Ask the Engineer: Joanna

28 FEB 2017

Joanna, a Senior Engineer at Goldman Sachs, shares her path to working in finance, what inspires her and her view on the future of technology.

Q: What is your engineering background?
I graduated with a Master’s degree in Computer Science from Poland’s Silesian University of Technology in 2007. However, my path to engineering was not an obvious choice. As a child, I was more inclined toward arts and humanities, and I credit my father with my decision to study computer science as he pointed out that my favorite movies were animated (done by computers) and that computers were the way of the future. I took his advice and, upon graduation, was accepted into the New Analysts Programmer and Associate (NAPA) program at Goldman Sachs. From day one, I have worked on solving interesting problems for global markets and, to put it simply, programming computers to solve business needs.  

Q: What led you to a career at Goldman Sachs?
This was not something I had planned – simply because I was not familiar with Goldman Sachs during my studies in Poland. However, during a study abroad year in the United Kingdom, I was approached by a student placement tutor and asked to attend an event about banking internships that was geared toward female Computer Science students. I decided to attend the event with a friend, and was assigned to an afternoon workshop with Goldman Sachs. I really enjoyed it and found the various people I spoke with to be down-to-earth, fun and inspiring. I applied for an internship, and after spending a summer with the firm in London I knew that I wanted to come back.

Q: How would you describe your career so far, and what are you currently working on?
I love to learn and am motivated by gaining knowledge. My career at the firm has provided me with multiple opportunities to do that, and I’ve been lucky to progress in the team that I originally joined, the Foreign Exchange Technology team. Generally speaking, I am a back-end programmer, coding mainly in Slang and Java to solve architectural problems for our foreign-exchange business needs. I started my career partnering with the business on their technology needs and coding small enhancements in Slang (our internal scripting language), which made me think on my feet as the environment is fast-paced.

I then began work on an infrastructure project, which helped me to learn about our vast technical estate. It was certainly one of the most demanding projects but was also one of the most rewarding experiences in my career as I worked with and learned from many brilliant people across the firm. I was promoted to vice president in 2013, and was asked to move to the new office in Warsaw and build the Foreign Exchange Technology team there. I am Polish and was thrilled to accept the opportunity! I’ve been based in Warsaw ever since and aside from establishing a very strong team on the ground here, I have also been involved in various office-wide initiatives, such as organizing our first Community TeamWorks volunteer initiative and establishing a local Women’s Network.

Most recently, I was given broader responsibility for the Fixed Income, Commodities and Currencies (FICC) Technology teams in Warsaw and joined the Warsaw Technology Leadership Group. In FICC Technology, I am busy recruiting as we are expanding across different functions. Additionally, web development is something new for me and I am spending some time to learn more about it.

Q: You were recently awarded the Senior Engineer designation. Can you tell us what this means to you?
On a personal note, it was great to have senior leaders from Engineering recognize my work, contributions and leadership. Professionally, I view this recognition as a kind of gear-shift and reminder that I need continue to grow as the next level is even more demanding.

Q: How do you see the future of technology in financial services?
Technology continues to penetrate financial services at a fast pace as more and more businesses become digitized. Moreover, technology itself is evolving very quickly, and some of these changes are being driven by financial services. Currently, we are very focused on consolidating technical solutions where it makes sense, coming up with a range of possible solutions and implementing the most viable outcomes. Additionally, there is a shift towards web-based user interfaces, cloud and sharing technology via the open source community.

Q: What advice do you have for engineers thinking about pursuing a career in financial services?
Concentrate on your problem-solving skills and stay open-minded. Technology and engineering skills are your tools in achieving results throughout your career. It’s important to be able to analyze requirements, be comfortable discussing progress with stakeholders and ask the right questions. You might discover that the core of an issue lies somewhere else or can be combined with another solution being built. As engineers, we enjoy writing new code or building something from scratch – focusing on the end result will help you succeed in the exciting space of financial services.