What is your background and how did you come about joining AquaQ?
I was in the middle of completing a Master’s degree in Cyber Security when I came across the opportunity to apply for a role as a graduate Financial Software Developer at AquaQ. Having graduated the year previous with a degree in Maths and Computer Science, a background in programming and
interest in learning a new, niche language, compelled me to apply.
How was your first day at AquaQ?
My AquaQ journey commenced in November 2018. I was, as you can imagine, quite nervous; I was walking into my first graduate job in a role which involved a language I had zero experience with! However, my nerves soon faded, as I was greeted with nothing but encouragement, support and friendly faces.
At AquaQ, you join as part of a cohort. On my first day, I was introduced to 5 other newbies to kdb+ who started that day too. Together, we engaged in the training sessions, challenges and tutorials as a team, encouraging and helping one another along the way. However, our first order of business was to come up with a team name. From that day forward, we were formally known as the ‘Qties’. If I can give one word of advice, it would be to put more thought into your team name than we did.
After completing all the essential onboarding stuff, we were treated to lunch at Made in Belfast; this gave us a chance to get to know some of the team, from recent starters to senior management and developers, and chat to them about their experiences at AquaQ.
The main thing that stood out to me on my first day (and that remains true today) was how great the team were; everyone was so willing to lend a hand and welcome us onboard. It’s so reassuring to know that everyone at AquaQ have your back!
Tell us a bit about the training offered at AquaQ and your experience so far.
AquaQ provides a comprehensive training program that is carefully designed to prepare you for work on client projects. It takes you through the q language and kdb+ database in meticulous detail via online tutorials, classroom style sessions with experienced AquaQ developers and regular kdb+ tests. On top of this, the program delivers thorough coverage of core topics in finance. You can even expect to undertake challenges which mirror problems you might encounter while working on a client project. This element of the training really tests your ability to work in a team, communicate effectively and deliver tasks in a timely manner.
As a kdb+ developer, most of the training I have undertaken has been central to kdb+. However, there are so many opportunities at AquaQ to extend your skillset and knowledge base beyond the subjects covered by the core training modules. AquaQ often arrange places on training courses throughout the year, such as the Bloomberg Market Concepts Course.
Since joining AquaQ, I’ve worked on two pretty different client projects. I started my first about 2 ½ months into my AquaQ journey. It was an 8-week project aimed at creating a prototype capable of identifying the source of bank transactions, as part of larger anti-money laundering scheme. This was a really exciting project, as it branched into an area of data science that I had little experience in, but was super keen to learn about and explore further.
Soon after completing my first project, I moved onto work for the client I am working for today, which involves developing their historic market data platform to process, transform and deliver key datasets to its users. While my skills as a developer have certainly been challenged and tested in this role, perhaps the biggest and most exciting leap for me was the move I made to work onsite, in New York!!
Having the chance to work in one of the world’s leading cities in finance as well as exploring a new, diverse and inspiring culture has been an amazing experience so far. Every day is a new adventure and I look forward to the many more opportunities that await!
With respect to company culture, how does AquaQ encourage a healthy work-life balance?
AquaQ recognizes the importance of employee health and wellbeing; this is one of the truly refreshing things about working for this company. As part of a wellness initiative, AquaQ partnered with Mindfulness Connected Learning to arrange a ‘Mindulness in the Workplace’ course for employees,
which involved taking part in weekly classes to engage in the art of mindfulness and learn how to incorporate it into our daily working life. I personally found these workshops to be hugely beneficial in terms of reducing stress and boosting morale.
Supplementary to this initiative, AquaQ will often organize parties, ‘away days’ and other socials events/activities throughout the year. Plus, there’s always at least a few people keen for Friday evening pints!
In general, adopting a healthy work-life balance is engrained in the company culture. Whether you are interested in getting involved in weekly 5-a-side, getting a team together for the annual Belfast Marathon, arranging a team lunch or helping your coworkers decorate the office for Christmas, there is a fun and social side to AquaQ for everyone.