How These Engineering Leaders Think About Trust, Tools and Teamwork

Built In NYC got to know two engineering leaders who know where they’re going and what they need to get there.

Written by Conlan Carter
Published on Jun. 03, 2024
How These Engineering Leaders Think About Trust, Tools and Teamwork
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“Trust is one of the most essential forms of capital a leader has.”

When Harvard Professor of Technology and Operations Management Frances Frei was introduced to solve critical cultural and discrimination issues at a major rideshare company, she knew from years of experience that rebuilding trust in leadership was key to finding a positive outcome for the business.

Working with her spouse and business partner, Frei’s method for fostering trust created  a holistic shift in how trust in leadership is perceived. 

“Leadership really isn’t about you,” wrote Frei and Morriss in the Harvard Business Review. 

Trust in leadership, according to Frei and Morris, stems from a combination of a leader’s perceived authenticity, logic and empathy, and leaders can improve trust by identifying which of those three factors is their weakest spot, or “trust wobble.”

Guided by these core tenets of leadership, companies with higher levels of trust typically have employees with less stress and burnout and more productivity, engagement and overall job satisfaction.

Trust is fundamental to the leadership style of Group Director of Technology Stephen Matysik at Work & Co, who said that trust is the key to helping his team reach their ambitious goals. Built In NYC spoke with Matysik and Trumid’s Head of Automation Engineering, Paul Chered, to learn more about their experience, leadership styles and what keeps them excited about the future.


 

Stephen Matysik
Group Director, Technology • Work & Co

Work & Co is a design and technology company that partners with companies including IKEA, Apple, PGA TOUR, Gatorade, Google and more to launch digital products that transform businesses. 

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself. What’s your professional background, and why were you brought on to lead this team? 

I’ve worked in developer roles at digital agencies for the past 11 years, and nearly half of that time has been as a leader on our engineering team at Work & Co. While my focus has always been front-end web development, as my role has evolved, I’ve been exposed to API design, systems architecture, DevOps and a variety of non-programming topics such as e-commerce fulfillment, SEO, and A/B testing that have given me a fuller understanding of the business needs that drive development work. I started at Work & Co as a lead developer and have been fortunate to grow into my current position as group director over the last five years by demonstrating an ability to build trust with clients, helping all disciplines understand the implications of design and development choices and supporting our internal technology team.
 

How would you describe your approach to leadership, and how do you plan on building team culture?

My leadership style, and the type of leader I strive to be, are heavily influenced by Work & Co’s core focus on doing quality work alongside compassionate, talented individuals. I’ve observed in practice how trust is fundamental to achieving the ambitious goals we set for ourselves and for the products that we create.

 

“Trust is fundamental to achieving the ambitious goals we set for ourselves and for the products that we create.”

 

Building trust requires accountability, hands-on leadership and consistent support. Product leaders at Work & Co focus on a single project at a time — from initial design to launch — and leads are not just managers but are hands-on in the project work. Our mentorship program supports team members through regular check-ins, where mentors and mentees give feedback early and often about projects, progress and long-term goals.

Within a development team, an effective way to build a culture of trust is through responsive and respectful code review. Setting aside time to review work, ensuring pull request comments are clear and actionable and being kind when providing feedback demonstrates to coworkers that their contributions are valued. Fostering this culture benefits not only the team but also the quality of the product itself.
 

What project/initiative are you most excited to tackle, and why? What impact does this project/initiative have on Work & Co or its customers?

Work & Co is known for partnering with clients across sectors, but our retail expertise is especially deep. I always find e-commerce projects exciting as they bring together technical and design challenges in a very tangible way for the business.

