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James Reid, an Executive MBA alumnus, was named the first Black CIO at JPMorgan Chase & Co.
James Reid, an Executive MBA alumnus, was named the first Black CIO at JPMorgan Chase & Co.

James Reid, Georgia Tech Scheller Executive MBA Alum, is Connecting the Dots as the First Black CIO of JPMorgan Chase & Co.

James Reid, a Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business Executive MBA (EMBA) alumnus, has made history as the first Black chief information officer at JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPMC). Inquisitive by nature, Reid says his intellectual curiosity motivates him to bring value to the table and in his new role as CIO of the firm’s newly created employee experience and corporate technology organization. He will be connecting the dots to improve the technology used internally to improve the employee experience.

“I knew a little about employee experience, but I know technology and solving problems well, which is why I believe JPMorgan Chase put me in this role to solve employee experience,” Reid said. “I am not just thinking about JPMorgan Chase employees, but I am looking at the different communities employees are involved in. There are many different employee experiences, and I want to remove that friction.”

Once Reid was promoted, he said it didn’t feel real until he saw The Wall Street Journal article about his promotion circulating. That’s when it dawned on him that his promotion influenced more people than just him. He had hundreds of professionals reach out to him to congratulate him and say how much this promotion meant to them — his LinkedIn connections quadrupled.

“It’s humbling, but at the same time, it’s also an awakening that we are here in 2021, and I am the first Black CIO,” he said. “It’s bittersweet, but I am thankful to break the barrier.”

Before Reid worked at JPMorgan Chase, he spent 17 years as an engineer at Equifax, owning three strategic global platforms. As his career advanced, he knew he needed to move into a management position. He was promoted to vice president positions, and he wanted to gain confidence to speak the language of business.

It wasn’t until a business trip to Mexico where the CEO of the company Equifax acquired asked him about his career trajectory that he learned he needed to take the next step and pursue his MBA.

That interaction was the catalyst that motivated Reid to go back to school and earn his Executive MBA from Georgia Tech. What Reid loved the most about the EMBA program was the ability to start applying the lessons he learned in class directly to his position. One class, in particular, strategy management, helped him think differently.

“In my strategy management class, I learned about the balance scorecard and strategy map approach, which I used to align my team and business stakeholders to build up the collective momentum and alignment and still use it to this day,” he said.

Reid still uses the balance scorecard with every team he inherits and shares that scorecard with leadership to align goals. He says it creates synergy and comradery because everyone is on the same page and all visions are centered around it. 

Reid also references his culture and leadership journal from one of his EMBA classes for inspiration for new concepts or ideas. 

“I am very big on setting a vision and getting everyone aligned. I make sure everyone on the leadership team is on the same page and our priorities coordinate. I want everyone to have a piece of the puzzle. If you have everyone looking at the problem and providing input, you can get close to perfection,” said Reid.

As Reid leads this new organization within JPMorgan Chase, he is tasked with building and maintaining technology systems related to human resources, diversity, inclusion, legal, and corporate responsibility. He said JPMorgan Chase is on a journey to using the public cloud, and one of his goals is to remove the friction so engineers can work at a faster pace and leverage modern architecture to enable the company to be nimble.

Reid’s journey to CIO is a success story that shows that a tech leadership path is possible for Black and other underrepresented minority professionals.

“Every African American I talk to, I try to encourage them to go into IT because you don’t see too many of us in IT,” he said. “Part of my legacy is to show minorities that working in technology is possible and you can reach high levels in the organization if you’re willing to put the effort and time into being good at the craft that you do.”

Even Reid’s son has taken a page out of his dad’s book and is pursuing a computer science degree from Georgia Tech. Reid, who was also a computer science undergrad, said it’s exciting to see his son pursue the same degree as him, knowing his son can go even further.

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