Cohort Spotlight: Engineering

Using cutting-edge and custom technologies, Engineers help imagine, build, and launch breakthrough digital businesses that disrupt markets

Building innovative ventures with the world’s leading companies takes a wide spectrum of skills, alongside a spirit of collaboration and experimentation. At BCG Digital Ventures we cover all bases of venture building, from the initial idea to testing and validation to building the product, finding users, and launching it into the world.

This takes experts from all fields. In this series, we’re introducing you to each of our 8 venture-building cohorts, showcasing their approach, the role they play in building a venture, how they work together, and the skills that are required to succeed as we build businesses with groundbreaking impact. For this edition of the cohort series, we’re looking at Engineering.

Although there are many important aspects to building ventures, from a strong business model to seamless technical execution to an effective growth strategy, all of these elements rest upon one thing: making the design feasible.

Engineers at BCG Digital Ventures (BCGDV) are responsible for writing the software that powers the digital platforms, and solve problems that help turn design into a workable end product. BCGDV’s multidisciplinary engineering team tackles challenges at their core: from product and test engineers to front-end engineers and data scientists, everyone has a passion for innovative and emerging digital solutions.

Matthew Sinclair, Partner and Vice President of Engineering at BCG Digital Ventures, London, describes his role as “bringing an engineering lens to the process of creative innovation.” He elaborates on this by explaining that the DV Engineering process “is built up around putting software into the hands of real-world users, in a build, test, learn, iterate cycle.”

Engineers are critical to the business building process because of the problem-solving nature of their work, which is a core part of the strategy of venture building. At BCGDV, engineers must be particularly savvy because both the technical needs of the customer — and the business needs — are equally important in how an engineer goes about solving pain points in the venture process.

An engineer’s value is that sometimes they understand the problem differently. “We bring a unique perspective as we think about what is possible with technology, understand how to link those to strategic goals, and help shape the product,” explains Sevi Khousharay, Senior Data Scientist at BCG Digital Ventures, Berlin. She adds that the “fun part of being an engineer is working out how to turn information into action”. This is echoed by Matthew, who notes: “Sometimes we’re not really inventing the answer, we’re inventing the question.”

In terms of the key qualities necessary to success, Matthew champions leadership qualities, strong expertise and a desire to build. Engineers at BCGDV are unique in that they have an entrepreneurial mindset — many have been, or aspire to be CTOs. He describes the BCGDV engineering skill set as being akin to the strokes of a paintbrush — some strokes are broad, and then other strokes are deeper, with paint dripping down; engineering is a broad career path, but every engineer has dipped into certain topics, like the drip of paint, to get deeper knowledge in a particular area. He sums it up by describing engineers as “deep generalists.”

Sevi argues that engineers must be “comfortable with ambiguity” and be the type of people that thrive in the unknown, while also focussed on problem solving. She also values empathy, stating that engineers and data scientists “need to be able to put themselves in the shoes of the client and end-user.”

In venture building, engineers bring a creative lens to innovation and ideation. With a venture CTO, the engineer is the lead technical person on the team and is responsible for technical strategy or defining the product based on what is possible with technology. Other projects require a deep tech expert or a solution architect.

The typical career path follows a ladder from associate to more senior engineering roles, focused on leading and delivering with excellence. At Director and then Partner level, the focus is on being a multiplier and taking a portfolio view across multiple ventures.

Sevi came from a startup background, and her teammates came from engineering teams in large companies or were founders themselves. The background can vary, but ultimately what BCGDV values is the right people, cultural fits and skills, to ensure that there is a cohort of engineers and data scientists who can be both entrepreneurial and problem solvers.

What Matthew loves about this cohort is the people, and he says “if you’re the smartest person in the room, then you’re in the wrong room.” One of his proudest achievements at BCGDV is not any particular project, but the process of building the BCGDV Engineering team in London from three staffers to a team of over twenty. He is a big believer in giving people complete agency with their creativity, and sees his role as “clearing the roadblocks to let them do their best work”.

Sevi similarly says that her favorite part about working in the Engineering cohort is the people, “who are interested in solving problems, and not just talking about it, but actually doing it.” She also praises the strong culture of mentoring at DV, which has benefited her greatly in her career to date.

At BCGDV, Engineers use cutting-edge and custom technologies to imagine, build and launch breakthrough digital businesses that disrupt markets and generate maximum impact for businesses and consumers alike.

Interested in joining BCGDV? See our current vacancies.

Want to find out more? Start the conversation with BCGDV.

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BCG Digital Ventures - Part of BCG X
BCG Digital Ventures

BCG Digital Ventures, part of BCG X, builds and scales innovative businesses with the world’s most influential companies.