I grew up in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania and started programming in high school, where I had an exceptional teacher who taught me C++ in the eleventh grade. When I got to Virginia Tech, I gravitated toward research that was computationally heavy. I wrote Monte Carlo simulations in C++ and quickly realized my passion was programming.
Due to my stutter, I had convinced myself that I wanted to work solo and speak as little as possible. As I came to grips with my stuttering and all the anxiety that came along with it, I realized I actually preferred working on a team with others who share my passion for programming. The teamwork aspect is what drove me to become a software engineer.
After three years working in the industry, a Goldman Sachs recruiter called me for an interview. Prior to the start of the process, I made a choice to be open about my stutter, which resulted in an incredible interview experience for me. I was pleasantly surprised by the curiosity around my stutter when I invited the interviewers to ask questions about it. It allowed me to be open and honest about navigating life as a person who stutters, and being my authentic self helped establish trust with the team.
I now sit on the Concert Core team in the Engineering division. We build and maintain scalable common trading and portfolio management systems for Consumer, Wealth and Asset Management. My team specifically focuses on runtime and data distribution, modernizing the stack to be runnable in the cloud. Just as we strive to understand various engineering challenges, my teammates wanted to understand my stuttering and how best to support me. The intellectual curiosity and emotional empathy I felt during the interview process continued after I was hired, and the open dialogue I have with my manager around my stuttering allows him to give me better and more targeted advice and useful feedback, without feeling the need to tip-toe around my disability.
I am a member of the steering committee of the firmwide Disability Network. I was invited to join shortly after partnering with our Community TeamWorks program to host a mock interview day for people who stutter. The Disability Network is a firmwide affinity group which works to raise awareness and understanding of the needs, priorities and potential of people with disabilities. Since joining the network, I have had access to multiple career accelerating opportunities, met some of my most impactful mentors and learned so much more about how to best support my colleagues.
Outside the office, I enjoy riding my bike around New York City, playing the piano and working with the stuttering community. I picked up the piano later in life, but have ridden bikes for most of my life – both on roads and trails. Biking around NYC is a whole new game, and is a form of stress relief for me. I also work closely with organizations that help empower the stuttering community, including FRIENDS, the National Stuttering Association, the American Institute for Stuttering and Lime Connect.
Being technically sharp is the baseline for becoming a great engineer, but your value proposition is multiplied when you think about the things that make you different. The unique perspective you bring to the table can enable you to look at problems with a new lens and empower you to make an impact on your larger organization.