Bank of Singapore’s super hot new hire isn’t even a banker

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Bank of Singapore (BoS) has hired a senior data scientist as recruitment in the function heats up and banks compete with tech firms for talent.

Nikolay Novozhilov has joined BoS as a data scientist in its innovation unit, reporting to Sonjoy Phukan, the firm’s global chief operating officer, says a BoS spokesperson. Novozhilov is an executive director at BoS, and has set himself a goal of “making data great again” in his new role, according to his LinkedIn profile.

As is sometimes the case with data-science hires into banks in Asia, Novozhilov doesn’t have a background in financial services. He previously worked for just over two years as head of digital products at NTUC Link, the labour movement’s consumer loyalty programme. Prior to that, Novozhilov spent about three years as chief data scientist at Wego, a travel search engine.

“Talent shortages this year mean banks’ doors are open to data science experts coming from outside the finance industry,” Janice Sham, a managing consultant at recruiters Ambition, told us earlier this year.

Novozhilov is not the only senior data scientist to have joined a bank’s innovation lab in recent weeks. In August, HSBC hired Shuguo Han from BNY Mellon into its Singapore lab. The surge in demand for people like Han and Novozhilov is a more recent phenomenon in Asia than it is in the West, and the local talent pool is small as a result, say technology recruiters.

Banks such as DBS, Standard Chartered, Citi , UOB and BoS parent company OCBC are leading the hiring of data scientists. “Data scientists are highly sought after as banks harness massive amounts of consumer and internal business data, helping to predict the behaviour of their consumers, partners and investors, and helping to develop new products,” says Paolo Hiceta, manager of technology at recruiters Hudson, adding that Java, Spark, Hadoop, and Python automation and data-unification are among the sought-after skills.

OCBC, for example, is recruiting more data scientists for its artificial intelligence (AI) lab in Singapore. The unit, which launched last March with a team of just three, now employs about 30 data scientists, and OCBC wants its headcount to reach 40 next year, lab head Ken Wong told us in September.

Banks aren’t the only ones hiring data scientists in Singapore. Shopee, the ecommerce platform owned by Singaporean tech giant Sea, announced last month that it is growing its data science team. Meanwhile, Grab currently has six data science jobs on its careers website.

Image credit: AvigatorPhotographer, Getty

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