David Kim joined Macquarie in 2019 with over two decades’ experience in financial services technology. Now, he partners with his colleagues in Macquarie Asset Management to inform, inspire and enable our business via the power of technology and data-led insights.
As a senior technologist and Division Director based in Macquarie’s Philadelphia office, David Kim has the enviable privilege of overlooking Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell as he goes about his day.
As a key partner in delivering the future of Macquarie Asset Management, David’s remit goes significantly beyond simply providing technology infrastructure. His team works together to problem solve across a range of different roles which include workshopping, consulting, identifying efficiencies in processes and communications, boosting high-value impact and simplifying processes/information exchanges.
“One of our essential roles is to provide the information and tools needed to enable our business to create insights that support a better outcome. We guide our stakeholders on how technology can create value, looking at digital transformation rather than electronification of existing or legacy ways of delivering on the demands of the day," David says.
David believes that technologists are the most successful when they try to truly understand the business they work with and anticipate their needs.
“The more we know about the businesses we are partnering with, the easier it is to have a meaningful dialogue with them. That’s how the transformational partnership begins. Sharing the pain point, ideating on how we might better deliver on the area and then leveraging our engineering skills and understanding of existing or nascent technology options to help solve for it,” he explains.
David’s career in financial services technology has spanned over 20 years, and both the sector and his role within it have changed dramatically over that time.
“I graduated with a Computer Science degree from Columbia University and, by virtue of wanting to stay in New York, most of the jobs I interviewed for were for financial services companies,” he says.
I loved programming, but I was also driven to engage with people. I discovered that working in financial services technology meant I was able to sit alongside my business partners and see first-hand how we could collaborate to create better outcomes for all."
David worked for several big-name organisations and ended up at a US bank where he spent 19 years growing his career. He says he was happy and not actively looking for a different role when he learned about the opportunity with Macquarie in 2019.
“Every year, I try to do something that takes me out of my comfort zone. It helps me identify what I didn’t know I didn’t know. This approach typically opens a door to a path that helps me continue to grow professionally and ensures I don’t miss out on opportunities that might otherwise have been discounted with a more overtly selected or targeted ‘next steps’ on the career path,” David says. “Some examples include, enrolling at NYU to learn Data Science or attending conferences outside my area to expand my network.”
"The opportunity with Macquarie would be another professional challenge to explore,” he says. “After not interviewing for 19 years, it was an opportunity to figure out what my story was and what drives me. To double down on those things that I am good at as well as passionate about, rather than just the broader range of ‘things I am good at’!”
His interest was subsequently piqued, and so he decided his next challenge would be to join Macquarie as the Global Head of Macquarie Asset Management’s Investment, Trading & Risk Technology.
“The people I interviewed with were very talented and asked thought-provoking questions,” he explains. “One of the common themes that my interviewers impressed on me was that ideas were developed from the bottom up, and I wanted to explore how entrepreneurial Macquarie really was.”
“We also discussed new ideas through the interview process that I actually got to work on just six months in,” David says. “Macquarie makes it easy to get things done.”
Philadelphia is the global headquarters for Macquarie Asset Management’s Public Investments business. During the pandemic, the business moved to a bespoke new office that has been designed with the latest technology and with its employees at the heart of every design choice. David describes it as the best office he’s ever worked in.
“It’s a fully open plan environment and I love it, because it was designed with a focus on how people could use the space and how it can promote collaboration,” he says.
During his first year with Macquarie, he decided to live in Philadelphia and forge new connections but post-pandemic he’s been commuting from his home in New York City which he shares with his wife, a Broadway violinist and two children.
“With Macquarie embracing hybrid working, I go into a Macquarie office at least three days a week - it could be Philly or Manhattan,” David explains.
“Both offices have open floor plans, so it is really easy to collaborate with my colleagues and business partners. A new Manhattan office at 660 Fifth Avenue is in the works, so I’m excited to be able to work in a collaborative, sustainable and technology-led office regardless of which city I’m in.”
David’s team is also empowering Macquarie Asset Management’s asset managers to derive data-driven outcomes.
Macquarie is increasingly a data-driven culture, and Macquarie Asset Management is no exception."
“These types of changes are not easy. They involve buy-in and training to fully take effect, so a lot of the shift is around training and upskilling the whole organisation.”
One of the current initiatives being worked on by his team is an analytical data platform, which facilitates the ability to ingest, cleanse and analyse external data. This then enables the ability to create rich, data-driven insights that empower Macquarie Asset Management colleagues around the globe to make objective decisions and explore innovative opportunities within their own divisions and teams.
“This is absolutely what drives me,” he says. “It’s one of the reasons I came to Macquarie.”
Over his career David has observed the application of technology become ever more nimble, visible, and efficient.
“We’ve already seen financial services embrace the cloud and move to more agile ways of working; Macquarie included."
David believes Macquarie is exceptional at providing its staff with autonomy.
“Macquarie empowers people to learn on their own,” David explains. “My manager gives me the space to give it a go and learn something along the way. Failure is simply an opportunity to learn and figure out a better way to do things.
He sees this extend to Macquarie's collegial, entrepreneurial and disruptive approach to technology, where leaders are likely to say 'yes' and engineers are encouraged to upskill or try new things.
“If you’re looking for a perpetual playbook, Macquarie is not the right place for you,” he says. “There’s no ceiling here.”
David says that before technology or business knowledge, a growth mindset is crucial to success.
“Macquarie has taught me that having a growth mindset and being open to different perspectives is probably the most important skill to have,” David says. "In Technology, where it’s constantly evolving, if you have the right learning orientation and a natural curiosity to learn the ’why’, before getting to the ‘what’ and the ‘how’, you will be successful."