Welcome back to our new employee spotlight series, where we highlight members of the Tonkean squad who exemplify the unique spirit of our company. This week, we’re spotlighting Afik Udi, our Senior Manager of Infrastructure and Production.
Afik is the consummate Tonkeanite. We mean that in more ways than one. He was Tonkean’s first engineering hire and has played a huge role in helping make Tonkean what it is today. In fact, several of Tonkean’s most signifying elements (the resilience of its infrastructure, the versatility of the platform) are reflections of Afik Udi. Of course, they’re reflections of Afik’s engineering abilities, but they’re also reflections of his personality — which, as evidenced by his tenure in the Israeli military and his time as a running back in the Israeli Football League, is every bit as dynamic and varied as Tonkean’s technological capacity.
In short, if you want to understand the Tonkean ethos, look no further than Afik Udi, with whom we sat down for a quick chat last week.
Tonkean: Okay, so, what brought you to Tonkean?
Afik Udi: “After I retired from the Israeli Military Intelligence, I lined up an interview for a job with a company called OfficeSync, which had just been acquired by Jive, which is where
[Tonkean’s co-founder] was working. Sagi interviewed me, in fact. I remember knowing right then that I wanted to work for this guy, but unfortunately I was a bit too junior. I ended up working as a consultant for a few years before interviewing with Sagi again for a different position at Jive. I got the job, and ended up working on Talmor’s team [Talmor is Tonkean’s other co-founder]. I learned more from Talmor than I ever could have hoped for. Eventually Sagi and Talmor left Jive to start Tonkean, and when a year or so later they asked me to come on as their first engineer, I knew it was an opportunity I couldn’t afford to pass up, so I said yes on the spot, and hopped on a plane for the US later that day.”
T: What does an average day look like for you at Tonkean now?
A: “An average day usually starts with a sync with everyone on the R&D teams to see if there are any burning infrastructure issues that need to be solved. After that, I’ll probably be looking for new technologies to leverage in supercharging Tonkean’s platform, helping out in designing new features, and of course making sure our production environments are built to scale and maintain the highest level of security for our customers.”
“I said yes on the spot, and hopped on a plane for the US later that day.”
T: Which Tonkean Core Value do you identify with most? Why?
A: “‘There is always a way.’ As a software developer, the most interesting and fun part of the job is finding the solution to a problem. It can be something small or it can be something big, but there’s nothing more satisfying than beating the odds and making the impossible possible.”
T: What in your mind sets Tonkean apart?
A: “Tonkean was always focused on putting people first. We always knew that data could never be enough on its own to help companies become truly efficient and effective; you have to use data and technology to supplement people. In our mind, putting people first in this manner is a necessity rather than just a cool feature. And so we built the whole platform with this in mind: to make people’s lives better; the make things like automation technology work for people, rather than making people work for the technology — which I’m not sure anyone else has so purposefully set out to do.”
T: Tell us about the Tonkean engineering team.
A: “The engineering team is composed of great people who are all totally aligned in our mission. Nobody brings their egos with them to the office (or the virtual office). Everyone arrives fresh each day with ideas and solutions they’ve cooked up over night. So there’s just this really vivacious energy that guides our work during the day, but it also spills over into lots of laughs and fun. Before COVID, for example, we all worked in a big open space and someone would always hook up their Spotify to the speaker, and we’d play songs and jam out. If we’re in a particularly good mood, we’ll try singing ‘in harmony,’ and we’re even occasionally effective. More generally, we’re all friends. Before we all started working from home, the engineering team would take a break together almost every day and go grab lunch as a group. Our team is based in Israel, and so we do a lot of celebrating with food here.”
T: What are you most proud of building?
A: “I’ve been here since the beginning, and so the infrastructure is sort of my baby. Ensuring that everything runs smoothly even when we’re hit with high loads makes my heart tick.”
“Our team is based in Israel, and so we do a lot of celebrating with food.”
T: How has Tonkean supported your career growth?
A: “Among other things, Tonkean is super accommodating when it comes to being a dad. Since my daughter was born, I’ve been able to be with her daily and set aside free time to spend with her — even in the early days, when Tonkean was going through all the growing pains of young startups. Also, I’ve been given freedom here professionally to learn and experiment with new technologies, which has helped me grow as a developer.”
T: What do you most like to do outside of work?
A: “I used to play running back in the Israeli Football League*, but now that I’m retired from professional sports, I mostly compete in dog frisbee with my overly sweet pitbull, Soya, and sing kiddie songs with my daughter, Hof (or Shore, in Hebrew).”
* Afik wouldn’t include this officially, but we have to note here that Afik won two championship trophies as a professional football player, which we think is pretty cool.