”There are two things that I like the most about Webbing: the people and the technologies”
Anete Prancāne, VAS manager at Webbing, talks about childhood dreams evolving into passion for technology, how she managed to reach Antarctica and why her work at Webbing is still interesting after 4 years at the company.
I knew my future was in telecommunications
I am originally from the small Latvian town of Tukums, but I’ve been living in Riga since my teens, so I can say I’m from Riga. When I was a kid, I wanted to be an astronaut. And when I was about 10 or 11, amateur radio became a hobby of mine. I was growing up in the 90s, mobile phones and the internet weren’t the thing yet, and amateur radio may seem an ancient kind of thing now, but back then it was so much fun. We had a club station back in our school, led by our physics teacher, and we actually participated in one- or two-day championships, working as a team 24 hours a day in shifts, trying to do as many radio transmissions as we could to collect points. I think my furthest radio transmission was during one of those competitions at night – with Antarctica! I talked to some expedition, and it was a real achievement. I got a lot of points for it.
That hobby kicked me off into the world of technology and communications. I completely fell in love with amateur radio, and with the understanding that there is a whole world of radio, technology, transmissions and everything, my dream of being an astronaut evolved. I started thinking I could work for NASA one day. I wanted to be the person who sits in the big room when they launch rockets and do the communications between space and Earth, that was my childhood dream. And to this day astronauts and space are still a big interest of mine.
So, after elementary school I knew for sure what I wanted to do in terms of education. I went to study in a sort of a college – a professional high-school of telecommunications. It took me six and a half years to get a technical degree in telecommunications that equals a bachelor’s degree.
I joined Webbing because it inspires me
I started working during the last half year in college, and my first experience was a job at the information center of the Ministry of Interior of Latvia. I was the first line support for all kinds of technical issues: it could be radio for the border guard, databases or various systems of the police, some emergency services, you name it. I stayed with them for about 5 years, and it was interesting, it gave me insight into the things our men and women of duty have to deal with. Naturally you don’t get that knowledge anywhere else.
Then I left to work for an IoT division of an international telecommunication company in Latvia. I started there as a customer support representative, and within 6 months was transferred to the technical support department, since I had experience and a degree in telecommunications. I worked there for two and a half years. When they created their own NOC, I became a team lead in it and worked together with the team’s manager to hire and train people and also support customers. After that I went to work with the service operations team, which was kind of a second line technical support with the NOC team, as a more advanced technician.
And then 4 years ago I got an offer to join Webbing from Noam Lando, Webbing’s CEO and co-founder. I felt like it was time to move on, and so the offer came at the right time, but it also was important that Noam is an insanely inspiring person. He told me about his ideas, where he wants Webbing to go and what technologies they were working on. To be honest, after that conversation I realized that I haven’t felt so inspired about what I’m doing and about technologies in general for quite a while. I felt his vision aligned with me a bit better than the one of the company I was working for, so I decided to make a change, even though it was a big challenge.
Webbing is not like other companies
I joined the company four years ago and I still feel that Webbing is not like other companies. I think it’s the internal culture, which is different from my previous experience. We started in a smaller setting, and since day one I never felt the hierarchy. I guess that’s because of the people that we hire, everyone is super open and approachable and eager to help. It’s a huge thing and quite different from other workplaces.
Then, of course, the technologies themselves are interesting for me. Webbing is developing, expanding, and doing new things, it keeps the job interesting. Other companies may have their service offering but they don’t chase something new, they go with “it’s fine as it is”. What I like about Webbing is we haven’t stopped improving.
During my time at Webbing the company has changed as well. It is growing, and there’s everything that comes with growth: bigger teams, expanding customer base and product offering, new demands and challenges. There are new added services, and there’s another thing I like about Webbing: our management doesn’t usually do things that are not necessary for customers, so all our work, technologies and procedures naturally grow around the services that customers really need and benefit from.
What motivates me the most is the work itself and the people, the whole environment. Naturally, we all have to eat, so the salary is great, but the biggest thing for me is that I still like what I do, I haven’t gotten bored these 4 years.
How Webbing has changed me
I learned a lot at Webbing. As for the formal training, we were provided access to an online learning platform where we can expand our knowledge on telecommunications theory, how different technologies in cellular networks work. It’s a good learning tool that helps you refresh your knowledge and learn about the new technologies, like VoLTE, 5G, and so on, because some technologies weren’t there yet when I was studying.
There are also the technologies that we’re developing in-house, which you can’t really learn anywhere else. WebbingCTRL was new for me, I had to look into the specifications, on what it’s based, how it works for us, how it’s integrated within our network and SIM cards, so I think a big part of the knowledge I gained here is directly work-related.
On top of that, I have learnt a lot about management, because for the first time in my life I officially became a manager when I joined Webbing. Initially, I had to follow up and learn from other managers in the company and ask about their experience. And this year the company provided a course in management, which helped me learn how to deal with people better, and improve this new skill.
Probably work at Webbing has changed me a bit. Work comes with a bit of stress for me in some cases, because if you like your job and you want to do it well, you’re naturally stressed about certain things. But I guess it’s easier at Webbing for me to work with people, not overreact or think twice before reacting, so I have become calmer.
Webbing is a fun place to work at
My work-life balance is much better now than when I started. Having just become a manager, I felt like being kind of a mom to the whole NOC team and kept working in my mind even after working hours, worrying about my team members and trying to be available for them on all shifts 24/7. It’s not that I was overworked or burnt-out in any way, if I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t do it, but after I changed positions and became a VAS manager, I have a smaller team and we all are more experienced, so I learnt to enjoy time for myself more.
In Latvia, for half the year we have bad weather, so one of my favorite pastimes is watching TV shows. I watch a lot of content. I also like to ride my bicycle when the weather is nice, meet my friends and just hang out. My sister lives in the countryside, I go there and help from time to time on the weekends, so I get to meet my family and spend time together. I am also very interested in the world of crypto, the whole internet culture, and ARGs, alternate reality games.
Webbing is a fun place to work at, for sure. The big part of that is the people: even the meetings between the team members are usually a lot of fun, and it’s nice when you can speak to colleagues light-heartedly, you don’t have to be super serious all the time. There are also events that are fun. They get everyone together, we have our happy hours, competitions, it’s very nice. There are two things that I like the most about Webbing, the people and the technologies we implement. Let me put it this way: it’s a great company to work at, and everyone who works here knows it. It’s no big secret.