Thank you Tarmac for underwriting our Meet a Minnesota Tech CTO series, where we get up close and personal with Minnesota’s chief techies.
How long have you been working in tech for and what is your technical background?
I have been a tech hobbyist and enthusiast since the first time I got my hands on a personal computer. Throughout my educational history I have spent a lot of time programing, building websites, and testing networks and systems security. I began studying Economics at Columbia University but quickly felt the need to transition back to my passion within technology and moved to Computer Science at both Columbia and the University of Minnesota. I joined Sezzle right out of school and helped us build the team and product we have today.
Why do you do it, what inspires you?
In the tech world, especially at a smaller company, innovation can be compared to eternally pushing a rock up a hill. With new technologies and products popping up, the sense of accomplishment when it is time to step back and observe the end product of creativity, acute detail, and hard work are what inspire me. Instead of looking at pushing a rock up a hill, it is important to find inspiration through progress and possibilities.
What are you focused on right now?
My main focus is to continue to build a strong engineering culture and product teams centered around the mission: “Financially Empowering Young Consumers”. Our team is constantly looking to offer our payment solution to as many retailers as possible while our product, engineering, and data teams continue to iterate and expand our product.
What are the some of the technologies within your company and IT environment?
Our company operates on a younger, more progressive stack and set of technologies. Our core products are built using React/Redux, Go (Golang), and MySQL. All of our infrastructure is containerized with Docker and orchestrated using Kubernetes in the cloud with continuous integration and deployment pipelines.
I will generally give a thumbs up to any technology or tool that allow us to “Automate and Elevate” as a company.
How do you ensure that IT plans, projects and objectives are aligned with business outcomes?
Communication of goals that are aligned with the company mission help keep expectations managed between the teams. Maintenance of proper communication channels through the project planning stages with measurable tracking help align business goals with projects.
What is the size of your department (headcount) and how is it organized/managed?
The engineering department is currently at 15+ which is organized into product groups (Operations, Merchant, Shopper, and DevOps, and Data). Teams manage projects using Kanban boards in Gitlab. Team’s have weekly touchpoints to review key performance indicators and discuss current and future projects.
How does your company approach recruiting and retention for technical positions?
We use job postings and have an “always hiring” mentality. We continue to recruit talented team members whose character aligns with our core values. We do a lot of in-house recruiting, but are open to contract-to-hire and recruiting firms for certain positions.
With smaller team sizes, there is a lot of autonomy and responsibility to maintain and build new products. Creating ownership and the space to grow and learn while encouraging collaboration make our engineering culture fun, social, and productive.
Now Hiring: Database Administrator & Senior Full Stack Engineer
How do you personally keep up with the ever changing technology landscape?
In order to keep up you need to continually dip your oar into new technologies. Tinkering with new products and projects can keep you up to date, I believe that it is important to be involved in the tech communities to share ideas and push the boundaries of the products that are right in front of you. User groups and meetups are great forums to get involved and share experiences. Find one that you like and offer to speak if you are looking for a fun challenge.
What excites you about where technology is heading?
As I continue to see FinTech companies innovate, I am eager to find other ways that companies will continue to offer forward-looking financial services to consumers to supplement existing services currently offered by traditional financial institutions.
What concerns you about where technology is heading?
Fast-moving companies tend to put security aside for a later date. Organizations and consumers can lose trust in emerging companies if trust in security is breached. Focus on security helps the entire industry grow.
What is your opinion of Minnesota’s tech industry – how could it be better?
The community is close for startups in Minneapolis with great events throughout the Twin Cities that bring all of us together. I think that the industry will continue to improve as we continue to have high-tech startup success stories, further encouraging founders to make the leap and and investors to make the capital investment. Companies in the tech industry should continue to encourage and sponsor involvement in community.
What are you into outside of technology?
I fondly enjoy running, rowing, biking, or cross country skiing when the season agrees with the sport. Having spent time living in the concrete jungle of New York I like to find any excuse to get outside to capitalize on the parks, trails, and waterways that make Minnesota a great place to live.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I am happy to grab a coffee or share more about Sezzle or have a more general discussion on the tech industry. The Sezzle team is constantly growing — check out our available positions!