“We’re past the point where we can talk about technology as a discrete discipline,” he said. “That’s like talking about ink-on-paper writing as a discrete discipline. It’s pervasive.”
As a vice president of strategy and sourcing, Marcus procures outside software on behalf of the IT engineers at Credit Suisse, the global financial services company headquartered in Zurich. When the company needs new software to save money or do its job better, he negotiates the contract.
“The driver is that you as the consumer in the US have very few rights when it comes to your privacy relative to corporations,” he said. “Credit Suisse, as an institution, we are subject to criminal prosecution if we divulge sensitive information.”
That means a lot of legwork ahead of time to make sure the technology they bring on board fulfills the obligations of privacy to clients and employees.
Maret’s small class sizes with strong emphasis on respectful but vigorous debate helped prepare Marcus for the close-quarters negotiations he now conducts. In particular, Lynn Levinson’s Civil Liberties class fostered the ability to form a coherent argument across multiple disciplines, both orally and in writing.
“Today, I sit in six or seven hour negotiations with Microsoft and HP over contracts. We’re arguing over the ramifications of a particular contract clause. I’m totally comfortable doing that.”
Marcus’s dad was involved in IT and he grew up in a PC household, but, under the watchful guidance of Mrs. King in the Maret computer lab, he became proficient in Apple computers as well. That “bilingual upbringing” has served Marcus well as Apple surged to greater prominence in the last decade.
Marcus graduated from Maret in 2000 and went to Vassar College, where he double-majored in political science and French. From there he earned a J.D. at American University’s Washington College of Law and landed a job at Verizon. His work in technology procurement there propelled him to his current role. All this time spent thinking about technology has given Marcus a philosophical perspective on it . Like many of the biggest companies today, Credit Suisse doesn’t produce a product in the traditional sense.
“We leverage our technological infrastructure to create value for our clients and collect revenue,” Marcus explained. “Everything is digital. All we’re doing is monetizing our infrastructure.”
He would even push back on the usefulness of the term “technology company.”