14_John Toomey

Come Together Now

The creation of a giant financial-services company is one of those strategic bets that looks great on paper–and can fall apart in the details. The creation of J.P. Morgan Chase required the integration of five technology platforms. John Toomey was a key member of the engineering board, whose job was to make sense of the digital chaos. “My role was like that of Mike York of the New York Rangers,” says Toomey. “Play hard with a variety of line mates. Always keep skating fast and shooting at the net.”


John Toomey
Vice president, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.
New York, New York


What needed an overhaul?
JP Morgan Chase merger from a technology perspective has been the merger of 5 bank (Chase, JP Morgan, Flemings, Jardine, and H&Q). Technology groups were scattered, used different approaches, products and service providers. It was like bringing together an All-Star team of players with different skills and learned philosophies of play.) An organization of our scale was not taking advantage of that scale and was overly complex to work with as a customer or vendor and work for as an employee. (Imagine team that employed all philosophies, crash net, free skating, clog defensive zone–all at once.) We needed an agreed upon Technology governance model and forum that would give us a consistent style of play–Engineering Board was key to that effort in area of establishing Product & Service Standards.

What was the single biggest obstacle?
We created the Engineering Board from scratch with key people in heritage technology groups. They brought with them the embedded preferences and biases of their organizations towards the technologies and products they had used individually to be successful. Also a major install base that needed sunset strategies if they were not the selected products, along with organizations who were trained and believed in certain products and vendors. (In essence all brought different skills and styles of play. Bound to happen when you bring together an All-Star tean of #1 draft picks.)

How did you overcome it?
Started with great owner and GM. Tom Ketchem–Vicce Chair started new governance with Technology Council. Rick Mangona became “GM” of the Engineering Board. Together they gathered top technology people to be on the team and laid out a philosophy that team could embed in its style of play. Scale, simplicity, and integration. Start by prioritizing areas you can turnaround quickly and then build on those results. My role was like Mike York of the NY Rangers, play hard with a variety of linemates. In some games you kill penalties and sometimes you’re on powerplay, but you always keep skating fast and shooting at the net. As deputy for the TIB (Technology Infrastructure Board) of the EB, I led change by creation of Technology Selection Process adopted by the firm, leading first TSP efforts and skating fast.

How have you seen results?
Start to the season is always critical, so we were skating fast and hard. We got some early wins which were critical (TSP process broadly accepted, TSP’s completed successfully, businesses started filing exception requests with a business case if they had to use something non-standard, a web-site up in 6 weeks that has gotten great reviews from our internal users, lately the business is referring to us in presentations to clients!) The team believes in the system and the team is being joined daily by people who like the style of play, see its success and want to join up. Like Mike York, my role is to shake up the game when I enter by doing whatever it takes. If we get recognition from our teammates, that’s what means the most.