Ask the Engineer: Ayaz

Ayaz, a senior engineer in Goldman Sachs’ London office, discusses his career evolution and his current role as the technical architect of MiFID II regulatory implementation for the firm.

Q: What is your engineering background?
I attended the University of Warwick in the U.K. where I studied computer science and business. After completing my degree, I joined a graduate program in the financial services sector focusing on equities, where I was a developer working on post-trade settlement and corporate actions. In this role, I was exposed to various legacy systems where we were often building solutions to resolve performance limitations for high volume flows.

Q: What led you to a career at Goldman Sachs?   
I joined Goldman Sachs in 2007. I was attracted to the firm’s engineering team because of my belief that technology would affect every area of an organization. I was also interested in business, so furthering my engineering career in financial services seemed like an obvious choice for me. A lot of media focus is around what happens in Silicon Valley, but in my experience financial services firms can also be at the forefront of technological innovation. Goldman Sachs has a reputation for being very strong in technology and engineering, and I also knew I wanted to be in an environment where I could challenge myself and be challenged by others. Goldman Sachs gave me the opportunity to work on projects that were interesting to me, as well as continue to gain new skills and knowledge integral to my professional growth.

Q: How would you describe your career so far?
I started out working in a cross-functional team where I worked with Trading and Strat teams focused on driving efficiencies in the Securities Division. There was a big push to find ways for technology to enable the trading business become more efficient and risk-aware. A lot of the work involved was about mining existing data, but with an overlay of validation and analysis that could work quickly and accurately during turbulent markets. This experience was beneficial as I was able to learn about how financial markets work while gaining exposure and the ability to lead projects early on in my career.

I then moved to the Interest Rates development team, where I focused on longer-term development projects, and began leading the European team in 2013. Around a year ago, the European Technology Division heads asked me to lead the technical aspects of MiFID II, a broad set of European Union directives for the financial services industry that are set to come into play in 2018.

Q: Can you tell us more about your role in implementing MiFID II?
My role can be described as the MiFID II technical architect for the firm, examining both internal and external regulatory efficiencies that can be gained through technology. A large part of my job is working with industry peers and regulators to help drive an ecosystem under which we can use technology to drive innovation in the regulatory landscape, from rule-making to compliance. My role is tremendously interesting as we are exposed to insights from technical thought leaders in our industry, often in the form of “Fin Tech” solutions. Through this work, we are able to explore potential opportunities within technology and reinforce the firm’s position as an industry leader in efficient, effective change. As part of this, we’re really embracing open source, not only through collaboration with the larger programming community but also by leveraging open source software so that others can benefit from the efficiencies we hope to gain.

Internally, I am responsible for our MiFID II technical strategy, working with over 100 engineers from across the firm who build and maintain our systems affected by the regulation. This allows me to learn about many of our different businesses and flows, which is both challenging and interesting. We are using the tremendous change being driven by MiFID II as an opportunity to uplift our systems and focus our technology and data strategy.

Q: What advice do you have for engineers thinking about pursuing a career in financial services?
My main piece of advice would be to try to appreciate the bigger picture when working on a project. It can be easy to focus on one particular task or piece of code at the time, but by broadening your understanding of how an application, task or piece of code fits into the bigger picture, you can gain insight into the wider organization and how the financial services industry works. I have found that, for me, this approach has led to feeling more fulfilled in my career as it gave me more perspective in understanding specific asks and projects as well as allowing me to be strategic wherever possible.