Meet the team – getting to know Yaara Letz, Partner Consulting Engineer
Tyk enables businesses around the globe to achieve their full potential. To do that, we rely on a staff team who are packed with potential of their own. It takes creativity, intelligence and kindness to walk the Tyk path. We work with individuals from around the world, each of whom contributes to Tyk’s success and thus to the success of our clients.
Today, we caught up with Yaara Letz, whose journey has brought her from Israel to London, along with a whole load of other travel destinations on the way. Yaara is a Partner Consulting Engineer at Tyk, so we trust her with our clients and our tech. Let’s find out why.
What do you do at Tyk?
I’m a Partner Consulting Engineer, which means I have a team of Consulting Engineers and together we manage all the technical-related communications that Tyk has with clients. I work closely with Tyk’s account managers and together we visit clients and potential clients across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). I cover everything: handling bugs, demos, workshops, PoCathon, deep dive discussions into the client’s use case, infrastructure and how to improve their setup. Any problems or issues that they have from a technical perspective, we’re here to help, before they are official clients and of course afterward.
Tyk has a remote-first policy. Where are you based?
I’m based in North London and work mainly from home. I’m not too far from the office but I tend to work from home to balance my work with being there for my three children. I like being around when they are back from school even though they know “mummy is working now.” I volunteer at their school as well. Working at Tyk means I have the flexibility to go on school trips and do things like that – it enables me to be there for my daughters, rather than working for a company where I don’t get home until 7.30 every single evening.
Do you travel a lot for your work?
Yes, absolutely, although the more people we have in the team, the less I travel. My role means I travel to clients here in the UK, in Paris and elsewhere around Europe. Last year I did a roadshow in Canada and went to Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto.
There was also one point when I visited Munich, Berlin, Stockholm and Paris to give talks, all in the space of about five weeks.
Where’s the best place you’ve travelled to as a result of working with Tyk?
The company retreat to Koh Samui in Thailand was pretty special – the whole company went there for our annual retreat last year. There were a few meetings with pretty famous huge companies (which I can’t disclose) but that was pretty awesome!
Tyk exists to help people make, create and build things better. Which particular user issue is important to you personally to fix?
I’m not sure that there’s a particular issue that I’m looking to fix, but I’m passionate about making B2B a better experience through being honest and genuine. I also love being able to speak to clients about innovations. We can speak engineer to engineer, which is satisfying.
I like that Tyk exists to make things better. We take a different approach to clients – we try to be better in the way that we act. We’re very honest and open with clients and try to help them. We give them access to engineers in a very early stage to speed up their assessment process.
From a technical perspective, I relate to Tyk’s vision of connecting systems, too. I’m a developer, so improving connections between systems in a programmatic way is something that I really enjoy doing.
Tell us a little about yourself. What’s your background? What brought you to Tyk?
I grew up in a small town in Israel. I wanted to be a lawyer when I was little – to solve people’s problems and fight injustice.
At uni I studied computer science and later on did an MBA majoring in finance. I was a C++ developer for the majority of my career but a couple of years ago I decided I needed a change. I must have pitched quite well to Tyk in my interview as at the time I didn’t have the specific experience they needed, although I had rich technical experience in my bag.
It’s been quite a change. I went from being a developer, sitting behind a screen and behind a team leader, to being on the front line of meeting clients and contributing to their journey with Tyk. I’ve been at Tyk since August 2017 and I’m still really enjoying it. I love being able to work with the clients directly, to help them with their queries and as a result figure out ways to improve our product for the rest of our clients.
My blend of technical experience and desire to understand and solve people’s problems works well for this role. I thrive on delivering a high-quality level of service. It’s an important part of my role.
What do you like about working at Tyk?
I love the flexible working hours. I work here, not because I have to but because it’s part of who I am and I enjoy doing it! I like being able to reshuffle my day to meet both the clients’ needs and my own. I can go to the gym during the day when it’s quiet as I don’t have to be at my desk 9-5.
What tips would you give to a new starter when it comes to working in a remote-first organisation?
I have a new joiner in my team and one of the things I repeatedly stressed was that we are not expected to answer emails or Slack messages the second they pop on our end. It’s an asynchronous communication approach. You’re not expected to be available 24/7 as we all work in a flexible way. You don’t have to be available for a fixed nine-hour window or record your working time. Tyk trusts its team and encourages us to own what we do and take responsibility. It’s an approach that suits me.
The second tip is remote-first equals self-discipline. If you want to be happy, productive and influential in such an organisation you need to be self-disciplined or upskill yourself into it (like most of us). Without self-discipline you won’t be able to focus on what matters.
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?
I’ve learned that if you have an issue at work, you need to raise it in a professional way in order to address it. Don’t keep it to yourself as it will only grow bigger! It’s not always easy – sometimes you have to be brave to talk about things, particularly when it’s with a senior colleague, but it’s always the right thing to do.
What are the values that drive you personally?
Honesty is really important to me. If I don’t know the answer to a question that a client asks, I say, “I don’t know – let me find out.” Working at Tyk sits well with my personal values from that perspective. We don’t make decisions purely based around clients opening their wallets and there’s no pressure to make a sale when we meet potential clients. As an ex-developer it’s important for me to find the optimal solution for the client’s use case.
We’re honest with potential clients and very approachable. We talk engineer to engineer – it’s not a sales approach. That approachability and openness applies within the company as well when colleagues talk to each other, no matter the seniority.
What are your three favourite books and/or podcasts?
My favourite podcast is Security Now by Twit.tv. It’s about anything and everything related to security. It’s been running for many years and it’s amazing – I highly recommend it. It’s hosted by Steve Gibson and Leo Laporte. Steve Gibson is the guy you want to learn from about security. I love it!
Many of my favourite books are in Hebrew, but one of my favourites in English is “The Lost: The Search for Six of Six Million” by Daniel Mendelsohn. It’s a really good book and has won several awards.
I had three candidates for my final choice but settled on a book of poems called “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran. I grew up on this book and used to quote from it a lot. It’s wonderful and fills your soul with joy – I couldn’t recommend it more!
Assuming that your three children actually leave you any spare time, what will we find you doing?
Cooking! I love to cook. I’m vegan so enjoy cooking vegan food and like to make animal-free recipes for my family. I love to bake as well.
When I’m out of the kitchen, I like to run (usually at night when my daughters are asleep). I find that it keeps my energy levels really high. I run when I can – I don’t put high expectations on myself in terms of how often I run. Even one run in a month is better than none! It’s hard for me to find time to run in the summer, but I don’t say that I’ve stopped running – I just go whenever I can.
Recently I also picked up crochet. I’m teaching myself, so the process is not so quick but I’ll get there and hopefully will soon be able to give my youngest my own amigurumi dancing dolly.