Data skills in financial services

Upskilling in Data: How Citi’s apprenticeship learners are delivering value through the application of new advanced data skills

As part of National Apprenticeship Week 2022, we wanted to take the opportunity to hear first-hand from a variety of graduates who have completed Citi’s Data Academy and help them celebrate their recent success.

The Data Academy, delivered by Decoded, equips learners with advanced data skills and capabilities in order to improve efficiency and increase the ability to identify and unlock new opportunities and value for clients.

Graduates from Decoded’s Data Academy are awarded a Data Analyst Level 4 apprenticeship qualification upon successful completion.

Jacqui Lloyd, Senior VP, Apprenticeship Lead at Citi commented, “As the programme lead, I’m really pleased that the Data Academy has proved to be so popular and successful. I’m also exceptionally proud of our learners and everything they have achieved as part of this apprenticeship. It is inspiring to see busy colleagues with intensive and demanding roles, committing themselves to this programme and investing in the acquisition of this highly-sought after data skills. Learners at all stages on the programme are already reporting the benefits in terms of efficiency gains, improved productivity and ultimately, are creating better solutions for our clients.”

The programme is funded by the Apprenticeship Levy.

Kristjan Kasikov, Global Head of CitiFX Quantitative Investor Solutions at Citi — Decoded Data Academy
Kristjan Kasikov, Global Head of CitiFX Quantitative Investor Solutions

Data Academy, Beta Cohort (March 2020 — September 2021)

In my role as a Quantitative Analyst in Foreign Exchange at Citigroup, I create hedging solutions for international investors, and use data sets and tools to analyse market developments.

Prior to joining the Data Academy I was able to write code and work with large data sets but my skills were self-taught and I felt I was lagging behind some of my more junior colleagues.

I have been at Citi for 16 years and in a busy job, it’s difficult to find the time for learning. If you don’t have someone pushing you to do a course, it can be hard to self-develop and learn. I thought the opportunity with the Data Academy would help me to develop in a number of ways including brushing up on coding skills to do my job better. The idea of gaining a qualification at the end of the 18 months, as well as the support provided by the course structure, was very enticing.

The Academy really enhanced my ability to code in Python, it showed me new opportunities and analytical methods that I’ve been able to apply to my daily job. Python can be a real productivity enhancer by automating the most mundane of tasks. So much so that I’ve been trying to promote greater use of Python in the Markets team and beyond at Citi.

My colleagues Clara Pickering, James Hamp and I have set up a web-based Python community in Citi (‘Quanty Python’) to help other employees integrate coding into their work. As many as 500 people have followed the online course so far and we have recorded eight videos for people to watch within Citi. The Decoded programme has been useful not only to help with my own coding skills but also to inspire others to make daily work more efficient.

Luke Anklesaria, The Futures Electronic Execution Coverage Team (EMEA) at Citi - Decoded Data Academy

Luke Anklesaria, The Futures Electronic Execution Coverage Team (EMEA)
Data Academy, Beta Cohort (March 2020 — September 2021)

I run the Futures Electronic Execution Coverage team in EMEA, looking after clients who execute on listed derivatives exchanges with us using our algorithms. As part of our role, we offer execution consultancy for clients — examining their order performance and looking at market behaviour in order to help them optimise their trading.

My role involves using and analysing a lot of data — market data, order performance data, client revenue and volumes. The Data Academy offered an opportunity to really expand my data analysis skills and introduce me to new techniques that I had not applied before. I knew that if I could put into practice some of the things that were offered on the course, I could both save myself a lot of time on the analysis I was already doing, and take the analysis performed by my desk to a higher level.

The Data Academy gave me a general framework for how to think about data problems and solutions — helping me understand how to structure data to get the most out of it. The concepts and skills ranged in complexity, but the teaching throughout was clear and concise, really guiding me through the topics and offering clarifications and support to understand deeper where needed. In addition, my Data Academy mentor was great in our one-to-ones, diving deeper into topics and facilitating discussions and examples to help apply them to my wider work.

Using Python for analysis is now an integral part of my work. We produce several pieces of analysis using it, and it has become the “default” when faced with a new challenge. Previously I probably had a mindset of “can I do this in Excel?” and it led to unwieldy formulae or million-row spreadsheets, which was not particularly efficient. With Python and the framework for thinking about data problems, it helped open up a whole new way of working with data and allowed me to tackle much larger challenges — no longer am I reaching for massive Excel spreadsheets every time!

