How to get a job at finance AI firm Kensho Technologies

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Kensho Technologies is one of the most exciting fintech firms around. Backed by Google, Goldman Sachs and In-Q-Tel, the CIA's venture-capital arm, it uses natural language processing to analyze data from economic reports, monetary policy changes and political events. Kensho can produce a comprehensive answer to “more than 65 million question combinations” on where markets are headed. If anything's going to put sales-traders out of business it is this: Goldman's already integrated Kensho into its client-service teams.

Kensho is hiring aggressively in engineering, research, IT and business development – its headcount has more than doubled over the past two years and currently sits around 120. So, how do you get a job there?

Based on publicly available information this is what you need to know about the engineers, data scientists, designers and researchers at Kensho's offices in Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Washington, D.C.; and New York.

You won't need a PhD

At least six (5% of all employees) have a PhD.

Machine learning engineer Gabriel Altay got a PhD in computational astrophysics from Carnegie Mellon before becoming a postdoctoral researcher at Durham University and the Georgia Institute of Technology. He worked as a software engineer for a long-term contract with Deloitte’s M&A group at Narrative Science and then as a senior software developer and data scientist at health tech firm Aledade.

Colin Carroll got a PhD in mathematics from Rice University, then worked as an analytics developer using Python, R and Scala at Spiceworks.

Others include data scientist Chester Curme (PhD in physics from Boston University), quantitative geopolitical analyst Jason Weinreb (PhD in political science/government from Stanford), head of knowledge Leonid Taycher (PhD in computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and the head of machine learning Michael Shulman (PhD in physics from Harvard).

You won't necessarily need a Masters

At least 22 (18.3% of all employees) have a Master's degree (MA, MS or MBA).

Mark Zhang interned at Facebook and Palantir Technologies while getting a Master’s degree in computer science and electrical engineering from M.I.T. Upon graduating, he worked as a software engineer at Google.

After graduating with a Master’s degree in Middle Eastern and Islamic studies from New York University, David Bender became a Fulbright fellow, then a Middle East analyst at political risk research and consulting firm Eurasia Group. He then worked as a senior threat analyst at Chevron before joining Kensho as a quantitative geopolitical analyst.

You might want finance experience 

Various employees have experience working at a major bank, including five from Goldman Sachs, five from Morgan Stanley, three from J.P. Morgan, two from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, two from Credit Suisse and one each from Deutsche Bank, RBC Capital Markets, Wells Fargo and Mizuho. That's a total of 21 employees (17.5% of total headcount) with big-bank experience on their resume.

Oxford University alumnus Adam Broun worked his way up the various incarnations of Deloitte to become a principal leading the investment management practice in the U.S. In 2010, he joined Credit Suisse as a managing director, where he worked as the head of IT strategy and chief information officer before launching his own strategic consulting firm and joining Kensho as the chief operating officer in 2013.

Princeton University alumnus Schuyler Laird joined Merrill Lynch in 2010 and was promoted to vice president of products and solutions in the global institutional consulting group after a year and a half. He then worked as a VP at Guggenheim Investments before joining Kensho’s client operations team in 2015. He’s since moved over to business development.

After working as a summer analyst at J.P. Morgan and graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in economics and minors in math and computer science from NYU in 2016, Jonathan Klinger joined the bank as a full-time analyst.

After graduating with a computer science degree from the University of California, Berkeley, Vikram Sivaraja worked as a software engineer on the global portfolio solutions team at Goldman Sachs.

You probably want to be a computer scientist

Among Kensho's employees, 41 (34%) are engineers, while 89 (74%) have 'science' or 'scientist' in their major and/or job title.

Raylen Margono co-founded a “peer-to-peer geospatial charity application” while getting a Bachelor's degree in philosophy, computer science, web programming and applications from NYU.

Virginia Tech alumnus Eric Lordahl worked as an IT specialist at IBM before a DevOps engineer at Mandiant, FireEye and SecureAuth Corp.

Jordan Hayashi got a B.A. in computer science and music at Harvard University, where he is a teaching fellow for computer science courses and a mentor for various development teams. He also runs coding bootcamps and seminars.

You'll need to code – even if they you major in computer science

In terms of programming languages, 48 employees (40% of total headcount) list Python as a skill, 34 (28.3%) know Java, 23 (19%) are adept at JavaScript, 22 (18.3%) can code in HTML compared to four (3.3%) in HTML5, 21 (17.5%) have command of C++ versus five (4.2%) who mention C# and 18 (15%) are adept with SQL.

Danja Spoja got a math degree from the University of Florida, then worked as a software engineer at Netbytel, Xpedite, Omniture and Enterra Solutions.

Stephanie Henkoff graduated with a B.A. in Spanish and history from Northwestern University, then studied software development at App Academy, which runs a 12-week coding and job-placement program.

After doing a programming internship while studying math at Bowdoin College, Toph Tucker’s first post-graduation job was in the graphics department of Bloomberg Businessweek.

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