effectively as from the office.”
As a catalyst for change the Covid pandemic has permanently transformed the engineering and development of banking products and services and how technology professionals work. With long-standing State Street still at the helm, the most resilient, innovative and adaptable will not only weather the storm but continue to attract the best IT hires for the future of financial services.