App Maker Spotlight: Cristiano Souza
[Editor’s note: This is part of a series of articles on app makers, highlighting ArcTouch’s talented team members. Like many members of the maker movement, the app makers we spotlight here crave getting their hands on the latest tech or finding creative new ways to apply existing tech to their projects.]
When Cristiano Souza joined in 2011 as a project manager, he was one of 15 team members in the ArcTouch Florianópolis, Brazil office. Now, as the chief operating officer of our Brazil office, he has helped to grow the team to more than 200 people strong. The office is key to our business growth – and the story of the Florianópolis team is a big part of that.
Under Souza’s leadership, ArcTouch Brazil has had a profound cultural impact on ArcTouch’s San Francisco headquarters. Several team members that started in Florianópolis have moved to San Francisco, including our EVP of engineering, Paulo Michels. Traditions started in Brazil, like the weekly Thirsty Thursday social gatherings and monthly demo days, where employees share the latest news and best practices from their projects, have become staples in all of our offices. And every day, the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the Florianópolis team comes through in our client projects.
Souza recently shared a view of what it’s like to work for ArcTouch Brazil and how he sees the team evolving in the future.
What’s your favorite app?
It changes all the time. I’ve recently caught Pokémon Go fever – I have a daughter and our family regularly goes on hunting quests, so that’s a favorite. If I were to pinpoint a long-time winner, it’s probably Spotify.
How did you first get involved with ArcTouch and the tech industry?
I was at a point in my career where I wanted to try something new, something in an up and coming space – and even better if it was a company that had business in the U.S. I wanted to work for an innovative software company. I love the software development process, and I wanted to join a company committed to using the best Agile processes and techniques.
My friend and former colleague, Gustavo Chaurais (now at Apple), was then running ArcTouch Brazil. ArcTouch was committed to improving its development process and making it more agile. It seemed like a great fit that would benefit both ArcTouch and me. I started off by helping the team manage their agile process, then shifted focus to improving the team’s self-sufficiency. When Gustavo moved to San Francisco, I became head of the Brazil office. We’ve nearly quadrupled the office since, and the story has just begun.
How is life in Florianópolis different than in San Francisco?
Our team in Florianópolis works very closely with the team in San Francisco, so from a project point of view, it really feels like we are one cohesive unit. Someone once said that SF is the head of ArcTouch, but Florianópolis is where our heart lies, and I think that’s true. We say it’s where Silicon Valley ingenuity and South American soul meet. In Florianópolis, we put our passion into the technology – and make sure our solutions delight the users of the apps we produce. We want the users of our creations to be as passionate about them as we are.
Having spent a lot of time in both the SF and Brazil offices, what would you say are some of the cultural differences between the two?
I’d say the main difference is that we Brazilians spend a lot of time together outside of work. We take the relationships we establish at work out of the office and into our lives. There are lots of activities – from pool parties to hikes – that we do away from the office. Our team members are very close, and it helps create a great work environment.
Aside from having important roles on the different projects, how do you think the Brazilian team and office has influenced or improved ArcTouch?
Passion is a very important trait for doing a great job – and the passion our team puts into their work is contagious. On a different note, we Brazilians see ourselves as creative. I recently read an article that explains this as the combination of two traits: We have a distinct social savoir faire that helps make better use of limited resources, and we are somewhat flexible with traditions, rules and authority. It reminds me of a famous Steve Jobs quote:
“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently – they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things.”
It may sound cocky, but it really isn’t. Because we (Brazilians) think we can change the world.
Why do you think Florianópolis, Brazil has become sort of a new “hub” for the tech industry?
Florianópolis has great universities and many focused on technology – including computer science, information systems, production engineering, etc. Aside from being a hub for governmental agencies, its main industries are tourism and technology. In the last couple decades, there’s also been an influx of investors and startups, so a lot of those students stay after they complete their studies to work in tech.
What is the biggest challenge about managing the Florianópolis team and working with the San Francisco team?
The biggest challenge about managing a team at ArcTouch in general is to keep the startup feel even as it grows. This startup mentality is a top priority for us and one ingredient in our “secret sauce.”
Where do you hope to see the office in five years?
I want ArcTouch Brazil to continue to be a Great Place to Work. My dream is for ArcTouch Brazil to be the first company that comes to top developers’ minds when asked the question, “Where do I want to work for the next five years?” And I want to work with not tens, but hundreds of the best developers in the world – with one catch: We will retain our identity and culture, and continue to be a fun and exciting company to work for. Much like a startup in the garage with you and your best friends.