Meet the people who help our clients design and build innovative technology solutions to benefit their businesses as well as their customers: our subject matter experts aka SMEs. In this series, we’ll discover how they came to work in the industry and the changing role of technology in our lives. We’ll also get a glimpse into what makes them tick as people outside of work.
This time on Meet the SME, we’re delighted to be joined by Chris Hart, our EVP Client Success for North America. Chris is a co-founder of Levvel, and he and his amazing team joined Endava in 2021. Being a tech enthusiast and showing that entrepreneurial spirit from a very young age, he now supports our clients and our teams in developing successful, customer-focused solutions.
Thank you very much for joining us, Chris. What has brought you into the tech industry?
I always loved technology – I was fortunate to get a computer (a Commodore 64!) when I was five years old. By the time I was in high school, I was teaching myself a couple different programming languages and was even getting paid for some freelance software development. I dropped out of college to work for a bank as a software developer, and that led to a somewhat accidental but very interesting career in banking and payments technology! (I eventually finished my degree in computer science, but it took seven years longer than I expected...)
What has been the biggest innovation since you have been working in the industry?
I started working professionally as a software developer in 1998, so there’s been a lot of big innovations over that period. It’s hard to pin it down to just one, so I’ll kind of cheat and say the combination of public cloud computing and distributed source control. So many other of our current innovations are built on that scaffolding, it’s hard to imagine us being able to do any of it without it. Everything from enterprise-scale data science pipelines to augmented reality to cloud-native banking cores are built on those two foundations.
And what is the biggest challenge or opportunity you are seeing, and what should businesses be doing to prepare for this?
Finding the talent to design, build, and support rapidly growing (and changing) digital solutions is a big challenge facing everyone. I think businesses thinking about talent – their own and talent they can bring in from partners – has to be a central part of their digital strategy.
What is the Endava group project you are most proud of and why?
There are actually two that come to mind – one where we helped a really large payments company build a new product within a large enterprise, and another where we helped an early-stage, venture-backed start-up launch their flagship product. While the two companies are very different on paper, the rewarding thing about both projects is the same: helping clients build something great that makes life better for their customers using exciting technology. Seeing that success and knowing our teams played a part in it is the reason I do what I do.
On the flip side, what is the project or technology that challenged you the most and where you had some setbacks? What did you learn from this?
Most times when there is a challenge or a setback, it’s not the technology itself that is the cause. It’s more often that the technology or the approach wasn’t the right fit for the problem, or that we were solving the wrong problem altogether. The lesson learned from these types of setbacks is twofold: first, take the time upfront to make sure that we (working with our client) have identified the problem or opportunity correctly and understand it; and second, think through whether the technology and delivery approach is the right fit for the client in terms of how it will be supported, the change process to implement it, and so on.
Point well taken. Let’s move on to a few more personal questions… What was something you thought would be easy until you tried it?
Would you be brave enough to share one of your guilty pleasures with us?
I like all sorts of music, but I end up listening to a lot of pop music. I’m a big fan of Taylor Swift (her re-recorded albums are great – it’s like reliving the old releases!) and of Dua Lipa (I was a big fan of her first album, but Future Nostalgia felt like the album we all needed during the pandemic).
Who would be your 5 famous dinner party guests – real or fictional?
This will be the strangest dinner guest list, but since I only get one dinner and five guests, here goes:
- Barack Obama
- Serena Williams
- Tim Berners-Lee
- Melinda French Gates
- Patrick Collison
Finally, would you share a favourite quote with us to send our readers off with some inspiration?
Fall seven times, get up eight.
It’s been great to have Chris share his experiences and thoughts with us. Stay tuned for more insights into the work and life of Endavans in the next part of our Meet the SME series!