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Impact & Insights

Impact & Insights

BAM Employee Spotlight – Q&A with Software Engineer Nick Mandal

Photo of BAM Employee Nick Mandal

For many people, the term ‘investment manager’ conjures up images of a laser-focused analyst pouring over market data, or a portfolio manager decisively making trading decisions. While those are certainly two critical and significant roles at any investment manager, today’s leading firms have evolved to include a vast number of functions that support and supplement the funds’ investment teams – from data scientists to engineers, operations professionals, recruiters, and more.

This month, BAM is launching a new Q&A series featuring employees across roles, ranks, and global regions to showcase the many career opportunities available at our firm. Our first interview in the series is with Nicholas Mandal, a software engineer based in Chicago, who joined BAM in late March 2020.


Q: Thanks for chatting with us, Nick. Tell us a bit about your background, and what drew you to BAM?

A: My interest in investing and trading goes back to when I was young. My dad and I traded together since I was 10 or 11. I didn't set out to be a software engineer – I always thought I wanted to be a doctor. But then I got into technology, and I found it to be really interesting. If you want to get into a tech career, the traditional thing to do is head out West, to San Francisco or L.A. But I wanted to stay in my hometown of Chicago, and I wanted to work on cutting-edge technologies at an investment manager. At BAM, I'm able to do that, and do it in Chicago. I get the best of both worlds!


Q: What is your role at BAM?                  

A: I'm a software engineer on the portfolio finance team. My team supports our equity finance desk, our repo trading desk, and our treasury desk. Our main function is to leverage technology in order to manage borrow costs across the firm, by minimizing as much as possible across the entire firm. We also try to capitalize on areas of opportunity using the resources and the information we have in the borrow markets.


Q: How do you contribute to BAM's investment process?

A: Our team helps BAM in three ways: we save money, we generate money, and we monitor money. In the saving part, we consolidate trading positions and make sure we’re not spending too much on financing positions. We help generate returns by leveraging information in the borrowing markets, in resource arbitrage, for instance, and help produce returns that way. We also use software and create dashboards to monitor where the firm's capital is so that we can optimize trading opportunities.


Q: What software tools do you use?

A: Right now, we are working on a lot of Web-based applications. Oftentimes, we build on top of open-source tools, and build proprietary applications on top of them. Our tech stack is comprised mostly of React on the client-side and Python on the server-side. Open Source tooling is a tremendous resource, and is my favorite part of the software engineering community. Nadia Eghbal recently published a fantastic book titled ‘Working in Public: The Making and Maintenance of Open Source Software,’ which is a great resource to learn more about the Open Source software.


Q: What project at BAM has excited you most?

A: My favorite contribution so far is some of the Slack automations we have done around job reporting. Slack bots make file sharing and communications so much faster and easier. It's really the future of business communications. There is a place for e-mail, but Slack bots have helped us speed up processes that take away from our real work. That has given our team more time to work on our P&L generating systems as a result, which is a huge, tangible thing.


Q: What do you like most about working at BAM?

A: BAM values its employees and their contributions. It is a large organization with a small-organization ethos. Other places I have worked aren't like that. As an example, I recently sent a Slack chat to BAM’s CIO, John Timotheou, about an idea I had to improve one of our systems. And he responded! That level of engagement from a senior executive was something I had never experienced before at a large firm.


Q:  What do you see yourself doing at BAM three to five years from now?

A: I would like to evolve into a more senior role, and I would like to do more at BAM in the realm of quantitative finance, where I can leverage technology to make informed investing decisions.


Q: What advice do you have for someone joining BAM as a software engineer?                                        

A: Dive into learning the business. If you think you know investment management, there are at least 100 more things you don't know yet. Be open to exploring new technologies and bringing them to the firm.