Talk to a Tykling: Jack Fletcher, Account Manager

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Meet the team – getting to know Jack Fletcher, Account Manager

Our founder Martin created Tyk in order to solve a problem. His idea grew from a humble side project to a thriving business, attracting clients around the world.

It takes more than one person to run a business of this scale, so Tyk has grown a team of Tyklings as part of its journey. These driven, talented individuals come from around the world and Tyk wouldn’t be what it is today without them. But who are they?

That’s the purpose of the Talk to a Tykling interview series – to get to know the people behind the product. This week, we’ve put Account Manager Jack Fletcher under the spotlight, discovering how Tyk lets him indulge his competitive side and why trust is so important when it comes to fulfilling your true potential at work.

What do you do at Tyk?

I’m an Account Manager at Tyk, so my role sits between pre-sales and post-sales, covering anything and everything client related. That includes working with potential customers who are looking to evaluate the product and want to discuss their plans, use case, requirements, etc. So I work to introduce Tyk to them, alongside our engineering team. We pitch, present, talk through plans and really work with clients all the way through the evaluation process. I’m not the most technical person, so the engineers provide that side of the support.

Another part of my role is working through the whole commercial and procurement process, so working on commercial agreements and sometimes legal agreements, which isn’t my favourite task!

Then there’s maintaining relationships with our users – understanding their use cases (both now and for the future) and managing those relationships to ensure they have all they need.

What’s your favourite part of your role? What makes you leap out of bed in the morning, excited to do your day’s work at Tyk?

It’s the new business side of things – the excitement of following up on a new lead. It’s always fun to excite people with the product and show them its really cool features and how everything syncs up. It’s a good feeling when people see it in action and find out that it really works for what they’re looking for.

Plus, I’m quite competitive, so the thrill of competing against some of the bigger players in the industry is definitely something I enjoy.

I like the travelling as well. We quite often go to pitch to potential users and to get to know our current users face-to-face to get to know them better. I enjoy the people-focused side of the role and it’s always fun to see new places and see how other people work.

What region do you cover and where’s the coolest place you’re travelled to with Tyk so far?

Right now, I cover Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). When I started with Tyk about four years ago, there were only about 12 or 13 of us, so back then I covered everywhere other than Asia-Pacific, which meant I travelled to Europe, America, Canada…

Nowadays my travel tends to be limited to Europe, but I’ve previously been to Palo Alto and the west coast of America with Tyk, which was pretty cool. We had a good trip around Canada too, visiting Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa. It was November and -12°C, so we should maybe have gone in the summer, but it was a really rewarding experience.

It’s nice to build on those kind of trips – you get to travel to places that you wouldn’t normally visit and can then take a few days off either side of the trip. I’ve got a friend who lives in Toronto, for example, so was able to stay for a few days after the Tyk road trip.

You’re kind of forced to travel to places that you wouldn’t go to otherwise – but in a good way! We went to Legoland recently, for example, which I never expected to go to until I had kids. We’ve been to all sorts of places really.

When you’re not travelling, are you based in the office, at home, in coffeeshops or elsewhere?

Typically I’m in the office. I live in London so spend three or four days a week in the office. If I’m working remotely, I tend to do so from home, although if I head to the gym or somewhere during the day then I might do half an hour’s work there as well, just for a change of scene. I don’t tend to sit out in cafés for long periods as I find it harder to concentrate there. I might do 20 minutes here and there in a coffeeshop, but if I’m settling down for a full day’s work then I’ll either do it in the office or at home – or a bit of both!

What’s your background? What led you to Tyk?

Tyk is essentially my first fulltime job. Before working here, I did a few internships after uni, so spent a couple of months here and there, then did a year with a renewable energy start-up. I spent 12 months there shadowing the commercial team and new business and getting to know how everything worked. It was a time to get used to working life and how businesses operate. I learnt quite a bit, but it wasn’t too focused.

After that, I quite randomly joined Tyk. The advert stood out to me as the company sounded like the type of environment I was looking for! I actually interviewed for a different role than the one I ended up in. When I met with Andrew and James, I really like their ethos and way of doing things. They offered me a client-facing, commercial role, which was a bit of a steep learning curve but a fun one as well!

I was really drawn to the people, the way of working and the overall vision and approach of Tyk. The tech side is really quite innovative and exciting as well.

What did you study at university?

I studied international business. I wouldn’t say that I loved it. I didn’t feel too fondly about the studying side of things, so it was a question of just getting through it in some ways! I think it’s just a part of growing up, so I’m sure it has helped in ways that I perhaps don’t realise.

