Bloomberg’s Futures & Options Engineering Group (F&O) is part of the broader Macro Markets and Alternative Data Engineering Team (MMAD), which focuses on products and data that transcend individual companies, speaking to broader global financial trends like commodity flows, foreign exchange (FX) prices, and macroeconomics. F&O is the foundation for exchange-traded (listed) futures, strategies, and options on commodities (such as crude oil, crops, and metals), FX rates, bonds, and interest rates.
Let’s first meet Kara Kalhor, the engineering manager who leads the Futures & Options Engineering Group at Bloomberg. This team is responsible for managing the lifecycles and data of millions of non-equity listed instruments, presenting that data in a clear and comprehensive manner, implementing the analytical calculations for bond and interest rate futures, and providing client-facing analytics tools.
What are some of the unique technical challenges your teams need to tackle?
The accuracy and reliability of the data we manage is critical for many areas of Bloomberg and our customers. We ingest raw data from hundreds of heterogeneous data streams, and it all needs to be processed correctly, and in a timely fashion. We manage infrastructure that ensures high-quality, high-availability, low-latency data under a load of billions of requests per day. The demand for our data continues to increase as exchange-traded instruments become more important and complex.
Briefly tell us about your career path.
After college, I joined the Trading Solutions department at Bloomberg. I worked primarily on the sell-side as an engineer, then as a team leader, and finally as a manager. I’m primarily motivated by learning and having an impact. After a number of years, I wanted to try something new, and transferred to work on software infrastructure stability. I worked mainly on large-scale systems around multicast transport, network resiliency, and middleware. It was fun to learn new material and have a very broad impact. About a year ago, I moved to manage F&O, which is a nice blend of my previous experiences in Trading Solutions and Software Infrastructure.
What’s your strategy for choosing team members, particularly in terms of diversity?
I try to match the needs of a role with the interests and skills of applicants. My team is currently growing quite fast — and I want to ensure that we’re growing with a wide range of experience, skills, and knowledge. While junior and senior hiring expectations are vastly different, what remains the same is my approach. I like to take the time to really understand each individual, what their needs and goals are, what their motivations are, and to answer any questions they may have.
At times, I’ve found that people from under-represented groups in tech have the skills and experience for the job but may be deterred from pursuing a career in tech due to the lack of representation and role models in the industry. Having this awareness has helped me be more supportive of their specific needs and to reassure them of their strengths, while also reminding them of how much of an asset they could be to our team and the company.
What skills do you look for when hiring engineers for your team?
We’re currently looking for full-stack engineers to develop applications and back-end engineers to work on analytics and a variety of distributed systems. We need people of various levels of experience, from recent college graduates to seasoned architects. We are interested in bringing in fresh ideas and perspectives, as well as technical experience and expertise. Besides technical acumen in problem solving, design, and software skills, we look for individuals with the desire and ability to learn, who are open-minded, curious, inclusive, and have great collaboration skills.
What are some of the factors driving the rapid growth of your team?
The growth of our team is being driven by the growing importance and complexity of exchange-traded F&O instruments and the need to continue having high quality and performant data, as more Bloomberg businesses and customers rely on it.
How do you foster culture on your team?
I value and foster a culture based on empowerment, learning, collaboration, transparency, and inclusion. I believe leadership doesn’t require a title. We have people who lead formally as team leads and individual contributors who lead informally as subject matter experts or technical leads in key areas. I try to celebrate and leverage the strengths of each individual for the benefit of the whole team. Our team regularly holds knowledge transfer sessions, which affords everyone the opportunity to teach and learn.
In addition, the team and I enjoy working on tough technical designs and challenges with a balance of individual thinking and brainstorming as a focused group. I disseminate information to the team as clearly as I can, and make sure I am available to all team members so they can share ideas, aspirations, and concerns.
I also share Bloomberg’s dedication to philanthropy, partnering with our Corporate Philanthropy team to ensure that engineers within my broader group are aware of opportunities to mentor and teach tech to underrepresented populations.
