Q&A with Cristos Lianides-Chin

by Danielle Borges - Marketing & Sales Director

Cristos is a jack-of-all-trades technologist and is bringing Python, PHP, and javascript chops to our team, along with a strong FileMaker expertise. Get to know our newest team member below.

– Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became involved with FileMaker?

Before starting with FileMaker, I had already worked on many other technology teams, ranging from retail computer tech at a big-box electronics company to in-house programming and Information Architecture for a retail analytics firm. Around 2012, I briefly flirted with changing professions to become a science teacher and instead found myself working at a company that made databases for schools on the FileMaker platform. I started there as a customer support agent, but over time learned enough about both our customers and the Claris platforms to ultimately lead the FileMaker development team.

– If you weren’t a jack-of-all-trades technologist, what would your profession be?

I actually have a degree in Middle School Science Education, so I was very nearly a science teacher instead! Something I love about both roles is that you have to deeply understand all the details of a complex idea, but still be able to talk about it in everyday terms without making anyone’s eyes glaze over. That “aha!” moment, when a concept really clicks for a student (or a client) is also something that I really love to witness.

– What is your role at Codence, and what drew you to Codence originally?

I joined Codence in 2022 as a Technical Lead, after running a small custom software consultancy for about 5 years. Some of the team I knew by reputation, and others I had worked with in the past, so that was certainly a big draw. It also gave me the opportunity to work with a wider array of organizations, and I always love learning more about how different groups like to approach their software, apps, and databases.

– What’s the coolest thing you have worked on (in FileMaker)?

I love any project that involves integrating several technology platforms. One of my favorites was a from-scratch artwork inventory system that we built for an artist-endowed foundation in Portland, Maine. Building from the ground up gave us the opportunity to really make sure every detail was customized for their staff, and it had to encompass everything from barcode printing/scanning to large-scale photography storage while remaining intuitive on a range of devices.

– How would the people who know you best, describe you in three words?

Pretty sure they’d all start with “Planner”, but I don’t know that they’d agree on the next two. Actually, some of them might make a compelling case for “over-planner”, instead. I firmly believe in the adage that “plans are useless, but planning is everything.” I hear that this makes me a terrible Risk player

– What three qualities do you possess that you are most proud of?

My belief in the power of teams – that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts – is something that I’ve lived by for as long as I can remember, and I’m pretty proud of the choices that belief has inspired me to make. I’m also deeply grateful for the combination I inherited of my mom’s inclination to plan ahead, and my dad’s adaptability for when the plan goes out the window. I’d certainly be proud to have either skill alone, but was lucky enough to get them together from my parents.

– If a magical fairy were to come and bestow on you three gifts you don’t yet have, what would they be?

A Time-Turner would be my first choice – who couldn’t use more time? I would also settle for a TARDIS if a Time-Turner wasn’t available, but I’ll take more time over more space any day of the week. To (very, very loosely) paraphrase Archimedes, “Given enough time in the day and a place to stand, and you can move the world.”

After that, I’d probably ask for a more comprehensive public transit system and a climate-controlled bike-share setup, so that people could get around Portland during the most intense Maine winter without needing a car.

– Can you tell us more about your work with local immigrant communities?

I’m the Chief Technical Advisor for a local recruiting firm that specializes in placing immigrants who have advanced skills from their home countries, but are highly underemployed in the United States. We’re talking about engineers, geophysicists, and information technology workers who are working as home health workers or janitorial staff. Often, they simply didn’t have the language skills or cultural capital to get back into their profession right after emigrating, and it became even harder to re-enter as more time passed.

Matching New Mainers with employers that are looking to build more diverse teams is a winning situation for everyone – companies can build talented, diverse teams; local towns start fostering stronger immigrant communities; and people are able to excel in their chosen careers, no matter where they’re from.

– We hear you like sailing in Casco Bay. How did you get involved with Sailing?

When I was a teenager, Community Boating in Boston had a program to help kids go sailing practically for free. My mom thought it was a great way to get me out of the house, so I basically spent every summer sailing from the time I was 13 until I graduated high school. After we got married, my wife and I started out at SailMaine in Portland, which was her first sailing experience (even though she grew up in the area) and we both fell in love with Casco Bay. This will be our second year as owners of a 1984 Hunter 27, so we’re hoping to venture further out of the harbor and do a bit more cruising up the Maine coast this season.

– As a parent to a toddler, how are you balancing work and parenting? what do you look forward to this year the most for you and your family?

Balancing work and parenting is incredibly hard, and I’m hoping that as we keep growing at Codence we’ll be able to share workloads better so that it becomes less difficult. In the meantime, strong boundaries are essential – I can lock my office doors so that work time doesn’t get interrupted in the afternoon, and I put my phone into Do Not Disturb mode when I’m not in my office so that I can focus on being with my family.

Summer in Maine is absolutely beautiful, so I’m really looking forward to more beach walks and exploring the islands in Casco Bay together. We’re still working up to longer family cruises, but a weekend sail up to Paul’s Marina in Brunswick is on our must-do list for this year, too. This winter, our son will be old enough to start at the local rock gym, so I look forward to helping him scale the gym walls instead of climbing every couch, chair, and bookcase in the house!

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