We’re thrilled to welcome Chris Harrison back to the Skillz family! A true Skillz veteran, Chris started on the team in 2014 and was a key figure in building out our Customer Advocacy function.
After his first five year stint at Skillz, Chris took some time off to travel, explore San Francisco, and pursue his passion for writing. Chris enjoyed spending restful time off and rejoined Skillz as a Customer Advocacy Program Coordinator this January.
As Chris considered his career possibilities, he spoke to people about what they loved about the places they worked.
“I learned a lot of great things about companies throughout the Bay Area but the more I heard, the more I realized I’d rather work for Skillz,” he said. “The people here and their dedication to the company’s success are unmatched.”
Chris reached out to former colleagues, who eagerly encouraged him to return to the team. In his new role, he’s focused on providing support for the groups in Customer Advocacy by managing and building out cross-functional initiatives throughout the company.
“When I started at Skillz initially, we were only about 30-40 people and things were certainly different, but I watched a lot of that change happen while being part of it,” said Chris. “When I showed up to work on my first Monday back, seeing all the changes, big and small, was amazing. It also made me very proud to have worked, and to return again to a company that’s always moving forward.”
2019 was a banner year for all of us at Skillz. We have much to celebrate heading into the holidays, so we’re taking a breath, honoring our commitment to Balance, and recapping some of our proudest accomplishments as we head out for winter break.
“The truth is, competition is all around you, and Skillz is highly committed to bolstering that experience. Everyone who works at Skillz really wants to be here,” he says. “We’re unified in the same goal, which motivates employees to execute at the highest possible level.”
Last week, Skillz hosted a lunch-and-learn in celebration of Latinx Heritage Month, featuring a panel of Latinx leaders in technology. Moderated by our CTO Miriam Aguirre, the panelists reflected on their connections with their cultures, relayed their professional experiences as Latinx leaders, and shared insights on driving diversity and inclusion in organizations. Skillz employees were grateful for the opportunity to hear unique insights on cultivating diversity in the thriving technology industry and look forward to driving more initiatives in the future. Learn more about our featured speakers below.
Luis Madrigal is a Client Platform Engineering + IOT Manager at Uber. He leads teams to create an IOT Center of Excellence by merging three major focuses: Client computing and their respective management systems; Mobile OS’s (Android, iOS, ChromeOS); and Product Mobility and IOT. Madrigal has worked at Uber for nearly six years after getting his start in technology as an IT Agent at Geek Squad. He went on to be a service engineer at Canon and grew into his first managing role at Arup.
A gifted problem-solver with a customer service-oriented attitude, Madrigal is able to identify opportunities and execute projects with consistent success. He is the Diversity Co-Chairman at Uber and has been instrumental in getting several key diversity and inclusion initiatives, namely Los Ubers, off the ground. Originally from Guadalajara, Mexico, Madrigal has harnessed his Latinx background to lead these projects with a global mindset. He is passionate about mentoring his team members to grow their careers and pursue their goals.
Reflecting on diversity and inclusion efforts at Uber, Madrigal said, “We’re creating a framework of guidance so teams know how to go about exploring ideas in diversity and inclusion in relation to design and engineering. Because if you ask two people to draw a bicycle, they’re going to draw completely different things on a white piece of paper.”
As Vice President of Global Gateway LATAM at Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), Julia Figueiredo helps innovators, investors and their partners achieve their global expansion goals. Originally from Brazil, Figueiredo uses her knowledge of the market and culture to aid technology companies in growing through partnerships, business development, sales, and marketing strategies. She began her career in corporate business development at GSVlabs and moved on to Evernote before entering her current role at SVB.
Figueiredo is a cofounder and board member of Latinas in Tech (LiT), a community of women from Latin America, Brazil and Spain who are living in the Bay Area and working at technology companies in the Silicon Valley. The group aims to connect with other Latinx women and support each other’s professional careers. Figueiredo has helped grow LiT into a community of more than 2,000 women, hailing from over 12 countries and working at more than 30 of the top tech companies.
Pia Zaragoza is a researcher specializing in various consumer, enterprise, and fintech products. She has worked at companies like Facebook, Google, and Microsoft, striving to develop new technologies to solve some of the world’s most complex problems. Zaragoza currently works at JPMorgan Chase and Co. as the Vice President of UX and Accessibility Research.
Zaragoza has a strong connection to her Latinx background, using her User Experience (UX) design skills to consult Techqueria, a nonprofit that empowers Latinx professionals in the tech industry by building networking and career advancement opportunities. In her current and future endeavors, she strives to inspire awareness and discussion surrounding diversity to help organizations scale successfully.
As we reflect on the importance of cultivating diversity and inclusion in the thriving esports industry, it’s important to recognize the impact of language, culture and traditions that have played a formative role in the lives of our leaders. Thanks for joining us this month, and every month, in celebrating the cultural and professional contributions of Latin American communities to our lives.
We’re kicking off Latinx Heritage Month at Skillz by featuring Latinx leaders in gaming and esports. As we reflect on the importance of cultivating diversity and inclusion in this thriving industry, it’s important to recognize the influence of language, culture and traditions that have played a formative role in the lives of our leaders. This month and every month, please join us in celebrating the cultural and professional contributions of Hispanic and Latin American communities to our lives.
At age five, Miriam Aguirre emigrated from Tijuana, Mexico to South Central Los Angeles. She spent most Saturday mornings learning English from cartoons or playing video games with her cousins (sharing one Atari system). Aguirre gravitated toward math because it was a language she could understand, and it became the vehicle through which she communicated with teachers. As she grew up, she aspired to study aerospace engineering because she was fascinated with spacecraft.
Aguirre went on to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), becoming the first person in her family to attend college. During her first week of classes, the aerospace department heads suggested students consider computer science instead, because the aerospace industry wasn’t as lucrative and held limited job prospects upon graduation. Aguirre took their advice seriously and signed up for a computer science course. She fell in love with software engineering after just one class – due in no small part to her love of video games from an early age.
Through perseverance in a particularly competitive industry, Aguirre found a way to combine her love of games and passion for engineering to land her current role at Skillz. Joining the company in 2013 as the 11th employee, she has been instrumental in supporting diversity and inclusion efforts at Skillz, along with serving as an ambassador for Skillz in the Bay Area, Portland, and beyond.
Aguirre has been featured in publications including VentureBeat and CIO Magazine for her passion and efforts to bring diversity to gaming and technology and spoken at numerous industry conferences, including Tech Inclusion, TwitchCon, Anita Borg’s Hopper x1 Seattle, and Lesbians Who Tech. She was also named to The Alumni Society’s Class of 2018, received the mBolden Champion of Women Award, and won the 2018 Timmy Award for Best Tech Manager.
Recently promoted as Skillz CTO, Aguirre is responsible for outlining the company’s technological vision, implementing technology strategies, and ensuring that our technological resources are aligned with our most pressing business needs. Skillz empowers anyone to embrace their inner champion by providing fair competition in an increasingly digital world. Game makers of all backgrounds need a better way to monetize, and with Aguirre’s leadership, the Skillz platform changed the paradigm by aligning the game maker revenue model with the player experience, so creators can build sustainable businesses doing what they love.
The gaming industry will continue to thrive as a result of the unique individuals that work each day to create diverse content and build inclusive communities. At Skillz, we hope to lead by example through promoting diversity and inclusion in our hiring practices, helping game makers of all backgrounds establish sustainable businesses, and connecting players worldwide to embrace their inner champion.
If you’re interested in joining a passionate, diverse team that is defining the future of digital competition, head to our careers page and check out the open roles.