A woman stands against a wall with graffiti art on it. She is Erika Herrero, a senior data engineer at Fidelity Investments.
Erika Herrero. Image: Fidelity Investments

To work in tech you need to be ‘curious and consistent’

21 Mar 2023

Fidelity Investments’ Erika Herrero discusses her role as a senior data engineer and how anyone can work in tech with the right drive.

Erika Herrero is a senior data engineer at Fidelity Investments. Her career path began during her studies at the University of Galway, where she chose to study mathematics and IT. While she initially found the programming side of her studies to be difficult, she excelled at maths.

“Yes, you can be good at maths and bad at programming and vice versa! I just kept showing up to lectures, doing my homework and using all the help available to me.”

During her second year, Herrero says that things changed. “Suddenly out of nowhere, programming started to make sense. I guess it just grew on me. Now I enjoy it.”

‘I think anybody can learn to do absolutely anything – you just need to be patient and curious about it’

What brought you to your current job?

When I was in my last year of college I went to an open day at the university. Fidelity had a stand at the event. What caught my attention was that Fidelity offers a three-to-four-month graduate program. I knew that I wanted to work for a company that cares about improving the skills of its employees.

What were the biggest surprises or challenges you encountered on your career path?

Have you ever heard about imposter syndrome? People will tell you that you are doing great, but you don’t believe it. Things in technology keep changing all the time and sometimes you can feel like you don’t know what you are doing.

This is normal, especially when learning about new technology. I just keep reminding myself that it is OK to feel this way. I reach out to others for advice and tips when I feel overwhelmed and I keep learning, a little bit each day. It always gets better.

Was there any one person who was particularly influential as your career developed?

Both managers I have had so far have been very influential in my career. One encouraged me to push myself. They also suggested that I document everything. You never know when might need to re-visit something you worked on years ago.

The next manager I had truly believed in me. He supported me when I was ready for a new challenge. He showed me the importance of supporting and believing in others.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Learning new things, not only technical skills but also soft skills. Being outside your comfort zone is hard, but you can only grow when you challenge yourself to do new things.

What aspects of your personality do you feel make you suited to data/analytics?

I love problem-solving and puzzles and I am very curious. I like to understand why something works or doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to. I think anybody can learn to do absolutely anything – you just need to be patient and curious about it.

What can people expect from career progression in the data/analytics industry?

There are so many options such as data engineer, data science, artificial intelligence, data analytics, and so on. You can also choose a leadership path. What I love about my company is that it encourages you to learn new things. The best way to find what you enjoy is by trying different roles.

What advice would you give to those considering a career in data/analytics, or just starting out in one?

The idea that you must be naturally gifted or good at maths to work in technology is not 100pc true. I have met people who comes from different backgrounds such as psychology, zoology, philosophy, design and sociology that do well in this field. There are different roles and niches in the tech industry. You just need to be curious and consistent, as with everything in life.

Always remember that you are not alone in your journey. Reach out to friends and colleagues if you ever reach a block or feel burnt out. They have probably experienced something similar and will be able to give you some really good tips and support.

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