CS’ Colin McCarthy

August 21, 2017

Colin McCarthy began his freshman year in 1994 at Johns Hopkins thinking about premed. At the time, the internet was just emerging, and McCarthy became enthralled with understanding how computers worked and how technology was evolving so quickly. He promptly changed to a major in computer science, and honed his technology skills working for JHU campus networking/systems as well as serving as a teaching assistant for former professor Eric Brill’s Data Structures course. He graduated from the Whiting School with a BS in computer science in 1998.

After earning an MS in computer science from Stanford University in 2000, McCarthy headed to New York to join Warp Solutions, a technology startup focused on network infrastructure. Then, after getting exposure to finance through friends, he switched gears in 2002 and took a job with Fountainhead Capital, a hedge fund focused on statistical arbitrage (a quantitative trading strategy that uses mathematical models to examine historical relationships between securities to identify potential future pricing inefficiencies). In what McCarthy describes as “a trial by fire,” he quickly learned the ins and outs of electronic trading while developing software to implement the fund’s core quantitative trading models. That fund has since merged with larger firms. Today, McCarthy is a trader with the quantitative trading firm Cubist Systematic Strategies, where he applies statistical models to stock market history looking for novel investment opportunities.

“It’s really the nexus between technology and finance,” McCarthy said. “We get to take technology and apply it to something immediately actionable. We search for what’s really moving and driving the market.”

McCarthy said his time at Johns Hopkins gave him a strong work ethic: “Everyone I know that’s come out of there always talks about how strenuous it was…It gave me a solid foundation of computer science, but also math and hard science, which I apply on a daily basis to this job.”

He helps hire interns from Johns Hopkins and serves as an alumni resource for current students interested in learning more about the industry.

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