At Tulip, our founding values include Diversity & Inclusion. The Women @ Tulip Committee is a grassroots internally organized team with the purpose of showcasing the careers of exceptional women internal and external to Tulip. As part of a mini-series, we will be releasing “in conversation” interviews with some of our top talent. The purpose of the series is to highlight their career journeys, celebrate diversity in many forms, and contribute to the dialogue in the tech ecosystem.
For our first feature, you’ll find Tulip in conversation with our very own Natalia Berdys, Tulip iOS Developer.
You started your career outside of Canada and have brought skills to your current role that are not common. What advice do you have for newcomers who are looking at tech roles?
Natalia: Transition to a new life in another country is a hard process – it’s tempting to start dwelling on your past and wanting to return to the comfort of your previous environment; my advice is to try to create a new home, go out, and take particular care of your social wellbeing. Toronto hosts many meetups and tech events. Be kind, be nice and try to talk to people, get involved in the community somehow, become a part of something larger – it really helps to establish a much-needed anchor in the new reality. Potential friends and referrals are lurking everywhere.
Speaking of unique transitions, your foray into tech and into your current role is a great story. Can you tell us about your journey and how you came to this role at Tulip?
Natalia: I’ve always had many interests that seemed tough to reconcile – I first fulfilled the romantic dream and obtained a Master’s degree in American Literature, and decided to take the programming route afterwards. I joined a post-graduate program in Mobile Engineering for existing Computer Science graduates, and without prior experience, still completed it as top in class. In the meantime, it occurred to me that Apple is that company at the long-coveted intersection of my interests (as Steve put it: “it is in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough—it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our heart sing”!), so I devoted my career to iOS development. I released my first iOS game in 2012, learning as I went, and continued to create, managing to hit the #1 App Store spot in its category in over 50 countries. After moving to Canada, I was looking for a company that shared my passion for Apple, and that’s where Tulip came in.
How did you hear about your role at Tulip and why did you decide to join?
Natalia: It was a recommendation through a friend I had met while getting to know the Toronto tech start-up scene. I did some research and found Tulip’s product impressively high-profile and at the forefront of the retail industry, I saw it as a great learning opportunity. I was also positively surprised by the number of women in executive positions at Tulip. Most importantly, however, I was looking for a company that not only values diversity, but can tangibly demonstrate it takes action on it. The job description was outstandingly inclusive, a gem among others – not threatening or demanding, but encouraging and welcoming, asking to apply even if you think you can’t tick all the boxes. The interview matched the tone of the ad, hitting the right notes with genuine interest and kindness. The rest is history.
Over the course of this past year, and as Tulip has completed implementations for more global retailers, there’s been a lot of planned changes in the Launch team. What are some learnings and takeaways from the last year that you’re hoping to apply to the year ahead?
Natalia: The changes benefit everyone – the team, the company, and the clients. Instead of being encased in a silo, there is now cooperation and ongoing knowledge-sharing among team members. We can all chip in and participate in common solutions, rather than reinvent the wheel. Everyone can work with more different flavors of the product, while bringing in more outlook – that’s really going to help with streamlining the processes and getting the big picture right.
Can you describe a typical day in your role at Tulip?
Natalia: My typical day starts with a scrum stand-up, sharing updates and issues, accelerating one another’s work with input – handy tips are often exchanged. I usually work on fixing defects, implementing changes or ensuring a smooth product version upgrade. In between tickets, meetings and code reviews, we enjoy a casual coffee break for conversations around app architecture or deep nerdy stuff.
What are some outside of work commitments or activities that you’ve taken on to address your need for balance?
Natalia: People have different creative ways of finding balance – recently, my personal outlet, however cliché it may sound, is Painting with Bob Ross videos, whose relaxed and ultra-kind demeanor brings me joy and inner peace. I also like to confront a harder day at a karaoke bar to get good energy flowing.
Where do you see yourself in your future career and what are you doing currently at work or outside of work to further your goals?
Natalia: I want to be in a position to help others – I see myself supporting other aspiring developers, especially underrepresented groups. I’m always looking for opportunities to do that. I’m a proud member of Women @ Tulip and the Diversity and Inclusion Committee – and we’re just getting started.