A reshuffling at the top of Goldman Sachs Group this year led to Elisha Wiesel's becoming chief information officer in January. Wiesel replaced R. Martin Chavez (No. 6 last year) when he was elevated to chief financial officer. Wiesel is carrying on the firm's long-standing tradition of information technology leadership, now riding on a platform architecture championed by Chavez. "We have always been an early adopter and investor in technology it is part of our culture and a competitive advantage for the firm," says Wiesel, 45, who is the highest-ranking of some 9,000 Goldman engineers, about 25 percent of the firm's total employees. Historically emphasizing software development as a core competency its proprietary SecDB securities database for pricing and risk management is 25 years old and going strong Goldman extends its IT reach and influence through a principal strategic investments group that owns stakes in exchanges, trading technology and data analytics businesses, and fintech start-ups. Wiesel points out that Goldman was one of the first banks to use public cloud systems; it worked with the likes of Amazon Web Services and Google to ensure security and the ability to support big-data requirements.
The bank is currently building on the platform strategy, which Chavez has described as "redesigning the whole company around APIs," application programming interfaces that open up Goldman's software and data to clients. Just as Google is an open platform for searching, Goldman presents itself as a platform for financial risk transfer, no longer requiring a telephone call to conduct business. The platform-API approach gives clients direct access to Goldman-developed tools and analytics. It also enables Goldman to innovate rapidly: It took less than 12 months from project inception to the launch last fall of the Marcus online personal-loan platform. Wiesel joined the firm in 1994 in the commodities division where Chavez had started the year before as a "strat," one of the computer scientists who work in the revenue-producing divisions and report up to the CIO as well as to their division heads.
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