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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Getting Ahead

In This Software Developer's Role, Tech and Finance Go Hand in Hand

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Sulagna Sen, a software developer at BlackRock.
| Courtesy of BlackRock

Sulagna Sen has always been passionate about coding—so it was only natural for her to pursue a degree in information technology. As a college student, she completed two internships focused on front-end development before being recruited by BlackRock’s Gurgaon office as an intern right out of school. And she’s been at the global investment firm ever since.

Today, Sen is a software developer in the Mumbai office, where she has a unique opportunity to work with the vast amount of data that BlackRock manages. “I learn every day here. I continue to take up new challenges and enhance my skills and grow personally,” says Sen, who is now part of the Production Operations team that makes sure BlackRock’s core systems are running smoothly.

We asked Sen why she opted for a non-traditional tech path, what skills a developer needs to succeed, and how women can break into male-dominated fields.

What attracted you to work in tech, specifically at BlackRock?

The best thing about tech is it is never stagnant. New innovation and ideas are always around the corner. There is a lot to explore in this broad spectrum. Problem solving and algorithms have always fascinated me and BlackRock encourages us to challenge the status quo.

Despite being a comparatively young organization, BlackRock has managed to become the world’s leading global investor in the span of merely 30 years. I chose BlackRock over a traditional tech company because of the vastness of data being managed and the fact that it provides its own application suite to clients in the form of Aladdin. Plus, BlackRock delivers stability and resilience.

What are you responsible for in your role?

My responsibilities are very broad since the Production Operations team manages the day-to-day operations of core systems and focuses on ensuring a fully stable, scalable, and cost-efficient infrastructure across all the systems supported by the Aladdin Product Group. I am also a part of the development and automation function, which drives operational efficiency by designing and developing administrative tools that facilitate configuration management for all Aladdin clients.

What are you working on right now that excites or inspires you?

Currently, I am working on the automation of an in-house application that is used by core business teams. It involves technologies like Java and Angular. What I find most exciting at work is the cooperation and collaboration of my colleagues. We ensure even trivial matters are addressed and deliver an end-to-end solution.

What has been the key to your success working in an industry where women are often underrepresented?

I have always followed my passion and did not let stereotypes affect me. BlackRock’s culture of diversity and inclusion has also played a major role. I have always felt included in the achievements of my team, and have been equally responsible for roadblocks, for that matter. I ensure I deliver my best and never consider myself less competent than my male counterparts.

What traits and skills does a developer need to succeed at BlackRock?

An inquisitive mind and good problem-solving skills are all you need. All ideas count! Make yourself heard among your peers. Innovation and a focus-driven approach are highly celebrated at BlackRock. The tech stack here is vast, and one can explore one’s skills and work on their long-term goals.

How would you describe the office culture in Mumbai?

The Mumbai office is relatively new. The culture here is very friendly and motivating. I get a true sense of the One BlackRock principle among my colleagues here. The environment is inclusive and as far as I know, around 30% of the employees in the Mumbai office are female, which is a good proportion compared to many other offices.

What advice do you have for women looking to pursue a career in software development?

Look at the broader picture, beyond gender disparities and social myths. Software is an evolving industry, and there are many female leaders emerging. Focus on being proactive and confident in your work. Network with other women in the field, understand the industry, and choose your employer wisely!

What advice do you have for women looking to follow a similar career path as yours?

My advice would be to let your passion drive you. Do not feel intimidated by external factors, and instead focus on your willingness to grow. Sheer talent and hard work are what can get you through everything and help you break all norms and stereotypes. Make sure to seize every opportunity that resonates with you.