Meet the Team: ESG Engineering

There is enormous investor interest in socially responsible investing. Bloomberg’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Engineering team is building new data-driven products to allow investors to better understand how various companies score in terms of sustainability and societal impact and their associated potential financial performance. These products are being designed to make it easy for clients to quickly gauge companies’ commitments to the core pillars of social responsibility. For example, Bloomberg’s current offering of proprietary ESG Scores include: Board Composition Scores, industry-specific Climate Transition Scores, industry-specific Environmental & Social (ES) Scores, Environmental & Social News Sentiment Scores, ESG Disclosure Scores, and the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index Scores.

Eleanor Wieschaus

First, let’s meet Eleanor Wieschaus, head of the Fixed Income (FI) Pricing & Risk Engineering team. She has been at Bloomberg for 16 years and now manages a portfolio of products focused on leveraging vast datasets and complex models to generate new content for Bloomberg clients. This content covers areas like bond pricing, credit risk, regulatory requirements, market liquidity, and ESG.

What are some of the factors driving the rapid growth/expansion of your team?
Our clients are becoming more sophisticated every day, and with that, their interest in data-driven answers is increasing. Our team is very experienced in building large-scale solutions, so we have the opportunity to take on new and interesting markets across different financial domains.

What skills do you look for when hiring engineers for your team?
When I’m interviewing people, I look for people who can synthesize complex information and problems. To that extent, I value seeing and hearing candidates working through the questions I give them as much as the final answer. At Bloomberg, to solve problems is to collaborate and communicate, so I want to see how individuals do that on the ground. Regarding programming languages, I’m pretty agnostic. I myself have learned many different languages over the years, so I don’t see a particular language as a barrier to entry.

Bloomberg’s Engineering’s Financial Analytics’ (FA) group has always stood out for having a number of women in its senior leadership. Why do you think that is?
We’ve always taken inclusion seriously as critical for our business success. That means understanding that different perspectives build better products. By ensuring that we are finding and cultivating those different perspectives, this ultimately leads to a diverse set of people being considered for leadership roles.

How do you foster culture on your team? How has that changed with everyone working from home during the pandemic?
I actively make sure to be my real self with everyone on the team. I want people to know I’m human, that I really do trust them, and that I hope they’ll trust me too. The pandemic has been incredibly challenging for many people on the team for many different reasons. And it IS harder to open up over a remote call than it is in person. That said, one positive I’ve seen is that we’ve, by necessity, all had a window into each other’s lives and some of the challenges we each live with, and I’ve seen people really come together to support each other. My colleagues have seen my two-year-old daughter throw a tantrum. They have heard me excuse myself because my kids *once again* removed every single item from the recycling bin. So, in some ways, they’ve gotten to know me in a very different way than they ever did.

“Our team is very experienced in building large-scale solutions, so we have the opportunity to take on new and interesting markets across different financial domains.”

– Eleanor Wieschaus

Ben Guzinski

Ben Guzinski is a Team Lead for ESG Engineering, a team he joined after spending most of his career at Bloomberg working on the company’s Customer Relationship Management systems.

Please share your title, role, how long you’ve been with Bloomberg.
I’m the Team Lead for the ESG Engineering team, which was formed at the beginning of 2019. I joined Bloomberg straight out of school at the University of Waterloo in the summer of 2006 and became a Team Lead in 2009. I spent a total of 12 years in Internal Applications supporting Bloomberg’s in-house CRM system. which is used by our global salesforce, before switching over to the Know Your Customer (KYC) domain. I then moved to FI Pricing & Risk in February 2019 to lead the ESG Engineering team.

Tell us about what you’re working on now and what your biggest challenge is. What inspires you most about it?
As a team, we’re working on ingesting, calculating, and publishing Bloomberg’s own ESG scores, as well as scores from third parties, for a growing list of companies. This is challenging because we’re dealing with multiple datasets of varying formats, billions of data points, and multiple technologies that need to be stitched together to deliver and display this data to our clients.

It’s the potential impact of exposing these scores to investors that drives me. By leveraging Bloomberg’s reach, publishing this data encourages companies to reduce their carbon footprint, enhance their board composition, and/or make their workforce more representative of their customers and society at large, thereby reducing inequalities of all kinds.

What is it like moving between different teams within Bloomberg?
I initially considered moving teams to be a very scary proposition. It took getting over my fear of the unknown, as well as regular encouragement, advice, support, and guidance from our Engineering recruiting partners and my managers, to finally become comfortable with exploring other internal opportunities.

Contrary to my fears, the process was very straightforward. I reached out to my manager and shared with him what I was looking for. He connected me with several people and I found my way to my current team.

