Grab just hired a man that banks in Singapore would love to get their hands on

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Grab just hired a man that banks in Singapore would love to get their hands on

Grab has taken on a senior data scientist in a finance-focused role just as banks in Singapore are trying – but struggling – to ramp up their data recruitment. Rajesh Kavadiki has moved to the Singapore-based tech unicorn from Indian telcom company Subex, where he worked for two years as director of advanced analytics.

Grab is growing beyond its ride-hailing roots and its Grab Financial unit now offers payments, lending and insurance services. Its recent expansion into finance (mobile wallet GrabPay, for example, was only launched in November 2017) means Grab now needs more data specialists like Kavadiki. It currently has 18 Singapore-based data science vacancies on its careers website

Other tech firms in Singapore are also hiring data scientists in large numbers, say recruiters. “Data-centric tech giants like Alibaba, Google and Amazon can use data to build personalised portfolios and advise customers on financial management solutions,” says Ashwin Dinesh, a senior technology manager at recruiters Randstad in Singapore.

This is not great timing for banks in Singapore, which have also earmarked data science as a function for growth this year and would rather not be up against tech firms in a talent-short job market. Standard Chartered alone has 33 vacancies in Singapore and Hong Kong requiring data skills. Our previous analysis of DBS’s online jobs found that 42% of its total tech openings demanded big data expertise. 

Banks in Hong Kong and Singapore are now struggling to find enough data scientists to fill their vacancies. The surge in demand for these professionals is a more recent phenomenon in Asia than it is in the West and the local talent pool is small, say recruiters. And it isn’t easy for banks to compete with the likes of Grab. “When presented with job opportunities in a bank or a tech firm, tech people will almost always choose the latter,” says Dinesh.

Kavadiki started his career in 2007 as a technology consultant at Hewlett-Packard before moving to PwC three years later in a software engineering role. Prior to joining Subex in 2016, Kavadiki was a senior manager, analytics research and innovation labs, at Tata Consultancy Services.

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Image credit: afif c. kusuma, Getty

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