In celebration of International Women’s Day, we invited Jacquie Lennon of our Engineering Recruiting team to sit down with three of our female technologists to hear about the cool things they’ve been working on and learn about their experiences.
Meet Esther Kundin from Engineering in New York, Katerina Domenikou from Engineering in London, and Anna Cianciara from Global Data in Princeton, three women in tech who are working on Bloomberg’s news and data systems.
What do you do at Bloomberg?
Esther: I am the data engineer for the Machine Learning – Text Analysis team under News in Engineering. This involves using Big Data technologies, like Spark and HDFS. My job is to make sure that all of the news data is stored, accessible, and appropriately permissioned. The data is then used by other team members who create machine learning models, so they can build and assess new models for our product. Our products are things like sentiment analysis on news stories, so we can automatically create a signal for buying or selling stocks of companies mentioned in news stories, as well as market moving news which automatically lets our clients know that a story is important.
Katerina: I’m a software engineer in News Infrastructure. My team is responsible for the news alerting and streaming pipeline. In a nutshell, when a news story hits the News infrastructure, it gets enriched by a set of metadata (classification, people tagging, sentiment analysis, etc.). Then the story goes through a reversed search, where the news story is considered a search query and it’s matched against the saved news searches or the active scrolling news search of all the Bloomberg users. Any matches will produce alerts for the users.
Anna: I am a news data specialist on the Content Indexing team. My role involves working on classification projects for our news. My team uses data science and natural language processing (NLP) to organize content and analyze sentiment in news stories. We work to categorize news and send the content to functions on the terminal. Our client is anyone who reads news on the Bloomberg Terminal – we need to think about the type of analysis they would need from us.
Did you always know that working in tech was what you’d do?
Anna: Absolutely not. My undergraduate degree is in journalism. I thought I was going to be a reporter. When I determined that was not for me, I still wanted to work with text and news – so I got a Master’s in Library Science. I started at Bloomberg and that’s when I started getting involved in things like Python, NLP, and machine learning. I surprised myself at how technical I have become.
Katerina: I decided I wanted to study computer science at the age of 16. I can’t really remember what triggered my interest though, given that I had never met a computer scientist before.
Esther: No. I wanted to be a biologist actually. I just tried programming the summer before college — tried building a website, took a class. My brother was a technologist. He told me it was fun, and he was right. It is way more fun than biology!
How did you choose Bloomberg?
Esther: I came in as an intern and was immediately sold on the fact that this was a software company and that I could make the magic happen. I wouldn’t be working where software was just a service. At Bloomberg, we drive things. I really enjoyed my internship and came on full-time and went through our engineering training program.
Katerina: I joined Bloomberg seven years ago. It was my first job after university and my first-ever job interview. I got to learn about Bloomberg when I was doing my Master’s in management. I was invited to a discovery day and I heard about the different departments. I was blown away by the London building and the presentation by Engineering and decided to apply straight after that event, even though I hadn’t coded at all during the year of my Master’s. Within three weeks of applying, I had a job.
How have you grown in your career?
Anna: I joined Bloomberg 10 years ago. NLP was not a thing here yet. What we do is find patterns in news stories that can be used to classify them. My team uses our background in linguistics/journalism/library science. We can use technologies to make this faster and easier. I was able to grow along with this trend to find more efficient ways of doing our work.
Esther: My whole career has been at Bloomberg. As time has gone on, I have grown from a junior developer to a more senior role, where I take on a lot more project ownership. I work on cross-team projects and have my hands more in the architecting, where I can advise more on how to build these large systems.
Katerina: For the first six years of my career in Bloomberg, I worked in Trading Systems, developing a low-latency, high-capacity order management system. I mainly did front-end development and I got to chance to learn more about the financial domain. It was a great learning experience to get to design and implement solutions that clients found useful and wanted to use. Since 2017, I’ve been part of News Infrastructure. So now I’m working as a backend developer on a completely different set of challenges.
