Ask the Engineer: Matthew Papas

03 JUN 2016

Matt Papas, a managing director at Goldman Sachs, oversees a team that utilizes a broad range of languages and platforms to build technology across the firm’s equities business. He shares his experience in the LGBT community and why it’s important to bring one’s whole self to work.

Q: What led you to a career at Goldman Sachs?
My career started out consulting for a number of firms, looking at how technology can be a disruptive force in financial services and other industries. After a few years, I was asked to be the CTO of a financial start up in London, where I worked for 5 years. After a colleague who had moved to Goldman connected with me, I realized that was where I need to be. I joined as a core strategist soon after. 

Q: Tell us about the technologies your team uses.
Our engineers bring in new technologies with positive business impact: to make our plant more efficient, to disrupt existing activities with better, more forward thinking ones, and to ensure we’re taking full advantage of what’s available. These new technologies are brought in with the intention of coupling them with our understanding of the Equities business to ultimately transform them into commercial opportunities.

The team is focused on building technology across the firm’s equities business. We like to focus on the right technologies for the job – and therefore shy away from calling ourselves a "shop" for any language in particular. We do cover a broad range of languages - Java, Slang (an internally developed programming language), Scala, and C++ to name just a few. On the platform/library side - we use open source, vendor and proprietary solutions applied to a wide problem set. This problem set ranges everywhere from large distributed databases handling a high volume of transactions, to real time systems processing orders during trading hours with very high uptime, to web based platforms leveraging the latest open source tools to expand our reach to broader client bases than ever before.

Many of our systems must handle huge volumes, be up during (and often after) trading hours, must transition workloads seamlessly, and have specific and often demanding latency requirements. This provides many challenging, exciting, and ultimately rewarding problems across a variety of technologies for our team.

Q: You are involved in the LGBT community at Goldman Sachs. Can you tell us more about that?
Sure – my focus has been to lead through visibility. I am a firm believer that people need to bring their whole selves to work. That one simple premise cascades into a series of actions which eliminate problems before they start – and abolishes the burden of hiding some aspect of who you are. This is established through small things – mentioning my partner, talking about my vacation, – without modifying or de-scoping some part of it. Our chief information officer follows this principle which made me feel more comfortable, and I feel like it's my job to pay it forward as well for everyone I work with.

My colleagues and I also represent the firm at various community events – including the Out for Undergrad Technology Conference, where Goldman Sachs served as a sponsor last year in San Francisco. I had the opportunity to meet students from across the country and share my experience in bringing my LGBT identity into the workplace.

Q: Any advice to share with engineers thinking about joining Goldman Sachs?
Networking is part of your job and is a differentiator in your career. Look at people you find successful and compare your actions and expertise to theirs. Understand the business you are working in – it's the best way to leverage technology to transform things in a commercial way. Aligning your engineering work to a business goal will help your professional growth as well as understand the impact of your code.