Ebele Kemery—engineer, trader, technologist and manager—shows how to turn a scientist’s curiosity into a stellar career in financial services.
To celebrate International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we invite you to meet J.P. Morgan’s Ebele Kemery. And to understand her impressive career and the engineering degree that helped launch it, we suggest listening first to her five-year-old son.
“Mommy builds stuff,” says Logan. Explains Ebele: “He sees how much I like to make and fix things—that I am always curious about why the world works the way it does. And so he says he wants to be an engineer too.”
When Ebele herself was a child (in Warri, Nigeria), she wanted to be an artist. She had a gift for mathematics, physics and chemistry and went to college interested in robotics and nanotechnology. At The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City, she studied electrical engineering, attracted to the discipline’s “utility.”
Ebele was among a crop of young engineers recruited by Wall Street in the early 2000s, as financial firms focused on adding science majors to their ranks of employees trained in finance and the humanities. Ebele found fascinating two college internships, first in technology for an asset management business and later in investment banking.
While still at school, she heard JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon speak at an industry event, and “I liked his authenticity and message about putting the client first so much, that I applied to the firm” upon graduating. The position offered was “commodities trader” and, although previously she’d traded only for herself, she accepted because, well, she was curious.
That was 14 years ago. Since then, Ebele’s inquisitiveness and desire to fix things has led to a series of interesting positions and notable success. She rose to become the head of energy investing in J.P. Morgan Asset Management’s Global Fixed Income, Currency & Commodities group and managed portfolios for several commodities strategy funds.
Along the way, she became interested in how blockchain might streamline commodity transactions, which historically required enormous paper trails to execute, authenticate and process. To learn more, she reached out to the firm’s technology specialists.
That connection and Ebele’s clear understanding of both front-office needs and technology led to her become the Global Head of Business Technology Optimization, overseeing 66 employees in 17 cities and serving approximately 18,000 users.
This “BTO” team at J.P. Morgan helps the front office understand, adopt and shape the technology the firm develops to help clients. For example, technological advances enable J.P. Morgan teams to better see clients’ whole financial picture, which helps them guide clients toward their financial goals.
Even with all her responsibilities, Ebele has found time to be a member of the Wall Street Blockchain Alliance and contribute to media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg TV. She also serves on the board of SociaLite Lighting Systems, a nonprofit organization that provides sustainable electric light to impoverished communities by creating solar-powered lanterns from plastic and glass waste.
For her contributions, Ebele was awarded FinTech Futures’ 2019 Banking Technology Award for “Woman In Technology” and named to Crain's New York Business' 2019 list of Notable Women in Technology.
These days, Ebele is based in Plano, Texas (J.P. Morgan’s largest U.S. location outside of New York)—and busy with a new set of challenges.
She’s already managed to convince her New York-loving husband that relocating to Texas was a great long-term choice. (She says he’s bought a Ford pickup, an F150 no less, and is now “all-in.”)
She’s just started a new role at the firm as head of Global Technology, Diversity and Inclusion and will be working to make sure that every aspect of the technology used by the world’s largest bank is ethical. This means Ebele’s many responsibilities include rooting out potential biases in data that informs critical decisions (such as to which individuals and businesses the firm will extend lines of credit around the world).
Right now, though, she’s hand stitching a linen-muslin quilt for her second child, due in a few weeks, because she says, she couldn’t find one she wanted ready-made. But also, as Ebele’s son says, “Mommy builds stuff.”