Meet the Team: PORT Engineering

Bloomberg’s PORT Engineering team is responsible for building Bloomberg’s world-class multi-asset portfolio and risk analytics solution that empowers the biggest players in the financial world — money managers, mutual funds, hedge funds, and pension funds — with the tools to implement optimal investment portfolio strategies, assess risk exposure, and make investment decisions. PORT is used by 93 of the top 100 asset managers, with 47,000 active users globally. The team is composed of more than 250 engineers across offices in New York City, San Francisco, London, Lugano, Frankfurt, and Singapore.

Shawn Lu

First, let’s meet Shawn Lu, the head of the PORT Engineering team. He began his professional career 20 years ago at Bloomberg.

Briefly tell us about your career path.
I started my almost 20-year career at Bloomberg as a new graduate, after earning my master’s degree in computer science. With a thirst for building financial applications in different domains, I started in the foreign exchange (FX) analytics team, moved to derivatives, and eventually landed on the portfolio and risk analytics team.

What are some of the unique technical challenges your teams need to tackle?
Scalability is key to the success of the product. Each day, we run analytics on top of nearly one trillion data points for our global customers. We have to use best-in-class technology to be able to sustain this load and provide reliable services to our clients.

What’s your strategy for choosing team members, particularly in terms of diversity?
Diversity is in the team’s DNA. As a first-generation Chinese immigrant from mainland China, I truly appreciate and enjoy the performance of a diverse team. It’s all about creating a safe environment for people to share and value different points of view.

What skills do you look for when hiring engineers for your team?
We are looking for highly motivated technologists with strong collaborative skills.

How do you foster culture on your team? How has that changed with people working from home during the pandemic?
The global pandemic is reshaping how we work with each other. As a truly global team, we have always embraced a hybrid environment as our norm. Working together as a team is extremely important to us, be it physically or virtually.

“Scalability is key to the success of the product. Each day, we run analytics on top of nearly one trillion data points for our global customers.”

– Shawn Lu

Jenny Gu

Jenny Gu is the Group Team Lead for PORT Enterprise Reporting team. She’s been with Bloomberg for 14 years. Right now her team is working on expanding enterprise reporting offerings by building new report types and providing more flexible templates and rendering capabilities.

Tell us about what you’re working on now and what your biggest challenge is.
We are working on re-architecting our reporting workflow, consolidating multiple reporting products into a single platform, and providing a consistent reporting product for all buy-side clients. It’s challenging to develop a generic platform that is performant, that also accommodates different requirements and workflows at the same time. It’s also challenging to work on an architecture overhaul while still continuing to deliver new features to help the business grow.

What is it like moving to different teams within Bloomberg? How have you adapted?
I have worked on four different teams at Bloomberg, from Equities and Derivatives to Portfolio Analytics. Each team requires different domain knowledge and they all use different technologies to solve different challenges.

It’s always a bit scary to move to a new team, as there are a lot of unknowns and you know the least on the team. However, I’ve always kept an open mind and think of it as a growth and learning opportunity. It gives me the chance to expand my technical and leadership skills, meet new people, and foster new relationships.

How does your involvement with Bloomberg’s D&I Communities impact your life? What are some of the activities you’re involved with?
I was a co-lead for the Bloomberg Women in Technology (BWIT) community for the past two years. As a co-lead, I helped host monthly tech meetups, which provide a platform for women engineers to present their technical work. We also host coaching sessions to help women engineers prepare their presentations, so they can be more confident when presenting. I’m also very involved with B-Techies, a philanthropic initiative of BWIT that hosts a series of hands-on engineering activities for middle school students, with the goal of inspiring them to become interested in science and technology at a young age.

I also coordinated with various local women’s groups, which are grassroots women’s communities formed at a department level. We have more than 25 local women’s groups in Engineering. These smaller communities host various events aimed at fostering strong bonds and support networks for women engineers within the different teams of a department. Some of the events previously hosted by PORT Systers, the local group in Portfolio Analytics, include skating in Bryant Park, paint night, lightning talks, and volunteer events.

“It’s always a bit scary to move to a new team… However, I’ve always kept an open mind and think of it as a growth and learning opportunity. It gives me the chance to expand my technical and leadership skills, meet new people, and foster new relationships.”

– Jenny Gu

Jerome Joe

Jerome Joe is the Team Lead for the PORT Reporting Interactive team. He’s been with the team since January 2019, when he transferred to Bloomberg as a result of the company’s acquisition of the Barclays Risk Analytics and Index Solutions (BRAIS) business.

