The String and Key Crew: Chris Martinez
As part of our ongoing employee spotlight series, we’ll be profiling colleagues who inspire us. Today, meet Chris Martinez.
Company Role: Web Department Producer
Most likely to: nerd out about obscure, weird movies
Secret talent: cooking pretty-solid Italian food
Admittedly the guy who cannot resist the siren song of checking Slack messages while on vacation, Chris’s dedication to the success of his team is evident to anyone who has ever collaborated with him on a project. Another veteran in the crew, he had worked with some of our team members for over four and a half years before being convinced to switch from agency life to the product world by our CEO, Alex. A huge fan of solo travel and finding adventure off the beaten track, he has a penchant for pushing himself to learn and grow (while having fun in the process, of course). An excellent quality to possess, we’re lucky to have this curious mind shaping our workflow and processes.
Read on to learn more about his life at String and Key, his impressive cooking skills, and his latest vacation plans (where he’ll hopefully unplug and turn off all notifications).
What do you do, and what does your typical workday look like?
The purest definition of my job is to make sure that the team has everything they need to be successful — which is about as broad a directive as it sounds. Generally speaking, my day starts with a team standup, where I see if any immediate challenges are blocking them from working. Once issues are resolved, I start preparing for work coming down the pipeline. This can mean requirements gathering and writing, refining the process, reviewing designs with creative and so much more. It’s a lot of jumping around and thinking about different types of production work, but I love the variability of the role.
What’s your favorite part about working at String and Key?
I love the people at String and Key. I could give all the standard platitudes for coworkers like they’re smart, passionate, and kind — and that is all very true. However, I think what I appreciate about them the most is that we feel comfortable being full, complex people around each other. We can go from passionately butting heads in a meeting to pregaming for a 4 a.m. night just a few hours later. I think this speaks a lot to the comradery of the team as we work to build something awesome.
What excites you about your job?
I think it’s the variety of the role and the challenges that brings. I’m way more of a generalist than a specialist, so I love that in one day, I am jumping between work at the macro-level to the micro-level across strategy, creative, and tech. If I was siloed in doing one type of thing day in and day out, I think I would lose my mind. Luckily, that never really happens here.
What do you find most challenging about your role?
Ironically, given the nature of being a producer, I’m not a naturally organized person and lean much more toward a “go with the flow” approach. So far, that’s worked out for me, but obviously, that doesn’t scale well when applied to the larger company’s process. So it’s definitely a lot of work setting up guardrails for the team that allow for flexibility, while also providing enough structure for everyone to be successful. With that said, that’s also the rewarding side of this.
What are the values that drive you?
Curiosity is a big one for me. There is SO MUCH to learn in tech, and it’s continually evolving. Confronting ideas or concepts that are foreign and then educating yourself on these new subjects is huge in terms of being successful. I also really respect transparency, as I feel the first step to overcoming a problem is to be open and confront the causes — the good, bad, and uncomfortable. It shows a great deal of trust in everyone being able to put egos aside and work together to solve a problem.
How do you stay on top of your game?
I try to stay tuned-in with everything going on at String and Key, especially when it comes to the product. For me, that means understanding not just what other departments are working on, but why they are doing that and the outcome they are looking to achieve. I feel the biggest challenge (and the most fun) of producing is when the teams run into a problem that we haven’t thought through yet. You don’t want to make decisions that aren’t informed, but you also don’t want to stop momentum by halting everything while trying to come to a conclusion. By knowing where a decision came from and understanding the goals at hand, I can bring decisive and educated insights that can keep the team chugging along.
What drew you to tech, and what excites you about the industry?
I find tech significantly more meritocratic than most other industries. I’ve seen, regardless of experience or background, if you hustle and take the time to learn the field, people are pretty open to hearing your point of view. It’s exciting since I see it leading to a lot of innovative solutions to real-world problems. And as much as I cringe when it’s used as a buzzword, I think the “disruptive” potential of tech makes it an excellent opportunity to get your hands into something world-changing.
What’s one thing — either industry-related or not — that you’ve learned in the last month?
I’ve been riding my hand-me-down bike a lot during quarantine, especially with the weather getting nice, and the bike is showing its age. I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos on bike repair and I’ve learned a ton. I wouldn’t say I’m an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m not as helpless as I once was.
If you could swap places with anyone at String and Key, who would it be and why?
It would definitely be someone on the UX team. I’m really envious of their skill in translating a customer’s journey into a creative experience. I know some people find UX less sexy than UI design work, but I think it ‘d be so cool to spend your days translating abstract business needs into concrete ideas.
What unexpected subject could you give a one-hour presentation on with no advance prep?
Not sure if it’s totally unexpected, but I could lead a class on cooking different Italian pasta sauces. Just give me the ingredients and a bottle of wine, and I could riff on the hows and whys of making a mean bolognese.
What keeps you busy outside of work?
Thanks to the quarantine, it’s been a lot of reading, watching old movies, and experimental cooking. Although to be fair, I loved doing all of that before lockdown. I also love exploring the city on my bike and meeting up with friends for a few cocktails and a night at a club. And of course, planning for my next big trip (it’ll either be hiking in Guatemala or Georgia).
Can you list five hashtags that describe your personality?
#Cinephile #Traveller #Martini #HouseAndTechno #Sarcastic
Sweet or sour?
Ketchup or mustard?
Neither! (Team no condiments).
Run or hike?
Time travel or space travel?
Plane trip or road trip?
Interested in working at String and Key? Join us!