Meet Our Head of Infrastructure: Steffen Wirth

Meet Our Head of Infrastructure: Steffen Wirth

October 8, 2021

1. What is it like being the Head of Infrastructure at Hex Trust?

The infrastructure department is responsible for both internal and external activities. Externally, we’re responsible for ensuring that our platform and main product Hex Safe runs smoothly for our customers. Internally, we’re responsible for ensuring resources like Wifi network, hardware, and other office equipment for our staff. If I could describe the role of our department in simpler terms, I would say that the infrastructure department is the backbone of the company. We ensure that our clients can use our solution while simultaneously facilitating the process of the employees being able to do their jobs.

Managing this department is a fun, yet challenging experience. I get to work closely with developers and technology deciders on how to best build and enhance our platform. We are constantly working towards optimizing our platform to grow our product which means there are new things to learn every day.

2. What got you interested in blockchain and the digital asset ecosystem?

I honestly don’t remember the first time I heard about it. But I do remember that when mining was still an affordable practice you could do at home, I started engaging in it with a couple of friends. Once the industry grew more traction and mining became costly, my friends and I switched to trading and started working on trading bots. In a way, you could say that I was one of the early adopters of blockchain and cryptocurrency.

I’d say that what drew me to the world of digital assets is that it is not an exclusionary community, everyone is welcome and anyone can be a part of it.

3. How would you say your relationship with digital assets has changed since you joined Hex Trust?

In general, it has not changed much. I still have the same goal: to make it possible for everyone to access the digital asset ecosystem, and for people to be able to control and manage their own money. However, the market evolves so rapidly and has certainly changed a lot since I first entered the space. A decade ago it would have been unimaginable for corporations and financial institutions to integrate digital assets into their operations but today this has become a very hot market indeed. Besides that, there has been an explosion of digital asset service providers like exchanges, new blockchain protocols, and innovative ways to generate yield.

Hex Trust being an essential player in scaling the adoption of digital assets in financial services makes my role all the more exciting, and I’ve learned a lot more about traditional financial institutions, their role within the digital asset ecosystem, and most importantly how to facilitate their transition into it.

4. What type of problem-solving interests you the most? Have you had the opportunity to work on such projects at Hex Trust?

In general, a major motivating factor for me is the ability to learn new things every day. I like working on projects that challenge me and push me to learn and grow. Working in the blockchain and digital assets industry, those are exactly the kind of challenges I face on a regular basis.

One of the most prevalent and interesting problems with this industry is that every blockchain is very different, and there are new emerging blockchain technologies almost every two months. While it is challenging to deal with and relearn new concepts, it has tremendously contributed to my growth, especially as I have had to learn a lot while trying to implement and integrate them with our system. I was lucky enough to be able to join Hex Trust in its early days and could impact the infrastructure on which our platform runs.

The ability to provide a stable and reliable platform for internal and external clients is something I derive happiness from.

5. What have been your biggest learnings throughout your career in the digital asset industry?

One thing that I’ve observed and realized is that the blockchain ecosystem has a lot of hard forks.

Blockchain technology is still quite new and there are a lot of people who are still in the process of discovering it. So, there are a lot of market opportunities for different services, from digital asset custody, exchanges, or even other smaller services that people need to actually understand more about blockchain. Throughout my experience, I’ve realized that the market has great potential and there is room for a lot of growth in this industry.

6. What is the best part about your job? What’s the most challenging?

The best part is that I get a chance to work with people from different backgrounds who all have different experiences and different perspectives. We can all bring our expertise to the table and build our product together. If there is ever a problem at hand, everyone comes together with their own ideas to find the best solution — both with regard to business and technology.

All ideas are welcome because we recognize that any idea could potentially change how we build our platform. Admittedly, the diversity in ideas and perspectives is also what makes it the most challenging part of the job. Tech is simple, but people are complex.

We are a very international and diverse team which often leads to people having different approaches to solving problems. This could potentially lead to disagreements, but with patience and communication, you often also have the potential to realize how the differing viewpoint was more suitable to a certain problem at a given moment. So, while it can be one of the more challenging aspects of the job, it is also where you get to learn the most — both professionally and personally. Moreover, I am lucky to be surrounded by open-minded colleagues, which makes the process so much smoother.

7. What makes you want to work at Hex Trust? Knowing that you take the ferry to work every day, what is it that makes you want to get on that boat every day?

Well, first of all, taking the ferry is definitely not a hassle for me as I thoroughly enjoy ferry rides. But, more importantly, it’s the product that is behind most of my motivation to go to work every day. I first joined Hex Trust because I got convinced by the Hex Safe solution. Our CTO Rafal came up with a system where we manage sharded keys for different blockchains and use them in the platform to make it highly secure.

One of my aspirations is to help the adoption of digital assets in the traditional world thrive, so that everyone is able to not only have access to them but also use them to their full capacity. The safety and security features of our product definitely facilitate the process of institutions adopting digital assets, therefore helping me fulfill this goal of mine. I hope that through our product, we can help bridge the gap between the traditional and blockchain world.

And of course, another thing that makes my work experience enjoyable is my lovely colleagues.

8. How do you like spending your time when you’re not working?

I live on a small island in Hong Kong, so most of the time, you’d find me doing different types of water sports. Wakesurfing, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding are some of my favorite ways to pass my time.

Apart from that, I usually geek out on side projects that interest me. I started a crypto trading platform before joining Hex Trust and the aim was to make sure that everyone would be able to use it.

It’s still an interest of mine that Hex Trust has allowed me to pursue on the side, and I spend a good chunk of my time working on improving it.

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