MoneyTalk With Software Engineer Isra

MoneyTalk Software engineer

Hello Isra!

Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m a software engineer at a cybersecurity tech start up in Raleigh, NC. I grew up in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates, a town 100 miles south of Dubai and moved to the US in 2010. I’m a travel junkie and love connecting with people from all around. When I’m not in front of screen(s), I’m usually out on a prowl for good fried chicken.

What’s your relationship like with money and personal finance?

I was kind of like Disney’s Uncle Scrooge growing up - loved my money and didn’t like it going anywhere. To my good fortune, I had an older sister who was quite the opposite and loved to spend, that too on new and fun experiences. We had a cycle. She’d spend all her money, and later convince me to go on trips with her to spend mine too. One would think how clever, but personally I thank her for doing what she did. Most of the things we did together, like going to water parks and taking painting lessons, my parents could not afford. But what better than pooling money and still finding ways to do things we loved as a team! With time, a few more of such experiences changed my attitude toward money. I started considering it as a tool, and as a means to an end rather than something of value by itself. By the time I got to college, I had slowly learnt to use money for my well being and happiness. So lack of money at times did not seriously stress me out, but suddenly having a lot of also never meant I’d be over the moon!  

Are you an investor?

I’ve invested in cryptocurrencies, retirement plans, equity shares and in some real estate.

What does financial independence mean to you?

Financial independence in many ways defines my identity. I left home half-way across the globe at 18 to take up a college scholarship in Boston. This is significant because it’s not common for girls in my extended family to travel that far, hustle, and fend for themselves. Luckily, I was only following in the footsteps of my sister who’d had a similar journey. I got to learn early on what it meant to be financially independent, and to own up to any consequences, good or bad, of whatever financial decisions I made and continued to make. Over time I also realized when there’s few fall back options, financial maturity is the only way forward. Personally I find this freedom empowering, and in turn it fuels my confidence to take more financial risks.

What’s the one thing you indulge in? 

Southern fried chicken and chocolate glazed donuts.

What is the best financial decision you have ever made?

Predicting bitcoin’s value some 4 years ago and not selling my free bitcoin since.

How are you leveraging technology to manage your finances and investments?

I use Coinbase to manage my crypto wallet. I’m also looking into Fundrise and Wealthfront to invest in a diversified portfolio.

Have you ever experienced a financial epiphany? A sort of wake-up call, where you suddenly think - “I must start doing things differently”? 

Definitely. My younger self didn’t think of money as a tool, but over time it dawned on me that it’s money itself that harvests more of it. What’s important is to convert money into income generating assets even if it means having less of it in the short run. For example, it’s better to invest spare cash in a business or to use it to create side income, than to simply save it.

What is Vestpod for you?

An awesome avenue to learn from the financial experiences of some amazing women.

Favourite book & podcast?

Favorite (financial) book: Rich Dad Poor Dad -- simple but profound message on what it means to be financially literate. [This is our book for Vestpod's book club by the way!]

Your story:

I’m an experienced software engineer currently developing data tools at BitSight Technologies, a leading enterprise security ratings company. My technical repertoire consists of cloud and application layer technologies including Python and Django, cloud, and containerization technologies like Kubernetes and Docker.

I’m deeply interested in building secure and transparent infrastructures for data distribution and security management. To that end, I’m also exploring the viability of new technologies in building a platform for data collection/distribution use-case. Previously, I studied Computer Science at MIT with a concentration in Human Computer Interaction, where I co-authored a technical paper with Hal Abelson, known for his pioneering work in democratizing computer science education and open software. The paper, found here, highlights the importance of block based programming platforms and was featured at the PROMOTO conference in 2015.

Where can we find you?


Thanks a lot Isra!

-- Emilie