Growing up, Kate always loved math and computers. So, when it came to finding a career, software engineering was a perfect fit. After graduating with a degree in Computer Science from one of the best engineering schools in the world, her passions ended up carrying her pretty far.
Nowadays, Kate is a Senior Vice President at FactSet, one the world’s largest FinTech firms and home to thousands of the best engineers, product managers, and tech professionals. As a tech leader at the company, Kate manages and provides guidance to plenty of up-and-coming engineers.
We sat down with her to tap into some of her wisdom about how to succeed in tech—and at innovative companies like FactSet in general. Here’s what she told us.
1. Learn To Solve Problems In Your Own Way
No matter how much you learn in school, a ton of essential engineering skills are learned on the job. That’s why it’s so important to find a place that gives you challenging work—and the freedom to approach it independently.
“Once I became an engineer at FactSet, my favorite thing about my job was the freedom and empowerment I was given to solve problems in my own creative ways,” Kate tells us.
While their business goals were usually the same, Kate was able to approach each client and engagement with her own creative way of thinking.
“I was told what our clients needed, and what we should build,” Kate says. “But how to architect, design, and implement a fast, efficient, reliable application was up to me. This freedom, empowerment, and encouragement is what helped me most as I grew throughout my career.”
2. Find Somewhere That Celebrates Your Successes
It wasn’t just that FactSet gave Kate challenges, it was that they recognized when she overcame them, too.
“I was given the space to innovate, and as I gained the trust of those around me, I was given the responsibility to design more complex applications, manage larger projects, and then lead larger teams,” Kate explains.
Growth requires both new skills and new experiences—and the only way to get the latter is to be given new opportunities. Or, in Kate’s case, to earn them.
“FactSet celebrated my successes and helped me grow by increasing my level of scope and impact in an incremental way that gave me the confidence to be successful in each new challenge and role in my career,” she says.
3. Cultivate Creativity, Aim For Innovation
Don’t be afraid to look for different ways of sparking your creativity. When it’s your job to innovate, you have to make sure you’re thinking outside the box. That’s why Kate enjoys the little challenges and events that FactSet sets up to help its employees cultivate creativity.
One such example is their annual 48-hour, no-holds-barred hackathon.
“While I love my current role, I do miss rolling up my sleeves and hacking something together,” Kate says. “Making an idea come to life through code is a real rush. This is why I love the FactSet Hackathon.”
Teams of FactSet employees, on both the tech and business sides, come together to make something extraordinary. It doesn’t need to be FactSet or even finance related, either. Despite that, Kate couldn’t resist working on one concept that was pretty Factset-friendly.
“My project last year was to integrate FactSet with Salesforce in a way that the two applications could pass data back and forth and create a seamless workflow for our clients, who are often trying to juggle many different systems and applications all at once,” Kate explains.
“About a year or so later, we’ve actually productionized the concept, and it’s now going live to our clients,” she says.
4. Don’t Forget To Breathe
Success is not a sprint (even though there are plenty of sprints along the way). And if you’re taking a long-term view on success, Kate emphasizes the importance of finding a healthy work-life balance.
“When I meet prospective candidates for FactSet, I make sure to let everyone know that we are a software company first and foremost,” Kate says.
Even though they’re in the world of finance, FactSet takes its lead from progressive tech company cultures. FactSet offers four weeks of paid time off to first-year employees (and that number only grows with time) and a ton of other health programs and benefits to help you stay mentally and physically fit.
“Our vibe and culture is relaxed and collaborative–different from what you might picture when you think of ‘Wall Street,’” Kate says. “Our people set us apart, and those people have lives, hobbies, families, and a good understanding of the importance of work-life balance!”
This employee-focused culture has attracted a wide array of talent, which is good, Kate says, for more reasons than the obvious.
“Innovation in tech hinges on diversity of ideas, and those ideas come from diverse individuals,” she tells us. “If you like solving problems, working with others, building new solutions, blazing the trail, then tech and FactSet are for you.”
Want to put Kate’s wisdom to work? Check out open opportunities at FactSet on WayUp!