James C. Downs founded Connamara Systems LLC in 1998 after 17 years as an options market maker on the Chicago Board Options Exchange and a futures trader on the Chicago Board of Trade. Trading was moving rapidly from exchange floors to trading screens, and demand was growing for software engineers who understood the need for speed, reliability, scalability and innovation.
Jim earned a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University and began his professional life as a QA engineer with Honeywell Avionics, building electronic systems for commercial and defense aeronautical platforms. At Honeywell, he worked on the emerging technology of laser gyroscopes, first as a QA engineer and later as an electronics designer. His work in laser gyroscopes ultimately led him to the Central Intelligence Agency in Langley, Virginia. At the CIA, he managed projects involving the decryption of ICBM telemetry and video enhancement algorithms, all subject to the highest level of security clearance.
Jim came to the floor of the Chicago Board Options Exchange in the early 1980’s at the advent of options and futures trading in stock indices. Jim’s quantitative background and familiarity with software programming provided a clear advantage as the number and types of index instruments and trading strategies exploded.
By the late 1990s, most derivatives trading and market making relied on sophisticated, proprietary software for trade execution, position tracking and risk management. Some of this software was developed by traders without the benefit of best practices for coding standards, documentation, security, or testing. Other software was developed by programmers without sufficient understanding of market dynamics, liquidity, and the market participants. Jim understood the need to couple the highest quality of engineering with broad market knowledge – and Connamara Systems was born.