Written by Brandy A. Hyatt, CSU STEM*VISTA
Chris Martin became the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Pandora March 18, 2014. At Pandora he manages engineers, developers and customer service representatives. In total he manages 250 people and roughly 140 of them are engineers. Martin has not always been what we know him to be, an incredible engineer with an eye for innovation. He at one point was a college student trying to figure out his career path. Martin came back to his Alma Mater, UC Berkeley (CAL), for a question and answer session for Engineer’s week. This event was put on by CAL's Engineering Student Council (ESC).
Martin grew up in Berkeley, where he attended Berkeley High School. He then pursued his undergraduate degree at UC Santa Cruz. He soon realized that UC Santa Cruz was not a good fit and transferred to CAL to get his Bachelor of Sciences in Mathematics. Soon after, he joined a tech start up running errands and answering phone calls in customer service. He always took full advantage of every position to sharpen his skills. "I would try to take the every technical phone calls," Martin stated. During his time at the start up, he was able to learn and develop skills outside of his job position. This made him a well rounded worker.
"...its not always about working on a long term goal, its about setting short term goals."
Chris Martin on goals
Before joining Pandora, Martin would spend three year spans at each job he did. Martin's positions were mostly variations of QA Analysts. In 2004, his then supervisor and current mentor was leaving and asked Martin to join him. Later that year he started at then Savage Beast (now Pandora) to become their Director of Software. He said having a mentor, or as he called it a "champion" was important in his path. If it was not for his mentor pushing him and giving him guidance, he may not be where he is today at Pandora. He said that mentors can come from anywhere. It could be your supervisor, a person you meet in class or at a conference. One has to be willing to reach out to someone and take initiative, the worse thing they can say is no.
Martin worked as the Director of Software for five years before being promoted to Vice President of Engineering. Martin felt that he was finally in a place he enjoyed and saw that there was room for movement. Pandora was the first company he stayed longer than three years. In the spring of 2014, Pandora, then CTO and mentor, Tom Conrad stepped down and Martin became his successor.
"The thing she regretted was that she didn't have something outside of work to identify with, "
Chris Martin on an engineering friend.
Martin left aspiring engineers with these words of advice: