Meet our Team: Chris Szymansky, Founder & CTO
Welcome to our second installment of "Meet our Team." In this post, we're featuring Chris Szymansky, Co-Founder and CTO at Fieldguide. Learn about his role as CTO at Fieldguide, what led him to co-found the company, and more!
Name: Chris Szymansky
Position: Co-Founder & CTO
Location: San Francisco, CA
Tell me about your role and team at Fieldguide.
I’m CTO at Fieldguide, and my role is multifaceted.
On the engineering side, I’m primarily doing things to help our engineers make sound technical decisions by helping with big picture architectural items and ensuring they have a lot of context on customer and business needs. We have an awesome, experienced engineering team, so everyone can run on big, impactful features, as long as they understand how everything comes together.
I also work on things that unblock our engineers, like QA, code reviews, design reviews, user stories and product vision docs, Figma mockups, and usability critiques of in-development features. I spend a lot of time working with customers and understanding how we can improve their experience. And then there’s recognizing where the opportunity lies to deliver more product value to customers.
I also help our go-to-market (GTM) team with everything from sales and product demos to marketing and product positioning. And finally, I partner closely with our CEO, Jin, on our overall company strategy and direction.
As a startup, we’re competing against companies that have a twenty to thirty-year head start on us. It’s important to optimize for speed of iteration, but we cannot sacrifice quality. We can’t just pick two in the iron triangle of “fast, affordable, good.” You can only achieve all three by simplifying things–shipping and iterating quickly, getting feedback, and iterating further. Our team uses a continuous delivery mindset to move fast.
The team is structured as an EPD (Engineering, Product, and Design) organization. Each of these three have an equal voice at the table. There’s no handoff between engineers, product developers, and design. Everybody's working and collaborating together. This means our engineers are empowered to make product decisions and our team is very design-oriented. We all care about usability and UX, that’s just a part of our culture.
“It’s not just about writing code–it’s really about the trio of engineering, product, and design coming together to create a great user experience.”
What’s your favorite aspect of working at Fieldguide?
At Fieldguide, we’re shipping products to users who haven't seen or experienced anything like this before. There’s an awesome “newness” factor. I love seeing those magic delighter moments, like when a feature really amplifies productivity or streamlines someone’s workflow. That’s the most rewarding right now.
What led you to Fieldguide?
I have always liked working in complex, legacy industries. Previously I worked in legal tech and HR tech, and I like taking things that are complicated, inefficient and outdated, and modernizing them to make them 10x more efficient and user-friendly.
At every company I've worked at, I've always been the deputized head of compliance and security. People find this work to be too complex and everyone runs away from it. I’ve seen how audits can essentially shut down a company for weeks on end. I’ve always felt that this process is too painful for everyone. When I met Jin at our previous company, and I learned he was formerly at a big four accounting firm, we aligned on this shared interest. Why is this essential work that is necessary to establish trust in business transactions so difficult and painful for everyone involved? That led us to found Fieldguide.
What excites you about the Fieldguide platform?
We’re building a platform that is complex and flexible, but also easy to use. We’re competing with products that may take months or years to roll out across a firm, but we’re making that onboarding experience exponentially smoother and quicker. It’s a combination of power and simplicity that is exciting.
Describe Fieldguide’s culture in three words.
We work hard, but sustainably. Everyone is super smart, innovative, and trusts each other. We’re building an amazing team and looking for people with high EQ and similar values. We want everyone to enjoy their work and the people they work with.
What has been your proudest moment at Fieldguide?
My proudest moment has been seeing that our initial thesis for Fieldguide has so far proven true. The more people we have socialized it with, the broader our network of supporters and believers has become. From our customers to investors to employees, more and more people are coming on board with our vision.
What does your remote workspace look like?
I am a minimalist, so my workspace is simple yet flexible. I have a sit-stand desk, so I can toggle between modes quickly. Aside from that, I always have a notebook next to me. I like to use big sketchbooks with blank pages to sketch ideas, to-do’s, and so on. I also have the usual Apple products, a french press (with coffee in it), and a case of La Croix, probably pamplemousse.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I like to get outdoors, and I like to run and bike around the city here in San Francisco. With everything being closed for COVID, I’m thankful to have these outdoor activities, beautiful scenery, and generally nice weather year-round!
Want to make a huge impact at Fieldguide? We’re hiring.