ITA Spotlight: Nate Reynolds, ReviewTrackers
Friday, April 27, 2018
Posted by: Gary Hotze
Nate Reynolds, Vice President of Engineering, ReviewTrackers
Reynolds discusses what he’s learning as a leader and why Chicago is the right balance for people in the tech industry in addition to how ReviewTrackers helps businesses transform the customer experience.
Tell us about your journey. How did you end up at ReviewTrackers?
I am from Southern Illinois about 40 miles east of St. Louis. I grew up on a farm. My nearest neighbor was a mile away. I even had dial-up internet growing up because where I lived, a fast internet connection was not (and still is not) available.
While at the University of Illinois, I was an intern for the federal government. I worked on modeling data around river beds and other hydrologic phenomena.
After school, I got a job in St. Louis. I was a software engineer for two startups down there. A recruiter reached out to me about Avant, which was a pretty small company at the time. I knew a couple of people who worked there and decided to join and move to Chicago.
I joined Avant as a Test Engineer initially and grew with the company. At the time I left I was managing a few engineers and was focusing mostly on DevOps. At ReviewTrackers, I started as a Senior Engineer then moved to managing all of the engineers within a couple of months.
What about ReviewTrackers was appealing?
I knew Kevin Kent, our COO, and met a couple of the engineers on the team before taking the job. It just seemed like a good fit culturally. Everyone was empowered to have an impact on the business which is attractive to me. I knew I would have the opportunity to shape the company culture as ReviewTrackers continued to grow and that was exciting.
Also, everyone I met in the interview process seemed very smart. I thought I would learn a lot at ReviewTrackers. And I was right.
Out of all the positions you've held, which one is the most interesting?
I think our engineering and product teams are in an excellent position. Every day, I see them work better and better together. The individuals on the team are outstanding about using each other's strengths to the entire team’s advantage.
I also think it’s interesting to be on the leadership team and fix problems across the organization. As a leader, I get to have an impact on both the engineering team and company as a whole.
I also am learning so much about how to be an inspirational leader. Consistency in expectations is what I’ve found to be one of the most important leadership characteristics. One thing that I think a lot of early leaders struggle with is they will say one thing, and it is interpreted as meaning something else. Being a good leader is about setting expectations the right way through clear communication.
What do you like most about what you do?
Watching the team grow in their careers and as individuals. On the employee level, we have quite a few senior engineers. So some of the things my team members want to see are further technical experiences and exposure.
It can be challenging to find new opportunities to grow because they are already at a senior level, so I work to expose them to leadership opportunities and speaking engagements in addition to seeing new tech about which they would like to know more. I try to always keep them in a position to grow as individuals.
Which achievement at ReviewTrackers are you most proud of?
I am most proud of helping get the team to a point where they work well with one another. They compliment each other’s skills and everyone has goals that they are working toward – both personal and professional goals. We’re a capable team that is shipping a considerable amount of product on a regular basis.
What’s your outlook on the local tech industry?
Chicago is definitely the best place in the Midwest for opportunities for jobs at companies that are building new and creative things. Chicago’s tech scene is very comparable to New York, San Francisco, Denver, and Austin. It’s the right balance for someone who wants to be in a city with plenty of innovation at an affordable cost of living.
What do you think are the top issues facing the Illinois tech community?
Hiring. But I think it’s difficult in almost every city. You have no choice here but to be creative to attract quality engineers to your company.
How would you describe the culture at ReviewTrackers?
The engineering and product teams consist of some of the smartest people with which I have ever worked. The team healthily challenges each other in coming up with the best ideas, but no ideas are ever shot down or dismissed.
On a company-wide level, we support learning and growth. We challenge and inspire each other to innovate in a creative atmosphere.