Fidelity Investments’ Vivek Shah discusses the defining moments of his career journey and the skills he believes to be vital in technology management.
Vivek Shah is vice-president of technology management at Fidelity Investments. According to Shah, there are two defining moments in his life that influenced his career journey. The first was his earliest interaction with computers when he was around the age of eight or nine, when computer science was introduced as a subject at his school.
“Most of our time on this subject was spent playing computer games which was fascinating enough, however, the real game changer was seeing my very first computer program run successfully. It was like magic.”
The second defining moment occurred a few years later during the height of the Y2K scare, which happened in the same year that Shah had to make a career choice for his higher studies. According to Shah, this was a pivotal moment and “there has been no looking back since then”.
‘There are many things I enjoy about my job. One thing I enjoy the most is diversity, in terms of people, opinions, processes, problems, challenges and opportunities’
What education and/or other jobs led you to the role you now have?
Fortunately, computers were introduced to us in primary school at a young age and most of my interest in this field developed in those initial years. Following which I naturally gravitated towards picking computer science in my junior college (senior cycle equivalent) and then computer engineering in my undergraduate degree.
On completion of engineering, I started working for a software services company in Mumbai and then moved to Boston, creating software for Fidelity Investments. My efforts were acknowledged, and Fidelity offered me a couple of roles, one in Boston and the other in Dublin. I picked Dublin to explore and gain experience in one more continent. Since then, Fidelity has provided me with numerous opportunities and challenges which have helped me grow in my career.
What were the biggest surprises or challenges you encountered on your career path and how did you deal with them?
Sometimes, work can provide challenges. The one that I worked on the most was the switch from an individual contributor role to a manager role. Until then, what had given me success in the past was my ability as an individual contributor and it was difficult for me to take a step back and allow my team to deal with some of these challenges. It took some introspection, coaching and mentorship for me to understand my new role in assisting with my teams’ challenges.
Was there any one person who was particularly influential as your career developed?
Rather than one person, there have been many. Throughout my career I have been fortunate to work with some amazingly talented people and each one of them has influenced me in a certain way.
What do you enjoy about your job?
There are many things I enjoy about my job. One thing I enjoy the most is diversity, in terms of people, opinions, processes, problems, challenges and opportunities. This amount of diversity along with the fast-moving nature of technology and the financial industry creates a unique, continuous-learning experience which I enjoy and thrive on.
What aspects of your personality do you feel make you suited to this job?
With numerous challenges and an ever-changing environment, I have learned to be very resilient. I believe resiliency is the most important aspect for such a job. There are many more aspects including the ability to switch context quickly, sympathising with others, having a heightened sense of accountability, being driven to excel, open to learning new things and good problem-solving skills to name a few that helped me in this job.
What advice would you give to those considering a career in this area, or just starting out in one?
Keep an open mind and be flexible. This is a vast field, so be open to learning and make the best use of available learning opportunities. Hone your people and communication skills because throughout your career you will be working closely with people who have varied levels of technical knowledge.
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