Rushabh Shah is a team leader on the F&O Applications team, where he supports a team of engineers who maintain a suite of more than 18 F&O client applications, which together support thousands of non-equity products traded on over 100 exchanges around the globe.
What are you working on now?
I am currently collaborating with the team on improving the product workflow and discoverability for our clients, as well as the firm-wide Linux migration initiative. My current biggest challenge is prioritizing the needs between these two major initiatives and making sure we make good progress on both, in parallel.
What inspires me most is that our team has the opportunity to rethink, rebuild, and improve our applications both from an engineering perspective (i.e., improving our design, code structure, testing, and adoption of best practices) and the product perspective (i.e., rethinking and improving our product workflows to add even more value to our clients).
How did you come to join Bloomberg?
I joined Bloomberg as a senior engineer in the F&O team around six years ago after working at a hedge fund and a bank. Following my interview, I deliberated about the opportunity and had initially decided to pass on it. But a post-interview call from my previous manager, Ken Bromberg, convinced me otherwise. He spent an hour explaining the role and gave me a good understanding of the opportunities I’d have at Bloomberg and how I’d be able to contribute and grow into the role.
Adapting to Bloomberg’s style of working was initially challenging, with the amount of autonomy and responsibility you are given right away. However, the support of mentors and team members who answered questions right away helped me sail through during this initial period.
I’m glad for the opportunities that I have been provided over the years. I have been able to work on challenging projects and workflows. Today, there are still multiple aspects of the job that keep me excited. First is the teamwork and collaboration within the F&O organization and the opportunity to learn from my team members and influence them. Second is learning about the F&O product domain and understanding its value for our clients. Having a background in financial services helped me, but the domain is incredibly vast and there’s always more to learn. Over the past six years, our product manager has helped me fill in some of the gaps on multiple occasions. I also grew into the role of an engineering team lead. Looking back, I am glad I decided not to pass on the opportunity to join Bloomberg. Looking forward, I remain equally excited about my growth and opportunities here.
How do you foster a collaborative, inclusive environment at work?
To quote a famous proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone; but if you want to go far, go together.” For me, the key to collaboration and inclusivity is to create an environment where people feel like they are part of the team and are excited to bring forward their ideas and opinions. This helps the team make better decisions and generate better outcomes.
This starts by treating people with dignity and respect, irrespective of their work experience and background. I try to avoid creating silos within the team by fostering a mindset that we collectively own our products. This means team members are encouraged to provide constructive comments and ideas on their peers’ projects, even if they’re not directly involved. This also means that we must listen to ideas and opinions from team members regardless of their experience, tenure, or difference of opinions. Furthermore, when they are taking on new projects, I encourage my team to seek opinions from their cross-team peers or from the technical Guilds within the company.
I’m also mindful to use inclusive language at work and to encourage participation from everyone during our team building events.
Martin Hautefeuille serves as a team leader on the Fixed Income (FI) Futures Calculations team. This group owns the analytics for futures on debt instruments like bonds and interest rates.
Tell us about your career at Bloomberg.
I’ve been with Bloomberg for more than five years. I started in the F&O Derivatives team, which manages the life cycle of listed options and strategies on non-equity underlying options. The team is responsible for critical infrastructure that ingests and standardizes security datasets provided by more than 100 exchanges across the globe and provides high-availability and low-latency access to this data to our clients. Recently I joined the F&O Fixed Income Futures Calculations team. These futures require dedicated analytics to inform various investment strategies since their underlying assets periodically generate cash flow in the form of interest. In recent years, exchanges have become very creative and have introduced a wide variety of new fixed income futures. This is an area of growth from a business standpoint, as well as an exciting time for engineers, because we need to re-architect our calculation infrastructure to support these new contracts.
I have a background in scientific computing and I always enjoyed understanding what is behind a mathematical formula, translating it into code, and making my implementation accurate and efficient. The sweet spot for me is when my work involves computations, state-of-the-art computer science, and an impactful application. This is what really got me excited about leading the Fixed Income (FI) Futures Calculations team.
How did you discover Bloomberg?
