Despite our technological prowess, it’s the people behind the Tyk brand who are the key to our success. From developers to account managers, we wouldn’t be where we are today without the contribution of a whole bunch of unique people. And that’s what the Tykling interview series is all about – getting to know the people who make Tyk what it is.
This week, we sat down for a chat with Paul Cooper, who’s spent the last year-and-a-bit working tirelessly as the company’s Marketing Executive – so just might be the reason that you heard of Tyk in the first place. We grilled him on everything from company culture to what he likes to do in his spare time.
Let’s start with the basics. What do you do at Tyk?
I’m Tyk’s Marketing Executive, so I handle everything from ongoing marketing campaigns & projects to website content management. I’m also responsible for a lot of the content that the company produces, from social media posts to Tyk blogs, to video. My role also involves a strong focus on the Tyk community too. The projects and campaigns I am involved in means working with teams in all areas of the business from engineers, developers and commercial.
Do you travel a lot for your work?
I cover all geographic regions. We’re a global business so our campaigns tend to have a global focus – but that doesn’t mean I travel as part of my role (never say never, though!). Our engineers and account managers are more client-facing, so they do the lion’s share of the travelling. I’m behind the scenes, helping to get the Tyk name out there!
Tyk as a remote-first policy. How does that work in practice?
The beauty of the remote-first approach is that we can pick and choose where we work. I tend to split my time evenly between working from the London office and working from home. It’s nice to get your head down and focus at home some days, while on other days it’s great to integrate with your colleagues and bounce ideas off each other in person.
Personally, I like to join meetings in person when I can. We can get the same output from a Zoom meeting as from a meeting when we’re all in the office – I just like to use the opportunity to spend face-to-face time with other members of the team.
Can you describe the London office? What does the beating heart of the Tyk empire look like?
It’s halfway between a traditional office and some kind of artfully styled tech startup environment. We’re in a new building, so it’s very bright and open. We have lots of images up on the walls, including pictures of the team, and a Tyk-branded retro arcade machine, which is pretty cool.
We outgrew our previous office last year. Although we’re a remote-first company, there’s an average of around 10 people in the London office on most days, so we needed more space. The new office is a great place to be and in a handy location too.
Tyk exists to help people make, create and build things better. Which particular issue is important to you personally to fix?
The main thing for me is providing return on investment (ROI) on all marketing activities. We do a lot of work to get the Tyk name out there, but it’s hard to measure its impact. If someone picks up the phone and calls us, we can’t always tell how they’ve heard about us! It could be through Google, as a result or a white paper we wrote, through an event we sponsored… that means it’s hard to measure the exact ROI of every single marketing activity, so that’s a challenge that I would love to fix!
Tell us a little about yourself. What’s your background? What brought you to Tyk?
I studied graphic design at university and began my career by working on marketing campaigns that saw me focusing on the physical design work. I gradually found myself working with smaller organisations and startups as my career progressed, so I became the marketing specialist as well as the graphic designer. I enjoyed the marketing work and that naturally became my main focus over time.
I enjoy the startup culture and the flexibility that it brings. That’s one of the great things about Tyk – you’re not pigeon-holed based on your job description. There’s a lot of scope to come up with ideas to change things and ways to improve things, as well as the chance to gain experience in other areas. I believe that you can learn better on the job and Tyk certainly provides a great opportunity to do that.
Where did you grow up?
I’m from Essex originally, so home is the countryside just outside of London. Travelling into the city for work but having greenery at home is the perfect combination.
What is it about working for Tyk that really inspires you?
The culture is genuinely great. Ever since I started here (over a year ago), I’ve been thinking, “There must be a catch!” But if there is one, I’ve yet to find it. It feels too good to be true! The company is very flexible, everyone’s super helpful – it’s a really great team and Tyk works hard during the recruitment process to ensure that everyone it employs fits with that mentality and that culture.
We’re always inspiring each other to take the next step and push things to the next level. James, our COO, believes in working hard and working smart – but that doesn’t mean sitting at your laptop for 18 hours every day. He’s created a culture where everyone’s encouraged to think about how we can do things differently and how we can improve processes. Everything is flexible and anything can change – and change quite quickly if you want it to. We can grow both professionally and personally.
What tips would you give to a new starter to help them get the most out of working in a remote-first organisation?
Remember that you don’t have to feel isolated just because you’re remote. Get involved and talk to your new colleagues. We use Slack and Zoom every day. I would encourage them to use the random channel – it’s the remote equivalent of water cooler moments!
It’s also important to remember to switch off. This can be hard when your laptop’s with you all the time – you hear a message come in and it’s tempting to check. It’s a matter of self-discipline. You have to have the right mindset and make sure things wait until the next day. Martin and James, our founder and co-founder, both strongly encourage switching off at the end of the day – although as the founders they don’t always get to enjoy that luxury!
Are there any organised activities that you engage with at Tyk?
Absolutely, we have Tyk Cafés every Monday and Thursday. They’re a chance for everyone to engage. Sometimes we talk about work, sometimes we just chat. They’re a great way to catch up with people and also to connect with those that you don’t work with on a day-to-day basis. When I started a year ago, there were about 30 of us, so it was quite easy to talk to everyone. Now we’re 70+, so there are people in the business that you may not have cause to speak to that often or to work with daily. The café sessions are a great chance to address that.
There’s also the company retreat once a year, where everyone can go. It’s not a holiday – it’s a week packed with workshops, talks and updates. It’s a great way as a remote business to remind people that we’re all part of a team and encourage personal interaction.
How has Tyk managed to keep everyone engaged during such a rapid scale up?
Tyk hasn’t lost sight of its values or become corporate in its approach. There’s still a family feel to it – the business feels like a startup, even though we’re not really in that phase anymore. We get regular updates on what’s happening with the company, and teams are encouraged to share internal blogs on what they’re up to, role changes and that kind of thing. There’s a really open focus on what’s going on.
What are the values that drive you and how do those fit in at Tyk?
Kindness is key to me. That’s reflected in numerous ways at Tyk, like the mentorship over management approach and constructive feedback – it’s about kindness in the workplace.
For example, if someone wants to grow in their role, Tyk is here to help. We all support each other to grow and develop. There are a lot of shout outs on Slack to give credit to people who are doing well. I find that a really motivational atmosphere to be a part of.
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?
Not going with my gut. I’ve taken jobs in the past because it feels like a logical step, despite being unsure whether it was really the right environment or team for me.
I’ve learned to trust my instincts more now. When I had the interview at Tyk, the job sounded great and the company sounded great, but there was something more – it just felt right too.
Working in the wrong role can lead to you losing confidence in yourself. Tyk is a very positive environment. I’m loving being able to develop my confidence while also developing professionally.
What are your favourite books and/or podcasts?
The Lord of the Rings has to be my favourite book. Well, trilogy. It’s fantastic and I’ve read it many times over the years.
In terms of podcasts, I love Social Minds – it’s a podcast that focuses on the psychology behind social media marketing. It’s great for professional development but also just fascinating. It’s a topic that’s constantly growing and it’s interesting to see where that growth takes us.
When you’re not working, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I enjoy exercise, films, reading, spending time with my family – all the usual things! Tyk is really flexible so you can balance your life and work really easily. The older I get (and the less free time I have), the more important that becomes!
Interested in being part of the Tyk team? We’re hiring! Take a look at our current vacancies. Still not quite sure? Keep checking back for more of our meet the team series.