Behind the Scenes: Women in Tech with Kata O'Brien

At Bitrise, we enable customers to deliver mobile experiences to billions of devices every day. There are fantastic folks here making that possible, and in our Behind the Scenes series, you can get to know them too.

This time, we are chatting with Kata O’Brien, Technical Support Representative - Operational Lead in the US.

Can you share a little bit about yourself?

Is it just me or does anyone else feel like this is the hardest question to answer? In order to answer this, I actually took a personality test. Turns out I’m a “people pleaser”. I guess I could say that comes as a surprise but..that’d be a lie. Jokes aside, I grew up in Hungary and studied Communications and International Relations in college. I always had a passion for writing and problem-solving, plus I always loved helping people. I was one of those kids who was interested in everything but nothing at the same time. I wasn’t able to pick just one thing and I’m sure some of you can relate. This somehow led to an amazing job opportunity at a Hungarian startup (Prezi) and I began my journey as a customer support representative 6 years ago. Then 2 years ago, with Bitrise, I actually relocated to the US and now I support our users from the East Coast. 

In my free time I mostly hang out with my husband and our adorable pup. I love going for long walks and lately I’ve found cooking to be my new passion. If you knew me 2 years ago (when I didn’t know how to cook pasta) you’d know how big this is. I wish I could say I work out 5 times a week but if you checked the screen time data on my phone and saw how much time I spend on Instagram, you’d know I’m lying. I also turned 30 this year. Highly recommend it, 10/10 experience. (Just kidding.)

Did you always know that working in technology was what you wanted to do? How did you decide to go into engineering/tech?

Kind of! I didn’t study anything technology related (or to be specific, I didn’t study engineering) but there are photos of me and my brother playing video games already at the age of 4 or 5. The same brother also got sick of me always using his computer so he actually built my first PC when I was 12. Pretty cool brother, huh? I think unintentionally, trying to save his own nerves, he put me on this path and exposed me to the world of tech. He was always very interested so I had him as a mentor over the years. When it was time to find a job I knew I wanted to work in tech because it was something I loved, but I also wanted to work with people. I found a job listing for a customer support representative role and I went for it. I don’t think anyone ever wakes up thinking “I’ll be a support agent when I grow up!” but it was somehow the perfect combination of what I was looking for: tech + people + problem solving. Customer service as a whole immediately became my passion and while doing tech support satisfied my nerdy side, talking to people all day kept me happy because I’m a social person and interactions recharge me.

What is it like to be a woman working in technology for you?

I think I’m one of the lucky ones because over the years I had the most supportive male and female co-workers one could ask for. I know this is not the case for a lot of people which is absolutely heart-breaking. To be honest, I work with engineers but I am not one. While I am close to the fire, my team does not consist of engineers only so you’re more likely to find women on my team. Another thing that may have helped me was that both companies I worked for encouraged people to speak up, share their ideas, concerns around the company, the product, or anything really. I feel very lucky that I always felt like I could speak my mind and not be judged, regardless of my gender. 

Do you notice a lack of women in technology? If so, why do you think that’s the case?

Definitely! I believe the problem probably starts at school so tackling this will require bigger and deeper changes. You can’t hire more women if there are no women picking this as their field of interest. I think how we talk about tech and how we associate it with “coding” can cause some women to overlook the opportunities available in tech. There are so many other roles that don’t fall under Engineering but are just as important. There are many opportunities within an organization but I don’t think it’s clear what those are for many women. 

What’s your role at Bitrise? What do you do on a typical day?

I am part of the North American support team and I am a technical support representative plus an operational lead. Doesn’t that sound like a fun combination? 

50% of the time I make sure our customers stay happy and mostly help them resolve issues with their builds, code signing, and other technical issues. The other 50% is spent on ensuring that our organizational processes are effectively carried out on a day-to-day basis. I make things run smoothly and I am passionate about finding a solution for every problem we encounter. I love processes and work to ensure that things happen the right way so that our team feels enabled to tackle any issue that might arise.

Why did you choose to work at Bitrise, how did it turn out?

After my first gig ended I was looking for a cool company with a great mission. I joined Bitrise 2 years ago and at the time, it was still a small startup. I was looking for that good startup vibe and I wanted to be part of a Hungarian success story and help the company reach that goal. I am happy to say we are not a small startup anymore and we are definitely a success story! 

What challenges do you have the most at work?

Luckily, I love challenges. I think this is pretty normal for a company that’s growing at this scale, but a challenge that we have is to keep the focus while we grow. Sometimes a lot of things happen at the same time and you need to juggle a lot to make it work. It’s all about prioritization and remembering what the end goal is. It also helps to have an amazing team backing you up when you need some support, which I have.

What learning/growth opportunities have impacted you most?

When I joined my first ever workplace, I started at the bottom. I was a part-time employee without the cool company benefits. I worked an evening shift from 3 pm-11 pm while doing school in the morning. I was doing phone support and not everyone was always nice. I was barely making anything. But I recognized the growth opportunities and I pushed through. I knew that if I did my best I would be recognized and I was. Before I knew it I was the senior/expert on the team and it was absolutely worth it. I think when you accept that the journey is more important than the destination, that’s when you grow the most. Don’t take shortcuts but do make mistakes. Believe that you can do it, but most importantly, believe others when they say they believe you can do it. One thing Bitrise does wonderfully is that they encourage you to make mistakes. This creates an environment where people are not afraid of failure, not afraid of owning those mistakes and will push them to find a better way. 

What do you think is the best part of working in the tech industry?

There is no typical day. You can plan your day as much as you want, then at 10 am you’ll realize that the priorities have shifted or there is an issue that needs immediate attention. You will always have new challenges and you will grow every day. It’s exhilarating and exhausting but it’s totally worth it!

What advice would you give to a woman considering a career in the tech industry? What do you wish you had known? 

Don’t be intimidated by how others describe this industry and research what opportunities it might hold for you. You’ll be surprised how many paths there are and what unique life experience you have will make you the best fit for the position. Speak your mind but treat everyone with respect. The best way to change it is from the inside. Join the ride and help shape the future of this industry!

Thanks so much to Kata for a great interview and a look into her life as a Technical Support Representative - Operational Lead at Bitrise. Want to work with Kata? Check out our current job openings here!

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