5 minutes with… a Data Scientist

In this week’s FD Hot Seat Q&A series, we caught up with Data Scientist, Parker Woodard. In this interview, Parker shares insights on his current role, life in NYC and his advice to anyone thinking of applying for FD!


Hi Parker! Tell us about yourself.

My name is Parker Woodard and I am originally from Buffalo, New York. I graduated from the University of Buffalo with a degree in Electrical Engineering. While in university, I held summer roles as an engineering intern at a semiconductor fabrication lab, as well as a data analytics intern for a local NHL hockey team. In my free time, I enjoy hiking, reading, biking, skiing, playing piano, and travelling.


What do you enjoy the most about your role at FD?

There are so many things I enjoy about my current role at FD, but here are the first few things that come to mind:

  • I like that the role is challenging. I feel like I am always learning.
  • I like that I have a high degree of autonomy in my role. FD managers expect results, but they don’t micromanage.
  • I like that the software we develop has high visibility. It’s fulfilling to know that the trading platform you are helping to develop is being used by some of the biggest investment management firms in the industry.


What is your favourite city you’ve visited with your role in FD and why?

While I enjoyed my time in Newry and got to visit some very cool cites during my time training there (loved Edinburgh & Dublin), my heart lies in NYC. I have spent the last 2 years on various FD projects in New York City and it is such an exciting, diverse, and vibrant city like few others.


What were the best restaurants you visited in that city?

This is tough, since living in NYC I have become a bit of a foodie (how can you not?). My favorite local Upper West Side restaurant is Jacob’s Pickles, which does this amazing southern cooking. My favorite quick lunch bite would be Los Tacos (great tacos), or Sophie’s (great Cuban food), both of which have locations around Manhattan. My favorite “splurge” dinner is Tuome which has this unique farm-to-table fusion style, (local tip: the play is to hit this one up during restaurant week when dinners here are half off!).


How has working for FD benefited you personally and professionally?

The biggest benefit I’ve seen from working at FD is the mix of hard and soft skills I’ve had to pick up over the years to be successful at my roles. Working as a consultant at any consulting company will help to grow your interpersonal skills as you learn to interact with clients, create presentations, and manage projects with multiple stakeholders. Working as an engineer at any software company will help to grow your technical skills as you work all day on software development projects. However, the unique placement of FD as a software consulting company encourages software consultants to wear multiple hats, doing both development as well as client management. This ends up developing an incredibly beneficial combination of both interpersonal and technical skills for FD consultants.


What motivates you most each day?

As an engineer at heart, building great software that people use is what motivates me. I love being a part of creating something new.


Do you have a favourite quote that inspires you?

There are so many quotes by the famous (American) football coach, Vince Lombardi, that I love. One of my favorites is “inches makes champions”. What Lombardi is saying in this quote is that it is the little things we do every day which lead to success. It is in the small attention to detail, going those extra few inches, which ends up separating good from great.


What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Some of the best professional and personal advice that I’ve received is to “build margin into your life”. This means if you think something will cost $100, budget $120. If you think a task will take 7 hours, budget 8 hours. If you think it will take 20 minutes to get to an appointment, give yourself 30 minutes. Life is unpredictable, things always come up. In work, by building in a bit of margin you ensure small issues don’t become big issues, deadlines are met, burnout is prevented, and exceptional quality is always delivered.


What makes FD unique to other companies?

It might sound cliché, but the people at FD are awesome. There are so many smart Kx engineers that I’ve had the pleasure to work alongside and everyone is always so willing to help each other out and to go the extra mile for clients.


What advice would you give to someone thinking of applying for FD?

Have a willingness to learn. Have a willingness to be open to new locations, new roles, new industries, and new experiences. In consulting, having a level of flexibility is key to job satisfaction. If you want to be in a specific industry in the same role for the next five years, then this probably isn’t the job for you. If the idea of a dynamic work environment where you are constantly learning new things and being a part of new projects excites you, then FD may be for you!