I work in technology at an investment bank

Lucy Mair chats to J.P. Morgan second year analyst Joanna Aleksandrowicz about her role in technology and the opportunities for women at the bank
Technology at a bank

What's your current role, and where does it fit into the bank?

I'm an analyst in the Market Data Trade Floor Support team. My team and I are responsible for supporting the trading floor, so it's our job to ensure that market data IT applications are running at the highest level of service possible, and to support the users of those applications if they have any queries or problems.

Technology is very important to the bank because all of the bank's business is undertaken electronically, so it's essential that the services run at 100 per cent all of the time, and without any problems.

What attracted you to working in technology at a bank?

I've always been fascinated by technology. I studied computer science at Warsaw University of Technology in Poland, followed by a masters in artificial intelligence. In my penultimate year of studying, I did an internship at a consultancy firm where I worked on a consumer finance project for a large European bank. I really enjoyed the project and it sparked my interest in the business side of technology.

I then had the opportunity to attend J.P. Morgan's Winning Women in Technology event in London, where I discovered just how important technology is to the banking industry, and that there's a variety of exciting technology-based roles available. The presentations given by senior women showed me that there are successful women in the industry, and that J.P. Morgan is a place where I could make it to the top.

What does your job involve on a daily basis?

Every day is different, and that's one of the best things about my job. My team and I run some automatic checks each morning to make sure the service is performing at its highest level, but the rest of the day is unpredictable because we have to react to whatever's happening in the business. A big part of my job is answering calls from users of market data applications across the bank, and working very quickly to troubleshoot and solve problems as they arise to prevent them from impacting on the business.

I also work on longer term projects to update or service our systems. For example, I recently worked with Bloomberg, one of the bank's market data providers, to update the applications they provide to J.P. Morgan. Projects like these involve reaching out to all the users of the service to ensure that the planned timing of the upgrade doesn't interfere with any important business. Then, I work with other support teams across the bank to prepare the upgrade for implementation. This means ensuring that the upgrade packages sent by the vendor are compatible with J.P. Morgan's systems and standards. We then implement the application upgrade and go into a period of intensive care, where we have to carefully check that everything is working as expected, and that our users aren't experiencing any problems.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I've been working at J.P. Morgan for almost two years, eight months in my current role, and from day one I've been able to add real value to the bank by working on important projects. My job is very rewarding because even small tasks that I do can have a big impact on the business, and I get to see the outcome of my work on a daily basis. It's also a very dynamic and exciting environment to work in. If there's an issue with the applications, my team and I quickly get together to brainstorm ideas, and we're under pressure to solve the problem as fast as possible, because just a couple of minutes can mean millions of pounds to the business!

Are women prominent in technology at J.P. Morgan?

In Market Data there's a very good balance between women and men. I work in a team of eight people which includes three women, and we all have a very good working relationship. My team is also managed by a woman, who is a very influential role model for me. As with any other working environment, I think it's important to have women in technology because women bring a different dynamic and different points of view to the team, and I think a well diversified team creates a healthy atmosphere that improves everybody's performance.

Do you have the opportunity to network with other women at the bank?

I participate in networking events for women at J.P. Morgan, which is a great opportunity to get to know other women at the bank, learn about the different departments they work in, and to meet senior women. Recently we had a fashion show, which was a lot of fun and very interesting as we had the chance to discuss the business side of the fashion industry with the designer.

I also take part in recruiting events for women. When I attended Winning Women in Technology I realised that technology in banking was the right career for me, and it was a huge turning point in my life. Now that I'm on the other side, I want to give back by speaking to students who are in the position that I was in two years ago, and hopefully inspire them in the way I was inspired.

What advice do you have for students interested in working in technology at an investment bank?

The best advice I can give to students is to apply for an internship, because it's the best way to get a taste of the industry and see for yourself just how exciting and interesting working in technology at a bank can be!