Tell us about what you’re working on now and what your biggest challenge is.
We are currently working on enhancements to our new interactive PORT Workspace (PORT WS) platform, with the immediate goal of migrating existing customers off of our legacy user interface (UI). Within this platform, we have been building a very robust framework, which includes a catalog of common controls. This framework will allow all of the analytics teams within PORT to easily create and integrate their own UI components into PORT WS.

My team has also been working on improving our Private Equity offering’s integration with PORT, in addition to providing additional analytic fields. At the moment, our biggest challenge is designing and implementing features and workflows that accommodate our clients’ specific needs on the UI, as well as ensuring consistency across other related functions. What inspires me most about these projects is that the decisions we are making will have a major impact on both our external clients and our internal teams.

How does your involvement with Bloomberg’s D&I Communities impact your life? What are some of the activities you’re involved with?
I have been involved in the Bloomberg Black In Tech (BBIT) community since I first came to Bloomberg. I have always been a firm believer that representation matters and I have set a personal goal for myself to help increase the number of Black engineers within Bloomberg. I have participated in virtual recruiting events at various HBCUs, as well as various conferences that cater to Black men and women in technology.

For the past year and a half, I have also been a part of the Minority Engineering Leadership Development (MELD) group. This has been, and continues to be, a tremendous help in developing the skills I need to become a great leader. One of my goals is to pay it forward so that many more Black engineers and future leaders in Bloomberg are provided the same opportunities that are currently being offered to me.

What do you think a team must have to be effective and healthy, particularly during this time of disruption?
I think communication and encouragement are essential. I have always personally felt that if we can open up, inspire, and support one another, then team members will be more willing to go above and beyond for one another. This will hopefully also build trust and let the team know that, in times of disruption, we have each other’s backs.

“I have been involved in the Bloomberg Black In Tech (BBIT) community since I first came to Bloomberg. I have always been a firm believer that representation matters and I have set a personal goal for myself to help increase the number of Black engineers within Bloomberg.”

– Jerome Joe

Matthew Buckley

Matthew Buckley is the Team Lead for the PORT Enterprise Tickerization team. His team is currently completing the migration of the tickerization service from an older Lua application to a new Python-based middleware service.

What is your biggest challenge? What inspires you most about it?
Our Lua application, which has evolved over the years, contains a rich collection of business logic. Rewriting this into a more scalable Python-based service, with our Lua code as our requirements documentation, means we now have a well-tested and more modern solution. Our biggest challenge over the past few months has been supporting two parallel systems while we’ve gradually migrated customers to the new tech stack.

You’re very involved in a variety of D&I initiatives. Tell us about why this is important to you and some of the things you’ve played a role in to make the workplace more inclusive.
Our workplace should be a safe space for everyone to be their authentic selves. Visibility is key to this. It’s great to have supportive company policies, but seeing how our D&I communities support our people sends a very positive message that Bloomberg is an open and welcoming place to work. I’ve been actively involved with Bloomberg’s LGBT and Ally Community (BPROUD) for the past three years and have really enjoyed helping prepare for our Pride Month activities.

How does the collaborative environment at Bloomberg create opportunities to learn new skills and expand your expertise?
There are so many opportunities to get involved with activities outside of your immediate team. For example, the engineering Guilds are a great place to share your knowledge on a specific area of technical expertise or to learn about topics. If you’re interested in becoming a leader, there are chances to lead projects or other initiatives. Joining a D&I community will also help you expand your network and give you the chance to learn new skills outside your core engineering skill set.

How have you and your colleagues adapted to working remotely?
For me, it’s been important to make sure that a lot of the natural interactions we had as a team when in the office still occur while we work remotely. For example, my team has a social event at the end of every week, where we discuss anything except work. This also ensures that everybody logs off and remembers to enjoy the weekend.

“Our workplace should be a safe space for everyone to be their authentic selves. Visibility is key to this. It’s great to have supportive company policies, but seeing how our D&I communities support our people sends a very positive message that Bloomberg is an open and welcoming place to work.”

– Matthew Buckley

Antonio Medina

Antonio Medina is the Team Lead for the PORT Data Engineering team, which owns two modules that are critical to the PORT plant. On any given day, these modules process 100 million requests and handle a combined 20 terabytes of data.

Tell us about what you’re working on now and what your biggest challenge is. What inspires you most about it?
As the financial world changes and technologies evolve, we need to keep growing our systems to respond to the dynamic environment we live in. At the same time, we need to maintain the availability, reliability, and performance of our systems. Some of our recent projects relate to the onboarding of the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR), ESG data, and cryptocurrencies.

Working for Bloomberg is rewarding in many personal and professional ways. Though it is a large company, it still has that feeling of a family-owned business, where there is genuine care for its employees and the community around us.

