The Talk to a Tykling interview series is all about going behind the scenes at Tyk to reveal glimpses of the talented team who allow us to handle billions of transactions daily for the world’s largest enterprises.
Our Tyklings have different backgrounds, motivations and approaches, but all of them contribute to Tyk’s success. We couldn’t deliver the service that we do without our fabulous team.
So, on that note, we grabbed a coffee with Tamara Evans, one of Tyk’s busy Bid & Account Managers, capturing her views on everything from Café Tyk to Harry Potter.
What do you do at Tyk?
I’m an account manager. My time is split between managing existing accounts, bringing in new business and bid writing, so it’s something of a hybrid role. Tyk’s account managers are the first point of call for new and potential clients. We bring them into the business and then manage their accounts as well, so they get a good level of continuity from the team.
It’s a busy role – there are a lot of different functions, so you have to move from one headspace to another pretty rapidly. Prioritisation skills are key! Personally, I thrive on being able to speak to new people all the time and love the fact that each day is very different.
I find that many of the accounts that I manage are for clients who are quite self-sufficient, which I guess is testament to how well Tyk’s products work! For those clients who need it, I’m here to provide support.
Do you travel a lot for your work or are your office-based while your team traverse the globe?
I’m part of the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) team, and based in London but some of my colleagues are based in Germany, the USA and Singapore.
I get to travel as part of my role. It comes in fits and starts. Sometimes I’ll go months without travelling, but then recently I went to Stockholm three times in about eight weeks – once for an event and twice to meet with a client. It’s not too much travel, but a decent amount.
Tyk has a remote-first policy. How does that work in practice?
When I’m not travelling, it’s good to have the option to work both in the office and from home. I tend to come into the office, although I maybe need to do a few more days from home in order to maximise my time – and to cut down on commuting costs! I had an annual travelcard last year, so got into the habit of coming into the office. Now that’s expired, I need to think about working from home more. It’s good to do so, as I can start early and finish at a decent time, without having to worry about the commute at either end of the day.
I think the social element draws me into the office. I like to talk things out with people in person. Yes, you can do it over the phone, but I can get a little bit too in my head when I work at home for too long!
Tyk exists to help people make, create and build things better. Which particular user issue is important to you personally to fix?
I think if I had my way, I would somehow get rid of the bidding process! It’s not so bad in this industry – I’ve worked for organisations where the bid-writing is incredibly labour intensive. In this sector there tends to be more emphasis on tick-box bids, although some of them do get very technical. I sometimes think that an hour on the phone would be sufficient to cover everything that was really important during the bidding process!
Tell us a little about yourself. What’s your background? What brought you to Tyk?
I did a degree in performing arts and musical theatre and got quite involved in the charity sector while I was studying. I ended up chairing a committee that was focused on doing things for charity. Being a performer was never my intention and it was the charity sector that really caught my interest.
I looked at various charity roles in London, but they all wanted real-life experience rather than fresh-from-uni enthusiasm! Instead, I took a job as a runner with a website design agency who had a lot of charity clients, in order to build up my experience. I stayed there for five years and progressed to heading up their new business department. I worked with James Hirst while I was there – he went on to co-found Tyk and when the right opportunity came along, I applied for a role here. Now I get to use my management, coordination and writing skills.
How do you use a performing arts degree in your work at Tyk?
I think people with a creative background are well suited to a client-facing role like mine. You don’t have that same fear of messing up when you’re used to performing – you learn how to adapt to changes quickly and own the situation. Creative types are often the cheery people who will talk to anyone!
What do you like about working at Tyk?
I like the culture here. It’s changed a little since I first started as a result of our growth, but we’re moving it back to where it was. There’s a big difference between a team of 20 and one of 70+. What I like is that it’s not all about work – people aren’t just working away with their headsets on and heads down.
I also like the flexibility of being able to work wherever and whenever I feel most productive. If it gets to 3 pm and I’ve lost my motivation, I can just go and grab a coffee, go for a walk and then come back refreshed and re-inspired. Or use that time to travel home before rush hour and then finish my work later that day at home. It’s also good to be able to hit the gym in the mornings and fit my work around that.
You see how strong the culture here is when people are on holiday. Even when they’re away they’re still keen to be involved – although there’s absolutely no expectation for them to be. The unlimited holiday plays a part in that too.
Unlimited holiday… how does that work?
It’s great! You just need to make sure that you’ve done your work and that your colleagues know what they need to in order to handle things in your absence. It works well in my team, as I work so closely with the other London-based account manager and with my boss. It’s brilliant to never have to worry if you need half a day off at short notice for something.
What tips would you give to a new starter when it comes to working in a remote-first organisation?
That’s a hard question! I think it’s important to get involved in the Tyk Cafés that run twice a week, even when you’re really busy. It’s a good way to put faces to names. All sorts of things come up, like people being away for the coming week… all those things you would chat about at the water cooler!
Introducing yourself in person via Slack is important too. Familiarise yourself not just with your own team but with experts from across the company. People are always happy to help with advice, so it’s good to make those contacts from the outset.
And I would always encourage a new starter to ask a lot of questions – about everything!
Let’s get personal for a minute. Can you share details of a mistake that you made early on in your career and what you learned from it?
Ha ha, so many to choose from! One thing I’ve learned is to not take things too personally. That’s definitely a mistake I’ve made before. Sitting and seething or feeling upset about something that wasn’t actually intended as a personal comment but has just been misconstrued can affect your work and your relationships with your colleagues. So I’ve learned not to take things personally when they’re not meant that way!
I’ve also learned to own my mistakes. We all get things wrong. Flagging up a mistake and doing something about it in a supportive environment is way better than hiding it.
What are the values that drive you personally?
Learning new things is really important to me. Progressing my own knowledge and confidence in what I’m doing is key. I need a challenge, as I get bored quite quickly. At Tyk, the product is complex enough to have kept me interested for over a year now.
The great thing about working for Tyk is that there’s plenty of scope to keep learning and pursuing your interests. There are also so many knowledgeable people here and they’re always willing to spare 15 minutes to talk through something you’re unsure about or just have an interest in.
What are your three favourite books and/or podcasts?
I’m a huge Harry Potter fan, so that series is definitely right up there for me. The first book is my favourite, as that’s where the magic begins. I’m not keen on the second and third books – I read them too many times when I was younger! The first and fourth books are my favourites. I love the films too – I think they bring the magic to life really well. Elements like the moving stairs, the potions and the spell-work are so well done.
In terms of podcasts, I really like No Such Thing as a Fish. It’s a podcast from the researchers at QI. Each week they start with a fact each and then use those to segue into other facts and topics – it’s always really interesting.
I’ve also just heard of a new podcast that I plan to listen to called Potterless. It’s someone who’s reading Harry Potter for the first time with his friend, so it sounds like it could be good.
When you finally prise yourself away from your Tyk work, what will we find you doing?
I’m really into TV and movies as well as reading – I loved Game of Thrones. I’ve read all the books as well watching the show. I like to see how the two compare. Seeing a whole other dynamic with the visuals and how the whole universe opens up, along with the character development, it’s great. What was one of the things that worked really well in Game of Thrones – seeing characters like Jaime Lannister develop over so many seasons is fascinating.
Other than that, I like to walk and go to the gym regularly. I’m not a big cook – I’d rather curl up with a book than spend time in the kitchen!
Interested in being part of the Tyk team? We’re hiring! Take a look at our current vacancies. Still not quite sure? Keep checking back for more of our meet the team series.