A Day in the Life of a Programmatic Trading Manager

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We’re MiQ, a programmatic media partner for marketers and agencies. We connect data from multiple sources to do interesting, exciting, business-problem-solving things for our clients. We’re experts in data science, analytics and programmatic trading, and we’re always ready to react and solve challenges quickly, to make sure our clients are always spending their media investments on the right things in the right places.

Our business keeps growing and our company keeps getting better because we keep hiring smart new people. People like… Saral Nigam, a Programmatic Trading Manager. Check out Saral’s story below to learn about how he started his career in programmatic trading.

  1. Where are you based?

I’m based in MiQ’s New York office. 

  1. What year did you graduate and what was your major in school?

I studied at the University of Maryland and  graduated in 2014 with a degree in Economics and Finance.

  1. How did you start a career in this industry?

Right before the summer of 2013, I was told by my previous employer that they didn’t have enough budget to bring me back for the summer. This was late in the school year, so I was scrambling to find an internship. I must have applied to over 15 jobs and luckily got one call back from AOL. They’d posted their internship late and I was able to land the job in the beginning of June. After working at AOL for the summer, I was able to turn that internship into a full time job the following summer. Before that summer, I had no idea this industry even existed. I always saw myself heading down the finance route.

  1. How did your first job jumpstart your current career path?

Starting my career at AOL couldn’t have been any more fun or fulfilling. The culture at AOL led to friends that I will have for a lifetime and a skillset that I will never forget. Working at a demand side platform (DSP) gave me client communication skills and a great understanding of the technicalities of the industry. I was able to really get into the weeds of how to best use a DSP, including the best ways to optimize campaigns and how to communicate what was happening to a client. Outside of that, working at AOL put me in position to understand the whole industry because they were a publisher, and also owned a supply side platform (SSP), an attribution model, and a data management platform (DMP).

  1. What motivates and keeps you going at work?

There are two parts to my job – the trading itself, and managing my trading team. 

As a manager, seeing the people in my team grow, learn and succeed is incredibly motivating. Being able to see associates come straight in from college and grow to be successful in the company is one of the most fulfilling feelings you can have as a manager. 

And for the trading itself, when you’re hitting your clients’ performance goals and you’re able to grow an account, you feel such a strong sense of accomplishment. To do this, we often have to do unique and creative things, to outperform our competitors. And it’s great to be able to help advertisers earn a higher return on ad spend, and increase revenue for MiQ at the same time. When everything is going well and clicking for an advertiser, it’s clear you’ve done well and succeeded.

  1. What are your responsibilities as a programmatic trading manager?

As a trader manager, I’m responsible for managing the Northeast Independent business portfolio. My goal is to maintain high standards of performance across all campaigns, while delivering campaign budgets profitably. I also develop processes to keep our business in a sustainable phase.

  1. Tell me about your favorite project at MiQ?

One of the biggest gaps I saw when I came into the company was the raw learning and training process for trading. Trading is an art that takes 9-12 months to really learn and start to master, and the initial two or three months need to be really structured. Within the first six months of working at MiQ, I worked with our product trainer to write a ‘guru book’ for traders to learn everything from the basics of the industry to some complicated trading topics. Several years later, about 90% of the content still holds true because of the nature of trading. Even though a lot of our process has been updated, the basic learnings and needs are still there.

  1. What advice would you give to someone looking to start a career in programmatic trading? 

The most important attribute for a trader or anyone in this industry is willingness to learn – and use what you learn in a logical manner. This entire industry is made up of weird connections, highlighted by the lumascape. If you’re able to understand how all the different parts of the industry come together, it’s easy to fall in love with what we do, while doing something great yourself. My major piece of advice would be to talk to as many people as possible. There are so many interesting people with different views in the industry.

MiQ is launching our first-ever internship opportunity this summer! If programmatic trading or client services sounds exciting to you, be sure to apply to MiQ’s Programmatic Fellowship (MPF) here: https://grnh.se/387ea10c2.