Conversations with Coders: How Diversity and Collaboration Fuel Engineering Innovation

“English isn’t my first language, and I’m a female too, which often puts me in the minority in this industry,” explains Gülru Üstündag, who was born in Ankara, Turkey. “But everyone at Bloomberg has an open mind about each other, and I work closely with people from both engineering and finance backgrounds.” At Bloomberg, she feels right at home.

Bloomberg’s Engineering department prides itself on diversity, and the company’s culture places a high value on seeking a variety of perspectives. Gülru, who attended graduate school at Syracuse University, embodies this principle and colleagues regularly seek her out to pick her brain on any number of issues. She also performs in an improv troupe in New York City, so she’s used to being put into awkward (and humorous) situations. That made her the ideal subject for the first installment of Bloomberg’s Conversations with Coders video series, which explores the experience of working at Bloomberg through the lens of the company’s engineers.

Day to day, she leads the engineering team responsible for the Enterprise IOI platform. Short for “indication of interest,” IOI software enables sell-side clients to create market liquidity, helping them find the other side of a trade for a particular security. Her team’s challenge is to fully integrate the platform with Velocity, another internal Bloomberg system that maximizes transaction processing performance.

Like so many other projects at Bloomberg, creating a high-quality and user-friendly product requires various teams to work together seamlessly. To foster such collaboration, Gülru arranges technical talks that help employees learn about new products, new developments in technology infrastructure, so they can ask questions and contribute to the individual projects.

“If you go into a meeting room at Bloomberg, you might see people dressed differently from each other, but everyone is there to work toward the same goal regardless of what their background is,” she says.

Gülru is also heavily involved in the recruitment process. As someone who interned with Bloomberg, she knows firsthand which qualities to look for in potential employees, such as flexibility, displaying a hunger to solve problems and being able to work outside of your area of expertise.

“The most exemplary people are able to come up with an idea and execute it, even if it isn’t their regular job to do so. Everyone can do whatever it is they’re supposed to be doing. But coming up with an idea and being able to convince the management of your product, and get the buy-in from them makes someone a success.”

While Gülru believes she’s part of a diverse team, she continues to search far and wide for potential future candidates. For example, she serves as a mentor for high school children – particularly at-risk students and those who may be the first in their family to attend college.

She strives to make sure her team feels enriched by the experiences they create and the interests they pursue. “At Bloomberg, we have a diverse group of people who love collaborating. We just love programming. But we also have multitudes of personalities. We’re not just one-dimensional people who code,” she says. Maybe a coding comedian isn’t so out of the ordinary after all.

Software engineering is a field that’s as infinite as the ways we describe it. Conversations with Coders explores the developer experience at Bloomberg, and spotlights the skills required to thrive here and make a real, lasting impact. Our engineers tackle unique technological challenges and innovate in real time. Go deep with our engineers and take a fresh look at Bloomberg — this time from the inside out.