How do you foster a collaborative, inclusive environment at work?
I think that a team’s culture is truly the key to its success and its ability to deliver. If you don’t encourage communication, collaboration, and consensus, your team will not succeed in the long run. To achieve that, you’ve got to encourage every team member to consciously solicit opinions from others, both inside and outside the team. You also have to model that behavior yourself by involving everyone in the conversation.

By getting to know each other as individuals, you are even more likely to acknowledge others’ ideas and ultimately collaborate with them. Given that, we don’t only do that through the work itself. We try to socialize in other settings, be it through online games, casual conversations, and Best of Bloomberg volunteer events.

How does the collaborative environment at Bloomberg create opportunities to learn new skills and expand your expertise?
The product that we are building requires us to deal with multiple teams inside and outside Engineering. It also requires us to integrate different technologies into our tech stack. When reaching out to others, we’ve found everyone to be extremely giving of their time and expertise. That type of openness and collaboration allows you to grow your skill set, as well as your network. In turn, that can lead to new opportunities down the road or the opportunity to learn new technologies.

What are your best tips for inspiring direct reports?
First, you have to connect with your team members as people and empathize with them. You’ve got to do a lot of listening and understand their goals and aspirations. Second, you’ve got to provide direction by being up-front and honest about what needs to be done and why, as well as what the challenges are. Then, it’s important that you give people the runway to learn and grow, and give them a sense of ownership over what they’re doing. Throughout this process, you’ve got to always be there to listen, guide, and provide feedback. Praise and constructive feedback are important, in equal measure. Finally, you need to be capable of owning your mistakes, learning from the team, and course correcting as necessary.

“By leveraging Bloomberg’s reach, publishing this data encourages companies to reduce their carbon footprint, enhance their board composition, and/or make their workforce more representative of their customers and society at large, thereby reducing inequalities of all kinds.”

– Ben Guzinski

Parul Jalota

Parul Jalota maintains a dual role as the head of Bloomberg’s ESG and Credit Risk Engineering teams, a position she took on after spending over 12 years in financial technology at Goldman Sachs.

Tell us about your role as head of ESG Engineering and what the team is responsible for.
The ESG Engineering team has doubled in size since its inception, and we are continuing to expand (we are currently looking to hire those who are passionate about ESG and want to make an impact in this area). My primary focus with ESG is to provide technical direction and coaching to team members, define our ESG strategy in partnership with product stakeholders, as well as continue to grow the team.

Demand from investors for ESG data continues to increase, and the market is expected to swell to $1 billion in 2021, so it’s an incredibly exciting time to build innovative products that provide comprehensive ESG data and analytics to our clients.

Briefly tell us about your career path.
I started my career as one of the first interns at the newly established Goldman Sachs office in India. During that internship, I had a rewarding experience building an end-to-end product that acquired financial reference data from Bloomberg via the Data License offering. I started my full-time career at Goldman in the Asset Management division and from there moved on to take engineering leadership roles across Fixed Income, Firmwide Reference Data and Digital Banking. 

After 12 years at Goldman Sachs, I joined Bloomberg in late 2019 to manage the ESG and Credit Risk teams. When I was presented with the opportunity, I was instantly drawn towards the organization’s strong leadership and transparent culture. I was excited about growing the ESG team to build products championing important causes such as gender equality and climate change.

What is your strategy for choosing team members, particularly in terms of diversity?
Diversity fuels innovation. When we bring together people from different cultures, ethnic backgrounds, and diverse experiences, the resulting amalgamation of ideas often leads to new ideas driving the growth and success of our organization. Building a diverse team takes time and patience, and we are committed to going the extra mile to not only hire diverse candidates, but also ensuring that we provide an inclusive environment in which they can succeed.

Another strategy I follow is to continually assess for key skills and knowledge gaps in the team as our product priorities continue to evolve. This way, we can set up teams with a long-term perspective. Apart from fluency in computer science fundamentals and programming languages, we love to see a positive and open attitude, strong communication, and problem-solving skills.  

What are some of the unique technical challenges your team needs to tackle?
Since ESG Engineering is a recently established team, we have the unique opportunity to work on greenfield projects. Our vision is to become the provider of choice for a wide variety of ESG datasets and to empower our clients with complex quantitative analytics and deep integration into their investor workflows.

Some of our technical challenges include deciding on the best architectural paradigms for diverse ESG datasets, in addition to designing highly scalable and reliable systems. These choices will allow us to efficiently store billions of data points and compute quantitative scores, while providing our clients with a rich user experience to navigate and analyze our data.

