Bringing clients along on our innovation journey
Nomura Securities is a leading financial services company in Japan which provides a wide variety of services, such as investment banking and asset management. We interviewed its development lead Mr. Sng Chin Guan.
Background and what attracted you to join Nomura Securities
I joined a multinational investment bank’s Singapore office after university and worked as a software developer for 7 years before joining Nomura Securities. My first manager at my previous company moved to Nomura Securities. One day he called me and asked if I wanted to join Nomura. I applied for the company because I learned a lot from him when we were working together. Additionally Nomura Securities had a good image not only in Japan but also overseas. I was comfortable after learning about the company's working environment from Nomura employees, senior managers and HR during the interview. Thus, I decided to join the Tokyo office as an associate engineer 4 years ago.
Your role in Nomura
Currently as a full-stack development lead, I manage two different agile teams in two entities: Nomura Securities and Nomura Asset Management. We develop across the entire software tack such as in databases, ETLs/ELTs, api services, UI, reporting. In general, we work on projects on a wide variety of technologies, such as C#, WebApi, Angular, Python, Java, SQL etc.
As part of agile development, we have daily scrums. Instead of having a traditional software development life cycle in which a big bang approach is taken, we release small increments of software on a regular basis, once a month or more frequently.
This provides a continuous feedback cycle in which we can fulfill client’s wishes quickly while also having clients to give us feedback in a timely manner so that we can improve our software features based on what they need. To be able to support frequent releases we leverage on DevOps tools like Jenkins, GitLab, Ansible, Docker etc.. to ensure every part of the deployment such as building, testing, packaging, deployment is fully automated.
Some of the examples of the recent projects include the in-house finance system that manages budget, forecast and actual results in order for the finance department to properly control the company’s budget and the software that helps fund managers make investment strategies to structure efficient product portfolios.
As Henry Ford famously said in the 1900s, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses. ”Instead of just giving what the client wants at face value, I always try to understand the original intent of client’s request, so as to provide a holistic solution.
Nomura’s management team is open to new ideas and changing the current processes to provide better solutions for clients. Innovation is strongly encouraged here, and we are seeing more and more of new ideas raised and putting those ideas into use, even though Nomura is a big company.
For example just 3 months ago, Nomura had a 24 hour hackathon across Asia & Japan whereby more than 25 teams and over 150 colleagues joined, supported by Gitlab & Amazon AWS. I was excited to be able get into the finals and to win 2 prizes.
Nomura as an organization
It greatly depends on the department but agile teams are typically 4-9 people but there could be many people in the department. Some departments in Nomura are quite international. We have engineers from different countries working in Japan. There are also engineers we work with in major offices around the world such as in New York, London, India, Shanghai, Singapore etc..
While there might be a perception that Nomura relies on vendors, we are committed to in-house development. Owning our technology has allowed us to customize it to serve our customer’s needs and provide us with a competitive advantage. This year we have an expansion plan of setting up Japan Business Services Engineer Team which will also comprise of 100% in-house development.
Generally all development workstations are equipped with 2-3 wide screens and we have a corporate laptop & dock that can connect to multiple screens even when we work from home. This has helped with my productivity greatly.
Why you like working in Nomura
The company supports employees to acquire new knowledge, skills and cares about its employees’ career. Thus we are able to have long term strategies. Managers also support their team members to spend minimum 10 hours a month for your learning and upskilling.
We have a global event called “Tech Talk” where IT employees get together online to introduce the projects and new technologies. This is one of the great opportunities to know our colleagues and what’s going on in Nomura IT globally.
Besides, employees comes from diverse cultures and our work style is flexible. Even before the pandemic, there are policies for work from home. Outside work, employees can also join optional non-work activities, such as volunteering, diversity programs, life & family networks, hobbies, tech fairs.
For example, Nomura will be supporting my volunteering efforts at the Tokyo Olympics as a translation team lead to help athletes with English, Chinese & Japanese.
Advice for people considering to join Nomura
You do not need to be the most intelligent or innovative person, but you need to be open to new ideas and eager to learn new skills. Also you need to be a good team player as we work as a team.
Many people think interviews are a one way process. However, you should take advantage of the opportunity to know about the managers and teams. It's not just about how big or which industry the company is, but it’s about the people & culture. Changing a job is a very important step in your life, so please choose wisely.