Techiya Brukner - programmer in the integration team

A short time before the coronavirus sent us to work from home, we managed to sit with Techiya for a short conversation in our offices.
After two weeks of “remote”, we’ve talked to her again, to see how she’s handling the situation. 

Her name: Techiya Brukner
Position: a programmer on the Structured Data team
Something you should know about her: 
she is 31 years old, a mother of four and has been on eBay for 9 months

What do you do in eBay?
I am a programmer in the integration team. We are responsible for receiving external data, processing it and making it accessible to other eBay systems, in order to improve and optimize the user experience. We take data that is sent by data providers or received from Machine Learning processes. We process the data and insert it into eBay systems. For example, merging two identical products into one entity, or deleting a specific item from a product it shouldn’t appear on. We are trying to make things happen automatically and in a reasonable time. The purpose of this entire process is to improve the user’s experience on the website.

How did you get to work in eBay?
I am a religious woman. I grew up in Jerusalem, in a community that isn’t very familiar with the high-tech industry. I knew about programming from mothers of friends of mine, who worked in the government. In high school, I was encouraged by my teacher and decided to get a degree in computers. I knew I was going to love it and that it’s highly likely I can find a job in the field. I studied software engineering. While studying, I got married and had my first child. I admit, when I started working, I knew very little about the high-tech arena.

At first, I worked in a small startup company. After it was bought by a big corporation, I started learning more about working for big, international companies. A friend of the family recommended eBay. I wanted to work in a place that will allow me to learn new things and experience new technologies. I realized eBay is very open to new technology and new ideas. It’s not a startup, but the flexibility is great, and we keep learning and adjusting to new developments. More than that, I discovered a bunch of wonderful people and a great atmosphere. It’s more important to me than technology. Working around people who care, and they are not just about the technical side of work, makes coming to the office feel great. I enjoy taking and giving advice to colleagues, and I have a lot of motivation to work and perform my tasks to the best of my abilities.

What challenges you on the job?
The challenge is mostly about our huge amounts of data. Unlike other ecommerce sites, eBay allows its sellers a lot of flexibility when they list products. It’s a great advantage for the users, but it creates big challenges of constantly changing data. We are required to create software that’s effective runtime-wise, and to monitor the data efficiently. At the same time, we’re dealing with data changes, that happen because of the system’s flexibility, and we need to maintain the system on a regular basis.

Why eBay?
First of all, I think eBay’s product is unique and important, and due to its flexibility and knowledge, it has  advantages no one else can provide.

As employees, we enjoy the organization and conduct of a big international company, but at the same time, it’s a dynamic company, that’s very open to changes and innovation. There’s a lot of investment into employee welfare, and I enjoy the best working conditions. For example, the kitchen allows for a variety of dietary needs, like vegan, celiac and more. Kosher certificates are provided for religious employees.

It’s 2020 and high-tech is still dominated by men.
I feel that I am well integrated into the high-tech world. I was always accepted the way I am. It’s a very enabling area of employment. I feel that interviews were always focused on my abilities and not about the fact that I am a woman or a mother. I think that being able to manage a career and a home helped the interviewers appreciate me more. Of course, we mostly needed to adjust the family structure. When the children were younger, my husband did the laundry and the dishes, while I was putting in more hours at work. It’s very different than the traditional family ways of my childhood. 

eBay offers a lot of consideration for family – from family events to gifts. During the holidays, when kids have vacations, I can bring them to work. The company designated rooms for them, so they can entertain themselves.

Generally speaking, eBay allows for a lot of creativity in order to balance work and home. It requires adjustments but has great advantages. I choose to start the day slightly later, in order to drop the kids off at school, and then I stay in the office till late in the afternoon or evening. Some women choose the opposite way – to each her own. Alongside the flexibility, we are committed to work and that can require a lot of hours. You need to love what you’re doing, and your family needs to lend a hand. My kids are proud of mommy’s job, I feel they are willing to ‘pay the price’ of the fact I am home late. Maybe they enjoy the benefits or maybe they just see I come home happy.

What’s your message to women who want to work in high-tech?
I think women in high-tech aren’t a rare phenomenon, and we shouldn’t focus on it too much. If you think it’s dominated by men, it’s not. There’s a lot of room for a “woman’s touch” in high-tech. However, and this is true for women and men alike, you need to love the business. You can’t survive this kind of work just for the money or the benefits. You need to be motivated and broadminded. You have to constantly think and be creative. There are lot of talent and lots of advancement opportunities in this business, so women can do what they really love.

We had a short Zoom session with Techiya, to ask how is she dealing with the coronavirus crisis.
It’s not so bad, We are actually used to working from home from time to time, even though it’s not the most convenient option. 

We had to reorganize the house and the family because both me and my husband are working from home now, and the kids are with us. We have a schedule that makes clear when I am working and what the kids are doing at the same time. We have designated computer time, prayer time, breakfast time and so on – things they usually do at school. We have lunch together, which is a new experience and very enjoyable.

Alongside the pleasure of spending more time with the family, it is indeed a challenge. I spend a lot of my day on Zoom meetings. Our team has a meeting every morning, in order to synchronize and start the day. After that, we have different meetings which can be very long and a lot of independent work – all of it in order to deliver and meet our objectives. At the same time, I need to be present at home – to stop fights among the kids, to prepare food and to come up with creative ideas on how to keep the kids busy.

The company is great to us during the current crisis. At first, when we still were at the office, there were lots of signs about hand washing and hygiene, like sanitizing gel, gloves and tongs to pick up cookies. I felt eBay is very concerned for us. We were sent to work from home very quickly, and I feel like we are being taken care of. After we started working from home, eBay Israel’s CEO and all of the employees met on Zoom, in order to share, update and encourage each other. Also, eBay delivered treats to our homes, which was great for me and the family.

Thanks Techiya! We are glad to have you with us, keep up the good work (at home, too).