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Spotlight: Michael Del Monte
Michael Del Monte is the Head of Integrations at Citadel. We sit down to discuss his journey to this point and what he enjoys about the world of coding and data mountain climbing.
Tell me a little bit about your journey getting to Citadel.
It’s been a long road. I started in mechanical engineering but drifted back towards software because I was always coding as a kid and I loved it. I veered off briefly to become a patent attorney until I realized I’d rather be the inventor than the guy recording his invention. So I started developing software in my free time.
I stopped working as an IP attorney in order to launch a software company that did data mining, and then I ran that company for about twenty years. about ten years ago, I met a guy who wanted to get data from brokerage websites. We started a new company, Quovo, at first as a portal for evaluating investment performance, but we soon refocused to be a data platform for investment and banking data. Not long after that, Quovo was acquired by Plaid, and we exited.
I wanted to join Citadel because it was really doing the same thing. Citadel focuses on payroll providers, while Quovo and Plaid focus on banks, but it's very much the same challenge.
That’s fantastic. So, how long have you been at Citadel?
I started with Citadel as an advisor in August of 2020, then joined as an employee about three months ago.
Why did you decide to go from advisor to employee?
My schedule was very complicated because we have two boys, one in high school in New York and the other in high school at a tennis academy in Florida, and we were flying back and forth a lot. Then in March, we bought a house in Florida, and with my older son, Emerson, graduating in New York, a lot of the complications went away. Once we knew where we were going to be and life felt a bit more predictable, I felt it was a good time to join Citadel as an actual employee.
And what does your day-to-day look like at Citadel?
My role is vaguely described as Head of Integrations and Platform. I spend most of my time on integrations because it’s more involved than platform work. I do a lot of PR reviews (review code) because at Citadel we deploy code constantly: we’re always updating the integrations. These are the bits of code that go to the payroll provider website and a) successfully navigate the login, then b) pull back all of the information that’s needed and put it in our database.
So, a lot of my day is reviewing code changes and suggesting refactoring. How can we make the code cleaner, or faster, or less buggy? Then I do code changes on my own because I maintain one of our larger integrations.
What motivates you to wake up and go to work every day?
It’s weird, but I like this stuff.… I’ve liked doing it for a really long time. The idea of having a big machine that’s always running in the background that’s doing a job is rewarding to me. There’s just something satisfying about the idea of writing some code, deploying it, it chugs away doing its job, and it becomes an effective machine. You can go from idea to reality rapidly with software and I also find looking at mountains of data very interesting and seeing how we can make it clean and more unified.
What’s something most people don’t know about you?
A lot of people are surprised to find out I grew up in the South; I was born in Georgia and grew up mostly in Louisiana but never came away with an accent, which is a little unusual. My dad is also from Cuba, so my background usually surprises people.
What about hobbies? What do you like to do outside of work?
Let’s see. I play chess — not incredibly well — but pretty well. I think I’m rated like 1450 now. I also started playing the piano which I really enjoy but it can be hard to go from a computer keyboard to a music keyboard; your hands have to get used to it. It’s very fun and very rewarding though.
We’re very fortunate at Citadel to have Michael join us from advisory to employee status. From coding to chess, the skill he shows in both speaks a lot to how he approaches his work here as well.