This month the CF: G team got to catch up with Martin Osborne, one of our amazing community Instructors from one of our leading sponsors, Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
Martin recently finished teaching on our Spring/Summer 2016 community courses, and has taught on a number of our London Community courses prior to this. We were keen to hear more about Martin's experience as an Instructor and his career in tech, read on for the full low down....
Hi Martin, thanks so much for joining us! You’ve got an impressive career trajectory in the technology sector. Could you tell us a bit more about your current role at Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BofAML)?
I’m working on Quartz, which is our firm-wide risk and pricing framework. Specifically on building out the core cross-asset risk functionality to calculate risk measures across our markets businesses.
Martin, what do you most enjoy in your job?
Working to design and build our next generation of trading and risk systems makes it a really exciting time to work at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Financial markets are evolving at a rapid pace and the regulatory landscape continues to shift. Our technology must work consistently and efficiently across diverse markets. We’re developing technology that streamlines the process for our clients and helps us compete and comply in the marketplace. I love solving problems and developing solutions that make a big impact for clients around the world.
How did you first hear about CF: G?
BofAML proudly sponsors CF:G and we have partnered on various events. We recommend CF:G courses to students interested in working in technology, who don’t yet have a technical degree. That’s how I got involved.
Why did you decide to become a volunteer instructor?
I wanted to support CF:G in increasing the number of women working in technology. We’re committed to influencing young women to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs and consider careers in technology.
Additionally, the topics covered on the web course are becoming increasingly important. Teaching them is a great motivator to further my own knowledge, and to learn from the other instructors.
What do you most enjoy about teaching on the courses?
Probably the most interesting part of the course is seeing what the students do with the technology they have been introduced to. The amount of time we’re able to spend actually teaching is pretty small compared to a more formal programming course. We encourage students to experiment outside of the classes, and to use existing APIs and frameworks to get things working quickly. It’s very rewarding seeing what they build after being pointed in the right direction.
Have you found transferable skills between being an instructor and the work you do at BofAML?
Definitely. I spend a lot of time at work either explaining concepts and ideas to colleagues, or working to understand their requirements. Communicating technical ideas, especially to those who are not developers themselves, crosses over to my role as an instructor.
One of the most interesting aspects of instructing is that students often bring designs they would like to implement. Frequently these are ideas for startups that have a technical component. The process of working with them to figure out what is possible, and in what timeframe, given the resources available, is very similar to how we work at BofAML.
What advice would you give to CF: G community who want to pursue careers in technology & entrepreneurship?
There’s no substitute for hands-on experience. We always encourage the students to find something ‘real’ they want to work on, as opposed to spending too long on artificial exercises. Good examples are a personal or society website, an app supporting a dissertation or coursework project, or a startup / business idea.
The process of working on something will force you to address technical problems, and can often be a catalyst for new ideas.
This month we caught up with Karisma Parkinson, project consultant on Global Markets Technology at one of our leading sponsors, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, on the skills she learnt on her first CF: G Beginners HTML/CSS course this Spring. Read on to hear more about Karisma's coding journey...
I work in Global Markets Technology at Bank of America Merrill Lynch as a project consultant. Over recent years, I have worked on several large scale programmes in the company’s Project Management office, providing project governance and business management support.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch places huge importance on being both a diverse and inclusive company – and in fact, was recently recognised by Euromoney as ‘The World’s Best Bank for Diversity’. Part of my role is to support Diversity and Inclusion initiatives for my team to help ensure a strong and diverse pipeline of talent. It’s really important that we do all we can to increase the number of women studying STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths) at degree level if we are to see a better gender balance. Despite there being more men working in Technology, it has never occurred to me that technology is a man’s world, and I happily share my experience with young women to help demystify this notion.
I love working in technology, I feel I have found my happy place working in a fast paced and exciting environment where no day is the same. I have been lucky in my career to work with great role models that have shown me that there are no barriers when you are doing something that you love. The project teams I have worked in have become like a second family to me, and everyone plays a part in the delivery of the project – it takes different skills sets, competencies and personalities to complete the team.
Confession time... up until January 2016 I had never coded, I would peer over the shoulders of developers to see them handle this strange language of commands and strings of text so I was excited to be invited by CF:G to the HTML / CSS beginners course to learn more about it.
The learning experience:
On a cold Monday in January I turned up at Thoughtworks eager to learn. The pre course preparation work made me feel confident and the first lesson sped by. I really wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as I did, and I could have happily sat there for another few hours practicing. It was great to be in a room with like minded people, enthusiastic and with a real passion for learning. The next few classes were challenging but hugely enjoyable, I was absorbed in the task and seeing what I was writing in Sublime Text come to life on screen.
Hannah, Jenny and Rob really brought the lessons to life – they simplified what, on paper, seemed complex and answered all my questions so that I understood the principles behind coding. After just three lessons, we managed to produce attractive and functioning web pages and we were ready to start working on our own projects!
I paired up with Emily who was like an encyclopaedia of Sherlock Holmes knowledge, her concept - a site to promote a tour of Sherlock’s London which could then spin off into other literary London tours - was inspiring.
It was fun to be creative and to put my newly learnt skills into practice. In the final class, the teams presented their sites, which were varied and fascinating.
I am missing my Monday classes and the bonding experience we shared as a group. I would recommend the CF:G Course to anyone who is curious about coding. There are challenges but when it falls into place it’s hugely rewarding.
I am going to continue coding, at the moment it’s like being on holiday and using google translate to ask for things on the menu, but with practice it’s starting to become easier. I will continue to encourage people to seek out tech learning opportunities – for me, coding is all about contributing to a conversation and finding ways to express yourself through this universal language.
Code First: Girls