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ChainXY Team - July 28, 2022

ChainXY Champions
Christopher Shopland


For example, do you know the amazing team behind our high-quality, curated chain list data for retail, restaurants and shopping centers?

We love celebrating their accomplishments with our ChainXY Champions series to highlight our greatest resource – our people.

Today, we’re cheering on our Director of Operations, Christopher Shopland. He’s been a rising star with ChainXY since February 2018. So Christopher, let's get started!

How did you come to join the ChainXY team?

I came to ChainXY in February 2018 after learning about it from a university peer.

At the time I was working for another company, but my colleague kept telling me about the exciting things going on here. It was clear that ChainXY was going to continue to grow.

I went to my company, saying, "Look at these really cool strategies for growth and change!". It was clear that wasn't a priority for them, which made my decision easy.

What has your journey been like here?

When I first made the move to ChainXY, I was responsible for Quality Assurance (or, "QA"). Over the years my responsibilities evolved from growing the QA team to taking on day-to-day business decisions, managing client requests and determining scraping resources with our programmers.

Lately I'm more involved in setting the strategic direction for the future of ChainXY. This gives me the opportunity to take the client requests we receive and compare them with our business plan to identify potential areas for new growth.

What motivates you about your work at ChainXY?

A huge motivator for me is being able to work with systems where I can make small changes that have a big and lasting impact. These impacts continue to run on their own without further effort from the team, and that's really satisfying.

What’s a unique advantage of your job?

I love watching our clients use our data to grow in the real world. Most people know data is behind a brand's real estate decision-making, but I get to see it in action!

I'm part of something that goes way beyond where I work and live. Through my connections to our clients and their companies, I get to do work that solves problems on a global scale - that's pretty cool!

Take us through your workday - what does it look like?

Luckily, I get a lot of variety in the things I do every day, so I don't have a typical day that gets repeated like a set list. Over a couple weeks, I oversee and make decisions on things like…

Client requests: Our clients want to grow our data library in so many different directions. It's so important to gain insights on what they're trying to do to see if it makes sense. Are they moving in a direction that also supports our overall product and vision? If so, let's direct our resources accordingly to get it done.

Quality assurance: I provide an extra set of eyes and a final check in the data process. At every stage, I review our data to see what's getting through and influence how it is managed.

Sales support: I work closely with Oszkar Breti - our Chief Revenue Officer - to provide technical support for client requests. We bounce ideas back and forth on the best path forward. Together, we decide how flexible we can be in accommodating some of the trickier requests.

Mentorship: I make a conscious effort to invest in our people, allowing their skills to grow in different directions. I think you get the best out of people when you allow them to pursue what is uniquely interesting to them. The quality of work speaks for itself, and everyone is happier.

What is something most people wouldn't know about you?

Most people don't know that I am an avid gardener.

We're lucky to have a nice backyard in Ottawa, where we can grow fruits and vegetables. Last year my specialty was basically what the rabbits didn't eat. This year we've fenced it in, so I'm looking forward to eating out of the garden from late summer into the fall!

What is it like working with our various teams?

I see one of my key roles here as a translator - each team has a different focus and communication style, and I bring it all together.

The QA team is my baby because that's where I started off. I've since stepped into other aspects of the business, like scraping, programming, and client care. All these areas are motivating and fascinating because I get to support all ChainXY teams through my technical knowledge of the product.

What is a great lesson you’ve learned in your career?

During my practicum, I was at a company doing programming on GIS software. I quickly found out that it's crucial to be able to differentiate between the tasks that are worth optimizing and the ones you should just put your head down and do.

Some things just aren't worth the effort - you'll never use it again. This thinking has stuck with me and translated into how I push the strategic direction of ChainXY.

Our strength lies in providing data to a multitude of customers, not just one. A one-to-one relationship like that is just too costly for both us and the client. When we invest in the product, it needs to improve things for everyone.

What’s something you think everyone should know about GIS?

What's really important about GIS is the questions you answer, not the software you're using.

I used to work for a company that created GIS software for school districts, enabling asset and resource management decisions based on existing first-party data and projections from Statistics Canada.

There, I learned the ropes of GIS on platforms that were outside of the industry standard. That taught me that GIS isn't tied to any one brand or industry - it's just a spatially-enabled database.

What's the difference between your previous work experience and ChainXY?

It is certainly different at ChainXY.

At my previous job, processes and programs across the development cycle were so disconnected. Multiple products were used at different stages. Data was siloed and segmented. Even though each aspect was part of the plot, they were never connected to tell a complete story.

At ChainXY, I've made it my priority to ensure everything in the database plays nicely and lives together.

What 3 words do you think best describe ChainXY?

Where stuff is.

People should not make expensive decisions without having the information needed to balance their risk. Even though it's as simple as "where stuff is", you'd be amazed at how many people get that wrong.

A great example is comparing store locators. On one, you zoom in and you are right on the roof of that building. On another, you zoom in and you are smack dab on the City of Chicago. Where's the store? Good luck - it's in Chicago.

What ChainXY does is inherently simple. It's the quality with which we do it that provides significant value.

What are the biggest trends you’re seeing in the data industry today?

There is a consistent tension in the data industry between what data truly is and represents versus what the users want it to mean.

Opportunities for data are expanding with things like mobile data, but that tension remains. What does the data represent? Can you extrapolate the way that you want?

As site analysis data and technology becomes more affordable and accessible, there are more opportunities to discover your true business model. Your customers may be different people than you thought.

These monumental shifts in understanding are exciting. I'm proud to be a part of the data and technology team that helps brands become informed and self-aware.

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