Hong Kong-born Sophia Leung has been involved in enterprise-level tech since the era before outsourcing became popular. “I was crimping cables,” she says of her early days in banking I.T. “But I loved making things work.”
The good thing about working for large banks is that, because they used to do everything in-house, it gave technologists a chance to learn on the job and get exposed to all aspects of the business. Technologists, she says, get to design and deploy everything from trading platforms to digital payments to hybrid cloud solutions.
Today she is the point person on tech for Asia Pacific in J.P. Morgan, leading strategy on how to allocate the region’s share of the firm’s $10 billion global technology spend, be it to supporting markets infrastructure, building links to China, or fostering talent.
She oversees the most crucial, and enduring, aspects of information systems: ensuring the bank’s systems are secure and in compliance. The mission is the same as always but the rapid changes in both technology and regulation are constantly quickening the pace.
Leung also helps drive digital transformation in the business. In Asia, J.P. Morgan is a wholesale bank, but the digital demands from retail banking are permeating the corporate side, too, with initiatives ranging from digital personal assistants for salespeople to multilingual tools for wealth managers.
If anything has changed in her role, Leung says, it’s this extension of digital into the front office. “Tech isn’t an overhead tax, or a back-office expense,” she says. “It’s now part of the business strategy.”