Goldman is going head-to-head with Silicon Valley giants for tech talent, says exec

Key Points
  • George Lee, co-chief information officer at Goldman Sachs, said the bank now has 10,000 developers, making up about one-quarter of its employee base.
  • Lee said the bank is competing with Google, Microsoft and Amazon for talent.
  • In September, Marco Argenti, a vice president at Amazon Web Services, joined Goldman as the other co-CIO.
George Lee, Partner, Goldman Sachs
Stephen McCarthy | Sportsfile | Corbis | Getty Images

Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs is increasingly going head-to-head with the biggest tech companies for talent as it rapidly boosts its engineering talent, said George Lee, the bank's co-Chief Investment Officer.

Speaking onstage at Goldman's Technology and Internet Conference in San Francisco on Wednesday, Lee said that the investment bank now has 10,000 developers, making up about one-quarter of its total workforce. They're joining from all over the world, but Lee said that the heftiest competition is coming from the likes of Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Facebook.

"The trend is very much toward technology companies," Lee said, when asked about the source of the bank's engineering staff. "We need to compete at that level."

Technology needs at the bank span from the increased reliance on cloud infrastructure to new products like the Apple Card, the credit card the bank launched with the iPhone maker last year. In hiring top engineers, Lee said the bank has to play into the trends of software, particularly open source, with a more distributed workforce and people working from cities and towns across the globe. Three locations he highlighted are Bengaluru, India; Warsaw, Poland and Dallas.

One challenge for Goldman is that developers have grown accustomed to working on the move from their laptops and communicating with co-workers from the train or local Starbucks. Because of the strict regulatory environment in which Goldman operates, Lee said the firm has to balance those preferences with "being super mindful of our obligation."

Lee, who's been at Goldman for, more than 25 years and gained a big name in Silicon Valley as the head of the firm's tech investment banking division, was named co-CIO in 2018, putting him at the center of the bank's massive software and infrastructure investments. Last year, he was joined by Marco Argenti, who had served as vice president of technology at Amazon Web Services since 2013.

Lee said Argenti has tapped his network for engineering talent, and that the bank is focusing some recruiting efforts at college campuses.

Lee also said concerns surrounding the spread of the coronavirus has forced the firm to put more consideration into how it provisions people in affected areas to work from home. According to Reuters, Goldman canceled its annual partners meeting earlier this month because some employees from Asia weren't able to make it to New York due to travel restrictions surrounding the outbreak, which has killed more than 1,100 people.

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