JSA’s 24/7/365 networking app, CEO Exchange, has launched a fun campaign called “CEO of the Month.” Each month it will honor one of its CEO/CTO members as a way for us to get to him or her better. The CEO Exchange was designed for industry C-levels to meet, network and collaborate in a meaningful manner, not just by discussing the challenges and opportunities facing the telecom, tech and content-driven industries but to set an action plan together for next positive steps forward.
Next up, Bryce Tennant, Veluxsys:
How long have you been the CTO?
I have been CTO with the Precision Optical Transceivers, the parent company, for just about 4 years. I have also been CTO of Veluxsys, the new photonics subsidiary, since its formal conception about 6 months ago.
What do you love most about your job and why?
I love the energy, diversity, and brilliance of the team I work with. I have the fortunate circumstance to be able to work with people that I learn new things from every day. I love that I get to work on a technology that spans the gap of product development and academic research. I also enjoy the flexibility of the position where I have the ability to work when and where I need to.
What do you dislike most about your job and why?
I am a technical person at heart, I am a problem solver who loves to dive deep into difficult problems. I like to work many hours on one difficult problem and push it to completion, that is highly rewarding. Being CTO does not allow for that to happen. Instead I have a team of engineers and scientists each who has an individual expertise to do that better that I can. I work hard to keep up on both the technical and business aspects of the field, but this means that I wear lots of hats for ever shorter periods of time – the result is far less depth on topics that my heart, mind, and hands want to consume.
What is your biggest concern or challenge as a CTO?
The role is sometimes very nebulous, no one is here defining what the job is or what the deliverables are; you figure that out for yourself. That itself is not a problem, but when you have a team of incredible people all working toward a common goal, it is necessary to make sure what you are doing is moving things forward at a rate that will meet a moving market target. Combine that with the competing interests, desires, and opinions from your team or investors it can become difficult to separate tactical moves from strategic ones. Things can move fast and can sometimes change dramatically, knowing when and how to react to any one of them is a difficult challenge. It’s an art to not overly worry about what you cannot control.
What do you see as your biggest opportunity in the next 12 months ahead (for your company and/or the industry at large)?
Who do you look up to?
I have a great fondness for Richard Feynman. Clearly, he was of unparalleled brilliance as well as a gifted educator. However, it was his giddy passion for what he did that always appealed to me. I remember watching a video of him talking about the oxygen cycle of trees – he started tamely with a cool demeanor but as his story progressed he grew more and more excited about the science and biology of the story. He became so engrossed in his own tale that he was nearly falling out of his chair at the end; a smile ear to ear. It was clear that he forgot who he was talking to or even what the original question was. What was important was the thrill of the science itself. What I so admire about him was his pure unabashed passion for his craft. Any one, in any craft – science, art, music, cooking, wine making…it does not matter; who can let a passion or interest consume them without bound is someone I look up to.
What do you enjoy outside of work?
Spending time with my wife laughing and enjoying the world around us. Every Friday we visit the same Mexican restaurant where the staff have become some of our closest friends. I love cooking and enjoying and exploring wine. I will relax with a good book or by hiking in the woods. Though I have not had the time recently, probably my favorite interest is designing and building speakers for home audio systems. This combines all my interests (with the exception of wine…that does not go well with table saws) into one perfect relaxing hobby. Oh…and I have an unexplained passion for classic horror/sci-fi films and the more than occasional B-Rated movie.
How do you want to be remembered?
I just want to be remembered as being a happy person and striving for the happiness of the people I care about. If that is how I am remembered, then I have lived a successful life.
If given the ability, what is one thing you would change about the world?
I would some how make cell phones less important than the world that exists around us. I would love for people to talk more, to sit and play games together, to listen to radio shows, absorb nature, or just enjoy a good book. My wife and I created what we call “Luddite-Night” where once a month we completely disallow all electronic devices with screens. It’s a night to talk, read, and just mute the digital world around us. I would love for others to enjoy that too…but maybe that is just me showing my age.
Any closing thoughts?
Every single event in life is an opportunity to learn and every person you will ever meet can teach you something you don’t already know. And wine does go well with B-rated movies.