Zoe Evans

Head of Investment Bank and UK Technology, UBS

For Zoë Evans, a 15-year veteran of UBS, the biggest challenge faced by large banks — and the finance industry more broadly — is transforming to become “truly digital.”

“To do this, we had to change the way we work,” she says of UBS’ investment bank. “Traditionally, communication between technology and the business has been fragmented.

To remedy that, Ireland-born Evans has led initiatives to implement cloud technology across the business and introduce a new “hybrid pod” system of work. The pods consist of self-organizing, cross-competency teams of six to nine people with different competencies, formed around common goals. They were designed to enhance collaboration and shared ownership.

“Our hybrid pods have proven during the recent pandemic that the model is working well,” she says. “New hybrid pods were formed to build solutions for traders to work from home, delivering a solution within days.”

But to implement the new system, UBS had to move away from traditional methods of structuring and funding teams, many of which have been in place for decades. The transformation has affected 6,000 people globally, and, Evans says, “Not everyone is open to change.”

Evans also leads efforts to migrate apps to the cloud. To do this she restructured the firm’s cloud program with an investment bank-specific engineering team partnering directly with the applications teams, and an infrastructure optimisation team working to drive down infrastructure costs.

Both endeavors will play a role in transforming day-to-day life at the Swiss firm.

“We need to accept that the future will not be a linear continuation, and we need to explore alternative futures to test our strategy and challenge ourselves,” Evans says.