I'm a software engineer for a bank.

At my previous company, we were encouraged to write memos outlining ideas we have that could help the business and submit them to senior leaders. I have an idea i'd like to raise but we aren't really encouraged to do this at my new company.

I'd like to write a memo anyway and send it to one of the partners in the firm. I figure if he's not interested he will just ignore it so no harm done.

Is it acceptable for a software engineer at a bank to email a partner in this fashion?

I should mention that I wouldn't run this past my manager as I'm sure he would say no. He likes to maintain the status quo and I don't think he would like me rocking the boat. The partner is not in my management chain, so I'm not really going over his head.

  • What was your other former company? Because a bank is not in any ways IT affine and - going too high will definitely make you bluinder, contrary to i.e. a smaller software house. And "banks" normally do not have partners - are we talking of a large investment bank like JpMorgan? Is that Partner in any way related to the memo or just a random dude you pick?
    – TomTom
    Dec 8, 2020 at 21:21
  • @TomTom former company was a well known tech company you've probably used today. Yes its a large IB. The partner is the person responsible for this particular area.
    – Oscar
    Dec 8, 2020 at 21:23
  • What does your manager say?
    – TomTom
    Dec 8, 2020 at 21:24
  • @TomTom I havent asked my manager, im sure he would say no. He gets very nervous about change and generally tries to keep a low profile. I want to go without asking him. At least he will be able to deny knowing anything about it if anyone complains about me.
    – Oscar
    Dec 8, 2020 at 21:26
  • 1
    @Oscar I would suggest that there is a reason he is nervous about change and keeps a low profile. Dec 8, 2020 at 21:34

2 Answers 2


Depends on the corporate culture

I have been in 1 company where this was encouraged, 1 where you get a "I shall take a look" and never hear back, and 1 company where people would be grumpy with you for rocking the boat. I also worked for a company where it depended on who you were. That company was a bank. Determine whether your particular bank views tech people as valuable or just another resource group they might outsource to IBM.

Anecdotally, I have tried this and used to encourage others to try it. I no longer view it as something worth attempting unless the organization explicitly values it. Most attempts were wasted effort and 2 got friends in trouble.

  • Thank you. Can you elaborate on trouble? I imagine the partner would just ignore me if they dont like the idea. What could go wrong?
    – Oscar
    Dec 8, 2020 at 21:29
  • @Oscar a friend suggested an automation/analytics process for something. The high level manager liked it and told his direct manager about it. The direct manager did not like it as it would increase demands on the department, so he was told that he was not coming back when his contract ended. Dec 8, 2020 at 21:31
  • I see. My idea is something that would need implemented company wide which is why I'm trying to get buy in from a partner. My team would have nothing to do with the implementation itself so my manager shouldn't really care... thanks
    – Oscar
    Dec 8, 2020 at 21:33

I should mention that I wouldn't run this past my manager as I'm sure he would say no. He likes to maintain the status quo and I don't think he would like me rocking the boat. The partner is not in my management chain, so I'm not really going over his head.

Yes, you are. A partner is a very high-ranking member of a business, possibly even a co-owner, depending on how the business was set up. Assuming this person really is a partner in that sense, they outrank most or all of your reporting chain, so this is roughly equivalent to reaching out directly to a C-suite executive. You should not do that. Regardless of whether this person is technically in your reporting chain or not, you would absolutely be going over your boss's head, and your boss would rightly perceive this as insubordination.

But let's assume that by "partner" you actually meant something more like "executive" - a high-ranking middle manager, or something like that. It's still a bad idea. Why? Let's go through the likely outcomes:

  1. Your email is ignored. You accomplish nothing.
  2. The executive likes your idea, and wants you to work on it. So they contact your boss asking if you are available.
  3. The executive likes your idea, and tells your boss about how smart it was.
  4. The executive dislikes your idea, and complains to your boss that you are wasting their time.
  5. The executive takes your idea and runs with it, without involving you. Then it probably won't show up on your performance evaluation and you will probably get nothing out of it.

In any situation where your boss first learns of this from the executive, they are going to be upset that you went behind their back. It is going to damage your working relationship, and possibly put your career at risk. On the other hand, you seem to gain very little from it in any of these outcomes. Even if the executive is pleased, they have little control over your career, especially compared to your boss. So I simply cannot recommend doing this.

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