I work in technology in the City

An analyst at a leading global bank tells us about her career in this field
Introducing technology in finance

Did you know there are exciting technology roles in the finance industry in the City? Here an analyst at a leading global bank gives her perspective on working in technology in finance and explains why her role has given her a great start on a technology career.

How would you introduce your job?

If you have a logical mindset, like solving problems, and want to work with some of the latest developments in technology, then I think you'd enjoy a role in technology in finance.

What not many people know is that in a role like mine you can combine technical work with looking at business issues and managing projects and people.

How did you get into this area?

While studying for my mathematics degree, I always particularly enjoyed financial mathematics and I knew I wanted to work in technology in investment banking from quite early on, which is why I chose to do my master's degree in Financial Computing.

But while I was doing it, I couldn't work out exactly where I'd fit into the industry. Then going through the application process at my bank helped me realise that I was suited to a business analyst role. I like using my technological and mathematical knowledge, but I also like solving problems and helping clients.

How would you describe your role?

As a business analyst, I'm part of a team that finds out what various groups of technology users at the bank want, designs a technological solution to address their issues and then works with the bank's developers to create that solution.

The developers do the necessary coding, the product comes back to us for testing and, if everything works as it should, we roll it out to the end users.

Essentially business analysts create and run loops between users and developers, which continue working after new products are implemented as we also provide ongoing support.

What projects have you worked on so far?

I've spent most of the time I've been here working on one project: aligning the bank's IT systems with another bank that it recently acquired.

The new system went live last year, but work on the project has continued as we've had to help users and add improvements and updates.

Recently I've also been working on a new project. In 2007, the European Central Bank introduced a new pan-European trade settlement system, TARGET2.

Migration to this system meant the bank had to make a lot of changes to the technology behind its trading systems and I'm managing the impact of these changes, along with a colleague.

It was great of my manager to give me this project - my career development goal at the moment is to manage some projects independently and he's given me this piece of work as a passage to that.

What skills do you need in your role?

I did some technology work as part of my mathematics degree. Then on my master's course I learned far more about technology - for example, in-depth work on programming languages, how websites work, and databases, all of which are very useful in my job. I'm not a developer so coding is not a core part of my role. But it's very helpful that I can read code and understand what developers are working on.

For any graduate role in technology in finance, you need some relevant technical knowledge and skills and the more you have, the more of an advantage you'll be at. But soft skills are also very important in my job, particularly communication skills.

What are your working days like?

Everyone works hard here, but the environment is very supportive. There's not a culture of working late all the time, but I occasionally have to stay into the evening if we're busy.

My team has daily meetings. I have a support meeting every week with the people in Brussels I work with on the integration project, and I also have quite a lot of other conversations on the phone with them to clarify things. I might also spend time talking to users I'm supporting in Paris, New York and Asia.

Before the project went live, I went to Brussels a lot, and I've also been to Paris for work. If doing so will help you do your job, there's always the opportunity to travel.

What's been your best day so far?

My best day so far was the day our integration project went live. We'd been working flat-out and finally we could see the result of all our hard work.

The project had really pushed me, but lots of people had told me that I'd learn the most from challenging projects like this one, which I found to be true.

In particular, it was great to experience the whole of the lifecycle of a large technology project early on in my career - requirement gathering, design, testing, implementation and post-implementation support.

While that day was a highlight, I enjoy coming in to work every day as in this job you can make an impact, even in a junior role.

Technology in finance is all about designing solutions for people, which you have a sense of ownership over and which make you feel proud.

What's it like being a women in technology in finance?

Both technology and banking are still male-dominated industries to a certain extent, but this hasn't affected my career progression here in any way.

I don't feel isolated here, and my gender doesn't change the way I get treated - if you're good at your job, you'll do well here, whether you're male or female.

What are your plans for the future?

My goal for the near future is to take up some of the opportunities available to me to work in different sections of the bank and with different products so I can gain more knowledge and skills.

Looking further forward, I'd like to manage more projects myself and eventually lead a team of people.

Image: Slimmer_jimmer www.flickr.com/photos/slimjim/

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