As the need for reliable ESG data continues to grow and datasets continue to expand, data discoverability and transparency of our proprietary scoring methodology remain as challenges ahead of us. We have recently embarked on initiatives to develop a hierarchical data taxonomy and build sophisticated interfaces for our clients to harness the full potential of our data. We continue to experiment and breed innovation in this space with iterative deliverables.

“When we bring together people from different cultures, ethnic backgrounds, and diverse experiences, the resulting amalgamation of ideas often leads to new ideas driving the growth and success of our organization.”

– Parul Jalota

Mariano Pennini

Mariano Pennini is a software engineer on the ESG engineering team. Like many of the company’s engineers, he joined Bloomberg on account of its unique mix of finance and technology. 

How did you find out about Bloomberg? What made Bloomberg stand out for you? Why did you choose Bloomberg?
I found out about Bloomberg through the company’s on-campus recruitment efforts at Johns Hopkins University. As I was searching for my first job out of college, Bloomberg’s unique position as a tech company nestled deeply within finance appealed to me. I chose Bloomberg because I wanted to work on financial technology at the scale that a company like Bloomberg handles. I also appreciated the trust that people in the financial industry give to the employees at Bloomberg and the special culture that this trust enables the company’s employees to experience.

What’s it like working on a team that’s spread across multiple geographies? How do you find the different parts of the team work together?
Working remotely over the past year has been surreal. When I first started on my team, we were four engineers and our team lead. Since then, we have nearly doubled. Our team members are now working out of their homes based across the U.S. I’ve only met most of my colleagues via video chat, but we’ve found ways to make this arrangement work.

From a technical perspective, we’ve put more emphasis on peer reviews to supplant face-to-face design discussions. We’ve also put a lot of effort into onboarding remote engineers, recognizing that it is more challenging to communicate Bloomberg’s culture when they have never set foot in a Bloomberg office. We’ve dedicated time on our calendars to gather and talk about non-tech topics, to play games at the end of a long week, and to chat one-on-one about whatever may be on our minds. Luckily, the digital nature of our work enables us to perform well, even when working in a distributed fashion, and we’ve successfully rolled out our first production systems, all from our respective home offices.

“I chose Bloomberg because I wanted to work on financial technology at the scale that a company like Bloomberg handles.”

– Mariano Pennini

Sarah Yu

Sarah Yu is a software engineer on the ESG Engineering team. After graduating from the University of Washington in 2019, she joined Bloomberg, attracted by the company’s ubiquity in the financial sector.

How did you find out about Bloomberg? What made Bloomberg stand out for you? Why did you choose Bloomberg?
I first learned about Bloomberg at a college career fair. I didn’t know anything about the company beyond Bloomberg News. To be quite honest, I can’t say that I had fully wrapped my head around the Bloomberg Terminal until my first day on the job.

However, Bloomberg stood out to me during the interview process because of its commitment to community and philanthropy. After speaking with other engineers, it became clear to me that philanthropy is an integral part of the company culture, and there are so many ways to engage with the larger NYC community that the company is a part of. 

How does your involvement with Bloomberg’s D&I Communities impact your life? What are some of the activities you’re involved with?
I first learned about the D&I communities in my first week of the engineering training program, and it’s been an integral part of my time with Bloomberg ever since. As a junior engineer, my involvement in the Bloomberg Women in Technology (BWIT) community helped me find mentorship, build a network, and even led to my role on the ESG team.

I first heard about ESG during the annual BWIT Summit, where Eleanor spoke on a panel about all the incredible work that was planned by her team. Fast forward a few months later and I was telling this same story to Parul and Ben during my interviews, so there’s no doubt that D&I has had a big impact on my career path.

Beyond that, I’ve also had the chance to work with our Women in Fixed Income (WIFI) planning committee and the engineering training program to organize our annual “D&I and You” event, during which new engineers are introduced to our D&I communities.

How does the collaborative environment at Bloomberg create opportunities to learn new skills and expand your expertise?
The collaborative environment, especially on our team, has been a large part of my growth this past year as an engineer. To be able to consult on infrastructure design and engage with so many other stakeholders and system owners has taught me a lot, while ensuring I was rigorous in my understanding of our own systems. You learn pretty quickly that, with collaboration comes a lot of questions, and it’s best to know the answers or how to find them. Also, sitting down with senior engineers and product owners has taught me a lot about how to think about solutions and approach new problems, especially with the end-user in mind. I think this collaborative style of work has helped me learn not only how to be a better engineer, but also how to build better systems, where engineering is really only one part of a greater goal.

“This collaborative style of work has helped me learn not only how to be a better engineer, but also how to build better systems, where engineering is really only one part of a greater goal.”

– Sarah Yu

Check out an open role with our ESG Engineering team here.