Behind the curtain: 4 tales of women working in technology

A career in technology is one of the fastest changing and innovative out there, with the industry constantly being reshaped by those within it. For anyone dissatisfied with the status quo, it offers fantastic opportunities to affect real and rapid change. 

With so much rapid movement, the world of technology can also be a bit of a mystery to those outside it. So what better day than International Women’s Day to gather insights from 4 women in the Tyk team, each sharing some of their career stories and perspectives? We hope that, by doing so, we encourage more women to consider a role in technology.

How are we doing our part to also encourage more women to join, and stay, in technology? We’ll hear from our Co-Founder & COO, James, on Tyk’s approach – which we also hope will be replicated by more and more workplaces as organisations wise-up to the benefits of a more flexible attitude.

Yaara Letz, Consulting Engineer, London

I have been working in technology for about 15 years, from startup to blue-chip and tier-1 investment banks. Previously I was a full time C++ developer throughout my career – this is the first time I’m actually not fully on the developer side!

My role at Tyk is to work closely with the client’s technical teams during their evaluation process, actively manage their on-boarding, and their integration of Tyk into their infrastructure. In the (rare) spare time I have at work, I also code in GoLang and help the product team to resolve bugs.

What does a typical day as Consulting Engineer look like to you?

A typical day is a composed of a development-related project and some client-facing tasks. Usually I have a few client-facing meetings booked in advance (and sometimes days where they’re back-to-back!)

During these meetings I usually go through a presentation and explain about our platform solution from a technical perspective, with diagrams and a live demo of our product. Afterwards I’ll be asked specific technical questions related to the clients’ own use-case. On some calls with clients based in different locations, I’ll do a screen-share and try to resolve any technical issues they experience while configuring the product in real-time. 

Besides meetings, I always have a few development tasks in my backlog. Sometimes I’ll be working on a specific code that I’m familiar with through client-work, and sometimes I choose to explore a new area which I wasn’t familiar with so far, so that I can improve my knowledge. The product improves so quickly, so there is always something new to learn.

On top of client meetings and coding, I also have engineering tasks assigned to me which are usually related to clients’ requests for various PoCs in different areas of the product.

I like my role because being a technical person means that I help the clients to get the best solution they need for their use case. I also think I’m in a good position to sell the benefits of our product: I can answer clients’ questions honestly and precisely without being sales-y, because both the client and I share the technical understanding needed.

Finally, I like the fact that I work closely with our product team and I especially love the fact that I can also code in my role – something which I never stopped loving. Being a developer, thinking as a developer, and talking as a developer is part of who I am. It’s my personality: I am Developer.

Rachna Karwasra, Operations Manager, London

Prior to Tyk, I have worked in various functions and mainly in B2C e-commerce start-ups. I started my education with finance then moved to the tech and internet world via an MBA.

Originally from Jaipur, India, I’ve also lived in Istanbul before London.

What drew you to working in technology from your initial background in accounting?

I’m a qualified accountant and, having started my career in finance, I never thought that one day I’ll work in a technology company.

There are several things that intrigued me about the tech space but the most critical was the pace of innovation. Another was the openness to do things differently and a lesser degree of prejudice : good ideas seemed welcome from anyone – literally anyone.

Sometimes I think why, and how, did I end up in technology? And most importantly how can I add value to my team everyday? 

In the end, I thought to trust my gut, be vulnerable and just go for it, with the goal that there shouldn’t be a box in which I can’t fit in. Instead, I can use my pre-existing skills, learn new ones, and be adaptable.

Now, I believe I am achieving my potential, no matter what I started with or whatever my original career was. After all, technology companies need people to design their product, communicate with existing customers, acquire new ones, write copy, and most importantly enable them to succeed. It’s not all about coding. 

For me success is ‘Being fulfilled. Being challenged.’ And, by this standard, I do feel I achieve success everyday in Tyk: I feel positive everyday at the value I add. We still have many more ceilings to break for all aspiring women to achieve what they deserve, but I am so glad that my work helps power a train moving to break the barriers down.

