Sophie Wihlborn

Sophie Wihlborn | Fidelity International

I’m Fidelity International’s youngest Product Owner and am leading the delivery of a large-scale, global and multi-channel project: Fidelity’s Global Bot Platform. This platform leverages cutting-edge technology (integrating NLP, Cloud/AWS, AI, ML) and is one of Fidelity’s first cloud-native, albeit, cross-functional products.

I started my career as a Business Analyst at Fidelity International on their Technology Graduate Scheme in 2015. Having graduated from the University of St Andrews with a joint Economics and Management degree, pursuing a career in technology was a new direction for me. While I’d taken a CodeFirst course at University and coded with MatLab and R for my statistics modules, I had little experience with enterprise systems or technical products and pipelines. Technology is nonetheless something I’ve gravitated toward my whole life, and I’m fascinated by the challenges Fidelity faces as an incumbent competing against the new wave of fi-tech firms and the opportunities to capture a new generation of customers through digitisation and smart services.  

Upon joining Fidelity, I quickly realised that I wanted to take on a more prominent leadership and product-centric role. I wanted to play a part in influencing Fidelity’s technology strategy, particularly in the broader data and AI spheres. I created this opportunity for myself by doing two things: teaching myself coding, and copious research into emerging technologies. I also completed several courses, including a 10-week evening data science course with General Assembly in November last year, using weekends to tackle homework and projects. I quickly identified the need for an internal bot capability to support our AI strategy, which is one of Fidelity’s critical plans for development, and took the initiative to build a business case. I successfully gained sponsorship to build a team and develop it into the platform that I manage today.

I'm passionate about the power of ideation and conversation, and within my first 3 months at Fidelity, I incepted the first ever TEDxFidelityInternational, which I delivered over a 10 month period on top of my day job, working directly with TED. My goal was to effect culture change, stimulate conversations and change mindsets. The initiative was incredibly successful and continues to run on an annual basis engaging employees bottom-up across our global offices. This year, over 1600 employees applied to attend and it sits as one of Fidelity’s Head of Operation and Technology’s strategic goals.

In 2018, I also co-authored a paper on Randomised Non-negative Matrix Factorisation, published in the Journal of Pattern Recognition. The paper presents a new, more-efficient algorithm that tackles dimensionality reduction, which is essential to high-dimensional data mining.