Share with Your Network
“Above and beyond” is a phrase used multiple times in the Crush IT award nominations for Kris Schultz, Kenna’s Director of Engineering. His work ethic, intelligence, passion, and concern for others make him a natural and exemplary leader within the company. And with qualities like these, it’s not surprising that Kris is the latest employee to be recognized as a shining example of Kenna’s core values.
During my interview with Kris, I set out to uncover the secrets of his successes thus far. In addition to helping me learn more about what makes Kris tick, the conversation also proved both educational (I learned that it’s better to under-water a plant than to over-water it) and entertaining (his Australian Cattle Dog mix, Booker, made a brief but adorable cameo).
Read on to learn more about our Q4 2020 Crush IT award winner!
Q: Where did you grow up?
A: I grew up in Northeast Illinois—Gurnee and Waukegan. I’ve been in Chicago for the last four years.
Q: How did you come into this field of work?
A: My interest in this line of work started at a very young age. I was playing Starcraft with a bunch of people. We had a website, and it sparked a lot of curiosity for it. I asked the question, “How does the information that you type into this form get into your email inbox?” That initial curiosity morphed into my first exploration into web development, doing simple things like building web pages and sending emails from forms. That morphed into more video game-related website building in my high school and college years, during which I ran a Final Fantasy fansite for a few years. It granted me a lot of experience doing PHP, learning MySQL, figuring out how to run a website, and doing the other general maintenance activities. I kept up with it for quite some time and after college, I got a programming job up in Milwaukee. I worked as a developer for a while and eventually moved on to a place in Evanston called Leapfrog, where I worked for quite a while. I joined Kenna in 2019.
Q: What would 10-year-old Kris think of your current job?
A: I think 10-year-old Kris would probably be excited because I have a laptop! Around that age, I kept asking for a laptop for Christmas every year. This field of work has always interested me. Would I have envisioned myself in a management position? Not necessarily, but I generally gravitate towards leadership when I’m in groups of people. So I’d say high school Kris probably wouldn’t be too surprised!
Q: Who has been the most influential person in your life?
A: The previous CTO of Leapfrog has been really formative in the way that I approach a lot of problems and my day-to-day job. He is one of the reasons why I stayed at that company for such a long time. I really enjoyed working for him. He provided a lot of insight into being a leader in technology. We still stay in touch. Our conversations are always fun—a little work, a little mentoring, and a lot of critiques of his choice of video games!
Outside of work, the most influential person in my life has been my partner. He has gotten me out of my shell a bit. I’m certainly not the same person today as I was before I met him.
Q: If you were to write a book, what would it be about?
A: I’d write about my experience growing plants. I enjoy growing Cattleya orchids and they are a lot easier to care for than most people think. I’d love to advocate for them. People think orchids are really fussy creatures, but that’s not the case. I water them once a week and then I ignore them. And if they’re flowering I admire them for a bit, and then I go back to ignoring them.
Q: If you could take a month off from your regular day-to-day and immerse yourself in learning something new, what would it be?
A: It would have to be something I do with my hands, like woodworking or building things. I like to make things. My day-to-day job is making digital things. I would love to spend that month improving my skill set and making things in the physical world.
Q: Are there any unusual food combinations you enjoy? (i.e. ketchup and rice)
A: If you ask my partner, my weird food combination is ketchup and eggs!
Q: In your opinion, what animal would be the most terrifying if it could speak?
A: Insects. If they could speak, that would be terrifying. You aren’t going to notice them. An ant baby could overhear your information and start gossiping about what you said. That would be really creepy.
Q: Top 5 songs for your road trip playlist?
- Any King George song from Hamilton
- Electric Love from Bob’s Burgers
- Pretty much anything from Central Park
- Not necessarily a song but the “Second Date Updates” from a morning show I listen to are great entertainment
- Anything else my partner has taken an interest in
Q: Pecan pie or apple pie?
A: Apple pie
Q: Be able to cook really well or run really fast?
A: Cook really well
Q: City or countryside?
Q: Plans or surprises?
Q: Be stuck in an elevator or a ski lift?
A: Stuck in an elevator