Getting to Know: Brenden Smith, Chief Technology Officer

Updated: Feb 24

Picture of Brenden Smith-Getting to know: Brenden Smith Chief Technology Officer Finotta

Tell us about yourself

Hi, I'm a ginger-bearded man named Brenden. If I were to tell you about myself, I would end up typing for days. There is not enough time for a full answer to this question.

How did you get started in your career?

I have loved technology since I was a child. I would tear apart old devices and see the inner workings - thinking it was so freaking magical. I bought my first computer when I was 10. The idea that you could fit all that in a (modular) box making it easy to upgrade or repair, was so inspiring. This made me think I wanted to be a computer technician. I also loved video games and around this age started writing a bot for RuneScape with one of my good friends. This made me want to be a video game programmer. This lasted until high school. In high school, I had a weird hobby of writing out business plans. Figuring out all the financials and crunching the numbers. This always excited me so deeply; driving me to go study business in college. I found out that I really hated business classes because they were so subjective. Basically saying, "it always depends on the situation and you just have to figure it out - but here are a few ways it HAS worked". Nonetheless, I switched back to a very objective degree. Computer Science. Once I graduated with my degree; I turned back and thought "sales is the way to make money". Leading me to go do insurance sales and financial advising. Turns out, I suck at selling things that I don't believe people need. This pushed me to realize, technology is my career.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

Richard Branson, Dale Carnegie, Steve Jobs

Why those men?

Richard Branson: He is an innovator. He is a businessman. And he's a great person. He cares deeply about all of his employees - and wants to see progress in the world. He has a healthy lifestyle and has good values.

Dale Carnegie: I listen to/read How to Win Friends and Influence People every year. I find it being super important in the professional world to navigate the realm of networking and managing. It will help everyone from entry-level all the way to executive level. A very insightful man.

Steve Jobs: Steve was a human with a vision. He never knew what was going to be the right outcome, but he iterated and kept trying with user feedback. This is one of the largest and most loyal user bases in the world. He was also a very motivational/inspirational human for those who don't know. Go listen to or read his "dots will connect" speech. He was a true visionary.

What is the best part of your job?

The ability and possibility to change the lives of many through innovation.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

Balancing all the hats currently. There are so many responsibilities and needs/wants from me, but I absolutely have to deliver this product.

What are you passionate about?

I'm passionate about many things, some might even say it's a problem. Most of all though, People. I'm passionate about people. Even more specifically - helping people.

Can you give us some examples of the things you are passionate about?

Opera, travel, weightlifting, woodworking, and building motorcycles.

How do you think we can improve positive work cultures in the fintech industry?

I think that if we continue to stay true to our vision while iterating and adapting to new data points. We will create an incredible culture and others will follow, or they will all come work for us.

As an executive leader at Finotta, what is the hardest part of breaking the cycle of negative work cultures?

The hardest part is that people who come from outside companies don't trust good culture. They have always seen certain individuals not go hard/take advantage of the culture and oftentimes everyone gets punished because of this one individual's actions. We can't do that. The culture has to be ours, and if someone tries to take advantage of us and our culture, it's in our best interest to handle the individual rather than change who we are. What I relate this to, is if someone is taking advantage of you, you don't change who you are. You learn how to work with that individual.

What advice would you give someone who is starting their career in your field?

Consume all the knowledge that you can and if you don't progress in a company within 1.5 years, move to another one. Find a mentor that can help you progress your career as well. And if you don't want career progression, find a really interesting idea that you love working on.

What resources would you recommend?

Stack Overflow (for someone starting their career in building or supporting technology).

What are some rules you live by?

There is no such thing as a fair fight. Everyone has something amazing to offer the world. The term "it's how we have always done it" is nails on a chalkboard. Be good to those around you.

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