What do you like about working at Tyk?

It’s the trust and the freedom to own things and do things. You can really take responsibility. No-one’s watching precisely what you’re doing or when you’ve arriving and leaving – you’re trusted. There’s guidance around what to achieve and plenty of ideas but it’s up to you to go and do it.

There’s that camaraderie as well that comes with being a young company taking on big players like Google! I think we’ve maintained that fighting spirit to disrupt things since the outset.

Really it’s about being treated like an adult. Everyone’s equal. Everyone has a voice. You can get involved in whatever you want to get involved in, there’s no ego. That’s a big part of the appeal. You can have a conversation with the CEO Martin just as you would with the person you’re sitting next to. That openness is really key.

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

For me, I always prefer it when people are just honest and upfront. I know that there are obviously sometimes hoops to jump through when it comes to negotiations and the processes around evaluations, but it’s so helpful for both parties to just have an honest conversation and get to the key decision drivers.

You see a lot of pitching and persuasion with commercial roles. Personally, I prefer just to be a bit more direct and get to the point – I try to be as open and straight forward as possible. I find that it can make the whole process more efficient, especially as the technical side of things can go in many different directions. I’m the same when it comes to working with all potential users, whether they’re a $20 billion company or a five-person start-up – I’ll treat them all equally, but not everyone has that same approach. People do have egos, but ultimately, we’re all here to help each other.

Have you noticed any regional differences when it comes to negotiation and business styles, having worked across such a wide area?

A lot of the time it comes down to the individual and the type of company. Although I do find that in the UK we’re quite standoffish and hold our cards against our chest at times, particularly compared to countries such as Canada, where there’s a real culture of honest and openness. When I’ve worked with clients over there in the past, business was often direct, but in a very polite and easy to deal with way. Many European countries are also more direct and open than the UK.

It’s been interesting to learn more about cultural quirks and approaches. Ultimately, though, I take the same base approach with each user or potential user.

Can you share details of a mistake that you made early on in your career and what you learned from it?

One mistake I made when I started at Tyk was to think that I needed to know absolutely everything, which created quite a lot of pressure. With it being quite a technical product, with lots of different niches and nuances, it was easy to get a bit overwhelmed at first.

To combat this, it’s important not to look too far ahead, but to take smaller steps. Doing so allows you to focus in on more attainable targets rather than being overwhelmed by the need to learn everything at once! That was definitely a learning experience for me. If you know 50% of a product, then focus on that 50% first and don’t get bogged down by the half you don’t know yet!

That kind of self-imposed pressure means you can end up stressed and not getting to grips with your role.

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

Converse as much as possible! Personally, I try to make myself available to interact with as many people as possible. Talk, ask questions and repeat those questions until you understand. People were so patient and helpful to me when I first started. With Tyk, there are so many different avenues you can pursue and learn about. The more you ask, the more you discover.

Remote working can be quite isolated, so don’t sit and stew. I’m lucky enough to live near the office, so I get that natural conversation. If you work remotely it’s important to try and recreate that. Use the tools that we have, such as Slack, to interact and keep up with what others are doing. Talk, listen and get involved as much as possible!

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

Openness, clarity, communication… just being honest and straightforward. I’m also quite competitive; I like having something to win at!

You’ve mentioned that you’re quite competitive. How does that play out in your leisure time?

I’m keen on sports and used to play quite a bit when I was younger. I follow a lot of sports now, particularly football.

I’m really into music as well. Music was an important part of my upbringing. I have pretty broad taste, from Indie to hip-hop to electronic music. I like to be a bit manual with it, so I have a collection of records. I get to as many gigs as possible, although not at the moment, obviously.

What are your three favourite books and/or podcasts?

If I’m reading outside of work, it’s usually fiction novels, while my podcast focus is on sports, music, comedy, those kinds of things. Most recently I’ve been listening to the Off Menu podcast, plus loads of football stuff as I’m clearly missing it in lockdown. Tim Key has just released a new series of comedy podcasts too, which are always enjoyable.

I’ve just put up a new bookshelf, so I finally have a place to put all my books, which is nice!
It’s typically stocked with novels, but not without the odd biography here and there. I’m equally happy reading a a bit of James Baldwin, a history of Factory Records or Gary Neville’s autobiography.

I like to travel as well. It’s been hard not being able to plan my next break. I would love to go to Japan, South Korea and Cuba at some point in the future.