Women in Tech: Empowering Financial Web Applications

From novice to maestro – a GIC Software Developer and her take on modern technologies.

Zhao Mengdan, Software Developer, Technology Group

April 5, 2021

| 8 Min Read

What’s your first impression when you hear “IT systems in finance companies”?

“Outdated tech stack? Legacy systems? Bunch of boring developers working to maintain ancient, outdated systems?” 

You may be right for some, but not when it comes to the Business Partnership and Solutions (BPS) team in GIC. My story of becoming a Software Developer in BPS wasn’t as straightforward. I came to Singapore in 2011 and started my “technologist path” by being offered a scholarship to study Information Systems in the National University of Singapore. Upon graduation, I joined IBM as a Technical Consultant, focusing on digital transformation projects and delivering mobile application solutions by adopting modern app development tech-stacks, as well as user-centric application design principles. I worked with various clients in the Finance industry and experienced many “legacy systems”. Therefore, I had a similar impression as you may have when it comes to IT systems in finance companies – that was until I joined GIC in September 2019. 

Legacy system: An old method, technology, computer system, or application program, “of, relating to, or being a previous or outdated computer system,” yet still in use. 

Bring on the experts 

The BPS Equity (EQ) team is a technical squad sitting at the forefront of GIC’s Technology Group, supporting our Public Equity business. We focus on developing new data-driven equity research platforms, which aim to facilitate our Portfolio Managers in their equity investment process. The applications to technical stack are very modern: ReactJS, ExpressJS and Microservice Architecture to decouple functionalities by data source connection as well as different business use cases – all providing benefits in the product development process.

But first, a quick intro: What are those (microservices)?! 

In short, Microservice Architecture is a dynamic, scalable approach to application development so that it can correspond to rapidly changing business requirements, as compared to the traditional Monolithic Architectures.  

In a Microservice Architecture, applications are arranged and structured as a collection of loosely coupled services. Each microservice maintains its own data model and manages its own data, while scoping the services properly to encompasses a specific business use case and avoid growing into a gigantic monolithic service after the application evolves.

How is this applied in financial web applications at GIC? 

In recent years, GIC has been investing more in data. In equity investment areas, equity research using alternative datasets are no longer new practices. However, how to better scale and automate the process of generating insights and deliver results to business users in a systematic manner are new challenges for us as technologists, and microservice comes into play when dealing with these hurdles.   

As each microservice is designed to handle its own data model and data connection, we can easily spin up a new service dedicated to a new external data connection. And when there’s a termination/suspension on certain data licensing, we can decommission the corresponding microservice too. It also provides better fault tolerance and higher performance. When certain data source requires high usage, we simply increase the capacity for the specific service without impacting the rest. 

Microservice Architecture is not the only example of modern technology used in GIC. The Technology Group provides me with opportunities to explore and trial-and-error many other modern technologies to better fulfill business requirements, all of which falls under my personal and professional L&D.

If you’re a techie, and contemplating whether you can fit right in in a firm like GIC – well, you will. Like a glove. Ready to surprise us with the next big idea? View our current job openings across the org.