11:17 a.m., March 5, 2010----Combine the power of an institution like the University of Delaware and the power of a global financial services firm like JPMorgan Chase and you have a huge opportunity to make a big impact, Chief Operating Officer for Information Technology Jonathan Teplitz said March 2 during his introduction of the company's new partnership with UD to more than 100 UD alumni gathered at the company's office in Wilmington, Del.
“When I think about this program ahead of us,” said Teplitz, “whether it's research, whether it's curriculum, or whether it's the UD interns, there is just so much we can do.”
Teplitz introduced UD President Patrick Harker, who praised the relationship between the organizations and explained that while UD is a talent pipeline for JPMorgan Chase, the company is extremely important to the University as well.
“Around the world, JPMorgan Chase employs about 400 UD grads,” said Harker. “What a valuable asset - to have graduates stepping off our campus and into one of the world's largest, most complex financial services firms.”
The step from classroom to corporation is not that simple, though. JPMorgan Chase executives have said to the president that they need entry-level employees who are less green when they arrive, and who are more familiar with the technology and large-scale information systems that companies like theirs rely on.
“UD graduates are skilled in theory and content,” said Harker. “But if you can remember your first entry-level position, you can probably empathize with the fact that content capability doesn't necessarily mean you are adequately prepared for the reality of a complex, global operating environment.
“The learning curve in a place like JPMorgan Chase is steep, and that is what gave rise to the partnership we've been talking about.”
The partnership, modeled after the one JPMorgan Chase began with Syracuse University a few years ago, consists of a number of components, including internships, job shadowing, joint research and a speaker series. UD is the second university to sign on, in part because of the large number of alumni who take jobs at the company.
According to Harker, the internship component is one of the highlights of the partnership.
In January, five UD students joined a dozen students from Syracuse as Global Enterprise Technology extended interns. Global Enterprise Technology, or GET, covers systems knowledge and skills; large-scale software development and project management; data management and modeling; problem-solving, virtual teamwork and communication.
Harker announced that UD is now working to establish an academic minor in GET, which should be ready for a fall offering.
The students began their internship with one week on UD's campus in all-day classes from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. UD Prof. Bintong Chen, who taught the group “Spreadsheet Modeling for Business Decision-making,” said that in one week he covered all the material he typically teaches over an entire semester.
The president also acknowledged professors Jack Baroudi and Martin Swany from UD and Jeffrey Saltz from JPMorgan Chase, who worked together on curriculum design to integrate business, computer sciences and engineering content.
Following the intense class training, the students reported to JPMorgan Chase for work - “real, paid work,” described Harker, “eight months long, 40 hours a week and tough assignments. We're not talking about fetching coffee and making copies.”
Such an intensive internship gives the students the chance to apply their classroom learning and problem-solving skills to legitimate, long-term projects that involve not only technical skills and systems knowledge, but also strategic thinking, innovation, knowledge of organizational dynamics and effective communication.
Job shadowing is another important component to the partnership. Last month, about 30 UD faculty visited JPMorgan Chase offices and shadowed employees for a day. Looking closely at the company's IT functions and processes and technology and data use helped to refine the focus of the collaboration.
That, in turn, helped faculty identify potential research projects. Harker said that UD is already talking with the Asset Management and Investment Banking businesses about joint research in operational efficiency and predictive pattern analysis.
UD is also launching a speaker series to bring in JPMorgan Chase team members to talk to students and faculty about some high-interest topics, including card fraud detection and Web 2.0.
A final goal is to establish a space on-campus that would serve as the focal point for the collaboration - where people on both sides of the partnership could work together on various projects.
The president expressed gratitude to JPMorgan Chase's top leaders Guy Chiarello, Frank Bisignano and John Galante, who have made the collaboration a corporate priority. He also thanked the many people who have worked to develop the program, including Tommie Williams, Collaboration Program Lead; Jeffrey Saltz, GET Curriculum Lead; Andrea Singer, Managing Director, Technology and Operations; and Courtney Smith Goodrich, Global Technology Resource Manager.
He also recognized Conrado (Bobby) Gempesaw, dean of UD's Lerner College of Business and Economics, and Michael Chajes, dean of the College of Engineering, who are heading up the project on UD's side.
Harker described the partnership as a terrific model for problem-based learning, the University's method for enabling student learning through authentic, real-world experiences. He also explained how the partnership draws on UD's core strength in interdisciplinary academics.
“It's simple, really,” said Harker. “We can't prepare students for 21st-century jobs if we don't partner with the companies creating them. And companies can't continue to compete globally without a workforce that's ready to roll from Day One.”
The president encouraged alumni to become involved in the project, citing mentorship opportunities as a way to share their time and talent with students.
Harker also reminded alumni about UD's second annual Forum and Reunion Weekend, which will be held June 4-6. “It will be even bigger and better than last year,” he said.
Article by Kathryn Marrone
Photos by Kevin Quinlan