Fintech Women You Should Know: Carrie Griffin
Carrie Griffin is the founding engineer at Treasury Prime. She has more than 20 years of development and quality assurance testing experience for companies like Motorola and NWEA, helping them to integrate APIs into their unique tools. She joined the company from HealthMarkets Inc., where she led quality assurance for small employer and individual insurance marketplace web applications — a role that, similar to banking technology, involved navigating thorny compliance issues.
As a software engineer, you can work anywhere you want. Why did you decide to tackle this demanding field?
I look at the financial landscape and there are just so many things I can do here. 63 million people in the U.S. are either unbanked or underbanked — and many can't get a bank account because access is so restricted. And we can make that better, we can streamline the way banking works for everyone.
We’re trying to make banking services accessible to a broader range of customers through small fintechs that can offer products and services that no one could before. For example, we have a client, Guava, that offers black entrepreneurs access to banking services and an online community for support.
This is just the beginning. It's like when Square came on the market, and they wanted to offer card services to all these tiny small businesses who can't afford a huge cards setup; They came in and totally changed the way merchants were working. We’re aiming to do the same thing, but with the U.S. banking industry as a whole. I would like to help overhaul the way the system works and make it more efficient.
What do you think makes someone good at software engineering?
You’re literally learning another language, a very unforgiving language. You have to get the syntax and grammar exactly right, or it does the wrong thing or doesn’t work at all. So you need to have the attention to detail to learn computer languages. Some people are much better at thinking in a big sense and designing a big solution based on what they have. And some people are better at locating problems, and being able to look at a whole lot of different code and track down what's causing specific problems. Personally, I like to solve problems and puzzles, and sometimes software presents interesting puzzles.
What kinds of puzzles do you like?
All kinds! I do regular jigsaw puzzles. And, I like logic puzzles, where you have to figure out the answer based on a series of statements. I did a lot of this as a kid. Programming is kind of like that, you have a series of goals, and you find the solutions based on a series of parameters to solve.
What has it been like to try to build the software at Treasury Prime? We’re talking about very complex systems.
It's people's money. So it's different than say, Facebook or Twitter. If one day 5% of tweets don't work, it will cause some hardship but it’s probably not going to end the world, right?
That margin of error is not allowed in our work. I cannot drop 5% of payments in a day. Every penny needs to be accounted for. We have to make sure that we're being good stewards of everybody's money.
Right now, my main focus is on connecting to new bank cores. Things like how do we check a balance on an account? How do we open a new account? How do we make transactions searchable and understandable? We've been retooling our software to handle bringing on our many new partner banks more quickly and easily.
Do you have any advice for other women who might be thinking about becoming software engineers or getting into tech?
I would say absolutely, go ahead. I know sometimes it can be intimidating. But there are many groups like Women Who Code, and other support out there. You're not going to be alone.
What are your hobbies outside of work?
I have way too many hobbies, but one thing I love doing is fostering kittens for the local shelter who are too young to be adopted out. I’ve volunteered for about five years and have fostered I think over 100 kittens by now; I’ve lost count.
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