James Bergin is not your typical banker. And yet he is not your typical geek either. Nestled halfway between a pin-stripe suited executive, and a hoody-toting Zuckerberg techie, his pockets seem to be filled with gadgets that constantly beep and buzz during our chat.
As Chief Architect of ASB’s Technology and Innovation division, he has the unenviable responsibility of creating a vision of something that doesn’t yet exist in a rapidly changing technology universe. Yet at the same time, his primary focus is to improve the financial well-being of our customers through the use of technology.
“Banking stopped being about cash a long time ago,” he says earnestly. “Now it’s about customers and technology. Money is ones and zeros.”
Watching too much Netflix has spawned the perception that working in tech means getting knee deep in a start-up and eating massive quantities of pizza. Corporates have largely been side-lined by this Silicon Valley image, however James says that peeling back the layers reveals a different story.
“Technology has driven an incredible amount of change into industries like banking – it has forced us to constantly reinvent ourselves, and in doing that we have adopted a start-up mentality. Agile software development is now commonplace in our technology projects where scrum masters run tightly focused delivery streams with their teams. Releases are shipping out the door to external and internal audiences on an almost daily basis, and our Albany technology campus hums with as much excitement as any San Francisco start-up.”
Banking and tech workers
ASB is currently bolstering its tech army to support the shift in the innovation and digital landscapes. So what kind of people does ASB look for when recruiting new tech team members? Communication skills rank highly according to James. “We’re looking for exceptional communicators who are quick learners and can embrace ambiguity. Interpersonal skills are hugely important when it comes to tech – just because you spend a lot of time at a device or screen doesn’t remove the requirement to succinctly communicate with others in the business.”