Lucas Krenn (MMF 2021) is a Quantitative Trader at flovtec, a Swiss crypto company. His MMF cohort completed their degrees entirely remotely during the pandemic, an experience which made relationship building a challenge. Multiple group assignments helped relieve some of the social isolation Lucas felt, and he soon developed friendships that have stood the test of time. One of the unexpected benefits of earning his master’s degree 100% remotely was the habit-building that makes him successful in working fully remotely now at flovtec.

We asked him what it’s like working remotely
 while the crypto market has experienced extreme volatility.

A typical day for Lucas officially starts at 8am with the morning trading team call, but by then he’s already spent time making coffee, checking the markets and reading the news he missed overnight via Crypto Twitter.  Lucas works remotely from Canada and he is solely responsible for North American trading hours. His teammates are located either in Europe or further east, so mornings are usually committed to meetings that everyone can attend during their workday. His trading teammates share what they’ve been working on so far that day and he shares what he worked on the prior evening after their workday finished. They share their plans for the remainder of the day and get to work.

Since flovtec is a market-making crypto startup with only three members on the trading team, one needs to wear many hats. As a result, Lucas’s day is usually divided between different projects, such as trading logic development, upgrading old models to new trading infrastructure, researching new trading models and prototyping new models. He’ll spend the first chunk of his day working on one of these tasks, while occasionally checking in on flovtec’s trading models to make sure everything is running smoothly.

Other areas, such as developing flovtec’s risk management tools, meeting with flovtec clients, and producing reports, also need his attention. On those latter tasks, his MMF internship experience paid off. A large part of his work as a quant researcher at Polar Asset Management was committed to building machine learning and natural language processing models to parse messy data. His ability to translate methodology and results into clear, concise presentations for his colleagues is a skill Lucas uses frequently at flovtec. He must be able to explain what he creates to the sales team so they can sell the product. If the sales team doesn’t grasp the concepts, flovtec’s clients won’t either. 

Depending on how busy the day is (and how nice the weather is), Lucas will either prepare something for lunch and eat at his desk, or eat outside and enjoy some sunlight.

After lunch, with meetings behind him, he can get some serious development work done, like coding or research-heavy tasks that require long periods of uninterrupted focus. He’ll occasionally check in again on the trading models to make sure everything is ok. A few short breaks to read the news and more coffee help pass the time he spends locked into his work.

When he’s satisfied with the day’s efforts, he’ll have some dinner, do a workout, check the markets one more time at night, then go to bed. Each day working at a crypto startup is completely different, and he’s always excited to see how the next day plays out.

The cryptocurrency market has experienced staggering volatility in recent months, and Lucas reminds himself that that’s to be expected. The crypto space is still very new, and clients will come and go, so he stays focused on building flovtec’s products and providing value to the space over the long run. He believes that those who innovate and build on the technology will weather the storms.

Lucas was originally skeptical about cryptocurrency. Friends who were relatively early adopters encouraged him to read more and learn more about the technology. He needed to be convinced that blockchain technology does what it’s supposed to do, and he says nothing about the underlying technology has changed since its inception. The blockchain keeps ticking, despite all the blowups caused by centralized entities and their contagion, despite the sudden rug-pulls and scams, and despite token prices going up and down like a roller coaster ride.

“Token prices may rise and fall,” Lucas says, “but it’s all noise, in my opinion. As with the internet, and the smartphone, and many other technologies, there needs to be large shakeouts to determine who will be the next Apple or the next Amazon.”  With all this in mind, and after witnessing a few crypto blow-ups firsthand, he’s hardened his shell and keeps working without feeling too much stress.