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Senior Software Engineer shares how his career led him to the Houston tech scene

We sat down with Senior Software Engineer Trey to discuss how his career brought him to Houston, a thriving new tech hub.

What was your path to DRW?

I studied Computer Science at UT Austin. After I graduated, I moved to Seattle to work for Amazon. In my role as an engineer, I worked on the systems that let customers buy products like eBooks, movie rentals, and Prime subscriptions. After Amazon, I joined Bolt, an e-commerce startup. Bolt was very different – new programming languages, new databases, less employees, and a new target market – but many of the challenges were ultimately related to e-commerce which was familiar given my role at Amazon.

Once I became open to new opportunities, a recruiter showed me a role within DRW’s Commodity Engineering group. What attracted me initially was the novelty of the commodities market and the opportunity to work closely with traders. But, the biggest selling point was the engineering culture. DRW supports smaller, experienced teams with lots of autonomy. It was clear they had thought through the tradeoffs between enforcing best practices and giving engineers the freedom to make judgment calls. They had a pragmatic and reasoned approach to choosing technology. They didn’t bandwagon trendy approaches. It was a refreshing antidote to the bureaucracy of big tech companies.

What type of projects do you work on, and why is it important for the success of our business?

I work primarily on projects that enable our power trading business. Power is unique in that some power products trade outside of exchanges. Power traders participate in monthly and annual auctions organized by the power system operators (e.g. PJM in the mid-Atlantic states, ERCOT in Texas, MISO in the Midwest, CAISO in California). I have built software to enable this participation as well as software to analyze these markets. This software is critical to our participation in these markets.

What's one character trait or skill set that would make a candidate successful on your team?

A desire to learn and a willingness to dive-in on ambiguous problems. We’re primarily in a “green field” mode and we need people who are able to take brand new problems and drive their build outs. We’re building new businesses and need people who want to be part of that.

How would you describe our Houston office culture in a single word, and why would you choose that word?

Dynamic. We’re growing fast – most people in our group joined in the last year. We’re expanding into new markets. We’re building lots of new technology. The word “startup” is almost a cliché – every company claims they’re “like a startup” – but DRW Houston really is like that.

What excites you about the growing tech scene in Houston?

What I like about the tech scene in Houston is that it’s so different from the typical tech hubs and it’s exposed me to technical disciplines outside of computer science. For example, in power, a lot of projects require working cross-functionally with power systems PhDs and electrical engineers. This creates a different type of technical culture than the typical tech monoculture.