DBS's hottest new MD has never worked in banking before

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DBS has poached a senior technologist from embattled Chinese tech company Huawei to help lead one of its most important technology teams.

Trevor Cheung joined DBS earlier this month as managing director, ecosystems, group technology and operations, according to his online profile. His move comes as banks in Singapore start to ramp up their recruitment of people with expertise in ecosystems, the platforms that banks are increasingly using to build partnerships with fintech startups.

Cheung was previously VP of ecosystem management, global technical service, in the Shenzhen headquarters of Huawei, the Chinese telecoms giant that is currently the subject of a US government clampdown on its services. His move is not thought to be related to the plight of his former firm.

Banks in Singapore are increasingly open to hiring ecosystems professionals like Cheung from large tech firms rather than financial institutions. Keisuke Fujimoto, who joined OCBC in February as head of ecosystems, was previously head of partnerships for Asia at Expedia, for example. 

Cheung’s new team appears to be expanding – DBS currently has nine vacancies with ecosystems in the job title. Most of these demand knowledge of APIs (application programming interfaces), the systems that allow banks’ applications to communicate with those at fintechs, giving them access to customer accounts, payments and other data, and making banks less reliant on their own siloed digital channels.

Ecosystems professionals like Cheung must possess relationship building skills as well as technical knowledge. A current VP-level API policy and governance (innovation and ecosystems) job at DBS demands the “ability to engage different audiences” and “convey complex information in an accessible way”.

At senior manager level in ecosystems at DBS, you’ll get involved with vetting and selecting startups, designing onboarding systems, and coordinating proof of concepts.

New DBS recruit Cheung worked for Motorola between 1996 and 2011, latterly as a director of service strategy and product management. He joined Huawei in 2011 and held four senior roles at the tech firm, including vice president of strategy and architecture for global technical services.

Cheung is not the only person to have recently left Huawei, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer, for a bank in Asia. Last July, Tobias Gondrom, Huawei’s chief technology officer for security joined UOB as chief information security officer. In April, telecoms banker Robert Wallin moved to Natixis, following a stint of almost eight years in the financing solutions department at Huawei. 

Image credit: RomanBabakin, Getty

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