Hello From... Stockholm
Mikael Lang, global head of Data Lake Reliability Engineering and Data Quality Engineering discusses his global career journey, growing the Stockholm office, and life in Sweden.
Mikael, you’ve moved around the firm quite a bit since joining in 2006. Can you tell us a bit about your career history with Goldman Sachs?
I joined the firm in London and after a year moved to our Hong Kong office to build out our Risk Engineering function there; after five years in Hong Kong, I spent six years in India running Prime Services Engineering. I then moved into the Data Lake team at the end of 2017 in London, which meant going from heading up a team of more than 100 engineers to joining one where there was only three of us! After doing this for a couple of years, I made the move to Stockholm at the beginning of 2020 to help build out the Engineering function locally. It’s definitely fair to say I’ve seen quite a lot of the firm in my time!
You’re obviously a seasoned mobility taker. What would be your advice to someone considering taking regional mobility for the first time?
I’ve done four global moves with the firm to date and each office and city has its own distinct culture, so it’s important to be open to embracing change. I have also found it quite liberating; in a new culture you are usually experiencing a lot of things for the first time and in different ways, which is very refreshing.
My key piece of advice for anyone considering a move would be to look at it as an opportunity for growth and development. Every position, time zone, team setup and location is unique, and it is what you make of it. For example, I have been the sole member in Hong Kong of a 100-person global team with all mangers based abroad, and I have run large teams in Bengaluru where all clients and managers were remote. I always looked at what unique opportunity there was in these situations, rather than getting bogged down by any perceived disadvantages. Paranoia or pronoia is an active choice of mindset and if you chose the latter, life becomes more fun.
What are your current priorities in Stockholm – is the office looking to grow?
Short answer is yes, definitely. It’s a fairly new office and we’ve already seen significant growth last year, and we’re looking to nearly double in size again by year end. Areas we’re particularly focused on include Global Markets Engineering and Core Data Engineering, which see our engineers building solutions to support our trading functions, as well as focusing on data platforms, modelling, quality and distribution. There’s a huge remit here for local talent solving global problems. Growing a team at this rate is no small challenge, but we are on a good track.
Stockholm has, over time, established itself as a Silicon Valley of the North, with a combination of telecom blue-chips, exchange technology providers and a plethora of start-ups. So the market is rich with engineering talent, some of which is quite niche and ideal for what we’re looking for. The other advantage is the internal mobility support the firm offers for those who are interested in pursuing a career elsewhere – I’m a perfect example of this!
What would be your top tip for someone visiting Stockholm for the first time?
The city and its surroundings are beautiful – Stockholm is built on 14 islands and is surrounded by an archipelago of 24,000 islands. The city has a vibrant restaurant and nightlife scene that really gets going during the light part of the year. Cycling is a great way to get around and very safe, with an extensive network of cycle highways throughout the city. My top tip however would be to visit the archipelago – you take a public ferry or rent a kayak and go on an excursion!
What would we typically find you doing outside of the office?
When I’m not working, I’m spending most of my time with my family enjoying outdoor activities together, such as skiing and hiking. One hobby I’ve picked up (slightly late in life) is Olympic Weightlifting – I really love technical aspects and the methodical training regimes, which I find a good way to relax the mind from the daily noise.