Tell us a bit about yourself!
Well, for starters I have two kids and a beautiful wife. For me, work has always felt like a hobby. I’ve essentially dedicated my whole life to engineering and programming. My journey began when I was just 10 years old. I had originally been interested in gaming but quickly realized that programming is more interesting and developed a love for programming and never looked back. From there, I went to university to study engineering and programming and have worked in the industry ever since. I’ve been with Flo for three years now and couldn’t be happier.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Every day differs. Some days are filled with meetings, both internal and external. I often speak with our external vendors like Amazon and Auth0, and some smaller and very innovative companies like Tecton to share updates and relevant information. I’m always on the lookout for innovations to help enable a better experience and higher quality product, so I often have many conversations with other startup executives in the health and wellness industry. Hiring is also a key priority for me at this point in time. Being in a period of rapid growth, I interview about 3-5 people per week. We’re always keeping an eye out for the most skilled engineers to join Flo.
What led you to becoming interested in your role as CTO?
I’ve always wanted to be a CTO at start up. Seven years before joining Flo, I had built a startup venture and took on the role of CTO but the startup unfortunately failed. We learned that we were too focused on the technology and not providing enough value to end users. After a year and a half we closed the project. At that point, I knew I needed to go back to my roots and begin again. I joined another company and explored different roles. When I joined Flo, I carried these lessons with me. As CTO of Flo, I remind my team to always focus on the end user to build real value. My team consults with appropriate stakeholders to provide input on key decisions, and spends significant time listening to User reviews.
What are the top 3 priorities of a CTO?
Beyond listening to our end users to achieve a high quality product, it’s important to follow all of the technical trends of the market. My team collects metrics regarding issues within the product to make sure it works as expected. We are sure to make small changes to minimize risk, and test updates as needed. We also have a dedicated team embedded at Flo who monitors the quality of the product. All of our work is cross checked with industry experts, including the medical team and legal team. This collaboration is critical to sustaining the success of Flo’s product.
Are there any specific challenges or pain points that you have come across in your role?
The biggest challenge is that our company is constantly growing. Every two months we have a new challenge. As CTO, it’s important that I adapt to the changing nature of our business. Recently, I’ve been focused on how to organize my team so that everyone can communicate with one another in the most effective manner. This is especially important as our company continues to grow internationally and work from home becomes more of a norm.
What does it take to succeed as a CTO in your industry?
Adaptability. Navigating ambiguity. Coaching people. While technical skills are important, it’s equally important to know how to manage people, build processes, and understand the foundational skills.
What makes you excited to work at Flo?
I love the mission of Flo. It’s a privilege to be able to provide individuals with health insights so that they can better understand their bodies. The technology that we build for end users is complex and advanced, so it’s an exciting challenge for our engineers. It’s also been incredible to witness the evolution of Flo. Three years ago, we were a team of ten engineers, with three to four times less users. As of today, we have over 100. It was a completely different company. Each year feels new and exciting.
What technologies do you see as key for driving innovation at Flo currently?
As a data intensive app, we naturally use a lot of different tools and frameworks that work with our data. This makes privacy and security a key driver for innovating in a sustainable and ethical manner. Because we are dealing with people’s sensitive health information, we need to be extremely smart about how we build, and operate with the appropriate privacy and security policies in mind to protect our Users.
How do you work with Flo’s DPO and CISO?
Whenever we want to build functionality, we consult with our DPO, Susanne Schumacher and CISO, Leo Cunningham to make sure we’re building in the most secure and private manner. We are sure to check the functionality and analyze the technology, security, and privacy embedded within. Everyone carries their own expertise, and we all rely one one another to determine how to work from a tech perspective while also being secure and privacy compliant. We are like a three legged stool, and each of us represent a leg of that stool. If we have all three of them securely in place, it will be stable, but if we don’t have them all in place, it will fall.
What has been the biggest achievement as CTO?
I’m very proud of the results we’ve achieved over the past three years. We have a growing user base, we’re delivering a high quality product, and we’re demonstrating high value. At the same time, I’m very proud of my team. We have more than 100 people with more than ten years experience on average. We make sure to hire people who have a both a product mindset and connection to our mission so that they continue to think of the end user as opposed to the sole technology. I’m looking forward to another exciting year ahead!