The engineering team at corporate investment and incubation firm BCG Digital Ventures has experienced many exciting challenges, but there's one challenge they never run the risk of facing: boredom.
Their engineers are constantly on the move, creating their own tech roadmaps for success. The team is responsible for building new startups — or ventures, as the team calls them — from start to finish. The hands-on nature of their business results in constant collaboration, team bonding and excitement.
We caught up with two members of the engineering team to learn about their team culture and who they want working alongside them (spoiler alert: creative problem solvers who enjoy building their own blueprints for startup success are natural fits).
WHAT THEY DO: BCG Digital Ventures is a corporate investment and incubation firm. They invent, build, scale and invest in startups with some of the world’s most influential companies. Their big-name clients include the likes of UPS, Allergan and Starbucks.
WHERE THEY DO IT: Hudson Yards
AN APPLE A DAY: ... we all know the saying. But just in case you forget your daily apple and need a doctor, BCG Digital Ventures has your back. They offer generous health, dental and vision insurance, covering 100 percent of healthcare premiums for employees and their families.
Vince Montalbano, Venture Chief Technology Officer, Lead Engineer
Vince serves as the top technical leadership for each new venture. He oversees all aspects of the engineering organization within a venture, including technical strategy, technology blueprint, and hiring and retaining talent. In addition to his hands-on tech chops, he also serves as a mentor to the engineering team members.
ROCK ON: Recharging with a physical or creative activity is key to Vince’s leadership. He enjoys rock climbing, photography and running to help unplug.
WHEN INSPIRATION STRIKES: Vince is inspired by the transformation of ideas into a fully-fledged business. He’s motivated by the tangible, timely impact of his teams’ efforts to build completely new brands, products and businesses.
Describe the engineering team. What is this team tasked with doing?
We work together as a team to push the limits of what’s technically possible and find creative solutions to business challenges, whether it’s with web apps, software or hardware. We also operate in cross-functional teams. The engineering presence consists of two engineers who innovate and up to ten or more engineers during incubation phases.
What’s your tech stack comprised of? Why did you choose it? Does it change depending on the venture at hand?
I’m currently building a venture where we’ve chosen to go completely serverless, leveraging AWS Lambda and Python, and using React to build an amazing front-end experience. We also integrate with a variety of publicly and privately available third-party services for things like payment processing and other industry-specific data.
We chose our tech stack based on what we thought would best suit our desire to quickly build with a lean team, recruit top talent, and expand with the same language into areas like machine learning.
Tell us about an exciting venture the team is working on. What problems does the venture solve and what makes it so exciting?
We currently have ventures that solve problems using blockchain and voice cloning. These ventures aren’t just prototypes or publicity stunts — they’re used to solve real problems. As many of these startups come out of stealth mode in the next few months, it will be exciting to talk more about their real-world impact.
The toughest part about our job isn’t workload, planning or other traditional challenges — it’s about creative problem-solving.”
What’s the toughest challenge you asked an employee or employees to tackle? How did you support their efforts in doing so?
The toughest part about our job isn’t workload, planning or other traditional challenges — it’s about creative problem-solving. In many cases, there isn’t a blueprint for us to follow as we create new business models and work with new types of technologies. We’ve developed playbooks over the years that help us codify a process and provide support, but it’s still not an exact science. Instead, it’s a creative journey that needs to be adapted to the unique challenges experienced by each team.
Over time, strong cultures tend to develop beloved traditions. Tell us about an engineering team or company tradition. Why is it meaningful to you?
We have periodic 8 a.m. team breakfasts at a nearby diner to connect and chat about different challenges. It’s a unique setting that doesn’t feel rushed and helps everyone get to know each other. It offers a different, enjoyable way to touch base outside the office.
What positions are you looking to fill on the engineering team? What questions do you ask to determine culture fit when interviewing for new roles on your team?
From our engineering directors to individual contributors, we’re hiring at almost every level right now. We seek an entrepreneurial spirit, comfort with a variety of different technologies and programming languages, and strong interpersonal skills. These types of candidates, while sometimes more difficult to find, tend to thrive in our environment. We value that multidisciplinary mindset.
Sevi Khousharay, Software Engineer
Sevi has taken the lead on her last two ventures by building prototypes and establishing technical strategies. She gave us the inside scoop on her team’s values and the source of her daily inspiration.
GET YOUR HANDS DIRTY: When Sevi needs a screen break, she enjoys pottery and wheel throwing. She also likes to unplug with reading, particularly about the history of humans in space and science.
WHO YOU GONNA CALL?: The problem-busters. Sevi’s ideal candidate is someone who thrives among cross-functional teams, works well in uncertainty, and enjoys problem-solving.
How is BCG Digital Ventures company culture different than previous companies in which you've worked?
You get to work on a variety of problems at BCG Digital Ventures, which provides the opportunity to deep dive into many different industries and businesses. There is always a new challenge to solve. But at the same time, you see common problem sets and patterns emerge that are repeated across industries. As a result, you can often borrow solutions from other industries and problem spaces.
How does the engineering team cross-collaborate with the product and design teams?
Our methodology encourages each of us to work together from the very beginning of a project. Engineers, product and design teams ideate and conduct user-research together at the start of each venture. I like that we don’t have a siloed environment because, at the end of the day, we are building a product together.
What are some activities you’ve done with the rest of the engineering team or company as a whole that build camaraderie?
I naturally get to know people from all cohorts just by working on a venture, which creates opportunities to automatically bond. Ventures and cohorts often have lunch together or go on team activities, including a recent engineering team outing to an escape room. For each of my ventures, the teams have also taken a fitness class or gone out for drinks.
I’ve never encountered such diverse skill sets and professional backgrounds in a company before.”
What about your company or your work inspires you?
I’m inspired by the people. The team comes from a variety of interesting work experiences and backgrounds. I’ve never encountered such diverse skill sets and professional backgrounds in a company before.