What tech trends at Bloomberg have you excited?
Anna: Our data science platforms. These are collaborative projects that will make life easier and allow us to share expertise to get to solutions faster. These approaches will take out a lot of the noise, so we can focus on solving the problems.
Esther: We have rolled out machine learning training classes for more technologists. I think this is important. All of these technologies are evolving so quickly and I’m happy we’re bringing a lot of them in-house, as well as training people on how to use them and getting people to go to conferences. I actually joined the leadership of the Distributed Systems Guild in order to get more of these exciting developments into the hands of our engineers.
Katerina: I’m excited at the prospect of Continuous Integration / Continuous Delivery and other developer experience initiatives.
What is your involvement with Bloomberg Women in Technology (BWIT)?
Anna: I am the chapter co-lead for Bloomberg Women in Technology, Princeton. I helped build out the chapter here. Princeton always had a close-knit group and we were involved in BWIT in New York. I met Esther through the New York chapter and had the opportunity to go to the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. At Grace Hopper, there was a different level of camaraderie available. I was surrounded by people who were really passionate about women in technology both at Bloomberg and in the industry. I knew it would be great to bring this same type of camaraderie to the Princeton office.
Katerina: Since 2013 I’ve led the Bloomberg Women in Tech Community in London (which was called Diversity Efforts when we started off). My involvement with BWIT gave me a great opportunity to work with very passionate people to drive the D&I agenda at Bloomberg.
Esther: The BWIT community was started out of some conversations across women in engineering. We saw there was a need for a community of women in tech. We wanted a space where we could share technologies, speak about career growth, and learn from people with similar interests. I encourage others who want to get involved to do so. We are always looking for new things to do and for volunteers in our community.
Why is being a part of this network and community important to you?
Anna: The ability to share technologies and share our achievements has been both beneficial and rewarding. We are able to get women together who share passions about technology. We are able to learn from and recognize women in our office who are working on really cool things. It is great to build this long-term support network — not only for work-related things, but for whenever you need anything, even if our personal lives.
Esther: It’s super important to me because I have learned a lot in my understanding of issues that women face in the tech field. A lot of my leadership skills have come from working on BWIT events and programs. I have built a strong network that I would not have had access to otherwise. It is refreshing to not be the only woman in the room. I think it is very important to a lot of people that we have a network of people you can talk to, go to events with, and learn from.
Katerina: BWIT is a great platform to showcase female talent within the organization and to connect people. For me personally, it has been a great opportunity to develop my leadership skills and expand my network in both London and New York. Finally, my involvement with BWIT gave me the opportunity to participate in different conferences, Grace Hopper for example, and increase my confidence as a public speaker.
What advice do you have for women in tech?
Esther: A couple things; Reading Sheryl’s Sandberg’s book, “Lean In,” was life-changing for me — I recommend that. Stay open to learning new things, keep looking for opportunities to learn, don’t be intimidated by other people — everyone has a voice at the table. It’s important to do a good job, but also important to celebrate that and share it.
Katerina: Continue learning and growing. And find a unique place to make the tech industry more inclusive and innovative.
What does success look like for you?
Anna: Being able to look forward to every day. Being able to take interest in your work. If you don’t like what you do, you’ll burn out. I have been here for 10 years. I have seen so many changes. If you can find interesting things in what you do — you’re successful.
Esther: Success looks like being able to understand a difficult problem, come up with a feasible solution, and then pull it together and make it work.
Katerina: Success for me means three things: 1) Spending quality time with the people I love. 2) Having a balanced life. 3) Being able to work on projects that inspire me.
What are you doing when you’re not solving tech problems?
Anna: I have two kids, twins. I am helping run the after-school clubs. I like to hang out in Princeton, where I live. I like to walk around the town, go to coffee shops, and read books.
Esther: You can find me building Lego robots with my daughters!
Katerina: You can find me preparing for a marathon, trying to do a headstand, or somewhere else outside of my comfort zone.