Jonathan Smith

Executive Director

Head, Fixed Income IT

Europe, Middle East, and Africa

Years in the industry: 26 years

Areas of focus: Technology, Trading, Risk, Systems

Meet Jonathan Smith, a former nuclear submariner in the Royal Navy who brings unique skills and experiences to the trading floor. He’s recently joined the Mizuho London securities business. He reflects on the similarities–and the contrasts­–between his current and former roles.


You have joined the Mizuho London securities business as Head of Fixed Income IT. Tell us about your career path.

I joined the Royal Navy as a Weapons Engineer at the age of 16 and served five years on hunter-killer or attack nuclear submarines. On leaving the Royal Navy, I changed career to study computer science entering the financial industry as an analyst programmer. Over the last 26 years I have worked predominantly on Technology Trading and Risk systems at four global investment banks working in offices around the world.

Having started your career in the Royal Navy, do you think there are similarities between the work you did there and the work you now perform in a trading floor environment?

Teamwork and self-discipline matter. Both are essential whilst working under pressure to deliver mission critical systems. Even though the work is very different, the people, social and leadership skills are the same. In both jobs, you need to build and maintain productive working relationships. Within the Global Markets team, Technology, Sales and Trading, are all one team.

What else do these very different roles have in common?

Training is critical to enable high performance and stay current with technology and best practice in an ever-moving industry. It’s also essential if you’re working hundreds of metres below the surface.

What was the biggest surprise for you since making the move from submarine weapons engineer to working within IT global trading solutions on the trading floor?

Understand everyone’s role. Trading and life on a submarine both need a certain level of knowledge of everyone else’s role. If you are going to build systems that support sales and trading, it is important to have a good understanding of a salesperson and trader’s job. Equally, traders and salespeople are engaged in technology. They know a great deal about, and appreciate, what IT people do. There is no room for passengers on a submarine or in business.

If there’s one thing you learned from your time in the Royal Navy that you will pass on to your new colleagues, what would it be and why?

Run towards the fire. One thing I learned early in the Royal Navy that I think is essential, is that issues need to be dealt with and in a timely manner. You need to ‘run towards a fire’ and not away from it, otherwise the whole team will be at risk.

You join Mizuho at a time when working from home is an integral part of working life - how have you found it?

I am in the office every day as my role is a front office facing role. I really need to be in the office to be directly engaged with the technology, trading and sales teams.  Also just like I would walk the length of the submarine I will walk the length of the trading floor seeing what is going on first hand and helping to identify issues.

Being in IT, what technology can’t you live without?

I like technology that makes your life easier so facial recognition technology is my favourite new tech. In a world where we are required to have so many passwords for so many applications, it’s great just to look at your screen to login to an app (Covid face masks aside!).

Away from the trading desk, what interests you?

I enjoy football, reading, gardening and travel.

Back to top