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Career Story: Computer Systems Architect For A Large Financial Services Company

Computer Systems Architect For A Large Financial Services Company

Job Title: Computer Systems Architect

Education: BA in Computer Science. I have also taken lots of internal and external training courses (management, Oracle, etc).

Previous Experience: Immediately after college, I became a full-time Software Consultant with a large international business software/IT consulting firm. I remained there for 17 years, averaging about one client per year. We developed business software systems for clients in all areas of business: financial services, manufacturing, government, and utilities. I also had a variety of roles, including project manager, technical architect, and testing manager. Before I moved to a non-consulting job, I had transitioned into an Oracle DBMS (Database Managament Software) specialist. This led to my next full-time position as a DBA (Database Administrator) manager at a financial services firm. After I returned from a short maternity leave, I moved to the enterprise architecture group.

Job Tasks: My current company is the world's leading provider of financial services to institutional investors. Our range of services spans the entire investment spectrum, including research, investment management, trading services and investment servicing. The company serve as a custodian for $14.9 trillion in assets.

Typical tasks/projects: As a systems architect, I provide advice to other development teams. The teams may either be developing new software applications, may be looking to improve an existing application, or may need help solving an existing problem. I mostly specialize in performance benchmarking methodology and execution which, in simpler terms, is helping teams to determine the performance they need out of their systems (numbers of users, transactions per second/per day), and then developing ways to test and measure it. Our team then analyzes the results, and provides recommendations for improvements. With my Oracle background, I often perform the Oracle analysis. I also participate in special projects as they come up. I am also currently working with a group of teams to develop batch processing standards for a large integration project.

Essential tasks make up about 90% of my day with the remainder devoted to administrative tasks.

I do not travel, except between our local offices.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: Best: I LOVE the variety; I am never bored. Financial systems are a very fast-based environment, and we have new development happening continuously. I am always learning new things, and I meet new people all the time. As an architect, I don't generally work weekends or evenings because I don't actually build nor support software systems. The only exception is when we are working on a large proof of concept or performance test that has a tight deadline, and we need to complete it quickly to keep a project on track.

Worst: Can't think of one. Any issues I have are with particular people or situations, not with the job itself.

Job Tips:
1. You need to work in the trenches first...you can't just get an education and become a software architect. You must have real-life experience first.

2. You need to continually learn so take advantage of training and education opportunites. Most companies will pay for night classes. Also, take advantage of internal training whenever available.

3. Get a variety of experiences.

4. Learn from others, whether peers or managers. Consulting was great for this. I was very lucky to always work with very bright, motivated people.

5. Be optimistic, while practical. Managers and peers love to work with someone who is happy to be there. Remember, you will probably spend more time at work than you spend with your wife/husband or best friend.

6. Volunteer, especially for special projects if available. It is a great opportunity for networking, and you'll probably learn something as well.

7. Keep your life balanced. Exercise.

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