What was the first thing that surprised you upon joining the technology department at Morgan Stanley?
One of the things that surprised me the most, was the impact that technology is starting to have in the financial sector. The rise of the Fintech industry and the digital revolution have reshaped the banks’ approach to emerging technologies and innovation in general. Consequently, there is a much wider variety of roles to choose from. That was one of the selling points for me as there is a common misconception that, when joining a bank as an application developer, you will be limited in the range of technologies you encounter on a daily basis and how up-to-date they are compared to a software house. I believe the banking industry accommodates for most of the software developer profiles and it is up to you to chase the most suitable one.
Can you tell us what it is that you do on a day-to-day basis?
My day-to-day work is a constant mix of identifying the problem, designing and developing the solution, although the latest probably takes most of my time. My team works on a very large codebase and a significant part of my time goes into understanding how the different components of the system work together. This is sometimes perceived in the industry as a burden, if coding standards are followed and the code is well documented, it can only be a chance to absorb more information that can be easily transferred to future projects. When I first joined the team I was inexperienced in the kind of technologies the team was adopting, therefore, I used the existing codebase as a means of learning by example. Apart from the technical aspect of my role, communication within the team or across the organisation is of great importance to the firm; we exchange ideas and discuss the next steps in our projects on a daily basis.
What do you think the top three essential skills are for working in tech within a banking environment?
I think one of the most important qualities a software engineer must have is the willingness to learn. Nowadays, technologies are continuously changing and at a fast enough pace that you cannot count on the knowledge you gained during university to suffice in your day-to-day tasks. Another skill that might be more predominant in the banking industry is the ability to communicate with your client. It is crucial that you understand and align to the business requirements and deadlines while also maintaining the quality of your software. Lastly, problem-solving is a key quality when working in a banking environment and it must be something you enjoy spendin time on. Moreover, while most of the tasks are planned in advance, the investment banking industry is known to be unpredictable and one must be able to respond to change promptly and engineer a solution on the spot.
What is the culture like at Morgan Stanley?
Morgan Stanley is strongly committed to its core values, and I think that reflects on the work environment, on how you interact with your colleagues and clients. As a graduate, I was worried that my knowledge would not yet reach the required level to perform all my tasks, but I came to realise that asking questions and discussing the problem with your colleagues is highly encouraged. Moreover, my team strongly believes in giving back to the community. Every week, we go to schools in our area to try and teach young students how to program or what it means to be a Technology Analyst in the hope of inspiring them to follow this career path.
And finally, what would your top tip be for a female who’s thinking about applying for a technology role in banking this year?
The most important tip I can give that has helped me a lot in the last couple of years is to not let yourself be influenced by the various female prototypes built in our society. There is no extra step required for a female applying for this kind of role that is not already included in the job spec. The small percentage of women studying computer science or working in technology does not, by any means, alter your performance and therefore, should not be criteria when choosing a career path. Joining Morgan Stanley, I came to the conclusion that, in a professional environment your qualifications and skills will overcome any gender or racial bias.