Martin Chavez served in more than one major role during his Goldman Sachs career, including chief financial officer and chief information officer, and those experiences were prime opportunities for the self-described “quant” to learn a valuable lesson about the future of work and technology.
Wall Street will not be run by computer code alone, he says, but the rise of algorithms in financial services is a lesson in why most workers will need to become familiar with computer code if they want to be valuable to their organizations.
“Not everyone needs to be a coder,” Chavez said. “The idea of coding is valuable and wonderful, but the idea everyone should learn to code? … I don’t know, but everyone does need to have an algorithmic data, problem-solving mindset. That is a baseline skill for every professional in the workplace, no matter what the role is,” the former Goldman Sachs top executive said at a recent CNBC @Work virtual event.
The history of Wall Street compliance departments was one of the early examples from which Chavez learned about the merging of the traditional white-collar professional and techie. Once compliance was run by staffers with all legal and regulatory backgrounds, but as algorithms and trading algos, specifically, became part of what Wall Street firms relied on, Goldman discovered that it needed professionals who could assess whether code was in compliance with laws and regulations.
The bank built a compliance organization at the intersection of computer science and law.
“When people would ask me what to study, I would say a winning combination is comp sci and a law degree, and you will be busy for a long time,” Chavez said.
A trader has lunch in front of computers screens.
Eric Piermont | AFP | Getty Images
Eventually it spread beyond compliance at