Talk to a Tykling – Getting to know Guillermo Martinez Fernandez, Senior Web Developer
Tyk’s employees enjoy an enviable amount of working freedom, with unlimited paid holiday, the ability to choose their own hours and the option to work from anywhere. This combination of trust, freedom and a world-leading API management system has seen individuals flock to Tyk from across the globe.
In this series of interviews, we’re getting to know who those people are. Recently, we sat down for a (Zoom) chat with Tyk’s Senior Web Developer, Guillermo Martinez Fernandez. We discussed Tyk’s remote first policy and found out a little about both Guillermo’s job and his leisure time.
What is your job title, and what does your role involve?
I’m Tyk’s Senior Web Developer. I take care of the company website, adding new features and pages, and new functionalities that members of the team need to be there. That can mean anything from helping the marketing team to assisting the HR team with the vacancies page.
I mostly work on the programming part, but I assist on the design side as well when needed.
So, everything we see on the Tyk website has been through you?
Yes – other than things like blog posts, which are purely written copy.
Can you give me a brief history of your career before you came to work at Tyk?
I didn’t actually study web development or web design initially. I trained as a product/design engineer – for real, physical products.
But I moved to London, studying and learning English. I worked for a few years as a sushi chef but then I decided I wanted something that would suit me better, so I started working to find out what I really enjoyed, all related to design. I did some illustration stuff, but it wasn’t really what I wanted.
I had a friend who did web design and I liked the idea of that. I decided to get started with it and I learned the basics in just two or three weeks. I got an internship – that was product-based as well, just working on a single website. Then I worked for a couple of agencies.
Next, I freelanced for a year, and then began freelancing for Tyk. Then a point came when they needed to make the role full time. I went through the whole process of applying for the job – there were other applicants, but I won the role and began working for Tyk full time.
Tyk employees are based all around the world, are you still in London?
No. I stayed in London for about five years and then moved to Valencia. Before I joined Tyk, I was already based in Valencia.
Where do you like to do your work? What’s your ideal working environment?
Well, Covid has changed things! Now, I work from home in a room I’ve converted into a studio. If it wasn’t for the need to wear masks etc., I’d like to spend a couple of days per week in a co-working space.
Sometimes I go to coffeeshops. It’s not perfect because it’s noisy and not that comfortable. But it can be a good way to work alongside a friend for a day. I did this with a friend recently and we plan to do it more regularly – either in a coffeeshop or a co-working space.
I do like working from home, but it’s nice to have a change of scene for a couple of days each week.
Thinking about the web design industry generally, what is one industry problem that you’d love to be able to solve?
There’s something that’s a benefit and problem as well: there are SO many different technologies and languages you can use. That’s good in the sense that there’s so many options, but you have to learn constantly as you go.
That means that when you go to a new company, they use different things, you learn those things, but then forget the previous ones! It’s challenging, but also good from a technology perspective.
What do you like about working at Tyk?
The flexibility and the people.
If you need to get out of the house in the middle of the day to do something, or one day you feel tired and want to start work late, you can. Sometimes I like to start really early – 6am – so I can work when nobody is logged on.
We also have unlimited holidays – that’s a good thing! Sometimes you might have two months with lots of work. You hardly get a chance to take it easy, and you might work some extra hours. But then you can easily take two or three weeks off.
It’s closer to the freedom of freelancing, but with just one client, which means you can also take more ownership of your work.
What advice would you give to somebody who’s not worked in a remote-first environment before?
Even though you have all of the flexibility, it’s best to have a firm structure for most of your working days. You can “escape from the 9-5” but you may still prefer to work those hours!
I still don’t always do it, but I know it’s what I should be doing. A structure to each day stops your life merging into your work too much. If that happens, you don’t have a sense of how many hours you really worked.
I’d also say to force yourself to get out the house every now and then – either going out during the working day or spending some time working in a coffeeshop or somewhere.
It’s also important, if you need to solve something, to jump onto a call. I worked for a remote company once before who tried to do everything with text.
In the situations where – if you were in an office – you would get up and go to a colleague’s desk, you should say “can I call now?” You will solve things in five minutes instead of 20.
Thinking back to your earlier career, please could you share a mistake that you made, and what you learned from it?
My mistake was not focussing on something specific and becoming an expert on it. I’ve worked with different technologies, going back and forth from design to development.
It means you don’t get to fully learn something 100% before jumping to the next thing – and you get to 80% on something but then go back to 50% because you jumped the other way.
So the lesson is to focus on just one thing until you know it well.
What are the values that drive you? What’s important to you?
I do a lot of volunteer work, and some activism as well. I do voluntary projects to help to fund organisations. And I’m involved in animal rights activism. The flexibility of working at Tyk means I can sometimes take a couple of days off to work on my volunteer projects.
My motto is to “be kind to every kind.”
What are your favourite books or podcasts? What would keep you sane on a desert island?
The only podcast I follow is one from Earthling Ed – he talks about animal rights and veganism, stuff like that.
I’m not a big reader, but I like books by Paulo Coelho – I’ve probably read more books by him than any other author.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
Mostly going to the countryside. We have two dogs, and whenever we can we go out to the countryside or the mountains. And when we have holidays or long weekends, we like to rent a cabin in the mountains and spend time relaxing there.