UOB’s head of business technology services, Yiang Ming Lee, has left the bank to become chief information officer (CIO) for Malaysia Airports, the country’s airports operator. His move is part of an ongoing flow of technologists from Singapore-based banks to the corporate sector.
Lee, who now looks after the tech requirements for the 39 airports managed by his new company, joined UOB in April 2016 and was a leading figure in its technology team in Singapore. He oversaw the project management function across both retail and wholesale banking, had an annual capital expenditure budget of about S$200m, and completed more than 90 projects a year, according to his online profile.
While at UOB, Lee also established a testing centre of excellence function, overhauled software development life cycle (SDLC) processes, and implemented a digital bank prototype in Vietnam. His departure will be felt at UOB as the firm continues to revamp its tech, including the roll-out of TMRW, a new digital bank for mobile customers.
Veteran banking technologist Lee worked for Maybank between 2010 and 2014, latterly as CIO. Prior to that he spent more than seven years at Standard Chartered’s back-office unit Scope, most recently as head of technical services.
Lee is not the only senior person to have left UOB for a non-banking job of late. As we reported last month, Chun Han Quah has joined GrabPay as head of regional schemes and financial institution partnerships. Rival Singaporean banks OCBC and DBS have also lost technologists and business developers to the corporate sector, in particular tech firms.
UOB has made some major recent hires in tech, however. As we noted last month, Kristina Curtis, the former chief digital officer of BT Financial Group, moved to UOB as regional head of engagement for group digital.
The bank has also been taking on more rank-and-file technologists. UOB added 1,016 people to its payroll in 2018, many of them in tech and digital jobs. A 7% year-on-year rise in total costs last year was partly driven by IT-related expenses, reflecting UOB’s “commitment towards investing in talent and technology”, according to its 2018 financial results.
UOB’s new digital bank is now adding 60 new staff in roles such as UX/UI, behavioural science and data analytics, Dennis Khoo, head of digital banking at UOB, told us earlier this year. And while UOB may have lost people to the corporate sector, it also wants to poach from outside of banking. “I look at your skills more than what industry you’re from. While I might hire a business analyst from a bank, a data scientist could come from another sector,” says Khoo.
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