Talk to a Tykling: Ellee Camfield, Operations Executive

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Talk to a Tykling – getting to know Ellee Camfield, Operations Executive

The team behind Tyk is as diverse and varied as the use cases for our product. We work with talented individuals in a culture of radical responsibility, with each person responsible for contributing to the company’s goals in their own unique way.

So who are these dynamic individuals who collectively make up the beating heart of Tyk? What values do they hold dear and how do they contribute to Tyk’s much-lauded culture? To answer these questions, we’re talking to each and every Tykling, finding out what makes them tick and why they love being a part of our organisation.

This week, we’re chatting to Operations Executive Ellee Camfield, who has kindly shared her insights into everything from the importance of honesty to what it’s like to work for a company that treats its staff like adults!

What do you do at Tyk?

I’m Tyk’s Operations Executive. It’s quite a varied role. My main focus since starting has been on arranging the company’s annual retreat. I had to find a hotel, book flights for the whole company, then change everyone’s flights due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve rescheduled for September, but there’s no way to be sure right now whether travel restrictions will have been lifted by then, so there may be more rescheduling for me to do as yet. Hopefully not though!

Other than that, I do a lot of diary management, trying to help with board meetings and assist anyone who needs to organise a company event. Recently I’ve been helping to implement new policies and procedures as well, to ensure that everything continues to run smoothly.

My role is so varied. I support the whole business with everything from booking travel to making arrangements for new starters to come to the London office.

Do you work remotely from home, from coffee shops (or similar) or do you go into the office (lockdown aside)?

I live just outside of London, in Essex. It’s about an hour door-to-door from the London office, so I tend to spend a couple of days a week there and work from home the rest of the time.

What do you like about working at Tyk?

I like how mature the company’s approach is. They trust you to get on with things and do what you need to do. There are no strict rules. At my old job, if I was running two minutes late, I’d feel like a kid who was going to get told off. But I’m an adult – if I’m a couple of minutes late, it’s not a big deal! I like the fact that you don’t have to worry about little things like that at Tyk because everyone is laid back and simply trusts you to get your work done.

Please could you give us a potted history of your career to date? What has your journey to Tyk been like?

I went to uni in Bournemouth a few years back, doing an events and marketing course. I originally wanted to do event management but went through Clearing and couldn’t get on that course, so I had to do marketing as well. I was there for two years but I couldn’t quite grasp the economics module. I ended up leaving during the second year as I was just resitting the same one module and only doing about three hours of study per week. I just wasn’t enjoying being there.

I decided instead to go and work in Spain for two summers. I worked in a bar in Marbella and spent a couple of summers just enjoying myself. I would go out there from April to October and then either work in my dad’s shop or do bar work when I got back – my focus was on saving enough to go away again.

After that, I came back and started working at a recruitment company in an office manager/PA to the director role, where I was tasked with looking after the team. It was quite a small, local company. I spent about a year there and then decided I wanted to work in the City, as I thought there would be a bit more of a buzz there – certainly compared to where I was working before, where the office was based on a farm! I wanted a bit more of an atmosphere and an opportunity.

So I moved to another recruitment company, in London, where I was the assistant to the finance team. I was doing the usual support side of the role but also getting involved in the financial side of things, like payroll, as they had a lot of contractors. The role started getting a bit too finance-heavy, so I moved on after a year or so and temped for a while before I came across Tyk.

How did you find the role at Tyk?

I saw the role on Indeed and applied. I had to answer a couple of questions by email initially, then had a Zoom call. After that I had a face-to-face interview and then another interview with the COO, James.

A lot of the jobs that I had applied for previously had queried the fact that I’d jumped around quite a lot, job-wise. But that wasn’t a problem at Tyk – they like people who are creative and don’t necessarily settle easily. They have a different way of viewing things, which has certainly worked to my advantage.

Tyk exists to help people make, create and build things better. Is there a particular pain point in providing office support services that you would love to be able to fix?

I think the hardest part within Tyk is that you can’t just go up to people and ask a question. It can be frustrating waiting on someone to reply when I need information there and then, say if I’m booking flights and waiting on people to provide their passport numbers. It’s not a big blocker within my day-to-day role, it can just be frustrating!

What tips would you give to a new starter working for a remote-first organisation for the first time?

I think I’m still learning myself! One thing I would say is you need to act as though you’re going to work, even when you’re working from home. If you just roll out of bed and open your laptop, it sets you up badly for the day. But personally I don’t think you need to dress for the office – PJs or a tracksuit are fine if you’re working from home. I love being comfy. I’ll still get dressed, but sometimes it’s from my pyjamas into another pair of clean pyjamas!

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?

My mistake would be not asking and so not getting. I can get really awkward and embarrassed when it comes to putting my opinions across. I’ve always been too timid and not said what I wanted for fear of upsetting other people, but I realised that you can’t progress if you don’t say how you feel. At one point, someone asked me if I wanted a pay rise and I replied that I didn’t mind! I was just so awkward; I said I would be happy to have one if they thought I should. It’s something I’m still working on.

What are the values that drive you? What’s important to you?

Both in work and my personal life, honesty is the most important thing. I think you should always be upfront and transparent with people. If you do that, you’ll gain more respect from people.

Does that emphasis on honesty fit well with the culture at Tyk?

Absolutely. Management are very upfront and transparent. You always know what’s going on. For example, when this coronavirus situation unfolded, people were worrying about their jobs but we got a message from the board straight away saying that nobody would be losing their jobs, nobody would be furloughed and we didn’t have anything to worry about.

Tyk is a very open culture. Even though there is a hierarchy, they treat everyone as though they’re on the same level. 

What are your three favourite books and/or podcasts?

This is really bad, but I’ve never listened to a podcast!

My favourite three books are the Harry Potter books; I’ve read them so many times! If I was going on holiday, I would grab a thriller or a crime book to read around the pool. I don’t remember the names of all the ones I’ve read, but that’s the kind of book I go for. I enjoyed the Twilight books too.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I like to go to the gym and spend time with my friends and family. I like going for drinks and trying out different restaurants.

I love going on holiday. I’ve already missed out on three holidays because of the coronavirus, which is really sad. I like to visit different places. I’ve been lucky growing up as my dad has a travel company, so I’ve travelled quite a lot, but I still have a long list of places that I would like to visit. I like to see new places rather than go back to the same resort. Thailand is top of my bucket list – it looks like so much fun.

The best place I’ve been so far is South Africa. We did a safari and had dinner in the middle of the safari camp. I was about 10 or 12-years-old and it was so exciting. We had a big barbecue with dancers and performers and hot air balloons and all sorts. It was such a lovely place and a wonderful experience.