Before joining Bloomberg, I spent five years at MIT teaching and doing research in scientific computing and solid mechanics. As a software engineer by trade, I wanted to learn how to improve software quality and adopt best practices in my research group. I’d come across Large-Scale C++ Software Design by John Lakos, creator of the Bloomberg BDE libraries. In retrospect, I wanted to become a better software engineer and saw Bloomberg as a place where I could hone those skills, improve, and learn, which has been my focus for the past five years. Joining the FI Futures Calculations team brought computations back into my professional life. With this team, I am at the intersection of computer science, computations, and financial analytics in a very similar way to how I was at the intersection of computer science, applied mathematics, and mechanical engineering during my time in academia. In hindsight, I am very happy I joined Bloomberg to become a better software engineer, and I am glad I stayed and found a great spot in the FI Futures Calculations team.
Tell us about the mentorship you’re receiving at Bloomberg.
As a relatively new team leader, I’ve been really amazed by the resources provided by Bloomberg’s engineering mentorship program for new team leads. My regular discussions with my mentor (a senior manager from a totally different engineering area) have been very helpful. Having simple and honest conversations, asking for feedback and advice, and benefiting from the experience of my mentor have really helped me reflect on how to foster a collaborative, inclusive, and productive environment among team members, and on how to build a team culture around a shared vision.
Through our leadership training program, I have also been in contact with a small group of freshly minted team leaders with whom I meet monthly. I have found that sharing experiences among peers has been really useful and a great way to support one another.
Jasmine Islam is a senior software engineer at Bloomberg. For the past several years, she’s led the development of an ingestion pipeline for F&O instruments.
Tell us about your team and your role in it.
The team owns exchange traded securities. We currently support over a hundred of these exchanges around the world, each having unique flavors that we need to support. My biggest challenge is building an efficient and maintainable system that accurately reflects the market, as both internal and external clients rely on our data. I love brainstorming and thinking up solutions. In this role I get to do that on a weekly basis. Plus, being in Engineering (as opposed to business), I also get to implement my solutions.
What made you decide to learn software engineering?
I came to learn software engineering because I was trying to be a good manager. I was leading some QA teams at Bloomberg and was transitioning them from manual to automated testing. I started learning automated testing so I could guide my team members better and found that I really enjoyed writing code.
A partially completed Codecademy course, a mentor and sponsor, followed by many nights and weekends of proper online learning led me to Bloomberg’s training class for new Engineering hires and, eventually, to my current team.
My previous experience was in healthcare and emergency services, where lives were on the line, and then casino gaming, where lots of money was on the line. This background has made me consistently look to build systems that are resilient and to be a voice in the team to ensure high quality standards.
What do you feel is an advantage to hiring more people with career experience outside of software engineering and financial analysis?
My peripatetic background in product, project, QA, and tech support helps me every day in software development, as I believe a good software engineer should have all those skills — and I spent years honing all these skills. As someone from a non-traditional background, I tend to question why things are done in a particular way, which leads to everyone discussing how they are done. These conversations often lead us to discover better solutions.
You’re very involved in a variety of D&I initiatives. Tell us about why this is important to you.
I think I’d be heavily involved in D&I efforts even if I wasn’t in underrepresented groups throughout my life and career, because it’s just right. People should be judged by what they do as opposed to who they are.
During my career as a manager, my diverse teams delivered better products than my homogeneous teams, so I have personal experience supporting research Bloomberg has publicized. Hiring is also very expensive and team members who do not feel included generally leave — I have done that myself several times in the past.
I also do lots of interviewing of candidates from diverse backgrounds, as well as mentor underrepresented students in high school/college to, hopefully, increase the pipeline of candidates.
What advice do you have for people from underrepresented groups who are pursuing a career in tech?
I interviewed three times before passing the interview process and moving to Engineering. There were certainly times where I wanted to give up, and there were even times I almost left Bloomberg to pursue my engineering career elsewhere. I’m happy I stayed at Bloomberg, as the internal Bloomberg training for new engineering hires is world-class.
Having a mentor guide me on what to learn helped me immensely, though I had to put in the work, of course.
Then, once you make it, you may suffer from imposter syndrome; I still encounter it to this day. You need to acknowledge it, but keep going, as you will bring value to your team every day.
How does the collaborative environment at Bloomberg create opportunities to learn new skills and expand your expertise?
I’ve taken advantage of the many avenues Bloomberg offers to expand my skills.
I’ve learned to be a better software engineer from the examples of senior and junior members of my team. I’ve also connected with mentors and mentees through both official and unofficial channels. I’ve even met people from different roles and departments while volunteering during Bloomberg-sponsored events, and I’ve had many wonderful conversations in the Link at 731 (i.e., the town square of Bloomberg), solving many vexing problems along the way. All these experiences have helped me grow and think in different ways.
Derek Shiu is a senior software engineer in the F&O Core team. He’s been with Bloomberg for more than 20 years. His team is responsible for databases & infrastructure that support exchange traded securities. Lately he’s been helping to set strategy to modernize the data access layer and refactor infrastructures and applications around them.
Tell us about your path to Bloomberg.
I started dental school but realized during practical training that it wasn’t the right profession for me and that I wouldn’t be able to do my best work if I wasn’t happy, which wouldn’t be fair to my patients. Instead, I pursued a master’s in computer science, which I found much more interesting. In my current work, I still apply some of the knowledge I learned in dental school, such as time management, critical thinking, differential diagnosis skills (which helps in troubleshooting & debugging), and record keeping skills (which is the equivalent of documentation).
How do you keep things interesting after so many years at the same company?
At Bloomberg, classes, self-learning courses, and knowledge sharing sessions are offered regularly, which enables us to continue learning new technologies and expanding our skills. Furthermore, Bloomberg’s culture and our managers encourage us to think outside the box, which gives us opportunities to apply new technologies to projects to challenge ourselves. Collaboration is highly valued at the company and you get to work closely with other teams, meet interesting people, and learn from them.
How do you foster a collaborative, inclusive environment at work?
Be a good listener and respect other’s ideas and opinions. Being honest and having faith in each other helps you establish trust between teammates.
Pete Ware is a senior software engineer on the F&O Derivatives team, which deals with the metadata for securities related to futures, options, and strategies on commodities like oil, housing, or cheese.
Tell us about the Derivatives team’s mission.
About 60 billion derivatives records are loaded per day, but there’s a lot of variability in what needs to be saved, how it’s collected, and what it looks like when the data comes from several hundred exchanges all over the world. I’m mostly involved in making access to that data possible and efficient.
But we don’t do this alone. We collaborate with many other teams at Bloomberg, such as teams that touch our databases, distributed shared memory, Apache Kafka, CI/CD, DevOps, etc. There are amazing teams that answer questions from our customers, while others interact with the hundreds of exchanges around the globe. One of the things that I love about Bloomberg is the amount of cooperation across teams.
How have you navigated your career at Bloomberg over the years?
I’ve been developing software for 36 years, with 11 of those years at Bloomberg in either the FX or F&O groups. I’ve kept things interesting for those 11 years by taking ownership. Personally, I find myself less enthusiastic if I’m told what to do and far more interested if I’m proposing what we should be doing. Fortunately, that’s a model that’s encouraged here.
I’ve never been interested in managing people and really enjoy developing software. Ken Bromberg was my original team lead (and later my manager), and he helped me develop a career path that gives me a lot of technical influence across several teams in FX and F&O without having to follow the typical management track. Luckily, Kara has been very supportive of my continuing on this path. There are other responsibilities — besides managing people — that lead to career advancement in which you can enjoy the respect of your peers.
How do you help encourage an inclusive environment at Bloomberg?
I think I’ve encouraged a collaborative and inclusive environment, but I always worry about being oblivious. Listening to others and treating their ideas with respect and not insisting on being right go a long way. I remember my first Post-Mortem (PM) session at Bloomberg that had senior management involved. I was terrified about getting blamed. Instead, it was all about what went wrong systemically and how to avoid it in the future. Our culture of group responsibility — and not individual blame — is very powerful. I think it also helps us avoid singling someone out because they are different.