CIO and COO at Grove

Can you please provide a little introduction about yourself

I currently have the distinct pleasure of serving as the Chief Operating Officer (and former Chief Information Officer) at Pocket Network Inc., which is the world’s first and only fully decentralized blockchain infrastructure provider. We’ve been building an ecosystem for the 6+ years that provides anyone anywhere in the world with reliable, performant, and cheap access to 40+ blockchains. I currently oversee the vast majority of the organization, which includes the engineering, product, delivery, quality, marketing, design, and customer support teams. As we’re breaking uncharted territory in building an ecosystem in Web3, I spend much of my time thinking about the future my company is helping build. I currently reside in Baltimore with my wife and two young daughters, and spend my free time traveling with them.

What has your journey to your position been like? What path have you taken?

I’ve taken a pretty straightforward path I believe. I started my formal career in software engineering after graduate school in 2011. From there, I slowly went from being a junior software engineer to a lead engineer. From there I grew into management, and realized I had a penchant for that role. While in that role, I took on more responsibilities overseeing larger swaths of organizations, including adjacent engineering roles, such as Quality Assurance, Product Management, and Project Management. Then in late 2021, I received a call asking me to lead a small, but growing engineering at Pocket Network, where I eventually came on as the Head of Engineering, which eventually got retitled to the CIO role. I spent a collective 11 months in that role before matriculating to my current role as COO.

Has it always been your vision to reach the position you’re at? Was your current role part of your vision to become a tech leader?

I’ve always liked to be in the room making decisions, so yes, I’ve always aspired to be in this role. It was never in my original vision. I always wanted to work in software development, but after about 3 years in the field, I realized I wanted to grow into management, as the problems were more intricate and interesting to the way my mind is geared.

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Have you had a role model or mentor that has helped you on your journey?

I have had many professional role models in my career, all of whom were my boss at one point or another. There are three that I have deep respect for as I aspire to have qualities from each of them. One is a world-renowned medical doctor with whom I had the pleasure of working for while in college. He taught me to strive to do my absolute best in all things and I saw it in his work. Another is a former Army Ranger, War Veteran, and Harvard Graduate who taught me what it is to be relentless and lead through adversity. The last is the best people manager I have ever worked with in my life and taught me how to lead with compassion. I think I am better for these experiences and I hope to impart them on individuals with who I have the honor of working with in my career.

How do you see the role of the technology leader evolving over the next 5 years?

I see it getting ever more exciting and complicated. Just in the last year, both blockchain technology, metaverse technology, and AI-powered tooling have exploded. We are living through a massive paradigm shift, akin to the those sparked by the consumer internet in the 90s, and mobile adoption at the turn of the last decade. This time, we’re speed-running through adoption because we’re all hyper-connected. I don’t know what’s in store for 2028, but I believe the world we’ll look quite different than it does today based on these combined technologies taking more mindshare.

What skills do you think leaders of the future will need in order to thrive?

Being able to lead with empathy and compassion is a 21st-century skill. I also believe being able to stay abreast on more and more technologies will be paramount, and I personally feel that to be daunting, as there’s something cropping up every day. While not all of it is necessary

How do you keep current with new skills, technologies and personal development?

Lots of reading (Audible, Kindle) and tinkering with various platforms. ChatGPT has been great for helping get fledgling ideas out of my head quickly, allowing me to save hours on bootstrapping side projects.

What do you see as the next leap in technology that will impact your business or industry in particular?

As mentioned above, I am in the blockchain space, so at the time of writing, my field evolves every quarter. I believe blockchain will power many aspect of the internet more deeply than it does today, and that the internet will evolve into what we are all calling the metaverse, an ever-present digital reality that is more deeply embedded in our day-to-day lives.

"Be willing to adapt your world views quickly"

If you were mentoring a leader of the future, what advice or guidance would you give to help them on their way?
  • Never stop reading
  • Never stop grinding
  • Be willing to adapt your world views quickly
  • Nothing can replace genuine in-person human interaction, so don’t hide behind a screen.

A big thank you to Arthur Sabintsev from Pocket Network Inc. for sharing his journey to date.

If you would like to gain more perspective from Tech Leaders and CIOs you can read some of our other interviews here.

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The CIO Circle Editor
Post by The CIO Circle Editor
April 24, 2024