Talk to a Tykling – Getting to know Konrad Soltys, QA Engineer
As a remote-first organisation, Tyk can hire the best talent from across the world. At the time of writing, people in around 30 countries contribute to our market-leading API management platform.
Konrad Soltys is one of them. A QA Engineer based in Gdansk, Poland, he is enjoying his first experience of working for a fully-remote company.
We caught up with Konrad to chat about his experiences, his favourites places to work and what he does to unwind when the working day is done.
What does your day-to-day role at Tyk involve?
I work as a QA Engineer, specialising in test automation.
I have two roles really. On one side I’m in the team that’s preparing the new Tyk Developer Portal that we will release soon. On the other side, I’m developing automation tools for everyone to use to make their lives easier.
What’s involved in the QA process?
We are involved right from the early stages of working on a feature or update. I don’t only test what the developers have implemented, but also think about how things can work at their best while we’re developing them.
I check whether code written by other people does what it’s expected to do, and also code myself, working on automation testing.
Obviously with Covid we can’t always go where we’d like to, but what is your ideal working location?
Right now, I mostly work from home. I really like Gdansk, where I’m located now. I’m 20 minutes from the sea and 15 minutes from the forest, so that’s really nice. I worked from the countryside near my home town for a while too. I really liked that.
I joined Tyk in the middle of the pandemic, so it’s been hard to go anywhere. But I managed to go to the Dominican Republic for a whole month and work from there – that was great. But I do admire people who are able to work when it’s always more than 30 degrees and sunny outside!
Is this your first remote role, or have you worked remotely before?
This is the first time I’ve worked for a 100% remote company.
Was is a strange experience to start a new job without going into an office to meet your colleagues?
At the beginning it was hard not meeting people face-to-face. But everyone at Tyk is so helpful and eager to chat, it’s not hard to get to know people with Zoom calls and so on.
Please can you give me a quick history of your background, and your journey to Tyk?
I grew up in a small town, surrounded by forests and lakes. It was a nice town, but there was no university there. So I had to move to a bigger town to study – to Gdansk.
I started my studies with financial mathematics and econometrics – I never originally planned to work in the IT world. I thought I’d always be a financial analyst, working in a big building and wearing a suit all day. Now I’m working from home wearing sweatpants and I really enjoy it!
After studies I got a job offer where I could use my financial markets knowledge, but in a company that provided software for investment banking. I worked in the company for a few years, moving from project to project, but then I started to get more interested in the IT side of the projects than the financial side.
After that I moved towards general data analysis projects and strictly focused on the technical side of the projects, which led me to where I am now, at Tyk.
I already had some experience with coding from my time at university and in my first job. Back then it was just a tool to automate things to make my life easier. But I steadily became more and more interested in it.
Thinking about the tech industry generally, can you give us an example of something that really annoys you? If you could fix one thing, what would it be?
I think it would be to get rid of manual, repetitive work!
We don’t have much of it these days, but we do still have to spend some time on manual, repetitive tasks. I specialise in automation, so I’m making tools to help get around it.
Thinking about Tyk specifically, what do you most like about working there?
My previous experience was mainly in big companies. At Tyk I feel like we have so much freedom. We have a common goal, but everyone can contribute in the way that they like.
There’s no rules that say “you have to use this tool” or “you have to do it that way.” You can choose.
What advice would you give to somebody joining a remote-first organisation for the first time?
Well, this is my first experience of this kind of work. But I’d advise a new person that there are plenty of others in the same boat, getting used to this working style. There are no “stupid” questions.
Can you think of a mistake you made in your earlier career, and tell us what you learned from it?
At the beginning of my work in the IT industry, I focussed mostly on technical skills. But the more experienced I became, I started to see that soft skills are equally important – or perhaps even more so.
There’s a stereotype of people in the IT world – simply typing away at a keyboard and not talking to people – but that’s wrong. Soft skills are really important.
What are the main values that drive you? What’s important to you?
I really like to learn new things and solve problems. I love to put on my headphones, listen to some rock music and deep dive into a complex problem. I’m really motivated by stuff like that.
I also love seeing people use the tools I’ve made, knowing they’ve made somebody’s life easier. That’s a good feeling.
Which languages do you speak?
I speak Polish and English. I learned German for a few years, but I’m not using it right now, so it’s fading a little.
What are you top three books or podcasts?
A podcast is easy to pick – my favourite is a Polish podcast called Pathological Architects. It’s about all kinds of IT projects that follow the modern good practices but fail anyway. They cover a lot of interesting cases. I’ve definitely learned a lot listening to it.
Books are not so easy; I don’t think I’ve ever read one book twice. I really like the French author Michel Houellebecq – I’ve read almost all his novels.
I also love Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. I think he’s one of the best authors out there.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
It’s hot in Poland in summer for three months (tops!) so you have to make the most of it. I really like water sports – kite surfing, standup paddle boarding and swimming.
The rest of the year I like to meet friends, read books and go to the gym in my spare time.