A journey from Hospitality to Algo Trading | Diego, Australia

5 min read

Diego Palacio hails from Australia and has about 15+ years of working experience. He's a very enthusiastic individual and has acquired countless skills over the years.

We are thrilled to share his journey from working in the hospitality industry, doing a variety of jobs, shifting to sales and marketing, and now finally into the domain of Algorithmic trading. Diego also holds the Certificate of Excellence from the Executive Programme in Algorithmic Trading (EPAT).

This is his story.

Hi Diego, tell us about yourself!

Hello, my name is Diego Palacio. I am from Colombia, and I migrated to Australia around 13 years ago. I came to this beautiful country to study English and now this is my home. I work as a General Manager in the financial planning industry.

I graduated from Universidad EAFIT with a Bachelors degree in Business Administration. I have also done Masters in Finance from Bond University and some professional certifications from Bloomberg.

I am a very simple man. Colombia's culture is very family orientated and I am very grateful to have my family here with me. Their support has been very important and I try to spend time with them as much as possible. The weather is great, we have a lot of barbecues, go to the beach, watch movies-series and try to enjoy life while we can.

COVID-19 has changed the world completely. We're going through a lot of lockdowns lately. But I feel that we are extremely lucky to live here in Australia. The fact that I can work from home allows me to be on top of the markets a little bit more often. It provides me with an opportunity to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

I like to read in my spare time. I have also been studying and I enjoy doing short courses to gain new skills. Football is one of my passions and I try to watch Atletico Nacional games when possible. Lately, I have been gardening with my wife, it is very relaxing.

I am a Jesus follower and my testimony is that all that I have achieved is due to his presence in my life.

We’d love to hear about your journey from BBA to Finance and now Algorithmic Trading!

I have always been interested in the markets and always. Jobs related to portfolio management and investment analysis have always interested me. In Australia, there are multiple licenses requirements, and it is difficult to get opportunities in that field.

Due to language barriers, my working experience began with the hospitality industry as a dishwasher. In the beginning, I had a rough time and my Visa restrictions only allowed me to have a part-time job.

Nevertheless, I worked for seven years in that industry, and I had the opportunity to make my way up from a Kitchenhand to Restaurant Manager. Following my Hospitality experience, I moved to Sales. It was very challenging and I really achieved growth as a professional.

The language was not a barrier anymore, and thus, I decided to enroll in Masters of Finance. I wanted to get back into the Finance Industry, improve my quality of life and achieve satisfaction through my career.

One of the subjects during my Masters was Financial Trading Systems and I came in contact with the R language. I understood how powerful coding skills are. However, I never thought I would be able to do it myself.

After my Masters, I started working for a financial planning company as Paraplanner. The role involved investment analysis and Excel modelling. With this, my market exposure increased and I got really interested in quant finance.

I worked as Paraplanner Manager for a few months and then I was promoted to a Project Manager/Business Analyst role where I learnt more about data science, coding and systems.

My colleagues introduced me to Python and that led me to Algorithmic trading, something that allowed me to enjoy the best of both worlds – Finance and coding. It was then that I decided to get involved with Quant Finance and found EPAT.

What has been the role of EPAT in your life?

When I decided to get involved in quant finance, I researched multiple options and it was very difficult to find a course with a curriculum fully focused on algorithmic trading.

It is possible to find short courses with topics related to trading and finance, but they were not exactly what I was looking for. This is when EPAT came into the equation. It has a curriculum that is challenging and covers all the important subjects under one roof.

A lot of the topics covered in the programme were something I knew in theory but never got a chance to apply practically. EPAT has helped me to improve my programming skills and to use my finance knowledge in practical scenarios.

I am not an IT person and the EPAT programme has been a bit challenging for me. But, the key is to go step-by-step, with time and effort. This way, something that seems really difficult becomes easier and more enjoyable.

I must say that the faculty support is amazing, managers have guided me in every path, they have helped me answer questions. I feel proud of my current coding skills of course, and always, there is more to improve!

Due to my time zone, it was difficult to attend all the live lectures. I found the LMS at EPAT to be very convenient as it allowed me to view lectures afterwards.

Finally, EPAT has an important role in my life. The fact I can come back and have lifetime access to the content keeps me up-to-date with changes. It challenges me to keep reviewing all those topics that I am not applying to my strategies yet.

Your message to all the aspiring Algo Traders out there.

I truly believe that anyone can become an Algo trader doesn’t matter what background you are coming from. If you don’t have any coding experience, you should not worry, just go step by step.

Be patient with yourself, celebrate your ‘wins’ and with time and effort you will achieve your goals.

Do not expect that you are going to jump into the course and find an easy course, EPAT programme is definitely challenging, but the curriculum is well designed and the support received will help you to overcome any challenge in your learning path.

Lastly, the skills you will learn can be applied to different areas of knowledge, learning Python has been very useful and worthy.

Good reads on who can learn Algorithmic Trading

That is a solid piece of advice Diego. There is no limit to what discipline, dedication, teamwork and goal setting can help you achieve. We’re sure your journey will be an inspiration to many. Thank you for sharing your journey with us and we wish you good luck on your journey to becoming a successful Algo trader.

If you too desire to equip yourself with lifelong skills which will always help you in upgrading your trading strategies. With topics such as Statistics & Econometrics, Financial Computing & Technology, Machine Learning, this algo trading course ensures that you are proficient in every skill required to excel in the field of trading. Check out EPAT now!

Disclaimer: In order to assist individuals who are considering pursuing a career in algorithmic and quantitative trading, this success story has been collated based on the personal experiences of a student or alumni from QuantInsti’s EPAT programme. Success stories are for illustrative purposes only and are not meant to be used for investment purposes. The results achieved post completion of the EPAT programme may not be uniform for all individuals.

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