Grab is ramping up its hiring for its Singapore digital bank, poaching several people from brick-and-mortar competitors to fill senior roles over the past few months. The digital bank, which is a collaboration with Singtel and is set to launch next year, has a particular liking for tech professionals from Standard Chartered.
Gregory Sim has joined the digibank, as it is called internally, as chief information security officer. He previously spent more than six years at Stan Chart as head of cyber partnership and government engagement for Asia Pacific. Industry veteran Sim has also held security leadership roles with SGX, CLSA and Citi.
Aniket Gadre, Grab digibank’s engineering lead for quality assurance (QA), also hails from Stan Chart in Singapore, where he worked for two and a half years as QA development lead for open banking. Tonia Chen was at SCB between April 2018 and February this year, latterly as a UI/UX lead. She’s now a lead product designer at the digibank. Arun Manivannan came on board in February as head of data engineering. He joined from software consultancy ThoughtWorks and was at Stan Chart prior to that as a senior big data architect, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Grab digibank has also been hiring from traditional banks for non-tech roles. Earlier this month, Greg Cher joined has head of savings. He’d been with OCBC for nearly eight years, most recently as head of deposits.
The online-only bank, one of four to be granted licenses to operate in Singapore, said in December that it is taking on 200 people by the end of 2021. Last year, it named Charles Wong, Citibank’s Singapore retail head, as CEO. It also hired Jon Woods from US online bank Varo Bank as head of product.
While several senior appointments have been made, many of these 200 positions are yet to be filled. Grab has 78 Singapore-based vacancies for the virtual bank, according to its careers website. In technology, these include jobs for data scientists, mobile software engineers, and product designers.
In December, Grab touted long-term career development as its main calling card for attracting tech talent amid chronic skill shortages in Singapore. Grab employees have “opportunities to develop a broader and more complex set of capabilities through in-role expansion, beyond-role exposure, leadership engagement and mentorship, and formal training and development,” a spokesperson told us at the time. Grab did not comment on its more recent hiring from the banking sector.
Recruiters say people from mainstream banks are attracted to the Grab digibank because it offers the opportunity to work in fintech without the risks of joining a small startup. “It’s fintech, but with some job stability,” says one tech recruiter.
A senior technologist at a US bank told us in March that he had recently lost a strong team member to Grab. “I personally think it was a good career move for him because Grab is a local company and has much more interesting projects on offer than most foreign banks here do. We usually keep these roles overseas,” he said.
Grab, which is preparing for an upcoming listing on the Nasdaq via a record $40bn SPAC deal, is generally able to offer pay rises of about 10% to 20% when it hires from banks, say recruiters.
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