An inside look at the JPMorgan Chase tech hub


Chase Tech Hub

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Michael Zbranak is clearly pleased with what he sees at the new Global Technology Hub for JPMorgan Chase and Co.

The center opened late last year and moved technology positions from multiple sites in northern Delaware.

On a quick tour of the site near Wilmington, Zbranak showed off work areas and conference rooms with names  that  include Delaware towns like Dagsboro and  pop culture icons  like Batman.

Coffee and snacks are plentiful  and in the spring a burger shack will open in the courtyard of the complex.

In conference and meeting rooms, high-speed connections allow video conferences  with colleagues in an environment that is the next thing to being in the same room.

The work setting is clearly a way to attract the best and brightest young people to  JPMorgan Chase by making a company with a somewhat stuffy name more appealing in a world of Ubers and Netflixes.

Indeed, one of the goals of the tech hub is to provide  an appealing workspace,  Zbranak says.

Leaving an impression

“We want people to think about us, no matter where they go to college,” Zbranak says, noting that high school students are touring the site and even participating in coding events.

Still, the  center is far more than a recruiting tool, Zbranak  says.

The technology world has long since changed from the old model of individuals cranking out code   an office or cubicle over a long period of time.

Instead, teams work on compressed time frames to roll out apps, or software for the latest automatic teller machines.

Having tech staff in one place vastly improves communications and allows fast-track projects to move quickly, according to Zbranak.

JPMorgan Chase acquired the South Campus site from AstraZeneca for  a reported $44 million.

That was just the start as JPMorgan Chase spent millions of dollars more to transform the space.

Contractors ripped out the banks of offices that lined the windows of the AZ complex. That allowed sunlight to flow into the large clusters of  computer workstations where workers  write code or perform other work.

The building already had its “green” features. A key  part of the South Campus complex was a large array of solar panels left behind by AstraZeneca  that supply  a portion of the power for the complex, Zbranak says. The site also includes a parking structure, a drawing card for employees.

Buses  operate between the various JPMorgan Chase sites and the Wilmington Train Station.

The technology hub will also include a fitness center that will be  up and running this year.

Design coming to other sites

Zbranak says features of the center will be part of other JPMorgan Chase sites in Delaware,  one example being the conference rooms with state-of-the-art teleconferencing systems.

Chase has disclosed it will spend between $150 million to $300 million in capital improvements at its sites that are scattered around the Wilmington and Newark areas.

This includes the companies  Chase credit card headquarters in downtown Wilmington.  The quarter-of-a-century-old high rise towers near the Wilmington Train Station  are in need of  updates,  officials have confirmed.

The company also bought a building site that is a parking lot between the high rises and another credit card operations building. The site will continue to be used for parking  for the time being.

Zbranak remains a strong supporter  of efforts to grow  JPMorgan Chase jobs in Delaware.

The company has announced plans to add 1,800 and perhaps more jobs in coming years. This is on top of the additional 1,000-plus jobs in various areas of the company in Delaware that were quietly added in the past year or so.

Good news for state

That has been good news for a state that has taken some blows to its pride and pocketbook with the decision by DuPont Co. to cut 1,700 jobs.

Staffing these positions in the area of technology will require more than simply luring workers from other companies, Zbranek says.

That’s the reason JPMorgan Chase has been a strong supporter of the TechHire program that works to educate and train technology workers in ways that go beyond recruiting college graduates.

The company has also strengthened its ties with the University of Delaware. See previous Business Now story.

Showing promising results is Zip Code Wilmington, an intense coding boot camp. A couple of graduates of the first classs are now working at JPMorgan Chase.

The work of Zbranak has work has  earned  praise from Gov. Jack Markell.

“Mike is an extraordinarily talented leader for JP Morgan Chase and a terrific partner for the state of Delaware’s initiatives to develop a new pipeline of employees for high-paying technology jobs of the future.  JP Morgan Chase’s new Technology Center in Delaware is a testament both to the company’s confidence in Mike and to its belief that Delaware is a great place to do business and find great technologists,” Markell stated.

Click here for previous Business Now posts  about JPMorgan Chase in Delaware.

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