Aleks Kudic is the CTO of Funding Options, a business finance marketplace where companies can search for prospective funding options.
The company works with dozens of lenders across the whole spectrum of funding options, ranging from growth funding to peer-to-peer loans to equipment leases. Funding Options has been selected by the UK government-owned British Business Bank to help organisations find funds when they’re successful with major banks.
As CTO, Kudic brings over 15 years of experience working in both corporates and scaleups in sectors including fintech, gaming and professional services. In this Q&A, the 34th in our weekly series, Kudic explains how greater diversity leads to better business performance, shares why he’s excited by 3D printing and why it’s key to set aside time for learning.
Rob Scammell: Tell us a bit about yourself – how did you end up in your current role?
Aleks Kudic: I joined Funding Options six months ago when the company was stepping up investment in technology. A year ago, I was asked by the CEO and CPO to review the product and technology. I am one of those ‘first call’ people when you’re not sure what the question is, let alone the answer.
As a result, I was offered the CTO position because someone had to implement the changes I was proposing and I’d done it before!
What’s the most important thing happening in your field at the moment?
Initiatives that lead to more diversity and representation at all levels across companies, which leads to a fairer society, and recognition that diverse teams have better performance.
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Which emerging technology do you think holds the most promise once it matures?
Teleportation and 3D printing. Both would unlock our ability to seamlessly travel and create new worlds.
Additionally, many new edtech initiatives are aimed at freeing teachers’ time and making education more accessible, reducing inequality in society.
How do you separate hype from disruptor?
A combination of common sense and experience. I look at the technology’s ability to change societies at scale. Talking to our customers and partners, it is clear that smart use of mature technology is more important than use of smart new technology for a company at scaleup stage. It is important to work out where to innovate, and where not to, as a business.
What’s the best bit of advice you’ve been given?
Keep learning. Technology is changing incredibly fast which opens many opportunities to serve customers more efficiently. I set one morning aside a week to do some programming and in the evening I read up on technology papers. You really have to block the time off as there are always so many reasons that you can create to take your focus off of learning.
Where did your interest in tech come from?
I was working in telecoms within finance and I decided it was not the field for me. In the late 1990s, I was looking for a career in a growing sector that would provide a decent income for my family and I picked technology.
It was a natural decision really as I was in technology prior to that. I was an engineering operator in the army and back at high school I had a very inspirational computer science teacher.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Many of my days are spent with customers and our partners, hearing their biggest pain points and how we can help them improve. I also talk with them about some of the things that they are going through that we may have already undergone.
Many partners want to make a digital transformation or scale up the organisation and tech, but don’t know how to. Sharing the things that we have done as a technology company, in terms of architecture, culture, and organisation often helps them and changes their perspectives on how to proceed with their own transformations.
What do you do to relax?
As a family man, I spend my time with my wife and children as much as I can. I am also prone to taking on big building projects as I try to fix things in the house, which involves figuring out how they work in the first place.
Who is your tech hero?
Nina Thornhill – a researcher in the field of chemical engineering and process control. She was my mentor at University College London and we published a paper on the review of the data compression algorithms. She is a great researcher and a great mentor to me.
What’s the biggest technological challenge facing humanity?
Climate change and pandemics. Ultimately, solving the climate change problem is a technological issue as it requires replacing currently used technologies with new alternatives. It is also a political problem in part because it depends on government budget allocations.
The current and future pandemics are biomedical and data problems. They require the development of new vaccines at a much faster pace and better ability to collect data and draw conclusions with the local government coordination.
Read more: CTO Talk: Q&A with Forescout’s Robert McNutt