No Risk No Reward

riyapenn on 18 Aug 2015

After immersing myself for years and years in the world of finance (specifically, options market making and algorithmic trading), there was no escaping this mantra of “no risk, no reward.” Most of the time, my (trading) style was fairly risk-averse. I knew how to find the signals of opportunities among the daily noise to reap small rewards. Fortunately, I also learned how to think about the outliers and to take the occasional big but calculated risks.

The risks always lie with the known unknowns and unknown unknowns. For me, now, there are plenty of both. A new city, new industry, new role, new pace of life, and, most succinctly, a new leaf. It’s scary, but this new world offers endless possibilities. And it was born out of my amazing opportunity to join the Open Whisper Systems team.

Perhaps I’ve made my way onto the OWS team because of musings that life is becoming more like Oceania in George Orwell’s 1984. Maybe I’ve been influenced by my daily visits to the financial blog Zero Hedge. Or it could be from the realization of how much of my information is publicly available, and much, by my own choice. How else am I going to be social? Or share pictures of my first-ever morning run to the Pacific Ocean?

Running at Ocean Beach

I took a giant leap (read: big risk) by leaving behind the blinking numbers of my trading screen to move into the qualitative world of supporting secure, private communication. Now I’m advocating for users and listening to your comments, but don’t worry I’ll manage to bring the finance-inspired quantitative data in my line of reasoning.

During my first few days I felt like a novice swimmer jumping into the deep end. I went from playing in the shallow end of the pool as a long-time Signal user to now using multiple devices with multiple numbers to recreate and test issues. I was learning about bloom filters, inquiring about TCP and UDP ports, and going through all of my sources — blogs, GitHub, and knowledge from my world-class colleagues.

Did I say that was just for my first few days? I meant every day. Every hour. Since I started. I’m being pushed outside the bounds of my expertise by looking at things from different perspectives and trying to hit my milestones. I’m on a hockey stick learning curve and I couldn’t ask for anything better.

So where does taking the leap to join OWS land on the risk/reward spectrum? The risk was great. The reward? Only time will tell. But, so far, it looks to be even greater than I originally imagined. Every day has been an affirmation that I made the right move. I am so fortunate to be in a company where they hire already motivated people and inspire them.

It’s only been two weeks. Check back soon!

Riya, August 18th 2015 San Francisco, CA