Interview with Fadil | mthree Graduate Software Engineer

Where are they now? Interview with Fadil, an Assistant Vice President


fadil_header.pngWhere can being an mthree Alumni take you? What happens after the graduate program is finished? Get the answers to your questions in our new series of interviews.

In our ‘where are they now?’ series, we speak to some of our very first Alumni about what they’ve been up to since finishing the Alumni graduate program. Read their stories, get career advice and discover the impact being an mthree Alumni could have on your career.

For this blog, we spoke to Fadil. He graduated with a BSc in Biochemistry from Imperial College London in 2016. Fadil completed the Alumni program in 2019 and has since progressed to Assistant Vice President – Software Engineer at Bank of America (BofA).

Tell us about yourself

“I studied Biochemistry at Imperial College London and graduated in 2016. One of my favorite aspects of Biochemistry was Bioinformatics, which uses Python programming to study biological molecules. For my final year project, I found that I actually enjoyed programming more than the scientific part.

It piqued my interest in doing programming as a career but I didn't have the computer science degree or work experience that most companies look for. mthree gave me an alternative route into programming which I wouldn't have had otherwise.”

What was it like working in software development without a technical background?

“When I first joined mthree I was worried that I didn't have enough experience.

While I did programming for my final year project, they only taught me the programming that’s required for scientific analysis.

I had concerns that I didn’t have enough knowledge to do the job well. But I was really well supported by the mthree Alumni program.

I had four weeks of training before I went on-site which was really important, and I had resources and support from BofA.”

What did you learn during training?

“In the first few weeks, there was an emphasis on building soft skills. Our instructor said to us that if a graduate isn’t doing well on-site, it’s usually due to a lack of soft skills. They’re not getting to work on time or have poor communication skills.

After soft skills training, we learnt about the financial markets and how investment banks work. Then the final two weeks focused on programming. We learnt about Python, Bash and JavaScript and had a mini project to complete.

What was great about the mthree training is that it was well-rounded. I found the Python training especially useful as it filled in any knowledge gaps from what I learnt at university.”

Tell us about your career journey

“I work in transaction reporting which is when the bank needs to report transactions to national regulators. I've worked in various projects since I joined, including developing for MiFID and for a US regulation called TRACE.

The Assistant Vice President (AVP) promotion came because I picked up those projects quickly. Usually it takes 3 years before you get promoted to AVP but it took me 2 and a ¼ years.

Since then, I’ve carried on progressing and I’m now team lead.”

What does it mean to be an AVP in Software Engineering?

“It means extra responsibilities. When you’re a new grad, you can take more of a backseat as you still have lots to learn. When I first joined, I’d just listening in to meetings to understand how things work.

If you're just starting out, you’re probably not involved in project management. People give you the requirements and tell you what to do.

However, as you progress you have more responsibility and you drive project direction. You talk to the wider business more and you’re expected to have more of an active voice in meetings.

I think the reason I was promoted early is that, as an Application Developer, I was doing tasks that they’d expect from an AVP. The business wants to see you go the extra mile and it makes getting promoted a no brainer!”

What are your career highlights?

“I'm proud of what I’ve delivered. I helped to deliver MiFID which was a huge piece of work in 2018.

And then when I worked on TRACE, unlike MiFID was a huge team, it was just me and a Vice President. I had more direction and control over how I wanted the project to go and the responsibilities were split 50/50 between us.

I’m also proud of the Brexit work we did for MiFID as it was the first project I can say I drove on my own. It was a long project that had to be broken into pieces as the Brexit deadline changed. “

Did you have any preconceptions of investment banks and were they true?

“BofA is a relaxed and supportive environment compared to what most people think investment banks are like. It’s a good environment to work in. It’s very conducive to helping grads through their careers and building them up to the employee they can be.

I was warned that people in banking are awful but for BofA that’s not the case. Most of the people that I've been working with are relaxed and are very nice, lovely people to work with.”

What impact do you think joining mthree had on your career?

“mthree changed the trajectory of my career. Without mthree, my chances of getting into programming were unlikely. I would’ve stayed in science, but I know that I’m happier now because it was the programming side that interested me more than anything else in biochemistry.”

