Yunfei Xu, Global Head of Engineering for Portfolio Analytics and Index products, is a self-proclaimed “Bloomberg Lifer.” Having worked at Bloomberg LP for 20 years, Xu says one of the things she loves most about her job is the fact that she’s constantly challenged and surrounded by passionate, energetic colleagues.
She recently spoke to Fairygodboss about her favorite mistake, the best advice she’s received, and the career move that makes her the most proud.
How long have you been in your current role, and what were you doing previously?
I joined Bloomberg as a junior software engineer in August 1998 – so I am what you would call a Bloomberg Lifer! Over the years my role has expanded and changed with growing responsibilities. I have been in my current role, the head of Engineering for the Portfolio Analytics and Index platform, for about three years.
What’s the first or last thing you do at work every day?
First thing: go over my daily schedule and make notes on the things that I will need to follow up on during the day. At the end of the day, I go over the notes I take throughout the day and make plans on anything that needs follow up. I also like to chit-chat a bit with whoever sits around me and see how their day went.
What’s the most unique or interesting aspect of your job or company?
I think Bloomberg employees are extremely passionate about what we do. We can’t sit still and we are full of energy and drive. As a software engineering manager working at one of the greatest FinTech companies in the world, I am challenged to find and deliver creative engineering solutions for the constantly changing financial markets.
What’s something you’re especially good at work?
I am a big believer in investing in your people, so I spend a lot of time connecting with employees in my organization. I am a good listener and I am good at understanding what my team members want in terms of career progression. I always try to find ways to support and empower them to be successful.
What about outside of work?
That’s a tough one! I would say I am a very supportive friend. Once again, I am a good listener and people open up to me. With my family, I am also very supportive – I am a very anti-tiger mom so I let my boys walk all over me.
What’s your favorite mistake?
Many years ago I was tasked with building a new product that would need some special database capabilities. Instead of using what was available at Bloomberg, I chose a database system that was not supported in-house at the time. It was a very challenging and complex project that really pushed me out of my comfort zone; this technology was not supported at Bloomberg and we didn't have enough subject experts in-house to insure it would be successful, so there was a lot of uncertainty, and technical and execution risk and to manage.
In the end, that technology did not work well for what we needed to do, but as an engineer it felt good to take the risk and try something new. I learned the importance of having a backup plan when you adopt brand new technology for a product build, which is critical to taking calculated risks.
What’s the one career move you’ve made that you’re most proud of?
About four years ago I was challenged by our chairman Peter Grauer to think about creative ways to expand my career. I was very happy in my field, so I didn’t want to explore different product roles at Bloomberg. Instead, I thought about making a move outside my career: I wanted to create an internal community to support the growth of diversity in the technology field. I co-founded BWIT (Bloomberg Women in Technology) with Esther Kundin and Cheryl Quah, and four years later, BWIT has become one of the most engaging and vibrant communities at Bloomberg.
What do you love most about your job or your company?
Problem solving — there are always new challenges that require you to use your brain!
What are you currently reading or watching?
I am currently reading “Reputations” by Juan Gabriel Vasquez and I am addicted to the new season of “Homeland.”
What’s your #1 piece of advice for women who are looking for jobs right now?
Please do not feel that you need to 100% fit the bill for a new job or role. Sharp problem solving skills, drive, and confidence will go a long way!
Who is/was the most influential person in your life and why?
Hands down, my mom! She was a physicist-turned-electrical engineer, and she has pushed me very hard to excel in science and technology. Thanks, Mom!
What’s the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received?
My first manager at Bloomberg gave me this piece of advice: a good manager is efficient. I found that can be applied to many different roles: an efficient manager learns to delegate and empower his or her people; an efficient engineer finds creative ways to optimize and streamline the process, etc.
What was the best quality of the best boss you’ve ever had?
I have been fortunate to have a few good and supportive bosses here at Bloomberg. The best boss I’ve had taught me to listen and not jump to conclusions. However, don’t delay obvious decisions.
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