Fiona Morgan

Kdb+ Developer

Joined AquaQ in July 2018

What is your background and how did you come about joining AquaQ?

When I started my degree in mathematics at the University of Edinburgh I had never written any code in my life. Due to the broad education given in Scottish universities I was able to take outside courses and that’s when I encountered C programming. I enjoyed it so much that I veered the rest of my mathematics degree in a more computational direction, mainly working with Matlab and other niche mathematical languages. When I finished I knew I wanted to pursue a career in software and there came in AquaQ! AquaQ offered the opportunity to train in several programming languages with no prior knowledge needed, along with the chance to travel and consult at major companies around the world.

Tell me about the interview process

The interview process was by far my favourite of any grad role. All I needed to do was email my CV to the team at AquaQ. They got back to me super quickly and due to me not living near their head office I had a Skype interview first. The next stage is a test in kdb+/q to complete in your own time.

No prior knowledge of these languages is necessary for the role as AquaQ brings you to their Belfast office and trains you from scratch. This part of the application is as much for the applicant as for AquaQ, it allows you to see if you like kdb+/q. I had my final interview in Belfast where they spoke to me about my time at university, went over my kdb+/q assessment and asked a few more questions. Overall the process was completed with weeks of my first email.

What was training like with AquaQ and where has the role taken you?

When you join AquaQ you begin with a group of new joiners. This was really great for me since I had a group of people who I could talk to about what we were learning and who could help me when I was stuck. The atmosphere in the office is very open with lots of interaction between colleagues and a willingness to answer questions. Alongside training in kdb+/q were frequent classroom lessons run by colleagues which taught you about the more in-depth parts of kdb, Linux, computer science and financial concepts. This was a really great way of learning and building strong relationships with others in the company.

As we developed in our kdb and Linux skills we undertook a mock DevOp environment. This is essentially a simulation of the kind of work you would be doing day to day when working for a client. This really helped develop my knowledge of kdb and also aided in cementing my financial knowledge. Alongside this you are also given mini projects and roles to help others in the company or investigate new concepts. I was given a project which involved writing code with a blog post and giving one of the friday presentations that staff like to give each other.

After a few months I was given the opportunity to move to New York to work and continue to learn at a client there. The role was challenging and allowed me to quickly learn more about the financial context for what I was working on, as well as continuing to develop my kdb+/q skills. I had a fantastic time with AquaQ offering me the chance to live and work in places that rarely get offered to someone so recently graduated as myself. While I was in New York I met some really interesting people and getting to work in the center of the NY financial district was very exciting. I also really enjoyed exploring – taking advantage of being in such a major city.

After my role ended there I returned to the Belfast office where I continued to help out on several projects, develop AquaQ’s framework TorQ and also take on a teaching role for new employees.

I currently live in London working for a major european investment bank. This role has provided new challenges as I am working very closely with the front desk of the bank, and working directly with those who use the work I am doing. I am excited for what’s to come in my career at AquaQ!

Is there a social side to AquaQ?

Everyone I work with seems to genuinely enjoy getting to program in their day-to-day work but they also enjoy the more social side of AquaQ! We use a messaging service called Slack to communicate and it has many specific chats to pique anyone’s fancy, be it the latest Love Island gossip, book exchanges or the fantasy football league. The use of Slack also keeps everyone connected as we are spread over different countries and clients.

Everyone tends to go for drinks throughout the week and there’s an avid 5-a-side football team in both Belfast and London. There’s lots of events throughout the year with a Summer and Christmas parties and team bonding days.

Food also plays an important part of our work day with people enjoying to eat together at lunch rather than at their desks, free fruit in the office, donuts (or other sweet treats) on birthdays and lunch supplied on the first friday of every month.

What are some benefits you’ve discovered about working here that you weren’t aware of when you started?

AquaQ really do offer you the opportunity to travel if you want. We have people in places such as the US, Northern Ireland, Canada, England, Scotland, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and even New Zealand!

There’s such a diversity to the roles you can get involved in, you’re not just a specific language developer, you can dabble in many languages and get involved analytics and visualisations too!

AquaQ are very invested with you as a person and are keen to let you continue professional development, through in-work training opportunities or self-taught online courses.

When I heard consultant I thought hotel rooms and short stints at several companies. It put me off a bit, but at AquaQ you are a consultant that becomes part of your clients team. It’s not just for one project and can often last a long time. And the hotel rooms? Due to client projects not being short-term AquaQ will put you up in a flat so you don’t have to stress about finding a place when you arrive in a new city or live out of just one room!

Working in a consultancy means that there is so much knowledge to be shared. Everyone works on different projects and clients which all have their own set of unique challenges. If you ever get stuck then you can be sure that at least one other person has encountered this problem and would be happy to talk you through how to work through it.

Sharon GilmoreFiona Morgan