Meet ThousandEyes’ Newest Engineering Leader

How Chris Schmidt is planning to guide the Platform Engineering team to provide critical value to customers faster.

Written by Taylor Rose
Published on Jun. 05, 2024
Meet ThousandEyes’ Newest Engineering Leader
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There are a lot of difficult jobs in the restaurant industry, but the hardest role is probably held by the maître d’.

In fine dining, the maître d’ is like the starting quarterback, the air traffic controller, the head of surgery — the orchestrator of the operations, the problem solver, the conductor. Their job is to keep the place running smoothly. If the kitchen is running behind, they might strategically adjust the wait time, send a server behind the bar to make extra drinks to keep diners happy, redirect a host to help bus tables and deliver food, pause the to-go orders and arrange for the pâtissier to have a few extra desserts ready as an extra apology in an hour — all in under a minute. A maître d’ is the watchful eye to make sure that customers have a flawless experience. 

When Mohit Lad and Ricardo Oliveira started ThousandEyes, they saw that the internet needed something like a maître d’. 

The two saw an opportunity to create a tool that could monitor web performance issues and help businesses relying on those connections stay informed. ThousandEyes was able to do this partially by monitoring content-delivery networks, which — to use the restaurant metaphor — are like the food runners of the web, delivering content quickly from one part of the internet to another. 

Today, the company is now part of Cisco and provides visibility for enterprise clients, throughout the customer journey and across workforces for a long list of industries. 

Built In San Francisco spoke with ThousandEyes’ newest technical problem solver and conductor, Senior Director of Engineering Chris Schmidt, about his strategies to lead the engineering team to success. 

 

Chris Schmidt
Senior Director of Engineering • Cisco ThousandEyes

ThousandEyes helps companies see, understand and improve connected experiences by mapping how customers and employees experience critical apps and services across traditional, SD-WAN, internet and cloud provider networks. 

 

Tell us a bit about why you were brought on to lead this team. 

I bring 25 years of experience in the product development space, beginning my journey as a software engineer and evolving into an engineering leader. I joined ThousandEyes as a senior engineering manager of the Subscription Management team, and I have since advanced to lead the Platform Engineering group as a senior director of engineering. 

In this role, my team and I manage the core logic of our SaaS product, encompassing essential functionalities such as Role-Based Access Control, auditing capabilities, alerting infrastructure, third-party integrations, recommendations and subscription and account management.

 

How would you describe your approach to leadership and building team culture? 

My approach to leadership is rooted in situational leadership, allowing me to adapt based on the specific needs of the team and the tasks at hand. 

I believe teams thrive in an environment of trust. By providing space for my group to make decisions, learn and improve, they can quickly achieve their potential. Team agency is key to enable outcomes that are optimal for the teams themselves and our customer.

 

“I believe teams thrive in an environment of trust.”

 

What are some issues in the industry that your team is tackling right now?

One of the constants I’ve observed throughout my career is the accelerating pace of change in the industry. ThousandEyes is no exception, and now that we are part of Cisco, the demand for new functionality has grown significantly. 

To address this, we are adopting asynchronous approaches such as event-driven architecture and self-service models to decouple engineering teams and increase velocity. This allows us to provide critical value to customers faster and pivot quickly when feedback indicates a need to shift direction.

 

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images provided by Shutterstock and listed companies.

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