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UBS CTO: Human touch key to tech world

Teresa Leung, Computerworld Hong Kong | May 16, 2013
Having recently relocated to Hong Kong from NYC, Minerva Tantoco, CTO, Client Facing Technology at UBS, manages the complexity of tech changes while emphasizing the positive social changes tech can bring.

MT: I worked previously in California and Washington DC, which are more relaxed than NYC, where I grew up. But it's my first experience living outside of the US.

Hong Kong and NYC are similar in terms of how people do business and their vibrant, energetic urban lifestylethis makes my transition here much easier. Though I have traveled globally, Hong Kong is my first international assignment. It's a great location that allows me to easily travel to see the rest of Asia and visit my relatives in the Philippines.

Also, I'm excited about being able to participate in an activity that I couldn't do in NYC--dragon boating. I recently joined the UBS dragon boating team, and we will race in Stanley this summer.

CWHK: How do you find being a senior female tech exec in Hong Kong different from that in the US?

MT: I don't want to make generalizations, and I haven't been here long enough. But the number of female tech pros in the US is reportedly going down while I've met more female IT executives in the Hong Kong office. To me, it's encouraging and exciting to meet other female tech pros.

CWHK: How do you find younger tech pros in Hong Kong? How does the local tech talent shortage affect your organization?

MT: Within UBS, people are talented and hardworking. But certainly the demand for young tech talent is greater than the supply. The key is to find the right people and retain them. And you can retain talent by creating a sense of community rather than giving people lots of money.

CWHK: What are the challenges facing you as a CTO?

MT: As a CTO coming from the US, Asia poses a unique challenge for me in a global bank. There are many regulatory and jurisdictional differences which add both complexity and opportunities to innovate and solve problems.

The challenge is to support scalable growth and stability while also developing new capabilities to support competing priorities. The greatest opportunity is to devise a way to meet compliance and security requirements in the face of change. This is also where a tech pro can best apply creativity.

CWHK: How will the CTO role change in the next three to five years?

MT: It has evolved because of the many changes in technology. Now CTOs must help manage complexity, given the growing forces of consumerization, BYOD, mobile, as well as the variety of security risks. For instance, the notion that you can safeguard a parameter by putting a firewall around it is no longer valid--a CTO must realize that systems are porous and the environment today is hostile.


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