What attracted you to Optiver?
Optiver is famous on campus, particularly for their maths test. I was not that interested in doing a maths test during my break between lectures, but we were at a Career Fair and I went up to the booth because I wanted the free T-shirt (laughs). All my friends were doing the maths test while I chatted to one of the staff. I was sold on the free breakfast and lunch and an annual trip for employees. It seemed like a cool company and I also knew they were hiring really smart people. It seemed like a company that looked after its employees and hired exceptional talent. From there, I did some research, found out more about the company and applied for a role.
What does your role entail?
There is a risk to every business decision you make. As a risk manager, we evaluate possible scenarios and the risks, develop frameworks and put systems in place to minimise their impact. We’re like a safety net. I started with 4 to 5 weeks of training, learning a whole bunch of theory, and then I was straight into my role. You’re learning how to monitor everything, and understand the trading activities so you can see where things need to be improved. The good thing about Optiver is that you are given a lot of autonomy from an early stage.
Now that I’m more senior, I get more opportunity to define the direction of projects I’m working on. Some members of the team focus on market risk, while I’m more focused on pre-trade risk which is related to our algorithmic trading strategies.
Key skills you use?
Analytical thinking, problem solving and communication. You are collaborating with traders and developers and when it comes to projects, you have to be able to get everyone on the same page. Being able to technically work through a problem, find a solution and then communicate that to everyone is very important. Optiver is fast paced, things move rapidly and you need to be able to adapt quickly and learn.
Who do you work with?
My colleagues in the Risk team, Traders, making sure I understand their strategies and that we’re implementing risk processes that support our Trading activities. I also work closely with developers and engineers daily. I’ve learnt how to code and have had to pick up on Technical lingo as there’s ongoing teamwork with the tech teams and we are continuously looking to improve our tools, workflow and systems.
Your proudest achievement so far?
Overseeing an erroneous pricing protection project from start to finish over the past 12 months. It’s one of those things that requires ongoing improvements, but it’s great to see it having an impact already. It started out as an idea, in an area that we knew we needed to improve. Through conversations with traders and developers, we’ve been able to build something of real value to our business.
Favourite part of working at Optiver?
The freedom to be creative and pursue any ideas that I think might be worthwhile. With that freedom, you can make a change without having to go through a bunch of hurdles. We have a pretty good work life balance too.
What challenges did you face initially?
Adapting to work hours (laughs). You come out of university and you do not realise how much free time you had. From the first day here you undertake a training course and you’re expected to learn quickly. It is a steep learning curve and you need to be able to apply this knowledge to your everyday work. I wasn’t quite prepared for that when I started, but you are always surrounded by a supportive network of people.
Any advice to potential candidates?
If you enjoy working with exceptional people in a fast-paced environment and being challenged by the problems that we need to solve then I’d encourage you to apply.