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Inside Look: Neha Gargi, JPMorgan Chase Head of Global Technology Strategy
Global tech lead talks strategy, inclusion and career journey
Head of Strategy for Global Technology
Can you describe your role and what it entails?
The best way to think about my role as head of Strategy for Global Technology is to think about where we want our technology to be three to five years from now. My team and I have to ask: What’s happening in the market? What’s our current state? Where is the technology? And what does all of this mean for the firm? We try to only think as far out as three to five years because the world of technology changes so rapidly and our strategy must always be evolving to keep pace with it.
You joined JPMorgan Chase from another firm, where you were also focused on corporate growth and transformation and became the first female partner in their healthcare digital service line. What made you decide to come to JPMorgan Chase?
There was not necessarily a clear reason for me to step away from what I was doing at that firm. I was doing it well, and I loved the people, but I found the purpose of transformation at JPMorgan Chase more exciting. I realized I could bring valuable experience and knowledge and apply it to a very exciting environment. Given the people and the work to be done, I wanted to be part of the story!
How does our technology strategy align with the firm’s strategic framework and initiatives?
As head of Global Technology Strategy, I am also part of the Firmwide Strategy team, which helps me stay informed about the firm’s priorities and business initiatives. I’m constantly exchanging thoughts about trends in the market, and what’s on the mind of our tech leaders. We have a really good balance of going deep on the tech side and connecting with the business strategy.
Where would you say Global Technology is in the journey to modernization?
Modernization never ends—not in tech, anyway. The pace is too fast. In an organization like Global Technology, where you’re building software for our businesses, your constant focus has to be innovation as our businesses grow. Our teams have to get more surgical, more intentional and just keep driving. I’m proud to say we’re not losing focus, and we keep looking for pockets of opportunity.
In some businesses at JPMorgan Chase, tech teams have been focusing on agility. Sometimes this is because circumstances like the pandemic forced the issue and mandated new kinds of partnership. How do you see agility moving the whole firm forward?
Some people ask me, ‘What’s our strength and what’s our challenge?’ Our scale and diversification are a strength. On the flip side, when you’re as big as we are, being agile can be tough. Agility requires a lot of thinking ahead. You’re constantly asking what you need to get accomplished and going backward from there. The best mindset is, ‘Don’t do agile, be agile!’ It’s very important for all of us to combine our planning with our ability to move quickly through iterations of work, not just as technologists, but as business partners. Everybody has a role to play in being agile here.
What are your thoughts on what each of us can do to foster a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace culture?
Somebody once said, ‘It’s one thing to be invited to the party; it’s another thing to be asked to dance.’ So, it’s about inclusion for me and understanding where other people are in their lives and what their perspective is.
We need to lose our tendency to make judgments and seek to understand people and embrace our differences without making assumptions. That’s the foundation of diversity, equity and inclusion. Everyone brings something to the table, and we need to be open to exploring that.
I would also say that personally, I’m curious, nosey, even! I like to learn about people. I think it’s up to all of us to be curious about each other.
Can you share a little bit about your background and career journey? How did you get here?
Growing up in India, there’s rarely a case where you don’t study hard and don’t go to college. As progressive and open as my parents were, getting my education was very important. I got my first job at a technology company, and I’ve been on a never-ending journey of curiosity, learning and getting to know people ever since.
When I arrived in the U.S., I came by myself and landed in Dayton, Ohio. People used to ask my parents how they felt about their only daughter going off to another country all alone. They were fine with it, and of course I was thrilled. It was a lot of fun to discover a new country and culture and establish myself. I went on to pursue my MBA and later took a job at my prior firm. In my 13 years there, I probably solved a problem for every possible industry, and I worked on things as diverse as airport schedules, branding, location strategies and retailing. Now, I’m here!
Finally, what would be your advice to someone starting a technology career or looking to move to technology?
Take a chance! Especially if the idea of taking that chance is making you uncomfortable. Find mentors and sponsors and peers you can talk to — create networks. Follow your interests and use your imagination.
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