Alex Hayden

Data Scientist
Newry, Co. Down, Northern Ireland
IT and telecoms
BSc. Applied Mathematics and Chemistry

I dedicated a lot of my spare time to the Hockey Club in Maynooth. I was a member of the committee for four years and really enjoyed spending time with the team and organising the training and trips to various competitions. The numbers were very low when I started and gradually grew over the years, it was wonderful to be part of and watch as the club continues to grow since I graduated!

Aside from the obvious skills I learned specific to the subjects I chose, the key skills I developed while at Maynooth included:
-Problem solving
-Time management
-Research skills
-Interpersonal skills
I now use these skills in both my professional and personal life.

I graduated from MU in September 2017 and started at First Derivatives (FD) in October 2017 as a Data Scientist on the Options stream of their CMTP graduate programme. FD are a FinTech consultancy company who provide businesses with consultants for financial services and technology solutions through ultra-high-performance analytics (Kx Technology). As part of my first role I spent six month in Belfast working for a cognitive health client who were building their first database using kdb+. After that I started a role with one of the world’s leading Tier 1 Investment Banks in May 2018 and have been in the same role ever since. The majority of my team are based in Glasgow and I have been travelling between there and Newry in Northern Ireland where I usually work remotely.

My current role with my client mostly involves kdb+ developer responsibilities for an application that monitors the firms commitment to profit and loss. This entails maintaining and constantly improving the pre-existing database, QA testing, developing functionality that will fix bugs or fulfil user requests and business requirements and communicating with users regarding issues or queries about the app.
Outside my role with my client, I have other duties as an FD consultant. Before graduating from the Options Program, I had training and assessments to complete under my own steam (the requirements vary depending on which stream you enter). After graduating on time from the CMTP program, I took on additional responsibilities such as Month 1 Interviews with new graduates ,which helps to train and assess their ability to interview with FD’s clients. I’m also a mentor as part of FD’s Mentorship Program. Additionally, I am hoping to take advantage of the additional training on offer which includes Machine Learning (Python) and AWS training. They also offer a part-time Masters course in Capital Markets.
FD have a global client base and try to cater for both people looking to travel and stay at home. There are employees from all age groups in different home situations including many who have families, so FD try to be as accommodating as possible while matching the right skillset to each client. There are many roles in different verticals and locations.

I love to learn so learning a coding language from scratch really spiked my interest and it helps that I really like q/kdb+ as a language too. I find how it can be applied in so many different fields fascinating and love the idea of being part of a team that make a difference using technology like kdb+. Things that I have found challenging include working remotely and working with data from different sources and time zones.
Working remotely is a big challenge. I’m the only member of my team that works from Newry. This has helped me build on the communication skills I developed at Maynooth by exposing me to a different form of communication than I would use if I worked on client site. We communicate over phone, email and instant messaging platforms so I need to be more explicit and descriptive but also choose my words carefully because of the lack of body language. This may sound like a nightmare to some but it does have perks that many would find inviting. For example, because I don’t work from the client’s office on a regular basis, where I work is more flexible. It means that working from home is a much more viable option for me and I already have the skills that allow me to do that.
The app I work on for my client provides timeseries data to users across that globe which is impressive but it can bring new challenges I never thought I would need to consider to light. The problems and solutions to working with different time zones can be difficult to comprehend but also quite interesting.

If I remember correctly, I found an advertisement for the graduate program on but I did spend a lot of time on other recruitment/job sites such as LinkedIn,, and even the Maynooth University careers page.

Personally, I found looking for a job very difficult so the advice I would offer is to never give up looking for a job you enjoy. Even if your circumstances mean you need to accept a job, any job, don’t give up the search for a career in a field of your choosing. It’s important to recognise if you’re finding it difficult or feeling disheartened. If you can take a short break from job hunting and return to it later then do but don’t let it stop you from finding a career you love.
If you have a broad degree or you want a study break before doing a Masters/PhD, then it can be difficult to figure out what field you want to go into which can cause anxiety and/or procrastination when it comes to applying for jobs. If that’s the position you find yourself in then the best advice I can offer is to apply for anything that peaks your interest. This is where graduate programs or apprenticeships can really help. They can also be an excellent foot in the door so don’t exclude them from your search. The worst that can happen is you don’t get offered an interview or a job. If you can, talk to someone who works for the company you’re applying to in order to get an idea of what it’s like to work for them. Ask plenty of questions when you do get interviews and if you don’t like what you hear from the recruiter don’t be afraid to say it’s not what you’re looking for. Don’t feel obliged to take a job or the first job you’re offered (if you can afford to do that) if your doubts outweigh your interest in the position. It’s also important to note that if you do get a job and you don’t enjoy it then there’s no shame in finding another job and switching.