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A Farewell and Thank You Letter from John Skovron, Our Former CTO

I’ve recently announced my retirement from Vestwell and the software engineering industry. On a personal note, it’s a bittersweet decision. I’m looking forward to having the time to enjoy life and interests outside of work. But I’ll also miss software engineering, a field I joined before it was anything like engineering at all, back in the days of 6502 assembler programming, when source code control meant copying your source files to a 360k floppy disk at the end of the day. We’ve come so far in this field, establishing real engineering practices and making what would have seemed like science fiction back in 1983 into reality. I will miss the daily interactions with all the wonderful talented colleagues I’ve met, learned from, and sometimes mentored, along the way.

Here at Vestwell, we’re focused on making sure that this tremendous opportunity - enjoying retirement - is accessible to everyone, especially people who work for SMBs that have historically struggled to get affordable easy-to-operate 401(k) plans. Joining the retirement industry after a long career in various areas of financial technology, I was struck by how outdated many of the most popular systems are in this space. Sometimes they seem to date back to that same age of 8-bit microprocessors, floppy drives, and - dare we say it - punch cards! It’s true that the broad feature surface of this business can be a challenge for product engineering. But at Vestwell, we’ve shown how modern software engineering technology and practices can replace ossified monoliths. Our enterprise relationships range from full white label “recordkeeping as a service” offerings, to finer-grained integrations where just parts of our technology and business are shared with our partners. Internally, we have a modern system that uses APIs and services for all of our business entities, and as we begin publishing these APIs to our partners over the coming months, we’ll see even more of the benefits of modernizing the underlying technology for the retirement industry. Vestwell engineering can rightly be proud of how far we’ve taken the platform focusing on customer needs and internal best practices.

None of this would have been possible without the talented and dedicated team here at Vestwell. There are too many to mention by name, so I’ll just call out a few. Our CEO, Aaron Schumm, and the entire business development and revenue team, have shown amazing energy and exercised their enviable business contacts to keep bringing in new business - business that always means yet more fun features to implement! Our newly promoted CPO, Ryan Anderson, and the entire Vestwell product management team have built a strong working relationship with the engineering team, in fact one of the best product engineering relationships I’ve seen in my career. Our engineering managers, my direct reports Joe Pampel, Mike Dafferner, Ed Burnett, and Scott Duncan, as well as Patrick Bounaix, Eddie Petner, and Dave Smith, have each helped to create a software engineering culture that values both technical excellence and personal integrity. And I’m ecstatic that Rob Molchon has joined Vestwell as our new CTO. I had the pleasure of working closely with Rob in my sojourn into the ad tech space, and know him to be an effective leader who will continuously improve Vestwell software engineering, leading us to even further success.

This isn’t goodbye, at least not yet, as I’ll be here at Vestwell through the transition as Rob gets up to speed on our business and technology, and then will remain available to help Vestwell as needed. But it is time to hand off the baton, and as we always do in the Vestwell engineering team, to reflect on our many successes, and then figure out how we can do it even better next time. I have tremendous faith in the team and business model here at Vestwell. I’m proud of everything we’ve accomplished so far. And I look forward to seeing even greater achievements in the coming months and years.

All the best,

Skov