This month CF:G caught up with Cristina Pascalau, who's joined Bank of America Merrill Lynch through one of their FinTech graduate recruitment programmes. Cristina shares her experience of the application process and what she does in her day-to-day role.
Where and what were you studying before joining BofAML?
I studied at University of York. My course was MEng Computer Science with Artificial Intelligence with a year in industry.
What was the application process for the graduate programme like?
I found it to be quite a smooth process. I applied using the online application form, after which I was invited for an assessment centre. The assessment centre consists of both individual and group exercises, and it wasn’t nearly as stressful as I imagined!
The HR team made sure that we were kept up to date from the moment we submitted our application until we heard back with more information about the offer.
What are you working on at the moment?
I work as part of the GMRT (Global Markets Technology) department and currently our focus is to successfully migrate all our legacy systems onto a new platform. This will allow us to be more proactive and efficient in helping our clients. It is a very challenging project as it requires coordination from multiple teams from different lines of business.
What is a typical day like?
My day usually starts with a team tea break before diving in. Unsurprisingly, coding takes up a big part of my day. Contrary to what you may imagine this to be I’m not sitting in a basement with no windows! There is more than coding to the job of a technology analyst, there are meetings that I need to attend also throughout the day. I’m lucky I work in a global company and this means you’re part of a global team. You have a call with someone in New York, then jump on a conference call with Houston.
What do you most enjoy about your job?
The challenges it presents both on the technical and non-technical side. Everything I work on requires me to get out of my comfort zone and speak to multiple teams in order to understand the bigger picture and not get stuck within my own mind-set. I enjoy that ‘YES’ moment I have when I find out the solution to something I obsess over. And it doesn’t last long till I obsess over something else … the cycle never ends! And I guess that’s the important bit, I do not have time to get bored.
Tell us about a woman in tech who's inspired you.
There are a lot of great women that have worked hard to shape and change the world of technology, either by actively developing new software or encouraging younger women to pursue a career in STEM.
One such woman for me is Danielle Vandyke. I met Danielle at an event last year where she told us her story of becoming a Software Manager at Google. We were in a room of approximately 100 women, she opened up to us and walked us through her career, speaking about both the ups and downs of her career. She spoke to us about the Imposter Syndrome, something that I myself struggle with and it felt very encouraging to hear that even someone in her position is not immune to it. In case you’ve not heard of it, people suffering from Imposter Syndrome do not acknowledge their accomplishments and dismiss them as insignificant in comparison to others. To these people everyone around but them seems like a mini Steve Jobs.
Hearing Danielle’s speech about her own struggles with the Imposter Syndrome was very refreshing and inspiring. I learned from her talk that even though people around me seem like they’ve got it all figured out, they probably suffer from the same insecurities. Just because you might be feeling insecure about something, it doesn’t mean that you’re not worthy of it or that you’re not doing a good job.
This month CF:G would like to welcome Selina, our key contact for liaison between CF:G and Bank of America Merrill Lynch, who are one of our major sponsors. We caught up with Selina to find out more about the amazing work she does in FinTech. Be sure to read on to hear her tips for working in FinTech!
What is your role at Bank of America Merrill Lynch?
I work as a global programme manager in Global Markets Technology covering our in house systems that generate risk, scenarios and profit and loss data for a number of trading businesses. Here are a few facts to highlight the scale our team work at - we compute and generate 250 million rows in our database using a grid of 1500 nodes for computation of the results, a week. For data required by the regulators, each time we generate 7 billion rows of data using a grid of 6000 nodes. We support a large number of trading products, 190 in total across 3 regions and up to 15 different trading desks.
What is one of the most exciting parts of your current role?
Making an impact to the Global Markets business and interacting directly with my senior business stakeholders everyday on a global basis from Hong Kong, via London to New York. I have been able to travel with work, and that has been amazing, but it has got tougher now that I have two children.
What were you working as prior to joining BofAML?
A developer building tools to optimise portfolios for a long short equity hedge fund.
As the BofAML<>CF:G Relationship Manager, what do you liaise with CF:G on?
Supporting CF:G in their courses by finding volunteer instructors and mentors from the firm. We also host and help organize the annual summer party for CF:G. As well as any other support we can offer through the year for CF:G like speakers for the annual CF:G conference coming up in November. It’s one of my favourite parts of my day working with CF:G helping to inspire and give opportunities to women to change their life.
Looking back to when you first started working in FinTech, what advice would you give to yourself back then knowing what you do now?
I would give myself three bits of advice:
Code First: Girls