From Traditional Banking To Fintech: In Conversation with Software Engineering Graduate Leah Baker

Software Engineer Bootcamp Graduate Leah Baker

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Leah Baker is an excellent example of what can be achieved with persistence, passion, and the right mindset for transition and growth. With over a decade of experience in traditional banking, Leah was already a leader in her prior career. However, she decided to take the initiative to follow her dream of building a Fintech company (a portmanteau of “financial technology”) and learnt how to code. She started her new journey with the Institute of Data’s in-depth Software Engineering course

The course content, spread over 12 weeks, is designed to give busy professionals like Leah the right skills that are in demand with modern businesses. The overall program not only comprised an industry-recognised certification and practical learning modules, but it had other features like the pre-work sections at the start and the job outcome resources that support graduates in finding work after graduation.  

We recently caught up with Leah to congratulate her on her new career and discussed what the transition journey has been like for her.

1. What made you take the initiative to pursue our software engineering course?

It was my interest in Fintechs. I had always wanted to create a similar company or work as part of one. It materialised perfectly because, currently, I am working for a Fintech company. There was also this push to move out of traditional banking, which was my career before tech.

2. Considering this career transition and the learning curve, what would you say has been the highlight of your journey?

It is the entire learning curve. I have had a sales focus most of my career, and I did not know if I could use my core skill set well. Initially, I also felt challenged because I did not know much about software development, but once I got the hang of it, I felt much more comfortable.

3. What was the most challenging part of the course for you?

I think the most challenging part was probably learning how to code. It was difficult to fit into everything initially because the career transition was fast-paced, and just like learning any other critical skill, it was pretty stressful and full-on. But I got through and am glad to have graduated!

4. What was your experience with the trainer and their overall methodology?

I felt that I had an excellent trainer, and he was phenomenal as a software developer. Still, the experience was a little different from a standard classroom and it was challenging. However, learning under someone who knows what they are doing in that domain is essential because it improves the learning experience.

5. What was your support system like when tackling the course?

My husband was my biggest support system throughout the course, and I think the timeframe was also ideal in my case, with a commitment of just six months. 

It is unlike a university degree, which can stretch to a three or four-year commitment.

I think it is particularly useful to get the essential skills in a smaller time frame, as it helps to build a foundation that gets you going.

6. Let’s talk about the capstone project. What was your thought process behind deciding what to build, and what was your experience building your first app?

For my capstone project, I built an app that could be used to trade shares on the stock market. While it looks quite basic at first glance, it was pretty complicated to build in the background. 

It had many of the important features needed in a real-world app, with both the front end and the back end.

I felt it was essential to keep it basic as my first app to ensure it worked, but it ticked many necessary boxes, such as crowd capability and having a database. It was an excellent learning experience.

7. Why did you choose that topic for your capstone project?

I think it was because of that Fintech goal, in a sense. I have worked in finance for over 12 years and understand things like banking, trading, and the financial markets. However, I had never had the tech influence in the solutions I created until I took this course and built the capstone.

The best part about getting ahead with the tech curve is that if my company ever faces any tech challenges now, I can easily sit at the table and be a part of decisions in that area. 

8. How has software engineering helped you excel in your current role?

Currently, I am the head of healthcare technology at Vestone Capital. Since I work in healthcare tech, my primary focus is to maintain the finance for the medical equipment in the firm. 

The best influence of the Institute of Data course on my new role has been the awareness and understanding I now have of technical concepts.

For example, if we are advancing to incorporate new capabilities, I can understand what the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) is trying to convey.

9. What is your advice for professionals like yourself who wish to transition into software engineering?

It is important to remember that it is okay not to know everything. No one in the technology industry does, but the critical skill every successful professional does have is problem-solving. 

If you want to solve problems, staying focused and patient with an inherent outlook is essential. In the end, it all boils down to having a positive mindset.

I would also recommend doing all the pre-work and understanding the essential concepts before you begin. If you can keep up with every part of the course, you learn a lot more.


If you are looking for a career transition into tech and pursuing your dream job, book a career consultation with one of our experts at the Institute of Data and start your journey with a complete roadmap!

You can connect with Leah Baker and follow her professional journey on LinkedIn.

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