Technology was always my career path of choice from studying for the IT Practitioners qualification at college to my Computer Science degree at university.
Throughout my education I have always envisioned working for a software company, which I pursued with internships and placements. I never considered an IT career in Investment Banking before speaking with a friend who had. In the summer of 2008 I discovered a new and exciting interest for the world of finance through an internship, where I worked on stimulating projects such as designing a system that identifies rogue trading.
I never envisioned technology in this light before and the mixture of the two coupled with the environment makes it an absolutely fascinating experience.
The following summer of 2009 I undertook an internship with Barclays, within Global Technology Market Data, which confirmed my initial belief as to why I wanted to work in an investment bank. The environment was fast-paced, the people were smart, friendly, eager to help, and the pool of knowledge available is just mind-blowing. I worked in that team for several months before making a transition onto BarCap’s graduate training programme in February 2010.
If you get the opportunity to be part of a graduate training programme, I would highly recommend taking it. The training programme held in London was 5 weeks long and consisted of graduates from all over the world and from different business areas.
Prior to starting my role, I was very concerned that coming from a technology background with very little knowledge about finance would put me at a disadvantage. However, the graduate programme addressed this and after successfully completing the programme this was no longer a concern for me. The structure, content, depth and breadth in topics, delivery and effort contributed, ensured that I left feeling confident in my knowledge and better prepared for a technological role within an investment bank.
Among the many advantages of interning and being on the graduate programme is the ability to work in different teams and taking on different roles before deciding on where you’d like to work permanently. This is a wonderful opportunity as, not only do you get a taste of different areas of the bank, you greatly develop your knowledge of how all the systems and business areas interrelate, which helps you to see the bigger picture. You gain a real depth of knowledge, feel more experienced and confident in your career and, most importantly, you get a better view of what works and what definitely doesn’t work for you.
I am currently based in London on my first six-month rotation of three within Research IT Analytics. I am now on a Continuous Professional Education (CPE) programme, which runs parallel to my current role. The CPE ensures that my technical and business knowledge is continually being developed, which keeps me competitive and better equipped to do my job and any future roles I may take on.
Projects I have worked on
From day one I have been involved in high impact projects. My role within Market Data helped to develop my project management skills by being involved in a cost-save initiative project, cutting costs across market data globally. I had the opportunity to meet with senior members of the firm and had frequent face time with the business. I was in charge of a project to discover, maintain and evaluate all the internal market data systems across the bank which exercised my communication, analytics and problem-solving skills. The acquisition of a major investment bank provided an opportunity to be involved in a huge consolidation project to merge the market data systems across both entities, this was a highly complex and challenging piece of work involving many different people from various locations.
I am currently undertaking a development role within Research IT Analytics, which is a vast contrast to my previous role (another advantage of the graduate programme). I now work with technologies such as C++, XML, SQL and SharePoint dev. My team works very closely with the Research team to develop analytical tools and industry-leading software that provides functionality such as trade ideas to our traders. My team is always striving to achieve high levels of optimisation and our project completion turnover is very high. The team’s hard work played a role in Barclays Capital winning the Best Research Portal award in Profit and Loss Digital FX Awards 2010.
My greatest challenge so far is the learning curve. The nature of the business and the structure of the programme mean that you constantly need to learn something new and this is not always an easy thing to do and get right. However, this is also one of the most appealing aspects of my job.
I am never bored for things to do. If it’s not after-work socialising with my team, previous teams (maintaining relationships is very important), or others from the graduate programme, I am taking part in corporate sports competing with other banks. I was happy to discover that Barclays Capital encourages its employees to participate in a huge range of sports, social and volunteering activities – more than enough to satisfy my needs.
This is not only a great way to do something I enjoyed, but it also gives the opportunity to extend my network. It also makes me try something new now and then; I have dragon boat racing practice tonight!
If you have never considered an IT career in investment banking, then maybe it’s time you do! The environment is fast-paced; you’ll never be bored; the training is world-class; the challenges are great; and the sense of personal achievement is even greater.