The Transformers

Tech-, science-, & math-savvy young professionals inject innovation and reset the system

Folu Okunseinde
Solutions Architect

Company: IBM/Financial Services Solutions Group
Location: Cambridge, MA
Education: B.S. in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, MIT; M.S. in Computer Science, University of Texas at Austin
Innovation: A market data platform used by clients in the financial services industry to move directives and dollars

What Okunseinde does is sort of a mishmash of jobs: software developer, computer programmer, and business consultant. As a solutions architect for IBM, where he has worked for almost eight years, the 29-year-old builds high-performance systems that support solutions to specific business problems. With a focus on the financial markets industry, he has a calculated job on his hands.

“It’s a fantastically intense industry,” says Okunseinde, a self-professed techie who also has a passion for finance. “I’m specifically looking at all of the operations that go into the financial markets’ trade life cycle—high-performance trading, risk analysis, etc.—and how we design the IT systems that support them. It’s a constant challenge to try to stay ahead.”

Okunseinde and his team built, from concept to implementation, a solution that functions as a market data and trade processing platform, or high-speed messaging software, to help disseminate information and execute orders for financial trades. The market data distribution product, which became publicly available at the end of 2007, operates at the single-digit microsecond level—meaning it can move a message from one place to another in one-millionth of a second. “Analysts within other areas of the financial markets industry have been able to quantify its need and say that a millisecond, a thousandth of a second, can translate into a million dollars for a company,” he says.

The platform saw tremendous growth last year both in terms of revenues and customer usage with a number of high-profile stock exchanges, including client Deutsche Börse Group looking to implement the product in 2010. IBM is already looking at introducing the technology to other industries. “We started with financial markets because they have some of the highest demands in the way they consume technology,” says Okunseinde, who started work on the product more than four years ago, first as a developer, then as lead developer, and now he’s in charge of strategy. “But this product is well poised to help other industries deal with significant waves of data as well.”

Developing successful solutions is what he considers the most exciting part of his job: “Watching [the client] put something in product and then them coming back to you and saying, ‘This is doing exactly what we need it to do, this is doing better than what the competition is doing, better than what we could’ve built ourselves, it’s a really superior solution,’” he says. “Or watching a customer’s problem go away or a business process really being done in a highly efficient manner because of us is what I enjoy.”

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  • Nathalia

    Good post, Mark. As with anything, someitmes we get so caught up in the semantics that we miss the true meaning behind the terms. When you boil it down to the principles and the desired results, one begins to get a better overall understanding of what needs to be done to improve. Then, one can move forward using the most efficient methodology to acheive the desired outcome.Just as with Lean, this concept seems so simple yet it is VERY difficult for us to fully implement. We have our favorite slant to continuous improvement and somehow feel that we have to champion that line of attack to the exclusion of all others. Then, we in some way have to minimize the other camp in order to justify our position. What a terrible waste of time and creative energy that could be put to much better use by learning from each other’s strengths and tackling the problems together. This would cause less confusion in our associates and they would feel more secure that the leadership is all pulling in the same direction.