Read Yoav Flam — Interim CTO at N26
A few days ago, we had the chance to sit and talk with Yoav, our Interim CTO, who recently moved into the new role. Get to know him better through our Q&A with him!
What has been your journey in tech so far?
I started working in tech in my early 20s as a Developer, doing System Engineering and backend development in C. It all started with Comverse, an Israeli company developing Value Added Services for Telco providers such as Voicemail, SMS, MMS, etc. I stayed there for about 12 years, I started as a junior developer and changed role every 2–3 years. Afterward, I joined a startup doing mobile navigation until we got shut down. This brought me again to work for a company working with Telco providers, where I took on a Product Management role, helping the company move from on-premise systems to cloud services. All of this in Israel.
Then I moved to Berlin and joined Here Technologies, where I had the opportunity to work in the Routing groups and expand later into the wider Navigation domain, where I was leading teams working on routing algorithms, routing online services, in-car navigation systems until arriving at N26 in June 2018.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced moving into your current role?
I officially moved into my current role recently. Every time you start a new job, no matter what the role is, there’s always a start-up period which is quite challenging. There are a lot of interfaces you weren’t aware of, you need to start supporting them, you also have to start looking into different company aspects and not just the ones you were used to before.
I can say that currently, the main challenge is to stabilize the email flow and the meeting calendar, but I think I’m gradually getting there! 😁
Talking about the bigger picture, I believe the big challenge is to build a structure which is enabling the tech organization to grow and better support the company needs while continuing to evolve our flexible, scalable and reliable technology stack.
Briefly describe your stack and workflow. E.g. the technologies and frameworks you use, how often you ship updates etc.
For our backend services, we are mainly using Java and Kotlin. Our architecture is microservices oriented, we continuously deploy our services to production, on average, more than a hundred times a week. Our app is built and available on iOS, Android and web.
What does your typical day look like? How do you interact with your team?
My day to day is not typical yet, due to onboarding into my new role.
Personally, I am a morning person, I usually get to the office around 08:30 to benefit for the first quiet hour of the day, answering emails, reviewing my day plans, etc. After that, I go into a series of meetings which lasts most of the day. As we are in a hyper-growth phase, I interview candidates every day, sometimes up to three interviews in one day.
The biggest part of my day, in the different meetings, is about communicating with people and teams. Making sure to share information that I have which can help them make better decisions in their role and trying to better understand their perspective on issues.
What’s the best and worst part of your job?
What I really like about my new role is to have a great opportunity to be involved and have an impact in strategic discussions and therefore have a better overall picture of things. This is great for two reasons: first, it allows me to get input that I can share with my team afterward and secondly, it makes me have a better understanding on the right things to push for.
Concerning the harder side of my job, there’s a lot of work to be done and it’s hard to prioritize what is the right thing to do at the given moment. I believe this is a struggle for all of us: there are always more things that need to be done, than the ones that can be done.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?
It is critical to make sure the organization can keep on going, the impact of not making a decision is higher in many cases than making a wrong one. Most decisions can be corrected, as a leader, your responsibility is not only making sure decisions are made but also following up, owning, acknowledging and correcting bad ones.
What is your most useful resource (book, blog, newsletter)?
I still use RSS, reading Slashdot, Motherboard, Techcrunch, and others. I have a lot of subscriptions to many feeds. I like the format since it gives me the opportunity to get exposed to many topics in a fast way and decide if I want to deep dive into something at a later time. It is a good way to get a broader picture of things. I think Twitter is a good resource, however, sometimes it can take the wrong direction and be limiting when for instance your feed gets “optimized” for some content provider and you get stuck in an info bubble. You need to constantly curate your feed in order to have relevant information and news.
What’s one thing you’d like to learn, develop or work on in 2019?
How to be a better CTO than I am today.