From Boot Camp to the Big Leagues: How Columbia Engineering Helped Lucas Gowland Become Fluent in FinTech
For years, Lucas Gowland had a career in finance. A Master’s degree in capital markets taught him how technology, innovation, and coding play a role in financial markets — and in 2016, he became a sales trader in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Throughout his time in the field, one thing remained consistent: a desire to keep learning. Lucas aspired to get ahead of the game. “I wanted to be better prepared for tomorrow’s markets,” he said, “to be on the right side of innovation.”
Ultimately, this ambition led him to Columbia Engineering FinTech Boot Camp.
Learning the language
Upon enrolling in the boot camp, Lucas was especially interested in learning how to incorporate technology into data analysis. But by the end of the course, he’d accomplished much more than that: gaining fundamental tools for analyzing stock markets, developing and evaluating portfolios, running returns and risks, and most importantly, speaking the language of fintech.
After becoming fluent in the basic script, Lucas found himself at the center of fintech conversations. “The way I look at it today is like reading music,” he said. “You not only want to learn how to play music — you want to learn how to read it, too. Then you can learn to play anything you want.”
Day by day, Lucas transferred this newfound knowledge into his own line of thinking — and began composing melodies. Finally, he found the synergy between everything happening on the back end of applications and his actions on the front end. “I was really able to bridge the gap between finance and technology to build programs,” said Lucas.
Looking back on his time in the boot camp, Lucas recalls one particularly standout experience. During a portfolio analysis project, he and a team of classmates worked to find financial data, build portfolios, and analyze them using various metrics and ratios. Together, they built software that successfully dissects different investment opportunities. Since completing the boot camp, Lucas has continued working on this project — and even introduced it to financial advisers who use the software daily.
An educational experience unlike any other
Columbia Engineering’s hands-on, collaborative environment allowed for a learning experience like no other. This was Lucas’ second time pursuing continued education — but the boot camp was completely different than anything he’d previously encountered.
In the classroom, learners were encouraged to help each other — openly asking and answering questions on a regular basis. “I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of such an engaging group,” said Lucas. “You could really tell that everyone was there for the right reasons. Everyone was there to learn.”
Putting new skills to the test
Lucas is currently a project manager for back end portfolio analytics with FactSet, a financial information company. He’s been in this role since August 2020, and has found the job to be challenging, dynamic, and exactly what he was looking for. “There’s a lot of moving pieces working with technology and finance and leveraging the two to make them seamlessly work together,” said Lucas. “It almost too perfectly fits my background and what I want to do.”
At FactSet, he creates new features to provide traders and other users with tools to analyze markets and portfolios. Thanks to the boot camp, Lucas has overcome the on-the-job learning curve exponentially faster than he would have otherwise. Before studying at Columbia Engineering, he already had financial and market experience but was craving technical expertise. Now, Lucas is able to fully understand the language and concepts of financial technology — which he considers his most valuable lesson from the boot camp.
Lucas not only enjoys his new position, but also the company atmosphere and the people he works with. He intends to stay and grow within FactSet for the span of his career, continuously helping them advance and build better software.