Irene Kan, vice president, cross-asset, platform and architecture at TD Securities in New York, is the recipient of the rising star (end-user) category in this year’s Women in Technology & Data Awards. According to the Canadian investment bank, Kan played a pivotal role in the 2018 development and deployment of the firm’s proprietary equity derivatives trading platform. The project was critical to the bank’s strategic priorities and focused on increasing efficiencies via straight-through processing, ingraining infrastructure scalability and resiliency, and leveraging data to drive business value.
When it comes to Kan’s developing and engineering talents—specifically those relating to her Agile expertise—the “how” is as important as the “what,” with respect to the project. “I have a vendor background—I used to work at Microsoft—and I have been very involved in terms of adopting best practices, not just in banking, but in tech firms like Amazon and Facebook,” she explains. “I am proud of TD Securities’ commitment to this area. For example, how we do things like A/B testing and continuous integration and deployment, which are close to my heart.”
When questioned as to the viability of the project using the Waterfall methodology, Kan is undecided. “Yes and no,” she says. “We have been delivering projects for a long time [using the Waterfall methodology], but Agile allows us to realize goals sooner. I think one difference is that in banking, regulations change a lot, which means that we have to constantly incorporate new requirements in order to meet those regulations. If we had used an old methodology like Waterfall, we would not have been able to adapt as easily to those changes.”
As for the makeup of her team, Kan explains that just under 40% are women, including a number of her lead developers, an impressive gender-based split. “But that is something that just happened—I didn’t force it,” she says. “To me, strong women attract strong women.”
TD is well known for its Associate Program, a formalized framework by which it seeks to identify and attract the best possible graduates from a number of the top schools in the New York and Toronto areas. “Once they join TD they do four rounds of vocational training with different business units so they can see firsthand what those parts of the business actually do,” Kan explains. “Often, my role is to act as a mentor—to reassure them, to help them understand what to expect and to support them as they explore the opportunities that TD has for them.”
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