I love collaborating on coding problems so I am delighted that the two other people in my team have also taken up the Data Academy and are progressing through the areas of study now. It has and will continue to add so much value to our team, and we are really seeing the benefits with what we can produce for our clients and how we go about our day-to-day execution consultancy. The skills learned on the Data Academy have enabled me to make a lot of that so much more efficient, such that we can deliver to more clients than ever before. That means we are really focused on having the important analytical conversations with our clients, rather than spending lots of time number-crunching.

Data is generated at such an incredible scale and working with data is so fundamental to any role now, that developing skills to analyse data is vital. The Decoded Data Academy equips you for this new world.

Ramakrishnan (Venky) Venkatakrishna, Senior Portfolio Manager, Citi Private Bank — Decoded Data Academy
Ramakrishnan (Venky) Venkatakrishna, Senior Portfolio Manager, Citi Private Bank

Data Academy, Alpha Cohort (Jan 2020 — July 2021)

I joined Citi back in 1989 and spent the first ten years of my career here working in Technology. I still use some of the skills I learnt then so understand the value of training and development.
In my role as a senior portfolio manager at Citi Private Bank, I have built good portfolio management tools, but the Data Academy presented the first opportunity I had been offered to learn new skills in data and tech, so I went for it and was lucky enough to get in.

During the Academy I have learnt a new language in Python and how to handle, manipulate and use data more effectively as well as learning some new AI techniques too. Some of these new skills were quite challenging to understand at first but I feel confident applying them to my role now.
Since the Academy, my role itself hasn’t changed but the way I carry out my role has changed significantly. I have created new tools using Python that have replaced work in Excel, helping me to work smarter. The new skills have also enabled me to make the portfolio management tools more efficient and I have also been able to apply new techniques to enhance my stock-picking abilities.
I was one of the oldest on the Data Academy and am really keen to get the message out that age is not a barrier to learning how to code and programme — you are never too old to learn! I have already been sharing the output from my tools with my colleagues and I’ve set a goal to build a separate front-end system that they will be able to use also. People might not understand Python or data, but they can see the output of the work that I do and see from that what I learnt. Since doing so, two others in my team have already started in a subsequent Data Academy cohort and a lot more are keen to take part.



Alec Beasley, Equity Derivatives Sales Associate at Citi — Decoded Data Academy
Alec Beasley, Equity Derivatives Sales Associate
Data Academy, Beta Cohort (March 2020 — September 2021)

I joined Citi two and a half years ago as a global markets analyst and rotated for 10–12 weeks on equity derivatives sales, metals trading and frontier markets rates trading. I now work as an Equity Derivatives Sales Associate.

Before joining Citi, I had been interested in coding and had taken a couple of summer courses thinking it would provide me with a unique selling point compared with my peers. These courses had helped to give me a basic understanding of coding fundamentals but nothing super-technical.

When the opportunity came up at Citi to join the Decoded Data Academy I applied as it looked like it had a good structure and provided a useful qualification at the end [Data Analyst, Level 4]. I also wanted to continue learning data and be able to work on new projects focused on Python and SQL.

I found the programme itself was very clearly explained and well structured, everything was in the learning material if you needed it or could ask your Decoded mentor for support — I learnt a lot! Beforehand I had no knowledge of SQL, which is extremely useful. I also learnt about Python and how it’s used for classifications, association rules, time series analysis and case analysis. Most of my projects at Citi are desk-specific, so the skills on the Data Academy helped with my day-to-day job. It was just super helpful!

As I work in Sales, knowing how to code is a really good selling point for me personally and I think it will help to open up more doors in my career. The Academy helps upskill you and it’s taught me that I want to keep on learning code! I’m already interested in the next level of training available.
Decoded is a technology education company founded in 2011. On a mission to decode the digital world, Decoded helps clients accelerate digital transformation by embedding learning programmes that develop digital literacy and data skills across the organization. Decoded works with clients spanning the Fortune 500 and FTSE 100.


Get in touch.

Want to find out more? Leave your details and we’ll be in touch.