CAREER ADVICE

My Tech Career Roadmap: Tech vs. Finance with Josh Woods

May 4, 2018

At Citadel Securities, we’re committed to providing you with a career roadmap that sets you up for success no matter where your career takes you. Through our “My Career Roadmap” series, we want to help you make decisions about your career – based on insights from our team members. We recently sat down with Josh Woods, Head of Systematic Trading Technology at Citadel Securities, to talk about what piqued his interest in a technology career in the financial services industry after a stint in the technology industry (00:35), his own experience succeeding in a high performance culture (6:42), and Citadel Securities’ focus on results and working across disciplines (6:10). Read below for highlights, lightly edited for style, from our discussion with Josh or listen to the full interview.

Prior to joining Citadel Securities, you had a career in the tech industry. Could you tell us what it was about financial services that piqued your interest?

I’ve been interested in finance and investing for a decent amount of time. As I started to understand the role technology played in modern finance, and particularly in market making, my interest increased. There aren’t many industries today where such a diverse set of cutting-edge technologies can be applied to meaningful problems. Like many technologists, I like building things that get used. Given the spectrum of complex problems we address in the industry, the tools we build are critical to the business.

What led you to Citadel Securities?

Put simply: the trajectory of the firm. The track record and growth rate is compelling. I also felt that Citadel Securities was the right size for me. After building out everything from technology organizations and startups to working at some of the biggest names in tech, I was interested in moving to a company that I felt was at the sweet spot of being small enough where everybody can have a meaningful impact and move the needle. During the interview process, I met so many impressive experts in fields I was not as familiar with. Lastly, I’m continuously motivated by learning, so the opportunities to learn new things was compelling.

What were your expectations prior to joining the firm and were there any challenges you anticipated?

I was aware it was a high performance culture, so I knew the role would be challenging, but that’s what drew me here – the new learning experiences and opportunities. And while it has been a challenge, particularly in mastering domain knowledge, Citadel Securities is a flat firm and everyone has access to the experts here – which has allowed me to ramp up quickly and tap into the support I need to achieve results.

What is a day in the life of a technology professional at a market maker like?

Like anybody’s role, any day is different. However, I mainly spend time discussing or reviewing technical details related to projects – everything from architecture to handling some specific optimization or issue. I also work closely with various teams who use or drive requirements for our trading platform to ensure quantitative researchers have the right capabilities to meet their trading needs and that compliance requirements are met.

I also spend a lot of time dealing with critical issues. One of the most exciting aspects of working here is realizing we’re building something that’s truly important to the efficient functioning of markets around the world.

Finally, I spend a lot of time working on higher level technical strategy and team composition, thinking about how we can be more efficient, how we attract and retain the top talent, and how to ensure people are growing their careers.