Engineering Manager Alexandria McGrath sees improving outlook for women in the industry
Alexandria McGrath came to fintech engineering by way of astrophysics. While a college student in Belfast, she realized that it was the data processing aspects of her physics studies that she enjoyed.
“I like puzzles and problem solving – looking at a very big problem and finding a solution that ties a bow on it at the end.”
That realization provided a path that eventually led her to New York City, a career working in capital markets technology, and her current role as an engineering manager at Exegy. As we celebrate International Women in Engineering Day, we talked to McGrath about her job, the role of women in her industry, and how she’s working to bring along the next generation of female engineers.
How did you end up working in the capital markets?
When I was in college in Belfast, NYSE Technologies (a component of which eventually became part of Vela Trading, and then Exegy) came to the college to do outreach. They sponsored a competition, and we got to meet the employees, one of whom ended up being my boss.
I really liked the type of problems I was being asked to solve; they were very data driven. It was the only job I applied for, even though I wasn’t a computer scientist.
Before that, I had no introduction to the financial markets, which is odd, since Belfast is such a hub for it.
What do you do as an engineering manager at Exegy?
My time is split between managing people, elements of project management such as scheduling releases and assigning work, and solving problems myself – coding or doing code reviews. I work closely with our production support team.
At Exegy, one of the things they do well is they let me choose what I want to do. I like managing people, but I really do enjoy problem-solving, being on the ground working. I make sure I still have the opportunity to produce code and do code reviews. I’ll always need to have that as an element of my work.
How has the representation of women in engineering evolved during your career?
There weren’t a lot of women in engineering when I was in college – or in the physics department. I never directly experienced someone discouraging me or telling me I couldn’t do it. It was more a case of not being exposed to it. Men were always being told they should go into the sciences – “Go work at this, you’ll make a lot of money.” It just wasn’t presented to women as an initial option.
Coming into my first job, there weren’t necessarily a lot of women in engineering – we had women in support positions such as business analysts. Exegy has quite a lot of female engineers, especially since acquiring Vela and Enyx. As I have more opportunities to meet the teams in other cities, I’m looking forward to getting to know them.
I’ve been lucky in that I’ve always had very supportive bosses, both male and female. I’ve had a lot of encouragement from people I worked with to learn new languages and solve new problems.
Since I’ve been in a management position, I’ve tried to do outreach – going to career fairs, letting women in particular know that it’s an option.
Now my niece is telling me that she wants to be an engineer, which is huge! Young women are aspiring to do this, because female engineers have come forward and said, “This is something you can do.”
Exegy is inspired by McGrath and other talented women who are moving the industry forward by their example and their outreach. Learn more about career opportunities for engineers and other key members of the Exegy team.