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Hedge fund's Miami technology head reveals best course to take at university

The advent of AI has caused a fierce debate over the future of tech jobs in finance. While most of it is around the relevance of coding as a skill, there are a lot of lingering questions over what you should study if you want a software engineering job now. 

In a recent talk at the University of Miami, hedge fund Millennium's Miami head of technology Olga Naumovich has maintained the importance of knowing math fundamentals... but there are a few more things you need to learn too.

“Anything that can be done in ones and zeroes can be done by a computer” said Naumovich, who spent the bulk of her career on the trading floor at Goldman Sachs. What machines can't replicate is "anything that requires reflective, associated thinking."

This is where math is so important for her. It teaches a methodology of problem-solving, breaking something down into its smallest pieces and piecing it back together in a way that makes it no longer a problem. She says she still uses those skills today when encountering problems not seen before. 

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Naumovich says she often wonders if psychology would be more helpful on a day-to-day basis for its ability to help her understand human behavior. She says, however, that math works as an effective base to enhance it, and that math can be combined with all manner of subjects for great success. She says, "you must know it, then add on it."

Not having those fundamentals can be a dealbreaker when it comes to getting a hedge fund job. Naumovich says that it takes three weeks to teach a math major the ins and outs of financial services; teaching the reverse “actually takes a year.” She will therefore always pick a math major over a finance one.

Too much math is superfluous, though. Naumovich said you're unlikely to use "anything more sophisticated than the first year of college" in math. Pursuing masters and PhDs in math means studying topics like Chaos Theory which are just "not that applicable." If you're looking for three key math topics to know, she suggests optimization, differential equations and statistics. 

Naumovich is also a fan of the art of prompt engineering. She says that simply "knowing STEM is no longer an option," when AI tools confer an advantage. Communicating with machines is like learning a whole new language, says Naumovich.

Those tools also free up more time to study alternative interests. Naumovich interestingly says that "every educated person must know arts, literature and history. It’s not debatable," she adds.  

 

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AUTHORAlex McMurray Editor

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