As someone who is passionate about digital product design and photography as I am, speaking with Ramzi from EyeEm gave me a unique perspective on how you can merge skills and passion into one really meaningful project. Ramzi opens up about how he got EyeEm started and how he overcame some challenges along the way. He speaks to some of the challenges of moving into a leadership role as CTO and what that process looked like for him.
Special thanks to Igloo and InVision for sponsoring Ways We Work for the month of September and making these interviews possible!
Tell us a little bit about your role as CTO at EyeEm and what that encompasses.
That’s something I’ve been trying to answer for myself for the past four years [laughs]. When we started the company five-and-a-half years ago, I was the only person who could write a line of code. At that time I was building the apps, the back end, the front end—pretty much everything related to the product. As we’ve grown, things have changed quite a bit. My team is now close to 30 people and I barely write code at all anymore. I’m actually not allowed to write code anymore because the team has developed their own processes and way of working. I’m a bit of liability now because as a CTO I’m a generalist. My role is to be available to take meetings, spend a week on the road when I have to and manage the engineering organization. I make sure that people have everything they need, that they understand why they’re doing what they’re doing and that they have the data they need, as well as the room to explore, experiment and push the envelope when it comes to technology. That’s one of my big responsibilities.
My role is similar when it comes to the R&D team. We do a lot of work on computer vision and machine learning. That team has very different needs from a lot of other people in the organization. My job there is to again make sure they have what they need, that we’re working on the right things and the way we’re working on things actually maps to the products we’re building. In addition, I manage the QA team and the data team. Managing those teams is about 30-40% of my time, with another 20-30% devoted to hiring, and recruiting the best people. That involves speaking at events and spreading the word about EyeEm. The rest is related to my role as a founder of EyeEm, thinking about overall strategy and direction of the company.