Employee Spotlight

Employee Spotlight: Charlie Thomas, Software Engineer

DataGrail August 1, 2018

DataGrail’s Employee Spotlight series highlights the person behind the professional, digging deep and discovering what drives our team members.

This week, we spoke with our newest and most inspired employee, Charlie. Charlie hails from New York City and brings along his extensive background in Financial Regulatory Compliance — coupled with knowledge and skills in software development that he learned from App Academy’s rigorous curriculum.

What excites you about joining DataGrail’s team?

I joined DataGrail because — as a former compliance manager — I immediately recognized the value in the data privacy products and the services this team had already built as well as those planned for the future. The value proposition is something I can easily get behind.

Also, I appreciate the founders’ engagement and dedication toward building a quality solution for their customers — who are suddenly finding themselves in need of help regarding their end users’ GDPR related requests. I’m excited to work with the founding team and contribute to their vision and design solutions for all our customers.

What inspired you to pivot from the financial industry to become a software developer?

I previously ran a global regulatory compliance program for one of the world’s largest financial institutions. I was dealing with increasing pressure from regulators and auditors, and the scope of my program continued to grow even though I remained resource constrained.

To succeed, my team and I reinvented the way we did everything. In fact, a large portion of our efforts involved process redesign and automating our low-value manual labor. Suddenly, my job transformed into designing, building, and implementing technology-based solutions to significantly increase my team’s performance.

The first solution I built, an automated bot to take care of all the tedious report generation and basic data scrubbing, eliminated a 6-week manual report generation process. Honestly, I was amazed at the success of a relatively simple development exercise; and that eventually became my main reason for going to work every day — to build cool stuff for my team. Not too long after, I decided to seriously pursue development as a full-time career and moved to the Bay Area.

What do you think of the onboarding experience at DataGrail?

Nearly everything about the DataGrail experience is new to me — company size, culture, and even my new career as a software engineer — but the founding team has really gone out of their way to make me feel welcomed and ensure that I can contribute to the code base as soon as possible.

What’s your role at DataGrail, and how do you see yourself growing over the next two years?

As a software engineer, I view my current role as primarily assisting in onboarding and integrating new customers into DataGrail systems and products. I would also love to work on internal tools to help our growing customer success teams to work effectively. However, the role broadly covers any priority engineering work that I can help with immediately.

Over the next two years, I expect that I’ll start specializing more in the backend of our application, but I also believe that my role will broaden to take on a leadership role in the organization to onboard and manage new engineering talent.

As a former instructional designer and people manager, I can’t turn down the opportunity to take on roles that allow me to drive a culture of continuous learning and product excellence.

Where do you see yourself five years from now?

Ringing the bell on the floor of the NYSE to celebrate DataGrail’s IPO, of course.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I love video games: mostly action RPGs and classic JRPGs. Though I’m trying to reduce my screen time outside of work, so I love bringing an audiobook to the park with my dog Julio. On the weekends, ideally, I’m a few hours outside of the city — either at a beach or in the woods — again with a book and a dog.

If I have enough time, I’ll probably be in a foreign country, possibly exploring Myanmar’s jungles or Iceland’s black sand beaches. Otherwise, I follow a very strict Keto diet, so I enjoy taking my time to prep my meals for the week and research or invent new ‘fat bombs’ (sugar-free desserts).

Charlie hiking in Myanmar

Charlie hiking in Myanmar


Enjoy this piece? Check out our previous spotlight, featuring Earl Hathaway, CPO and Co-founder!