Viola Marku, CX Technologist, London

I am a graduate CX technologist with 3 years of experience working in tech startups.

Before Tyk, I worked in a variety of industries, from nonprofits to B2B, while pursuing degrees in business, computer science and user experience.

Did you always know that working in technology was what you wanted to do? How did you decide?

It all started in 1998, with a videogame called Unreal and my first Gameboy. I was (and still am, more or less) a video game geek, despite my parents’ despair. Because of that passion, I started playing around with hardware and software, making small projects on automation, rendering and so on.

From passion and hobby, tech became a focal point of my academic education and career. I started understanding the ways software enables and supports value exchanges and the importance of ICT as a fundamental enabler for organisations.

What made me choose a technology-focused career is the continuous need to understand users’ abilities and constraints, together with learning and mastering interdisciplinary techniques necessary to design, build, and evaluate systems in the context of real-world problems.

The triangle between machines, users and organisations is ever-changing, and with it, the need to upgrade our skills and capabilities. This make a career in technology always dynamic and never boring! 

Emma Kriskinans, Global Marketing, Singapore

I’ve worked in digital marketing strategy and delivery roles in London and Singapore for around 8 years, both client-side and agency.

My role at Tyk is to look after our global marketing – whether online, print, events/sponsorship, or advertising content. I love how varied the role is.

Do you have any recommendations for resources that helped you in your career journey?

Though I knew for a long time I wanted to work in marketing, I always used to think I ‘fell’ into working specifically in digital and technology. To some extent I did, but, looking back I realise I also underestimated the influence of a trusted and supportive network guiding me.

My first mentor was really my father, who worked in technology and is hugely driven and self-taught. He never spoke to me any differently about his role because I was a girl, and I remember him giving me a ‘Teach yourself C++’ manual when I was about 10 years old. I didn’t take him up on it (sorry, Dad), but I did teach myself some HTML instead (destined to work in online marketing or what?)

Since then, I’ve had a variety of mentors, both male and female, from a wide range of functions. Some have been formal arrangements but many have been informal. All of them are invaluable to me, and I’d say these have been the most helpful resource along my career journey, guiding me along my own thought process, acting as a sounding board, and giving me some a-ha moments.

I was lucky that I had easy access to pick the brains of someone working in tech, and from a young age, but don’t be disheartened if you know no one. Ask your existing contacts if they know someone who might be able to help. Use existing online or University/College networks to find some likely candidates. Research some mentoring initiatives in your city. And, when you’re able, offer to help others and expect nothing in return – I find it goes rewarded further down the line.

Approach the person when you can be relatively specific about what it is you want help on, initially. At the very least, time-box the commitment so they know what they are agreeing to. Not every mentor needs to be a formalised ‘once-a-month’ arrangement, it can just be a one-off chat. Either way, thank them for their time, and keep the line of communication open.

Most people out there want to help, and, even if they can’t, will be flattered you asked. As long as you approach the interaction with respect, you have nothing to lose, and everything to gain!

James Hirst, Co-Founder & COO, London

I’ve been managing digital projects and teams since the days of dial-up.

Prior to Tyk I ran my own digital agency located in both the UK and Slovakia and later became commercial director of one of the largest independent digital consultancies in the UK.

How can we encourage more talented women to stay working in technology?

Rather than start with a document or policy describing mere aspirations, we’ve found at Tyk that a practical step to encourage more talented women to stay working in technology is to implement working practices and structures that have inclusion and participation as central tenets.

For example, by delivering total flexibility over working hours, unlimited paid leave and remote working from any location as the default, we’ve been able to build and retain a fantastic team of experienced, creative experts, male and female.

These working practices are not “perks”, but human practices designed to enable us all to structure our work around life’s other commitments, ensuring everyone can participate to their fullest.

Like the sound of the Tyk approach? We’re growing rapidly and have a wide range of exciting opportunities. Many of our roles are available remote, with flexible hours, and all members of our team have unlimited holiday. If you’re interested in joining us, find out more about our current positions.