Madhurima Sahoo, VP and Head of Municipal Short Term and Structured IT at Barclays, has held leadership roles at the investment bank for over ten years. She wanted to further invest in her education and earned the support of her colleagues at Barclays to enroll in Columbia’s Executive M.S. in Technology Management program. She discusses how she was able to immediately apply what she learned in the program to her work, and how impactful it was to have a seasoned financial executive dedicate time as her mentor.
Tell us about your career journey and your current role.
I started my career in technology at Goldman Sachs, followed by stints at Dun & Bradstreet, Citigroup. I then joined Barclays in credit technology and took up lead development roles in a span of 3 years. Following this I came across an exciting leadership opportunity within Barclays to head the global Short Term and Structured IT team. That was a big career step for me, and the municipal space was new, as I had previously been in different FICC domains. I am always on the lookout for new opportunities that are challenging and provide learning opportunities to enhance my career.
What led you to pursue Columbia’s Executive M.S. in Technology Management? How has the program helped you to define your career journey?
My passion for finance and interest in technology were the main reasons I wanted to take up the program. My husband is at Deutsche Bank, where many executives have gone through the Columbia program, and I learned of it that way. Financial services is changing rapidly and moving into new technologies, especially in the Municipal industry. I knew a leadership program of this quality would help me take the next step in my career. I shared the idea of applying with my stakeholders and business partners. They were very supportive, and particularly supportive to help me go deeper in a technology degree, as they have seen how tech has grown the municipal business at Barclays. They urged me to take it on. This was a huge achievement, I thought--it is very rare to get that type of sponsorship at work.
My business stakeholders, who have been always supportive, were elated and excited upon my course completion and graduation. They were eager for me to apply the course learnings to bring in technological advancements to some of the legacy platforms and knew my success would lead to the team’s success, and help the whole organization as a whole advance in the municipal business.
The program broadened my understanding of the whole business--equipping me with soft skills, leadership skills, tools for change management and innovation. It helped increase my confidence in decision-making skills, helped me expand my capacity to lead functional teams and initiatives and broader, key projects. It helped me understand market conditions and growing market conditions.
Which courses, events or faculty members stood out in helping you to hone key skills?
All my courses were phenomenal. They directly applied to my role, and I was able to apply my learning to my work immediately. I took Leading Disruptive Change in a Digital Economy, taught by Steven Bandrowczak, the President and COO of Xerox. This class showed me how tech can transform business, and taught me how to build long-term relationships with clients. Digital transformation is critical in finance, where we are just getting our toes in the water. The course taught me how to encourage a culture of collaboration and innovation, to enable others in my organization to do the same.
Another course, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning with Norman Jacknis, stood out. Norm would recommend numerous books each class that I had to note down to revisit after I finished the program. Every class, he had a new list! This course covered a vast amount of information in a short amount of time. AI and machine learning are emerging as game-changers, especially in the financial industry. We explored how these tools will adapt, how we can bring them into the mainstream, how they will disrupt all industries. Many administrative processes can be automated using AI, and the technology will advance huge areas, such as countering cyber attacks and malicious behavior, predicting financial wellness, managing portfolios. I gained a lot from this class.
What networking opportunities did you enjoy the most?
My cohort was very diverse, in that people came in from all different backgrounds and industries --Pharmaceutical, Finance, Technology, Marketing. We were able to learn from one another, learn how technology is being used across different industries, and how they are managing the financial aspects at their organizations. What new processes and commodities are they trying to build, and how fast are they able to progress towards a digital platform using emerging technologies. Everybody was always eager to share their knowledge, experiences, and different approaches to solve the problem, which resulted in effective learning.
Tell us about your final master’s project, your mentor experience, and how you are implementing the skills learned from the project at work.
My final master’s project was based on the municipal space. Dr. Art Langer has always been a phenomenal guide throughout my time in the program, and helped me here, as well as my mentor, a seasoned financial leader, Peter Richards. I learned a lot from him, and his ideas helped and guided me throughout all stages of my project. Actually, during the pandemic, as we were all remote, I had much greater access to my mentor--we would meet weekly, spend hours going over details and ideas. He would read my notes and even check my financial model. He paid so much attention to my project at the granular level, even though he was incredibly busy as CTO of Cloudreach. This mentorship, having this seasoned executive walk me through my final project, every step of the way, was an incredible way to gel all my previous courses and skills into real-world application.
I recently had to formulate and present a digital platform at Barclays. I found I was able to talk through it all well, communicate the big ideas and the details successfully. It went so smoothly, all because of the learnings I gathered from the program. I was applauded by our Management and Business stakeholders. I’m coming out of the program excited to make Barclays a top Municipal trading partner. I’m looking forward to building a better relationship between tech and the business, to building on our infrastructure.
What advice do you have for future students in the program?
The best advice I received during the program was from my mentor Peter Richards, who told me to make sure I was enjoying myself throughout my time at Columbia.
This executive course is geared towards senior executives to carry out technology transformations at their firms by shaping strategy and streamlining operations. There is an enormous amount of learning that one has to cover and oftentimes it will be challenging along with the work schedule. However, the learnings provided a holistic approach to identifying problems, finding solutions, and adapting to rapid changes. So my advice is to enjoy, learn, gather all this information, embrace this holistic view. You’ll be able to find solutions to every single problem that comes your way in your career once you finish this program. I am able to do that now.
Learn more about Columbia’s Executive M.S. in Technology Management.