PEN Profile: Andrey Akselrod

Andrey Akselrod, founder and CTO of translation management platform Smartling, boasts a successful track record of business and software development, having managed technical teams at Spafinder and RunTime Technologies. Andrey’s passion for developing innovative solutions centered around simplicity, usability and customer satisfaction is rivaled only by his serious barista skills. We’re proud to have him in the Primary Expert Network.

@chelya | @Smartling


Hometown: Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine

What brought me to NYC: I came to the US when I was 18 to study at Brooklyn College, which has a great computer science school.

Why I love the NYC tech scene right now: NYC is a melting pot of everything. It’s much less single-minded than Silicon Valley.

Favorite business meal/drinks location: Miss KOREA BBQ on 32nd street. The best bibimbap in the city!

Hidden talent: I love doing kettlebell snatches, and I can figure out if espresso was made well just by smelling it.

Last thing you Googled: “Northern Lights Iceland.” After hearing the Tim Ferriss podcast with Cal Fussman, I’ve been thinking about going there for vacation.

Biggest challenge you’ve overcome at Smartling: I am a self-pronounced “recovering introvert,” so networking has been the biggest challenge for me. The only way to deal with it is to constantly push yourself out of your comfort zone. On the personal side, my biggest challenge has been not gaining a ton of weight after my wife went to Paris to take baking master classes.

Business apps you can’t live without: A Field Notes notebook with Muji pens, photographed and stored in Evernote.

What I’m best at: I am the company barista. We take coffee incredibly seriously at Smartling -  from buying the best beans from Cafe Grumpy (one of the best roasters in the United States) to brewing using a range of equipment (Hario pour over, Aeropress, French press, Mazzer grinders, Kees Van Der Westen Speedster espresso machine).

Proudest accomplishment: My six pack - and I am not talking beer...

My first job: In high school, I used C to write various algorithms to help my mom with her job as a civil engineer.

How I keep stress at bay: I don’t do stress, and I have pretty thick skin. Having said that, the best way to deal with stress is to deconstruct it until you can figure out the root cause and address it: Why am I stressed? What can be done about it? Doing sports also helps a lot.

How I keep my team engaged: The best way to engage your team is to provide transparency and connect the work to business goals. Empower your team to make their own decisions about what needs to happen to move the business forward.

Other than mine, NYC tech company I most admire: Etsy is amazing. It has a great culture and a really good engineering team. We’ve learned a lot from them as we were building our own culture and development processes.