As a front-end developer, I love immersive experiences that utilize creative technologies such as WebGL. I had the opportunity to work on a shopping experience for custom holiday cards for VistaPrint that included an interactive, 3D model of each card template, with the option to upload and preview templates with your family photo applied to it. After A/B testing, we were able to prove the positive impact the new experience had on card sales. Recently, my teammates launched another application of 3D product previews on the new Gatorade.com, which features a custom bottle configurator built using Three.js. Recent developments in AI and Machine Learning present opportunities to further enhance web-based shopping experiences with rich semantic search, AI-generated personalized page layouts, and by creating new shopping modalities, such as conversational commerce.

 

 

 

Paul Chered
Head of Automation Engineering • Trumid

Trumid is a fintech company that brings technology and product design to corporate bond trading.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself. What’s your professional background, and why were you brought on to lead this team? 

As a seasoned trader, quantitative analyst and software designer, my journey in the capital markets has been driven by a relentless pursuit of precision and efficiency, leveraging technology to achieve even greater success. My passion for automation and tech-driven innovation has led me to fixed income trading, a market which until recently has largely resisted the automation trends that have transformed trading in other asset classes. Fixed income has traditionally been dominated by voice-based execution with individuals negotiating trades over the phone. 

The tide began to change post the Global Financial Crisis with the introduction of electronic trading protocols aided by dramatic advances in software tools, AI, and data science. Accumulation of proprietary data by market participants putting these tools to work is now shifting this trend into high gear.

I decided to pursue my passion for automation at Trumid, a financial technology company and fixed income electronic trading platform bringing efficiency to credit trading through data, technology, and intuitively designed products. As a fast-growing market leading innovator with an agile technology stack, Trumid is uniquely positioned to take advantage of these trends. Trumid derives this position from a persistent focus on technology and most importantly an unrelenting pursuit of serving client needs, as evidenced by the rapid client adoption of Trumid trading protocols and solutions.

 

How would you describe your approach to leadership, and how do you plan on building team culture?

I work hard to build teams of domain experts, people who possess exceptional skills in the specific area of focus, and who enjoy exchanging ideas and cross-learning opportunities. My experience in delivering impactful automation solutions is why I have been brought in to lead Trumid’s automation engineering team. We are an experienced group of software engineers, data scientists and former traders, working together to create exceptional workflow automation solutions for our clients.

 When we set out to create new products, my job is to get the “idea ball” rolling. I leverage my cross-functional industry knowledge to communicate the client needs our product is being designed for and propose a potential technical approach to determine the solution. At this point, team collaboration takes over and enhances the proposed approach, leveraging both independent and collective thinking to maximize creativity. Finding solutions while having fun is deeply embedded in our culture at Trumid and it's a trusted environment in which all ideas are welcome and heard.

But our success as a team is a function not only of the exceptionally talented individuals but is the result of a conscious effort to continuously align our focus with client needs. We are constantly reminding ourselves of various facets of the business problem we are solving and testing our approach in its ability to deliver the optimal solution: always working closely with colleagues across technology, product, and sales.

 

“Trumid derives this position from a persistent focus on technology and, most importantly, an unrelenting pursuit of serving client needs.”

 

What project/initiative are you most excited to tackle, and why? What impact does this project/initiative have on Trumid or its customers?

Traditional automation approaches in fixed income trading have often taken a narrow focus, streamlining a specific aspect of the trader workflow. Using the car driving analogy, this traditional approach to automation is akin to cruise control. The driver selects the route and remains in control of the steering. In contrast, at Trumid, we are creating a trader workflow automation solution which is analogous to a fully self-driving car. Our approach takes trader input with respect to what needs to be done, allows for sensitivities with respect to execution parameters such as price efficiency and time efficiency, and then proceeds to select the optimal route and fully executes all the steps along the way.

Continuing advances in machine learning and AI are providing enormous tailwinds to the future of automation. As our network continues to grow and is enriched by the activity that is happening here, we can develop data products and solutions that can guide traders in optimizing what, how, when and with whom to trade. We believe that AI and automation will have a positive influence on our market, facilitating the dynamic needs of an increasingly electronic market place.

 

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images provided by Shutterstock and listed companies.

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