May 31, 2018

After eight years in the financial industry, Manisha Joshi knows the perspective most people have about investing money. It’s for the rich — not the average individual.

“Until the average person is more involved in investing, people will view the financial industry with an ‘us-versus-them,’ mindset,” Joshi said.

To shift that line of thinking, Joshi joined Stash as a senior software engineer, where she is part of a team working to improve access to investment tools for people at all income levels, as well as pave the way for women engineers to enter the industry. We spoke to Joshi and three of her Stash engineering teammates to learn more about their work.

 

Stash Office
Photography by Ken Pao
Stash Hustle Wall
Photography by Ken Pao
Stash Blue Room
Photography by Ken Pao

 

FOUNDED: 2015

EMPLOYEES: 136

WHAT THEY DO: Stash is a mobile-first financial services platform making investing and managing money easier for millions of Americans.

WHERE THEY DO IT: New York

GLOBETROTTERS: Stash’s team is made up of employees from around the globe, including Australia, France, India, China, Bangladesh, Israel, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.

 

Cliff At Work

Cliff Portrait

 

Cliff Hazelton, VP of Engineering


Cliff Hazelton’s job is to expand the engineering team and build an environment that enables them to excel. The engineering team is responsible for the Stash mobile app and its API-layer.

BEYOND WORK: Cliff loves brewing and tasting new beers. He dreams of opening a software-themed brewery called DevHops one day.

 

What’s a major challenge facing the financial tech industry? How will you help your team overcome it?

There are a lot of folks who don't have great options when it comes to improving their financial situation or learning about the world of investing. Stash enables and empowers them while making complex concepts approachable. We will continue to focus on making the financial world more accessible, regardless of someone’s income bracket.

 

There are a lot of folks who don't have great options when it comes to improving their financial situation or learning about the world of investing."

 

What is the onboarding process like to get employees up to speed in the industry?

We have a two-day onboarding process for new hires to learn about every aspect of the business, how each team operates and what they do. New members of the engineering team are also paired with a lead that will help them on their journey from Stash neophyte to seasoned veteran.

 

What is the next big step for the team?

We're at an interesting point in the evolution of the Stash platform. The number of people opening accounts is accelerating and we’re expanding the products we offer. Our focus is now on platform scalability. We went from 1 million users to 2 million in the blink of an eye. Our infrastructure has to support that rapid growth.

 

Manisha At work

Manisha Profile

 

Manisha Joshi, Senior Software Engineer

Manisha Joshi works with the product team to identify new features to add to the mobile app, as well as problems that need to be solved. She then designs and builds the cloud software for that feature.

BEYOND WORK: When she isn’t spending time with her 9-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter, she loves dancing and is trained in Kathak dancing.

 

Tell us about your background — what attracted you to Stash?

I’ve worked as a software developer for major banks and on trading floors for eight years. I spent more time managing perceptions and developing systems to handle the fallout of government regulations than on technology that could impact everyday people.

I wanted to switch gears and get involved in the fintech startup scene. I love the problems Stash is solving — simplifying the investing experience and encouraging people to invest. I felt this was a place where I could make an impact on the product and learn new technologies.

 

How does the company support women in the workplace?

Stash is all-in on supporting women in the workplace. When I first walked into Stash for an interview, I was thrilled to see how many women worked there. In my eight years of work experience, I had never been interviewed by a woman engineer. I always lamented this and wondered why. At Stash, it’s exciting to see women involved in the interviewing and candidate selection process and then rising into prominent leadership roles.

 

How does it compare to previous companies you’ve worked for?  

Stash values the work you do but also values you — not the face-time hours you put in. Stash has flexible work hours, which I find important as a mother of two children. It allows me to balance my work and family life.  
 

Until the average person is more involved with investing [...], people will view the financial industry with an 'us-versus-them' mindset."

 

How has working at Stash influenced your own perspective on the financial industry and the decisions you make?   

Investing is often considered an activity for people with a lot of money or knowledge about the financial industry. Until the average person is more involved with investing in our country’s financial system, people will view the financial industry with an “us-versus-them” mindset. I wanted to help change that mindset and realized the key to doing that was access and simplicity.

 

With employees from around the globe, what advantages does a diverse workplace provide?

Diversity allows for different perspectives to come to the table. Stash has over 2 million users. To better represent and serve them, we need a mix of people with different backgrounds and experiences to provide different ideas and approaches to the problem.

 

Bavitha at work

Bavitha Portrait

 

Bavitha Vinod Sokhi, Lead Backend Engineer

Bavitha Vinod Sokhi works on Stash’s banking squad, which is focused on building the company’s banking product. As lead back end engineer, she empowers individual team members and encourages them to move outside of their comfort zone and explore new ideas.

BEYOND WORK: She enjoys singing and playing the guitar.   

 

What is the breakdown of your day? What’s unique about it?

Each day starts with a team stand up at 10 a.m. After that, a typical day involves reviewing and writing code, hiring, meetings and pairing (with squad members). Stash has a very collaborative atmosphere and everyone is ready to help. Each team member has a standing desk, so you’ll often see people pairing at workstations and collaborating.

  

If you look at what your team has accomplished so far, what makes you proudest?

I work on Stash’s soon-to-be-launched banking product. We are in the early phases of development and have been releasing features internally until the big launch. I am proud that our team has been able to maintain autonomy and make decisions for ourselves. We are able to test things that no one has tried before.

One of our biggest accomplishments is automation. We are automating our builds, deploys, tests and more, and we are improving the way we deploy and deliver code.

 

Stash is creating an environment in which more women are involved in the hiring process."

  

How does the company support women in the workplace? How does it compare to previous companies you’ve worked for?  

One of the biggest challenges that women face in tech is that there aren’t enough women who are in hiring positions. It’s natural that people hire those who look, act and have similar backgrounds as them. One of the great things about Stash is that everyone is onboard about making it a priority to hire more women.

By making it a priority, Stash is creating an environment in which more women are involved in the hiring process. This is the first team I’ve worked on where the number of women is almost on par with the number of men. 

 

Joel portrait

 

Joel Parrish,  Lead Android Engineer

Joel Parrish leads the Android team at Stash, maintaining the company’s Android codebase and developing new features for the product.

BEYOND WORK: He’s an avid soccer player.
 

If you look at what your team has accomplished so far, what makes you proudest?

Our team has accomplished a lot, but I’m proudest of our account integration system. We had a grand vision to support our customers in all areas of their financial lives, but a financial life doesn’t just involve investing. So the team developed a new architecture to support our vision, and now we are capable of supporting our users for the long haul.


 

What’s a major challenge facing the financial tech industry? How will you help your team overcome it?

The biggest challenge is simply demystifying the established notion that understanding finances is complicated and only for the elite. They even say that money is something you just "Don’t talk about." We hope to change the conversation and open dialog through our supportive products.

 

We hope to change the conversation and open dialog through our supportive products."

 

How has working at Stash influenced your own perspective on the financial industry and the decisions you make?

Working at Stash has helped my perspective evolve. I had thought the financial industry was something set in stone, but I was wrong. People were itching for something new, something they controlled and understood. They wanted something that related to them. I continue to learn every day from our users and what best serves their needs.

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