Behind The Scenes: Women in tech series with Kata Kéri

Kata Keri, Product Manager at Bitrise, tells us about her job, challenges, and what it is like to be a woman working in tech.

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 Kéri, Product Manager.

Can you share a little bit about yourself?

Of course, but it’s gonna be a bit of a mess. As a teen, I wanted to be everything. A vet, a fashion designer, then a doctor. I had two jobs during university, I worked at the zoo and in the cinemas. After getting my degree in Agricultural Engineering in Environmental Management I worked as a subtitler for years, and during this time I even worked as an artisan candy maker, because why not. So I guess I am a bit of everything. 

This ‘randomness’ applies to my private life too, somehow - I have several hobbies, and I like to try new things all the time. Recently I started to learn how to do illustrations. And rollerskating on retro skates. Great combination, right? Oh, I forgot squashing. And learning to drive (finally). And speaking French! 

But some things are constant in my life, my family, the love towards my dog and spending time with her, enthusiasm for any topic related to Harry Potter, and collecting fragrances.

If someone would come up with an idea of a Harry Potter-themed perfume for dogs, I would be the first in line to buy it.

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

Well, no. Life drifted me towards tech, and I don’t mind it at all. I didn’t even know tech was a ‘thing’ until I got here. I lived under a rock.

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

Not as lonely as it could be as an engineer, I suppose. As an Office Manager, it was fine. I felt like a mother hen and I didn’t mind that, it was an entirely different experience. I was the 15th to join the company, only 2 of us were women at that time, but needless to say every time we hired a woman, I was thrilled and said “Finally!”, because I knew it was a great thing that the proportion is changing. 

In the Product Team, I got to work with other supportive and experienced women, and even from other departments, so it’s great. 

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

Absolutely. I believe it’s because of the typical stereotype of what we experienced in school and at a young age, you tend to believe it. Boys do sports and are great at math, girls do arts and should be good in literature/anything but not math or anything related to computers. At least that’s what I experienced. And we rebelled against it, but then we were just ‘rebels’. Still no options for you if you are a girl who is great at math/sciences. Become a teacher, maybe.

And I’m proud to say that all of my best friends are working in tech now, and all of them changed their ways in their late 20’s. But we never imagined we would work in this industry, as it was not in sight as an option for us, not even in high school. Another thing is that ‘tech’ did not really exist at that time in this form in Hungary or it was a niche topic — it came around in 2013 for me, when I got my first smartphone and I started to use apps. But as I’m seeing this is completely different now, girls are aware that this is a thing and they are interested in it. And that’s super cool. 

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

I’m a Product Manager now. Since 2019. On a typical day, I’m writing User Journeys with famous fictional characters as protagonists to entertain others (and myself) while reading it. I’m crafting User Stories based on what’s on our roadmap. Present it to the engineers. Manage the backlog. Brainstorm with UX, Design, and Data. Collect stakeholder requests and concerns and align them with the technical implementation. Write guidelines. Check data dashboards. Pretending to be Sherlock and Watson with Fanni from Finance and investigate what could go wrong with payments and how we can fix it.

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

I was an Office Manager in a very small (5 ppl) company for a year or so, then I went back to university to have a master’s degree in Horticulture. Unfortunately, I had to leave my studies behind because of family reasons and after that, I needed to get a steady job in order to make ends meet. And this is where my story with Bitrise begins - I was hired as an Office Manager in 2017. Then in 2018, they offered a Junior Product Manager role to me, and after I gained some domain knowledge and the new Office Manager, Detti, took charge instead of me, I finally became one in 2019. So I would say it turned out great. 

What challenges do you have the most at work?

Since I don’t have a technical background, I tend to feel stupid when I don’t understand something that is obvious for the engineers. I struggle with this a lot, but luckily they are very helpful and explain everything to me when it’s needed. I just really can’t make a decision without filling in the missing pieces and until I understand everything, but that’s my perfectionism, which I need to let go a bit. 

Saying no to people is the other challenge. I’m a people pleaser and it’s really hard for me to do.

What learning/growth opportunities have impacted you most?

I’m an introvert, and I don’t like speaking in front of an audience, especially in English, but I had to, and it’s essential for this role. My Fitbit used to congratulate me after a presentation because it sensed my heartbeat the same way as it would do during an exercise. We set a goal with my manager, Linda, that I should present 8 times in a quarter to get comfortable with this situation, and it really helped. Now I’m just in the fat burn zone during a presentation, not in cardio or at my peak. :D

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

The challenges never end in the tech industry, there’s always a new thing to learn or work on, so you never get bored, that’s for sure. But what I enjoy the most is when those products that I use in my private life start to use Bitrise — this is a fantastic feeling because I feel that in a way I contributed to it. After all, that’s why we’re here: to increase the quality of the apps in the world! 

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

That there are many roles you can take in tech, and you can even change roles if you want to and you are determined enough. It’s not just programming. You can be a PM, an EM, a Tech Writer, a designer, the list is endless. And most likely there’s a role when you can make good use of all of your skills and bloom.

Thanks so much to Kata for a great interview and a look into her life as a product manager at Bitrise. Want to work with Kata? Check out our current job openings here.

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