Getting to Know: Eric Swanson, Head of Architecture



Tell us about yourself.


I’ve lived in the midwest my entire life. I grew up in northwest Indiana and went to school in Chicago’s southwest suburbs. Then, After graduating with a computer science degree, I moved out to Kansas City to start my career as a software engineer. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity and privilege to lead teams of developers in various environments.


How did you get started in your career?


I have had a passion for technology since a young age. My dad worked in database systems for the local power company in Indiana and has always had a passion for woodworking as a hobby. He passed on his love of craftsmanship, data, and technology to me - which deeply inspired me to find a way to combine all of those into my career. I’ve happily settled into becoming a software developer, architect, and team lead, giving me daily opportunities to craft ethical software solutions lovingly.



Who has been your biggest inspiration?


That’s a hard one to solidify. It would be an eclectic mix, including Theodore Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Jr, Linus Torvalds, and Eric S Raymond.


Can you tell us more about why you admire these men?


Theodore Roosevelt. He was an asthmatic and sickly child. He resolved to make his life different. So he began living a strenuous life.


Martin Luther King Jr. has inspired me to practice love. He embodies faith, hope, and love. He showed us that love would win in all circumstances.


Linus Torvalds and Eric S Raymond for their love and skill of crafting code. They have both been a big inspiration on viewing programming as a craft and art form.


What is the best part of your job?


That passion comes so easily here. I get to spend every day working with people passionate about the community and product. But, along with that passion comes an absolute resolve that ensures our team can accomplish amazing things. Our direction is set, our passions oriented, and we are resolute in achieving great things.


What are you passionate about?


I’m passionate about ethics, self-improvement, faith, and Oxford commas. But, as cheesy as this sounds, I have a passion for the community, culture, and product (in that order) that we are building here at Finotta.


The marketing team would like you to please state your defense of the Oxford comma.


For my defense of the Oxford Comma, it is purely syntactical.



What is the most challenging part of your job?


In some way, everyone at Finotta is doing some part of their job for the first time. Across the whole company, we are all growing through failure, learning, and moving forward. We’ve purposefully built a culture around growth through failure - but along with that comes the pain points of having to make those mistakes to grow. One of the most challenging things for me has been having a continual mindset of grace when mistakes are made - both for myself and others. It is easy to preach as a cultural value and start implementing, but continually staying in that mindset takes a lot of practice.


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


I don’t have experience in the fintech industry specifically, but I think this broadly applies to the tech industry. I believe there is room for much more care and love in our industry. The tech industry is filled with companies who view their employees as resources - and sometimes even refer to them as such. Just as Finotta is trying to add a touch of humanized warmth to the banking industry - we can also add humanity to company culture and community. We might not be able to change the whole industry, but we can be a shining light to the rest of the companies and lead on the path to a brighter tomorrow.



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


There are many things I want to discuss here. First, know your worth, treat mistakes as learning opportunities, and water your personal growth instead of your technical growth. While goals are reasonable, don’t be upset if your career path doesn’t meet your personal timeline.


You are loved. You are important. And you will make an impact - even if those impacts are minor, the ripples of positive impact can be felt throughout your company, community, and world.


If you can keep your mindset oriented on continual improvement and growth through failure, you will always continue to grow as a person and as a professional. Both have a net gain on society, leaving the world a better place for everyone.


Personal growth is two-fold. As a developer and possibly future team lead - the two most important.

Career path - Career goals are great - but don’t make them boundaries or expectations. Take your time and learn as much as you can as you go. Your current situation might not be exactly where you thought you would be. It could be a company that doesn’t match your ideals. You might not be getting the promotion you definitely deserve. Take your time and choose the next right path - even if that path is staying in your current situation to learn as much as you can. Practicing being content in your current environment will help you in life and career circumstances.



What resources would you recommend?


I’m going to recommend books that have impacted me towards self-improvement mainly. Regardless of your profession, I believe these are things that will have the most significant impact on your career. Technology resources on the internet are limitless.


The Art of Doing Science and Engineering - Learning to Learn - Richard W. Hamming


So Good They Can’t Ignore You - Cal Newport


Deep Work - Cal Newport


How to Win Friends and Influence People - Dale Carnegie


Strength to Love - Martin Luther King Jr.


What are some rules you live by?


There can be no transgression as a means to an end.


Measure twice, cut once.


“Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care,” Theodore Roosevelt.


“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that,” Martin Luther King Jr.


The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.




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