Chief Technology Officer
Thod Nguyen oversees the technical development, innovation, operation and growth of eHarmony. eHarmony has transformed itself into a leading technology powerhouse through the design, implementation and global operation of industry leading cloud-based computing capabilities and large scale big data systems. Under Thod’s guidance, eHarmony’s Technology division has developed full-featured internal APIs and new cutting-edge technology for web, matching, and mobile platforms.
Thod previously served as the Chief Technology Officer for MyLife.com where he was responsible for the company-wide technology vision. Prior to joining MyLife, Thod served as the Chief Architect at United Online Inc., whose brands include FTD, Classmates, MyPoints, Juno, and NetZero. In addition, Thod has a recognized expertise in large-scale enterprise application architecture and innovative enterprise IT Infrastructure solutions. Other areas of expertise include mobile, big data and advanced analytics, data science, machine learning, NoSQL, matching technologies, search engines, SEO, business intelligence, and Cloud computing/virtualization.
Thod has a proven record of accomplishment in planning, developing, and leading innovative enterprise, social media, mobile and web-based products/services for a number of enterprise organizations over the past 21 years. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering, with a minor in Management, from McGill University, and is a member of IEEE.
eHarmony’s mission is to create more meaningful connections that lead to fulfilling, enduring marriages. We use cutting-edge technologies to analyze the science of relationships, and feed the findings into systems that enable our users to form highly compatible long term partnerships.
Over our 15 years in business, we’ve seen remarkable achievements. Hundreds of people get married every day as a result of meeting on eHarmony. Our systems handle an enormous amount of data:
– 10 billion matches created since inception
– 15 million matches per day globally
– 29 Dimensions of Compatibility calculated between each match
– 1.05 million communications per day between users
– 200 terabytes of data
To support this scale of operations, we’ve implemented the latest software technologies and IT infrastructure. We are on the leading edge in Big Data and Machine-Learning, which we leverage to enhance our intricate matching Compatibility Matching systems and complex data models. We implement innovative data analytics to extract business value from our massive data repositories. A private cloud infrastructure leverages server blade technology to streamline our data centers.
Believe it or not, this vast, complicated operation is powered by just over 200 employees! We are so successful at this scale because we hire only the highest-performing technology workers, then we foster their innate capacity to innovate.
Talented professionals who can create, operate, and innovate in our complex technical environment are at a premium in this competitive marketplace for employers. As a relationship company, we also understand the importance of a strong cultural fit for our employees. Traits that we particularly value at eHarmony include competence and intelligence, and also compassion, kindness, and a willingness to lend a hand. Our employees tend to be more than usually expressive for a technology company, which plays into our culture in very positive ways.
To drive our hiring process in this competitive market, we invested in an exceptional Talent Acquisition team, and made them a key proactive business partner within eHarmony, along with our department heads and executive stakeholders. Hiring decisions are made as a team, with well-trained interviewers and hiring managers. No one person has the right to make a hiring decision autocratically; our process allows all interviewers and team members an equally weighted vote.
Our recruiting team uses the latest technologies and approaches. For example, eHarmony recently joined three other companies in contracting an agency to hold a widespread, virtual Hackathon that will net us leads to several hundred of the best Hackathon participants.
We like to expand our focus, looking beyond traditional pedigree (that is, a specific degree in a specific field) and more to demonstrated experience and original ideas, even coming from different formal fields of study. For instance, the best software developer I’ve ever known had a Masters in Music Theory, but an amazing aptitude for programming; the best Data Scientist had an PhD in Psychology, and the best Mobile Android engineer had no college degree.
When the qualified candidates at a senior level aren’t available, then we look for opportunities to promote from within and hire less senior people to backfill them. The cost is additional training for the promotion candidates and additional time to get them to where we need them to be, but the benefit is a huge morale boost, loyalty, and being able to backfill with more junior level people. We’ve found that people typically rise to meet our expectations.
Having hired the best available technical teams, we then nurture their ability to innovate. Innovation literally means “something new”, so expecting innovation from the same sources using the same methods is counter-intuitive. For example, we schedule regular in-house Hackathons where cross-functional teams suggest and implement new applications. Because the teams include not only engineers, but testers and designers, sometimes a graphic designer winds up writing code! We always find that innovation comes from unexpected places, and we usually incorporate a lot of the Hackathon ideas into our products. This gives us great new product direction, and fosters a sense of ownership in our employees, plus establishing strong cross-functional relationships.
These days, employees with STEM-related skills are in a position to choose their workplace carefully, and to leave if they find the environment uncongenial or the company mission uninspiring. A recent State of the Workplace report from Gallup determined that 70 percent of employees are “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” from their workplaces in the USA. In fact, eHarmony has even launched a new business, Elevated Careers by eHarmony. Using our highly developed compatibility technology, we are matching companies and employees on the basis of skills, culture, and personality. After all, the more people are fulfilled, engaged, and happy working in technology, the more attractive technical careers will become.