Tell us about the mentorship you’re receiving at Bloomberg.
I recently became the Team Lead of my team, but I was the de-facto leader for over a year prior to that. In many other companies, one is an individual contributor on Friday and is then put in charge of a team on Monday; but Bloomberg understands the significance of providing training to help with the development of its employees. I was paired with two mentors who taught me how to be an effective Team Lead over the course of a year. I learned about how to help others grow professionally and develop new skills, while continuing to improve our software infrastructure at the same time.

What are your best tips for inspiring direct reports?
Among many other facets, Bloomberg encourages and fosters innovation. We want our software developers to share their ideas about how to build or improve our software infrastructure. We frequently build prototypes or simulators to evaluate new ideas or technologies. Several members of my team have recently built systems from the ground up that started like this.

“Working for Bloomberg is rewarding in many personal and professional ways. Though it is a large company, it still has that feeling of a family-owned business, where there is genuine care for its employees and the community around us.”

– Antonio Medina

Veronica D’Agosta

Veronica D’Agosta is a software engineer on the PORT Performance Analytics team. She is currently working on the PORT Performance Transparency initiative, which involves developing department-level tools to offer full transparency on how client-facing fields are computed.

Tell us about your background.
I earned a degree in computer engineering and a minor in mathematics from Purdue University in 2018. After graduation, I spent a couple of years gaining industry experience by working in diverse software development fields in multiple countries. In February 2021, my journey with Bloomberg started in the Lugano office, which is home to more than 50 engineers from all around the globe. Lugano turned out to be a perfect match for me, as I have always been curious about expanding my views by meeting people from different cultures and backgrounds, while still feeling part of a small, welcoming community.

Tell us about what you’re working on now and what your biggest challenge is. What inspires you most about it?
My work aids various teams and supports the development and research of new features, as well the improvement of existing ones by offering instruments to inspect the raw data, the intermediate calculations, and the results of the complex models which stand behind PORT. In particular, I am designing and writing a new Python software library that has to integrate with the existing software stack to uncover the intermediate data of a specific PORT request using Apache Spark and Jupyter notebooks.

Since I joined Bloomberg, I have been given extensive support and learning tools. At the same time, I have been able to express myself by working on a project that gives me full ownership and the opportunity to make some important technical decisions. What I love about this project is that it is both challenging and stimulating, which is exactly what I was looking for when I decided to join Bloomberg.

How did the training program at Bloomberg help get you up to speed on our systems?
I joined Bloomberg during the COVID-19 pandemic and I must admit I was a bit concerned with the idea of having to start a new job remotely. I was pleasantly surprised by how well-structured the onboarding and engineering training processes were. I had the opportunity to improve my knowledge of several programming languages, including Python, C++, and JavaScript, as well as to learn about Bloomberg-specific technologies. The training, which lasted several months, was not only a great opportunity to grow as a software engineer, but also allowed me to network and meet many diverse and talented individuals across Bloomberg. Despite not being able to go to the office, I felt like I was fully supported.

What made you decide to learn software engineering and why apply it to the finance sector after so many years working in other fields?
A career in software engineering was not what I was dreaming of when I was growing up. I wanted to become a doctor in order to help others and positively contribute to the world. As I grew older, my interests in technology started to grow, and my curiosity for how computers worked increased. As the world became more digitized, I realized I could have a major impact on people’s lives by working as a software engineer and that, perhaps, I could do some good on a larger scale.

For me, writing software is like solving a puzzle. It’s challenging, rewarding, and it gives me many opportunities to think and grow. I worked in diverse technical fields before joining Bloomberg: from web development to machine vision and AI. Nonetheless, when I was given the opportunity to join the finance world, I decided to embrace it, as this extremely fast-paced and stimulating environment — with lots of growth opportunities — matches my ambitious personality. The finance sector also poses many challenges, as it involves analyzing billions of data points every day in short amounts of time, and I felt like this was the kind of technical challenge I really wanted to take on.

How do you foster a collaborative, inclusive environment at work?
The key to a collaborative environment is making sure nobody is uneasy about expressing their own opinion. Diverse views are most likely a company’s most important asset, and being able to contribute freely without feeling judged or discriminated against fosters the inclusive environment here in Bloomberg.

Team leaders and teammates always try to learn as much as possible from one another because everyone — be it a new hire or someone who has been in the industry for years — could positively impact a discussion. Now that many people are working remotely from home, it is especially important to emphasize the need for open communication. Bloomberg promotes teamwork and collaboration through many initiatives, including volunteering opportunities, coffee chats, tech talks, and many other social events.

“What I love about this project is that it is both challenging and stimulating, which is exactly what I was looking for when I decided to join Bloomberg.”

– Veronica D’Agosta

Check out some of the open roles with our PORT Engineering team (here, here, and here).