BNY Mellon | Pershing Upgrades DevOps Culture

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On January 1st, 1939, senior partners Van Burger, Lou Froehlich, Dave Foster and Jack Pershing (son of WWI General John Pershing) founded Pershing & Company. The newly formed Pershing quickly established itself as a provider of fast and efficient trade execution for firms outside of the New York Metropolitan area, even in spite of three of its senior partners going to serve in World War II.

Following the war, Pershing would spend the next half century growing from providing regional financial services to the NYSE and AMEX to becoming a global financial solutions provider with offices all over the world. In 2003, The Bank of New York acquired Pershing and would later, in 2007, merge with Mellon Financial Corporation, resulting in Pershing's current state: a subsidiary of BNY Mellon.

The Challenge

Startups have the luxury of engaging in the iconic "pivot": revisiting their core business model and everything they're doing from first principles. Enterprises, on the other hand, cannot just change this way.

As a wholly owned subsidiary of a company the size of BNY Mellon, Pershing understands that organizational change is complex and hard-won. This alone presents a significant challenge to a company looking to modernize the way it builds software. But layer on top of that the regulatory concerns that apply to a global bank, and creating a nimble software organization becomes downright daunting. In fact, it requires a holistic transformation approach.

Enterprise-level agile and DevOps transformations have become relatively common these days. But the fact that many organizations are trying them doesn't necessarily mean that they are all succeeding, and it certainly doesn't imply a one-size-fits-all approach for success. Each transformation success story is unique.

In the case of Pershing, they are taking a tip-of-the-spear approach, wherein an early-adopting reference group prototypes modern practices and then evangelizes and socializes them with the rest of the organization. Derek Evans, Pershing's director of DevOps, is at the forefront of that effort.

Evans' challenge as a leader of the bank's DevOps transformation is thus easy to explain but extremely complex to implement. He has to take an enterprise from a world of two-hour builds and IT tickets to request deployments to one in line with modern DevOps practices and capable of keeping up with the rapidly evolving needs of the bank and its customers. All of this needs to be accomplished while maintaining regulatory compliance and satisfying a justifiably risk-averse group in upper management.

Today, Pershing has 1,300 clients worldwide and manages 2 trillion dollars worth of assets on their behalf. But in spite of all of their success and their status as a subsidiary of one of the world's major banks, they have never forgotten that all of their client relationships are personal. Maintaining personal relationships at global scale in an ever-changing marketplace requires a significant investment in technology.