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Meet Belfast-Based Software Developer And Poet-Environmentalist

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After more than 12 years in fintech, Shafika Naaz knows a thing or two about trading desk software. Shafika, who grew up in India and earned her computer science degree there, moved to Belfast in 2019, and joined PEAK6 Northern Ireland in 2020. Here’s what Shafika shared about fintech, poetry, prose and problem-solving.

Right now:

I work as a software developer with Apex Clearing in Business Automation, part of the PEAK6 NI team in Belfast. We automate manual processes that Apex’s internal team does on a day-to-day basis.

Why tech:

Growing up in India, my school introduced computer programming in fourth grade. I found it interesting and was good at it. I really liked creating things out of nothing. It was a time that tech and our reliance on it was changing fast. When I was young, we used books to find information. Now, no matter how important or how silly something is, you can always find something about it online. I wrote a “love” poem about technology in high school that I later submitted to a workplace poetry contest and won.

An Ode to My Love
The first time I looked at your face,
My heart skipped a beat.
In a moment I realized,
That you are my life's biggest treat.
I was a fool wandering in darkness,
You enlightened me with your intellectual lights.
You were my only company,
Through the deepest and darkest nights.
With you by my side,
At my fingertips I can find,
Answers that can satisfy,
A thousand questions in my mind.
Days, weeks and months pass away,
My love for you never ceases.
With every passing moment,
With each word it increases.
When your thought crosses my mind,
I feel powerful, I have no fear.
I am so happy to have you,
My heart is filled with cheer.
I beseech you to never desert me,
For ever in my heart you can perch.
Here to the world I present,
An ode to my love __Google Search.

Proud tech accomplishment:

Not too long ago, I helped a colleague meet an ambitious–almost unrealistic–production date for an interface that was in C#, when most of my experience to date had been in C++. I learned a new language and helped my teammate at a pressured end-moment of the project, which felt great.

True story:

When I worked on a Citigroup project, my team was trying to fix a bug in production related to account opening. Everyone on my team was trying to replicate the problem, but no one could do it. I was the only one who could replicate it. Eventually we figured out that it was because I was taking a shortcut to the account opening option, while others were approaching it more methodically and sequentially. It was my shortcut that enabled us to fix the problem. Another time, I was part of a project doing support for U.S. teams and we were in the office until 3 a.m. for months. At some point, I was so tired that I came home and swiped my ID at my own elevator lift, as if I was in the office.

Just for fun:

I watch TV. I read. l build things that I might need. (Pointing to piece of furniture behind her) …that sofa is actually two single Ikea beds that I made into a day bed. I also like to knit. I enjoy creating things.

Open-source fave:

I have not contributed extensively but I respect all open-source projects. To invest your time and skill to build something and allow people to use it deserves respect. If possible, I wish everything was open source. When Jonas Salk developed the polio vaccine, he refused to patent it, wanting to make sure it was for the public good. When asked who owned the vaccine patent, he said: “Well, the people, I would say. There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?”

For the greater good:

I care about reducing wastefulness, recycling and being sensitive to the climate changes we’re seeing and not just ignoring them. I strongly advocate for less reliance on animal products, which benefits your health, the environment and the animals. I am a vegetarian at home, but am more flexible when I eat at friend’s homes, so I don’t consider myself strictly vegetarian.

Best part of my job:

I like that every task is a new challenge and an opportunity to learn something different–to solve a new problem. It’s always interesting.

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