Talk to a Tykling: we get the latest from Greg Delhon, Product Owner
Tyk is making a name for itself by creating and providing innovative API management solutions, supported by a team of dedicated Tyklings recruited from all over the world. This diverse bunch of individuals is united by a common passion for making things better.
As part of our Talk to a Tykling series of blog posts, we’re catching up with each and every Tykling, to find out more about the people behind the product. This week, we sat down for a virtual coffee with Product Owner Greg Delhon. We cover everything from the joy of working on complex products and how the flexible style of working at Tyk suits him, to his love of mushrooms and campervans.
What do you do at Tyk?
I am a Product Owner. What I do day-to-day changes a lot. It depends on the product I work on, the stage of the product and what needs to happen to make that product successful. So, sometimes it’s a bit of marketing, sometimes it’s strategy and vision, sometimes it’s engineering, and sometimes it’s user research. It really varies.
Essentially, I am responsible for what my team does and why they do it, while the team is responsible for how we decide to implement the work.
Are there certain parts of the Tyk product that you specialise in?
Tyk has different areas. There’s Tyk cloud, there’s a dashboard, we’re creating a new portal and we have a lot of components in the backend that power all the products. I focus on the components in the backend and the portal.
Whereabouts are you based and where do you prefer to work from, pandemic aside?
I’m based in London but, being French, I spend a lot of my year in France. I’m a bit of a nomad. I like variety. Ideally without Covid, I would mix working in the office with being at home in London and occasionally a coffee shop. When I’m in France, I’m in the countryside so I just work from home.
Is there anything within the tech industry that you’d love to fix?
This is actually one thing that we’re working on – every company publishes their APIs in a different way, which probably makes sense to you. But, when you’re a developer and you’re trying to use APIs, and you have to use three different APIs, with three different methods to understand, try and use, plus you have three different accounts which you have to manage with three different companies, it’s quite painful!
We’ve been doing this for quite a while, but the more simplicity we can bring to the API consumer, the better the industry will be. So, if I had a magic wand, I would make API consumption as consistent and as simple as possible.
Can you tell us about your background and what led you to Tyk?
I grew up in the suburbs of Paris. When I finished high school, I went to the UK to learn English because I didn’t speak English at the time. One thing led to another and I ended up at university in Scotland, then from there I started my career in the UK.
I worked for IBM in the past and then Dunnhumby. When I was at Dunnhumby, I was an API Product Manager, which led me to the ‘Apidays’ conference back in Paris about three years ago. I met the Tyk team there and I thought their product was really cool. Plus, the team seemed like a lot of fun. I never thought I would work for Tyk at that time though!
Then I went on a sabbatical and travelled around South America. I came back to the UK as Covid hit and I was looking for something new. I saw Tyk was recruiting, so I applied, and voilà!
What is it that’s great about working at Tyk?
First, you are working for a company that trusts you. Not all companies do that. And it’s real trust at Tyk, very real and deep trust. So, you pick your hours and where you work. If you like being trusted to do the work that you think is best, then Tyk is a great company.
The second thing that’s great is the flexibility that you can have at Tyk. For example, today, after this interview, my wife and I have just bought a van that we are converting, and we need to go to the shop and buy stuff for it. So, after this, I’m going to spend two hours doing that. I don’t need to say anything to anyone at work and people won’t mind me doing that. That flexibility allows me to plan my work around my life as opposed to planning my life around my work.
Then, from a product perspective, I love the complexity. I think Tyk is a very complex product from the technical perspective – we make it simple for the user but when you think about it from the product perspective, it’s not simple and I like that. The scale and diversity of problems you are faced with when you work on the product at Tyk are quite incredible.
What would your tips be for someone starting at Tyk who’s never worked remotely before?
I think one thing people don’t always realise when they join Tyk is that the company is investing in the people who work here. They don’t expect you to know everything about API management when you join. One thing I would have done differently when I joined Tyk would be to have spent more time learning about the end-to-end lifecycle of API management.
My tip is to take a step back when you arrive, which is hard to do because you want to show your value, but it’s good to take that time to learn. The more you learn in your first three months across the board, beyond your team, the better and easier it will be down the line. It’s easier to ask questions when you’ve just started because you don’t know things. No-one expects you to deliver too much in your first three months at Tyk, so take that time to learn.
Is there a mistake that you’ve made prior to working at Tyk, and what did you learn from it?
When I was working at IBM, I was a consultant. I’m quite passionate about what I do, wherever I work and regardless of the company. When you are a consultant the cycle that you go through is usually the pre-sale, the sale, the delivery and the post delivery of a product. I was involved in all the stages and that allowed me to pick the most exciting projects to work on, because if you’re part of the sales team you’re well placed to work on the delivery as well.
The problem was that one day I sold my time on two deliveries at the same time. So, my biggest mistake was to think that I could deliver two projects at once, which was not a good idea. I was finishing work at 2am and starting again at 7am and I’d inflicted that on myself, no one forced me too! I wouldn’t do that again.
What are the values that drive you?
If I was to say the values by which I live my life, I believe in living a life of sobriety. One of the things I’m going to do in the not-too-distant future is get a farm to live a simpler life.
In terms of values relating to the people I work with, being humble is very important. This fits really well with Tyk’s values. Remaining humble is very important, as are things like transparency, and simple values that help human interactions and help everyone at the workplace feel good.
What are your top three books or podcasts?
I’m reading Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake at the moment, which is mind blowing. It essentially talks about fungi (mushrooms) and their impact on nature and the world. Merlin Sheldrake is an expert in this area, and he goes on all these adventures to find out how this hidden world works.
I listen to podcasts but mostly in French. It kind of came about because I speak English so much that my French became terrible! When I try to explain what I do at work in French, I end up using three words out of five in English.
In English, I listen to In Our Time which is a really nice podcast where very specific topics are covered in depth. I also listen to Philosophize This! by Stephen West. And on the business side, I like the a16z podcast for example.
What do you like doing when you’re not working?
It depends on the time of year and where I am in the world. I do like to do manual things that require a bit of thinking, like gardening when I’m in the UK. I find that very meditative. Here in the South of France, I’m converting a van and doing DIY things –projects that I can work on for a few hours a week that aren’t related to work and or my computer. I do spend most of my free time with my family.
You’ve mentioned travel. Where is the best place you’ve been in the world, and why?
I’ll give my top three because I can’t pick. Patagonia was incredible. And I would say Borneo and Tanzania – I like nature, so those three places were all pretty special.
My wife turned 30 recently so I offered her a trip to Rwanda and Uganda to see the gorillas “in the mist” in their natural habitat. When we travel, we usually like to go animal sightseeing – we go into the wild and try to observe the animals in their natural habitat. The point is not the so much the sight of the animal, but the journey to get there. The gorillas are next on our list.