Do you see any benefits of you joining via the mthree program than the traditional route into a bank?

“One of the main benefits is the extra resources I had. I had Pluralsight for two years and then got a LinkedIn Learning license. I had to be more than ‘good enough’ at programming and the extra support, especially from Pluralsight, made me really good.

I think that the traditional BofA graduate program is probably more suited to the more classical programming grad. At mthree, they give opportunities to non-traditional grads as they look past the degree type and focus on how good the candidate is for the role.”

We asked grads that are about to start the Alumni Program if they have any questions. Here’s what they asked:

What do you recommend to us to improve our tech and soft skills?

“For tech skills, I would recommend using the resources that mthree gives you to make sure that your programming and tech theory is good.  

I also recommend doing things outside of work. There are various programming websites out there for you to practice on, so that you develop a wider range of tech skills rather than just the work you do as part of your job.

For soft skills, Toastmasters is good for developing public speaking and presentation skills. Wherever you work, they’ll have opportunities for you to learn through activities like clubs and talks.

Working on your soft skills is really important. Being able to communicate well can be even more important than the technical information, because half the job is talking to stakeholders.”

What's an average day in the industry?

“That’s a difficult question to answer because it depends on what you're doing. Even in my role, one day is always very different to the next. One day I might have the luxury of being able to concentrate on programming but another day is talking to stakeholders or doing project management.

The truth is that there is no average day. You've just got to be ready for whatever comes your way. You've got to be flexible. It’s one of the benefits of the job because it’s never boring.

If there was an average day, you just get tired of it.”

Any tips on how to get promotions?

“The key thing is making sure you get yourself out there and make yourself seen.

Make sure that the directors and stakeholders from other departments enjoy working with you. That can be really important. Especially if you can get people in other projects and departments to say that they think you're good at your role.

The more people that are willing to say that you're a good person, that you’re nice and reliable, the greater the chance of getting promoted.

Make sure that you go the extra mile too and that you’re doing more than what’s asked of you in your role. “

Which characteristic do you think help you to succeed in your career?

“Communication definitely helped me make sure I put forward ideas in the best light. Reliability is key too. I like to think I've developed a reputation where if I say I’m going to do something, people believe me.

But also on the flip side, you shouldn’t lie. I'm the first person to say that I don’t know something. By always being honest, there's no ambiguity.

It’s the fundamentals of good communication, making sure you get your work done and being a hard worker that will ensure you succeed in your career.

Something I highlight to grads that’s really important is not to be afraid to say you don’t know the answer. People will appreciate that more than if you come up with an answer that isn’t true.

In meetings, you can feel pressure to look as if you have the answer to everything. The truth is it’s stronger to say that you don't know but you’ll find out the answer.”

What’s the team setup?

“Our department teams are well-balanced. In our group of developers, we have someone at VP level, someone like me that’s in-between VP and then you’ll have the recent grads. We have a good mixture of people and it promotes knowledge and skills transfer.

It also means that grads aren’t left floundering on their own, they have support from us to get them up to speed through their career.

I think it's really good for graduates to get exposed to people at different stages in their careers and people in roles outside of their department as it gives them perspective.”

What does your team do?

“The bank needs to be able to transaction report a number of trades to regulators. But there are millions of trades every day and you can't have people doing it manually. You need software to do it automatically. That’s what we do.

We’re writing software that enables the bank to fulfil its regulatory requirements - but that’s just one project.

Banks have many needs that can only be fulfilled by software and that's why our global tech department is huge.”

What’re your goals for the future?

“The next step is to go and get VP. I definitely want to stay in technology though.

The challenge is as you progress, your contact with technology reduces as your contact with stakeholders increases. You drive the project direction at a higher level rather than at the coding level.

The challenge for me is staying aligned to coding as much as possible as that’s what interests me the most. There are directors that are, quite surprisingly, more hands-on with the code than you might expect. When I go through my career, I want to stay as hands-on as possible.

The goal is to get involved in a broad variety of projects. It's important for me to get a good breadth of experience as I go through my career. For example, as there are millions of trades every day, the bank now wants the capability to search through trades. So that's another project I could work on.”

Do you want to follow in Fadil’s footsteps? We have software development opportunities available across the world, view them all here.