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A haven for global graduates

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

NEWRY'S financial technology company First Derivatives Plc have so far hired 410 graduates from across the globe in 2017.

'What exactly do First Derivates do?' I hear you ask - that is the golden question.

The company, which was set up by Newry man Brian Conlon in 1996, is a leading provider of products and consulting services to some of the world's largest finance, technology and energy institutions.

First Derivatives (or FD as it is known by its employees) is also the developer of the world leading database technology kdb+.

As part of the organisation's overall growth strategy, university graduates are hired by the company and undergo an intense four week training period in their Sugar Island offices before being deployed on global projects.

By the end of 2017, FD will have hired 230 graduates - the largest amount of graduates hired over a 12 month period by the company, pushing them to the top of Ireland's graduate recruiters.

Its most established graduate programme, 'Options', has a number of sub-streams including financial engineering, data science and software engineering to name a few.

These students go through the renowned Capital Markets Training Programme which introduces them to the work of Kx technology and financial consulting.

New graduate programmes launched this year includes 'Futures' which is designed for local graduates working on HQ based projects and 'Explorers' for those graduates working in business development and marketing roles.

In order to retain a high level of quality, FD has targeted top universities across the globe and The Newry Democrat called into the company offices to speak to some of their international graduates.

Twenty-two-year-old Carmen Ortega from Spain (Bsc Global Business) has been based in Newry since August after being recruited for the company's Explorers programme.

Once her training is complete, Carmen will head to the USA to set up a possible recruitment and client network from scratch.

"The Explorers programme is really exciting," she said. "I have many responsibilities that normally people with three years experience would get."

Moving to Newry from Spain is obviously a massive change for anyone to undertake, but Carmen said the city has a real family feel.

"I lived in Dublin so I am used to Ireland but it's a very small town," she explained. "Everyone here is so young and we all feel like a family.

"My neighbours would be people who I work with and I would go to the coffee shop and I've got to know Donna and she would prepare my coffee for me as soon as I walk in.

"You get to know everyone, it's really nice here."

Warren Yong (Bsc Finance Management) and Dexter Lee (Bsc Business and Banking and Finance), both 25-years-old and hailing from Singapore, have been in the city since the start of the month described FD's technology as "revolutionary".

Despite the recent poor weather we have been experiencing, the lads have enjoyed every minute of their four week stint in Newry under the Options programme.

"Living here has been great," said Warren. "We don't live too far away from the office but all of those travel expenses are covered.

"It's pretty peaceful where we are living because you get to see the sheep and the grass. That's such a beautiful sight for us because you don't see that in Singapore with all the skyscrapers.

"It's been a great experience living here in Newry."

While Dexter added: "So far it has been very interesting because we are both in the finance industry. There is a lot of self-instructed learning and we have a training schedule to follow.

"Normally what we do is go to the office and we have certain programmes to complete and we check our progress from there.

"We head back to Singapore at the end of the month but anything could happen, we could prolong our stay to continue to work on the projects.

"It's very interesting and I find it very intellectually stimulating in that you really need to think very logically."

Twenty-two-year-old Kathy Garcia (Bsc Science Technology) from California, explained that she has learned so much from the Options programme at First Derivatives.

After applying for a role with the company through her university's career website, it wasn't long before Kathy ended up in Newry.

"It's a great company to get familiar with the different strands as far as technology and finance and the intersection of the two are concerned," she said. "It's very complex in every way.

"The immediate benefits I see are definitely the very thorough training programme and the modules we have to go through. It hits everything from the capital markets even to technology.

"We just learn so much during our time here."

Kathy added that she loves the quieter life in Northern Ireland compared to back home.

"I come from Los Angeles and I went to school in Silicon Valley, places that are usually filled with people but when you come here everyone is really nice and everybody knows each other."

Finally, 30-year-old Arash Jalilian (MSc Business Economics and Finance) from Sweden said that FD provides the perfect transition between studying and working life.

One of the most appealing factors of working with FD for Arash is the chance to work with "the best" in the industry.

"The people behind the success of First Derivatives are teaching us how we should implement everything that has to do with capital markets," he said.

"It's hard to say what a single benefit is, it all depends on how much you put into it. That will show how much you get out of it."

Arash commended Newry's welcoming nature and described it like "going home".

"I'm from a small town in Sweden so for me it's almost like going back home," he added. "It's a charming little town and everyone knows everyone.

"I went to the barber the other day and he said 'you work for First Derivatives, don't you?'

"It's the perfect place to do your training because you get to see the roots of the company."

With over 400 graduates being given a chance by one of Newry's most successful companies this year alone, the city is fast becoming one of the biggest graduate employers on the globe and long may it continue!

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