DBS turns tables on Google, poaches new MD from tech firm's HQ

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DBS has turned the tables on Google by hiring its latest managing director straight out of the tech giant’s headquarters in Mountain View, California.

Charlie Cheng joined DBS in Singapore earlier this month as an MD specialising in fintech, cloud engineering and operations, according to his online profile. He spent more than six years at Google, latterly as a director in cloud infrastructure site reliability engineering for Google Compute Engine, a platform that enables users to launch virtual machines on demand.

Cheng’s move runs counter to recent trends. DBS and other banks in Singapore have lost several senior cloud professionals to Google of late. As we reported at the time, DBS’s APAC head of cloud engineering, Carl Bachman Kharazmi, left for Google in late 2017. And last year Google in Singapore hired Guillaume Van de Vyver from Standard Chartered in an APAC cloud strategy role, and took on Keshi Tan from JP Morgan as a strategic cloud engineer.

Although tech-firm-to-banking recruitment is still relatively rare in Singapore (many developers prefer the relaxed office culture and agile working practices of pure-play tech companies), Cheng’s appointment is proof that these hires do sometimes take place, at least at DBS. Singapore’s largest local bank also recently recruited Yuliya Seregina from SAP as head of conversational AI.

DBS – which, perhaps a little optimistically, now calls itself a ‘23,000-person startup’ – will be hoping that snaring Cheng will help it attract other cloud developers from the likes of Google as it continues to hire for cloud roles and for technology jobs more broadly.

DBS opened a new cloud data centre in November 2017 and now runs about half of its computing workload on the public cloud. Its payment app, PayLah, is cloud-hosted as is its mobile-only Digibank. The cloud is also powering DBS’s back office – it uses AWS’s compute-as-a-service offering, for example. DBS is now prioritising two broad service categories for cloud migration: mobile applications and applications that deal with data and analytics, David Gledhill, the firm’s chief information officer, told CIO Asia.

As we noted late last year, almost 40% of DBS’s vacancies are in tech, the highest percentage of any domestic bank.

New DBS recruit Cheng began his career in 2004 and initially worked for telecoms companies in North America, including Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T. He joined Microsoft in 2010 as a senior project manager, before moving to Google in 2012.

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Image credit: SpVVK, Getty

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