Steph Woodings

Steph joined Morgan Stanley in 2017 as a consultant kdb+ Developer after getting her MSc in Astrophysics from the University of Glasgow.

In 2019, she converted to become a permanent employee of Morgan Stanley and remained in the same team within Institutional Securities Technology until 2021, when Steph took the opportunity to move to a new system within the same division. She now works on an application for trading and analytics for Fixed Income and Commodities products.

Alongside her functional role Steph is also co-chair of the Glasgow Technology Associate Assembly, a shadow board to connect non-officer population and the management team. The goal is to leverage ideas and suggestions from the firm’s Associate population to develop a best in class work place experience for everyone in (and out of) the office.

On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?

My days begin with an early morning PT session. Then I come home, feed the cats, have a coffee, and get ready for work. Luckily, I don’t live very far away from the office, so I hop on the train to Glasgow city centre.

I always try to start the day by organising my to-do list so I can prioritise my time. Alongside my day-to-day role I usually take some time out of my day for my non-functional responsibilities. I am able dedicate around 10% of my time to my extra-curricular activities, it’s great to have some variety in my day.

After work I meet my partner at the station, and we get the train home together. I love to cook, so I will usually make dinner, then it is time to relax.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

As you can probably guess from my academic background, a career in Financial Technology wasn’t what I originally imagined myself doing. I always assumed I would get a PhD and have a career in academic research (I did complete one day of a PhD). Sometimes you immediately know when something doesn’t feel right, and I’m glad I was brave enough to listen to my gut and act upon it.

You could say I accidentally became a Software Developer; because of this, I am very open-minded about my career. I love working in Tech, and I have personal goals to achieve, but I don’t look too far ahead because you never know what opportunities may come along in the future.

What do you love about working for Morgan Stanley?

The main thing that comes to mind is the culture. There is a real community atmosphere. Joining five years ago as a Junior Developer I was welcomed by my colleagues who have continued to support me through both personal and professional development. I feel comfortable knocking on the door of our senior officers for a cup of coffee and a chat, something that you don’t get everywhere.

Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you overcome these challenges?

The biggest challenge I have faced was really my lack of relevant experience, coming from an astrophysics background. Since joining Morgan Stanley, I have taken on tasks covering the entire tech stack of my projects to continuously develop my knowledge, understanding and experience of computer science and different programming languages. On-the-job learning has been a key part of my development, and the firm has provided me with all the required training and support to gain the knowledge needed to do the job.

Have you benefited from coaching, mentoring or the sponsorship of others?

Absolutely. I am surrounded by brilliant people every day. I learn so much from my colleagues, both junior and senior, and hope that they can also learn from me. I have taken part in development programmes for diverse individuals in the workplace which facilitated finding a mentor. My mentor is separate from my operational line so she can be impartial, it is so helpful to be able to lean on someone whose only intention is to help me develop my career.

Do you believe in the power of networking? If so, where do you network?

Having a diverse network can offer opportunities you might not come across in your day-to-day role. There is huge benefit of putting yourself in front of the right people and demonstrating your passion and skills so that your name pops into their head when these opportunities arise.

I network through the many committees we have in the Glasgow office and beyond into other locations. The Associate Assembly, which I mentioned earlier, purposefully consists of colleagues across Technology and requires me to reach out to senior leaders I wouldn’t usually get the chance to interact with. I have also met many people through the Women in Tech network within the office, leading talks on kdb+ and unusual routes into a career in Tech.

What advice would you give to those who aspire to a career in tech?

We live in a very technology dependent world, which continues to expand into every industry and environment you could think of. Working in tech is exciting, varied, fast paced and skilled problem solvers are in very high demand. The growth of Morgan Stanley Glasgow over the past two years has been immense, and positions continue to open up; my team is currently hiring for multiple junior positions. I am proof that you don’t need a degree in computer science to have a fulfilling career in Tech at a firm such as this. Many different backgrounds offer transferrable skills which can be applied to technology in some form, you might be surprised.

What does the future hold for you?

Technology within a global organisation like Morgan Stanley can offer many opportunities, and I hope to experience working in different environments and cultures. Finally, I am striving to develop my skills into other areas, other languages and aspects of technology. Continuous learning will make sure I’m ready for whatever comes my way next.

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