Caitlin Cleary

Quantitative Developer
Chicago Trading Company (CTC) – 5 years
Born in the United States, moved to London 2 years ago

My name is Cait Cleary and I am a Quantitative Developer for Chicago Trading Company (CTC) – a trading firm. I moved to London a couple years ago to help build up a new desk here in our London office. I graduated as a Chemical Engineer in the US and worked for a few years for Forbes 500 companies such as Exxon, DOW, and Budweiser. After I made the switch to finance, I began trading Crude Oil Derivatives (options) with CTC. A few years ago, I transitioned from being a Trader to a Quant Dev.

You are there for a reason, you deserve to be there, and you are just as qualified as everyone else. You do NOT need to fight for respect or prove it. It’s not your responsibility to change the world just because you are a woman. It is ok to have bad days, need to take a day off, or not love the first role you have. If you want to change your job that does not mean you have failed.

After working as a Chemical Engineer I decided I wanted to move into a more math focused field, preferably in an urban city. I had some friends who worked in finance and suggested trading! It really was a matter of cold calls and showing up at career fairs asking people for a shot. Someone put me on their LinkedIn and a trader from CTC reached out to interview me.

Back in Chicago the firm sponsored me in mentoring young women applying for college. In the states it costs a fee to submit an application, and the application process in itself is gruelling. We work with Chicago Women’s Booth Conference, and the Grace Hopper conference each year!

When I first started at CTC we were a small firm still working to increase our diversity. It can be difficult to find women interested in the trading world. I expressed an interest in helping and the firm responded very positively. With feedback I was able to change some small things around the office, and help with updating some of our policies. I believe these changes have created a more comfortable environment for young women entering the trading world.

Being a quantitative developer, I have more flexibility around when I start. I usually get to the office around 8:30am. My day is a mix of technical project work, education, and recruitment. My project work involves developing algorithms, working through market data, and writing code (Python). I spend a solid chunk of my time teaching traders to code and walking new hires through an intro to trading course. We have recently increased our recruitment efforts in London and I’m frequently working with universities to set up events / interview candidates.

I am a creative person, and it may seem counter intuitive, but my favourite part is the coding. When writing large packages of code you get to come up with a design. How are the pieces going to fit? How can you make them more efficient? How can you display this data in a dashboard that is intuitive and concise? Think of it like a kitchen – I work with the fine details of cooking a dish and then take great care to plate it beautifully before it leaves my sight.

My first couple years at CTC were spent trading. I worked to make markets for brokers and execute large trades. This was a fun, exciting, challenging role and I do miss it sometimes. However, I realized that my interests lay more in the algorithmic modelling than execution. Unfortunately, I had never coded a day in my life… so becoming a quant dev seemed impossible. A senior quant took me under his wing and taught me everything about coding, starting from the bottom up. His mentorship completely changed the direction of my career and I truly love my role now.

Working in such a fast paced, technical, and mathematical field usually leaves my brain exhausted! I love to spend my free time baking, knitting, and playing with my dog. Everyone in the office loves the baked goods so it’s a win-win!

Believe it or not – most people I work with (myself included) have! CTC brought in a speaker a few years ago to talk to us about imposter syndrome and it helped me to understand how common it is. A tool I learned from that presentation was to admit when you don’t know something. It is better to learn than to be embarrassed and stay quiet. I find myself commonly asking “Could you say that using different words? I don’t understand.” And you’d be surprised how often this leads to conversations that benefit the whole team! We all work to tell each other great job when we see someone finish up a project or execute a good trade. Its amazing how much a small bit of recognition can help your confidence.

I love reaching out to different women’s organizations and attending career fairs, math competitions, networking events, and conferences. You may not always work with a lot of women, so finding these networks and groups that are passionate about STEM is amazing.

I think that being a woman in STEM means that you have an unconditional love for math, science, engineering, or whichever field you choose. I say unconditional because it will not always be comfortable, easy, or what you had envisioned. However, you persist and learn. You push forward and succeed because you are a curious strong woman who will overcome difficulties in the pursuit of this passion.

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