TheBridge profile: Jessica Szmajda
Name: Jessica Szmajda
Current city: Washington, DC
Current job: CTO, Axios
Past job: CTO, Optoro
Q. Favorite spot for a coffee meeting? Ebenezer’s close to home or Northside Social near the office.
Q. Describe how a skill you learned in a previous job helped you in your current job. Deeply listening to people. So many people just want to know they’re being really heard. Active listening is a tough skill but it’s helped me resolve so many challenges time and time again.
Q. Job advice in three words? Learn, reflect, improve
Q. How are you (or your company, org, nonprofit) currently bridging the gap between politics and tech / innovation and regulation? We're connecting people to what's new and why it matters. We're applying technology to be more effective communicators. And we're working on some really exciting stuff that will help others do the same!
Q. What can innovators learn from policymakers? How the big picture matters, and how people matter. Technology affects lives, we should consider the ramifications of the choices we bake into our products on people and their communities.
Q. What can policymakers learn from innovators? Regular retrospectives and continuous improvement are at the heart of progress. Tight feedback loops ensure you're delivering what people actually want!
Q. Favorite book/podcast/long-form article you recommend? Fav podcast - Reply All!
Deep read that will change how you think: The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge
Q. Looking back, what advice would you give yourself in the beginning of your career? How you present yourself and how you communicate matters more than you think, even in tech. Understanding how people work is an incredibly important skill that will serve your whole life.
Q. Most underrated virtue in an employee? Speaking truth to power. I don’t think I get nearly enough candid feedback. Please tell me what you see and what you believe. I’d much rather work through differences and maybe learn something than let them fester.
Q. If you had to live in another city, which would it be? NYC, I love the energy!
Q. Morning routine? Read AM, row, shower, etc. Take my son to school, then listen to podcasts on metro to work (1.6-2x playback!)
Q. How do you unwind after work? Play music, often at open mics!
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