9 Questions with Seb Benmbarek of Smarter Human

September 5, 2019

Meet Seb

Sebastien is co-founder and CTO of Smarter Human, a company that provides continuous risk and compliance monitoring for the Financial Services industry. Prior to that Seb spent 10 years as a software engineer in large banks including Morgan Stanley, HSBC and Deutsche Bank.

Best piece of advice you were ever given?

If you don’t ask you don’t get.

"If you don’t ask you don’t get"

What books are you reading at the moment?

Do More Faster by David Cohen / Brad Feld and Venture Deals by Brad Feld / Jason Mendelson.

When did you realise you were wrong about something?

It happens very often actually. I love a good debate with friends and colleagues. However, regardless of if I win the debate or not I always wonder if my convictions still hold true so I do my research and quite often realise that I’ve based my argumentation on outdated information.

What is the biggest obstacle you’ve faced along your career path and how did you overcome it?

Probably right now, as a co-founder of an early stage company, I am 100% accountable on every decisions we make and that’s a scary thought sometimes!

How do you ensure you focus on the right activities?

I use the OKR methodology from Google and I do regular retrospectives, both personal and professional.

What one piece of advice would you give a CIO looking to develop a new modern culture in their technology organisation?

Think hard about what fairness means in your company and make sure the incentives align. Oh and the problem is never the technology!

"Think hard about what fairness means in your company and make sure the incentives align"

What is the most interesting technology to you right now?

Graph databases are the most underestimated tech at there moment in my opinion. Cloud technology in general and Serverless in particular.

What is the best example you have seen of an organization that has used technology to transform itself?

Netflix. The business model included DVD sales and rental by mail then pivoted to become not only a technology company but one of the top contributors to very useful Open Source software used by hundred of other tech companies.

What is true that almost nobody agrees with you on?

Getting food delivered to your door is not an improvement for humanity and shouldn’t deserve to be valued in the billions. This holds true for social media and travelling to space (although I’d love to go!).

"Getting food delivered to your door is not an improvement for humanity"
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