Louise Smith, technical business analyst within corporate technology at J.P. Morgan, offers her advice for women considering a career in STEM
What STEM degree course did you study and where?
My degree course was the MSci Astronomy and Physics at the University of Glasgow.
How did you get onto the J.P. Morgan graduate scheme - what were the steps you took after graduation?
I started at J.P. Morgan in August 2015 as part of the first intake for the Tech Connect programme, a graduate scheme for students from a STEM background. As an analyst, I was placed within Equity Trade Management Technology in the Corporate Investment Bank, as a software engineer.
After my first year, I expanded my responsibilities, splitting my time between my day-to-day role, which involved facing off to our business partners, and designing/testing new technology features. I was looking after projects from end to end.
At the end of my last year, I officially finished the graduate programme and became an associate. In April 2018, I decided it was time for a new challenge, and so looked for another role internally with the help of my mentors.
Describe a typical working day in your current role.
I start my morning by catching up on emails, ensuring our daily regulatory reports have been sent successfully overnight. After that, I start looking at my various tasks for the day. This normally involves looking into user queries, or analysing upcoming releases that create new functionality for the business - which my team go on to implement.
In the afternoon, our New York colleagues come online and we have our daily update call with the whole team, which often involves working together on design tasks.
What training and support have you received?
I've received a large amount of support since I joined the company. This included several weeks of training to develop my knowledge of the business and technical processes. Then, throughout the year, I've attended in-depth training courses that have helped support my career development. The topics have ranged from Java testing to learning new programming languages such as Python.
I've also received a tremendous amount of support from within the company. My mentors have helped me to develop my skills as well as coaching me into taking on a new role in a different part of the bank.
How has your role developed and what are your ambitions?
My role has developed into one where I'm proud to call myself a software engineer. Before I worked at J.P. Morgan, I'd only ever written standalone code. Now I've written code that has gone into production to help provide value to the business. I feel confident looking at code written in multiple different languages, even languages I'm unfamiliar with.
I get plenty of opportunities to grow my non-technical skills and am constantly seeking to take on more responsibilities and progress my career in the direction I want to take. When I look at my mentors within the firm, I know that one day I could be them.
Does your company have a culture of encouraging women into STEM careers?
J.P. Morgan has an active culture, with specific programmes designed to help show women how rewarding and amazing a career in STEM can be. We have Winning Women events to help connect young women with leading women within the company. Our graduate programme, Tech Connect, helps guide and support people from non-software engineering backgrounds into technology. Our Generation Tech day invites young women at secondary school into our office to learn about technology.
We also have an active women's network that helps provide mentors, senior speakers and career development. Our amazing senior leadership team members act as mentors and role models - helping to build a culture that women can thrive in.
What advice would you give to graduates wanting to pursue a STEM career?
With a career in STEM you have the ability to work in any place in the world. Find a company that will provide you with the right level of support and development. Discover the area of STEM that you're passionate about as an individual and completely own your career.