Morgan Stanley technologists get something better than money

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As banks compete both between themselves and with technology firms for the sorts of people who like to spend their weekends solving coding challenges on Hackerrank, Morgan Stanley has a secret weapon for keeping its technologists engaged. - Children.

Technologists from the U.S. investment bank have been helping children studying computer science GCSE at six schools in Tower Hamlets. The technologists' input has had a measurable difference: before they arrived, 45% of pupils at one school achieved an A-C in computer science; in 2017 they all did. 

Mike Skells, a senior software engineer at Morgan Stanley, conceived of the idea with colleagues four years ago. "They’re our neighbours. I live and work a hundred yards from here. If Canary Wharf is something that they can see but don’t aspire to, then that’s a pretty sad state of affairs. We want to make a job here, or anywhere in tech, an obtainable goal," he says. 

Working with the students is super-rewarding: "Teachers are under huge pressures and furthermore those in computer science are in short supply, so it’s great to be able to use our skills to benefit the pupils," adds Skells.

In a typical UK school computer science class, teachers can only devote two minutes per lesson to each student, but Morgan Stanley's six to eight volunteers increase one on one time to between 15 and 20 minutes.

"I recently spent a whole one hour session with a student focusing on a specific topic with which he was having problems," says Skells. "It’s great to see that light bulb moment when they suddenly understand something they were struggling with. With that confidence gained on one topic, suddenly other things begin to make sense."

Successful students are also offered mentoring and work experience at Morgan Stanley. Rakesh Nair, an application engineer at the bank told the British Computer Society that going into schools should also help create a pipeline of computing talent in the UK. ‘I’m keen to help get the numbers up of people in computing as it can take months to hire someone into our UK team," he revealed.

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