Meet Eddie Pecker – Our Group CTO
We interviewed Eddie Pecker, our Chief Technology Officer, who is living proof that the best thing about technology is the people behind it and the purpose it serves.
Hi Eddie, tell us very briefly about yourself and your career.
My career started over 20 years ago as a software engineer in Israel. I’ve always been fascinated by people, data, and all forms of problem-solving. This led to me entering a career providing smart systems to help people make complex decisions with ease and assurance.
Since then, my career has broadened and expanded crossing Defence, Martech, Adtech, e-commerce, and recruitment.
Where do you live?
About seven years ago, I moved to Germany with my wife and two children. Two and a half years later, we moved again and relocated to the UK. Today I have three children, with my youngest being born during the lockdown, which, as you can imagine, was a little challenging.
Tell us why you joined GSG in the first place. What made us, your choice?
To be honest, it wasn’t just the company. It was the people. The talks I had with the team were engaging. Everyone I spoke to was switched on and incredibly open. I immediately felt great chemistry with the team at GSG. I had an incredibly engaging and inspiring chat with Andreas about the industry, the challenges that needed to be solved and some of the opportunities that lay ahead. I realised that the team’s potential was great, and I felt that my skill set and experience would fit nicely inside it.
The team at GSG has built some amazing things, but their hearts and minds are eager to achieve more, which excites me. I’m sure that together we will do just that.
So what’s it like leading the tech team?
Well, I had a good start, using my first weeks and months to listen to as many people as possible from across the company, collect their different perspectives and understand their individual needs. Although there are still some clear differences, I feel we really started moving a needle in building “One dream, one team.”
So what are your goals and ambitions with the tech team in GSG?
My goal is quite a large one and one that GSG has already been working hard on already, and that’s to bridge our silos of knowledge because there is a vast reservoir of information collected by people inside GSG and its systems that remain untapped for the rest of us and the consumers we all serve.
It was not easy at first because many of our parts have developed in their own unique ways, but this is not about making things less unique. It’s about learning from one another and being connected by shared goals and beliefs. That’s why I always like to use the phrase ‘One team, one dream.’
The problem is with the perceived reality that it always seems quicker to just do things yourself because, using one of my favourite analogies, as you grow, you will soon find that you have multiple teams spending time reinventing the wheel instead of developing the advantages of wheeled transport together. We need to build that base together, creating a template that can be expanded upon so it provides different teams with the opportunity to push harder, go even further and create better solutions that fulfil the consumer’s dreams.
How is this work going?
Well, I love it. I met the people in Paris and enjoyed building long-lasting cross-channel friendships.
The good thing is that we are presently blessed with opportunities. As I first felt and now know, GSG has many great people in its teams, and I, together with others, have to ensure that my whole team is getting the guidance and support they need to truly flourish in these challenging times beyond.
How can we make working at GSG even better?
This question actually brings me back to the pandemic, something that has been devastating for all of us across the world, but something that has also made two major changes that will hopefully influence the future of our working lives.
First, it’s always given us time to press the reset button on how we live, work and shop. It’s pushed companies like ours to think longer term whilst being flexible enough to react faster to the situation. More companies are broadening their approach, becoming more agile and most importantly, putting people first – both employees and consumers, and I welcome this as it proves that humankind is kind.
Secondly, It’s opened up possibilities that just two years ago seemed impossible. What not everyone remembers is the fact that it’s always been hard to find the right people, and in the past, one of the biggest difficulties was that we were limited by our locations. Most companies didn’t think it was possible for a large team to function when they weren’t in the same geographical location. This is something that has been proved wrong over the last year and a half, as we have all explored the wonders of Zoom, Slack and Skype. Sure there have been bumps along the way. We’ve heard stories of people turning up in other people’s zoom meetings, people forgetting that they were even still in zoom meetings, but on the whole, the experience has been pretty liberating. For myself, it has meant that I’ve been able to save hours commuting daily in London in the rush hour, which I can tell you is something I will never miss. It’s great to spend more time being a father to my children.
Programs like GSG’s flexi-time empower people to live much further from their office, knowing that their journey isn’t a daily one, and like me, people are using this to define their perfect work-life balance. This flexibility is helping us not only make the lives of our teams better, but it’s also helping us to reach out further to secure the right people for the right positions.
However, balance again comes into play because we still need those moments together in the same room, face to face, challenging and pushing each other. It feels fantastic when you see someone’s thoughts gradually evolve into a great idea across a table in the real world.
What is your view of the perfect relationship between product and tech?
My view is that the product and tech teams need to work really closely together, bridging imagination and engineering. We need to have identical goals, and most importantly, we need to forget stereotypes because the best people in tech understand the customers’ needs. Tech and product need to connect at key points from beginning to end and always put the customer first. The late Steve Jobs hit the nail when he said, “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology.
Is there a new technology that you think is central to GSG’s consumer-centric vision moving ahead?
Okay, I’m going to say cloud computing, which might not sound that new and, to be frank, isn’t that new, is the one thing that has enabled us to do more and still has so much more potential.
Before cloud computing, we had to build massive hardware systems that could cope with peaks but lay mostly dormant and unused in our low periods. As companies expanded, they found it hard to build up the systems they needed to future-proof their success.
Today we are so much more flexible. We can contract or expand at speed to meet the consumer’s needs for tomorrow, whatever the future brings.
There have been more and more stories about breaches in security and people’s data being stolen and misused. Is there a solution?
The only secure system is a closed one. The moment you open it up, there is a risk of a breach. But we can’t seal ourselves into a closed system, so we must ensure that the benefits outweigh the risks. We need to be prudent, and being prudent means we need to always think like and put ourselves into the minds of people who want to be empowered by what we provide, whilst also putting ourselves into the minds of people who want to exploit our system and the valuable data it holds. To add another layer of valuable protection, we work together with top security providers that don’t just protect us. They test us too. So no, there can never be just one solution to protecting people’s data. The best selection is multi-layered.
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