From Placement in Newry to Software Engineering in Sydney

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By: Grace Hastewell

Having started her career with First Derivatives in 2016 as a placement student, Grace returned as a Software Engineer on the Options Graduate Programme in 2018. Below, Grace shares insights on her career story so far, leading to her current role in Sydney, Australia.

My Career Story So Far

I joined First Derivatives as a placement student in June 2016, working in an application support role for a Major European Bank for just over 12 months. This was my first exposure to financial systems and software. After graduating from Software Engineering in Queens University Belfast, I rejoined First Derivatives in September 2018 on the Options Graduate Programme. My intake was quite large which was great as I met some lovely people who I’m still friends with today. I spent 4 weeks in Newry HQ undertaking an intense Kx training programme as well as enjoying the social events like the summer BBQ and karaoke at the bar Cobbles on Thursdays, before I was placed on my first project in Dublin. I spent just under 18 months (which went by so quickly) in the FD Dublin office before getting a new role in Sydney, Australia, where I am currently based.


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My Roles and Locations

My first role was working on a foreign exchange trading platform, which streamed real time market rates to an integrated UI dashboard, supplemented by both a real time and historical database facility capable of processing vast quantities of trade data. My primary focus was on developing new features to reflect the needs of an expanding client base, as well as implementing bug fixes. This all seemed overwhelming to begin with but being surrounded by a very supportive team I quickly enhanced my Kx knowledge and development skills, and found that I really enjoyed using kdb+.
Outside of work, I loved Dublin – particularly the social events. I had the opportunity to attend events such as pub quizzes, a night at greyhound racing, comedy clubs and the 12 pubs of Christmas.


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I am now currently on a trade surveillance project for a national Australian bank as a kdb+ developer. The project involves implementing a trading platform that monitors all the bank’s trading activities, as well as all currency markets, and raises alerts when suspicious activity is suspected. Currently I am designing and developing data-loaders to enable the system to ingest and run on new asset classes. This includes manipulating data from upstream sources into a readable format for the alerts. Working in Sydney is great as there is so much to see and do. There are so many beautiful beaches, landmarks and national parks to explore. It’s hard to complain when the view from my apartment looks like this…


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Overall, I am extremely fortunate for the experience FD has given me, the roles I have been placed in, the opportunity to travel and most importantly the people I have met along the way.
First Derivatives is perfect for anyone who wants to learn new skills, offering a unique learning experience in both finance and technology where you can gain invaluable knowledge from experts in both industries. In FD, there is a huge potential for career growth and I’m excited to see what’s next for me!


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