Want to Innovate? These 3 LA Tech Leaders Encourage Their Teams to Solve Tough Challenges and Think Creatively

by Michael Hines
July 31, 2019

As cliché as it may sound, innovation really does start at the top.

Having a tech leader who keeps an eye toward the future and encourages their team to think outside the box is crucial when your company is in the business of solving tough challenges and turning innovative ideas into products that solve real problems. We sat down with three local tech leaders to learn more about the tech they’re watching, how they encourage entrepreneurial thinking and the exciting projects their teams are working on.

 

CIE Los Angeles tech jobs

Cie is a dual-threat, serving as both an innovation lab for enterprise companies and a startup accelerator that helps entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground. COO Alvin Fong said that while his team works diligently to bring the ideas of its partners to life, CIE also actively supports team members who want to work on startups of their own.

 

What are the biggest and most impactful tech projects your team is working on this year?

We love seeing new ideas spring to life, and we actively encourage our team to generate and pursue them. We launched an internal “Shark Tank” competition where team members pitch new startup ideas based on the challenges they have experienced in their own lives. The competition was so successful that two of the ideas have been seed-funded by VCs and are in stealth mode being incubated by Cie, with the winning pitch members being the founders of the startups!

We love seeing new ideas spring to life, and we actively encourage our team to generate and pursue them.”

 

How do you encourage your team to think outside of the box when it comes to new projects, and are there any new technologies you're eyeing for the future?

We frequently work with problem statements that do not have clear, immediate solutions. Our teams collectively unpack the problem statements in order to understand existing market solutions, trends and needs, and we then figure out how to build the right mix of tech to solve and scale the solution. We are currently diving deeply into the convergence of hardware sensors and software that creates a deep layer of data where AI can be deployed to drive actionable insights and results to improve quality of life. That’s vague, but the idea is in stealth.

Our approach to solving problems empowers our team to be creative rather than having a cookie-cutter, rinse-and-repeat approach. The most amazing part of our team is that they look at what the end user experience should be and find ways to solve those pain points in an elegant fashion.

 

PaymentCloud Los Angeles tech jobs

PaymentCloud is a payment processing company that specializes in helping businesses deemed “high-risk” by banks and financial institutions accept payment via credit card. These businesses run the gamut from nonprofits  to tech support companies and subscription services. 

When it comes to exciting projects, CTO Neal Hamou said his team is currently working on technology that will allow merchants to quickly and easily view and analyze their transaction data. While this project is a big undertaking, Hamou has advised his team to take it one bite at a time. That’ll make sense soon.

 

What are the biggest and most impactful tech projects your team is working on this year?

We are constantly working on internal sales and consumer-facing tech projects. The projects geared toward our sales staff have the goal of streamlining submissions, gathering data, and submitting to multiple banking partners in a protected and scalable environment. Our consumer and merchant-facing projects are also heading in interesting directions as we are taking a new, simpler and more tech-forward approach to an archaic industry. We want merchants to be able to connect, display and analyze transactional data with relative ease. There are a lot of moving parts in the high-risk payments space, and there’s no way to get around that. However, we do our best to simplify this.

The main concept that I try to instill in my team is that we can accomplish anything.”

 

How do you encourage your team to think outside of the box when it comes to new projects, and are there any new technologies you're eyeing for the future?

The main concept that I try to instill in my team is that we can accomplish anything. We are a relatively young organization with a small but quickly growing staff. I never want our team to get the impression that we are limited in our abilities because of our company’s size or age. My strategy is to break down larger projects into small, manageable chunks with actionable items. As the saying goes, the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. The same goes for our goals when they tend to be a bit more adventurous. With regard to the future, I believe machine learning and AI-driven technology will play a major role in certain segments of the payments space. We definitely have plans to put these ideas into action.

 

CareerArc Los Angeles tech jobs

CareerArc CTO Toby Christie believes that good ideas come from anywhere. As such, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Christie’s team uses feedback and data from a wide variety of sources — both inside and outside of the company — to solve tough problems and develop new technology.

 

What are the biggest and most impactful tech projects your team is working on this year?

It’s an exciting time at CareerArc. We’re working on several high-impact tech projects that solve some of the gnarliest challenges facing recruiters and HR leaders, including a way to quantify the ROI of our clients’ recruitment marketing and employer branding efforts, especially on social media. We’re also giving recruiters more visibility into the candidate journey to and through the application process so they know what’s working and what’s not. These areas are notoriously difficult to measure and report on in an actionable way, so we’re solving a real pain point.

We’re working on several high-impact tech projects that solve some of the gnarliest challenges facing recruiters and HR leaders.”

 

How do you encourage your team to think outside of the box when it comes to new projects, and are there any new technologies you're eyeing for the future?

New ideas can come from anywhere — both inside and outside the company — including straight from engineering. Of course, those ideas get vetted before they get built, but what I love about CareerArc is that there’s a tremendous amount of respect and healthy back-and-forth between teams. We get input not only from every part of the organization, but also outside the company in our conversations with clients, HR leaders, analysts and more, and we use AI-powered data mining in addition to our conversations to uncover hidden opportunities and spark new ideas. It’s amazing how getting feedback from all those sources can stimulate creative problem-solving and cultivate original thinking.

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