“I want to be the one that creates”
Avishai Roitelman, R&D Team Leader at Webbing, explains how he fell in love with programming, what’s good about playing in a metal band, how his love for the city he lives in got him into Webbing and why the company has a good vibe.
How I fell in love with programming
I was born in the Southern Israel city Mitzpe Ramon, located in the Negev desert. My parents moved a lot. We finally settled down in Petach Tikvah when I was a teenager, I’ve been living here ever since. I love this place and will do my best to stay. This city plays a major role in my story.
In high school, my major was biology and chemistry. It was interesting, but it wasn’t for me. I took advantage of an opportunity to learn practical engineering for two years, which was cool, but all I liked about electronics was programming. So, I decided I would continue studying software engineering.
Before I started, I went to a party where a friend told me his father was about to start a hi-tech company and asked me if I wanted an interview. I worked there for two years and fell in love with programming. I worked a lot, it was amazing. At the same time, I also studied software engineering, but I gave up after two years because it was very difficult to study while holding down a full-time job. Besides, all I wanted to do was programming.
Shortly after I worked for another company for 4 years, developing a marketing automation system. The company was located in Rehovot, about 30 kilometers from my home, so eventually I moved to Rehovot and lived there for a year. But for some reason I couldn’t really connect with the city.
I moved back to Petah Tikvah hoping I could work somewhere closer to home and that’s how I found Webbing. At first, it wasn’t clear to me what a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) is, it took me some time to obtain enough information and learn how it works. That’s what got me interested. After my initial interview I saw the opportunities that await at Webbing, from utilizing new technologies, involvement in a lot of projects, and building things from scratch to self development.
And then the strangest thing happened. I was sure it was a prank: after I resigned from my job, Avichai Yungrais, who worked with me at the time, said “oh wow!” when he heard about Webbing. Having just spent some time and effort learning about MVNOs and knowing Webbing wasn’t a household brand name in Israel, I wondered how he knew them. A few weeks later I learned that he was going to work at Webbing as well. It was a very pleasant surprise, because we had been working closely together for 3.5 years and were really good friends.
It was amazing to start working at Webbing: everyone was so nice and everything was so cool. I thought it was very strange that everyone is so happy and not stressed out at all. My previous work experience was different, everyone was usually stressed. I came to realize that Webbing works hard to create that happy culture. It was a positive change. I’ve been here for two years now, and I still feel the same way about it.
Opening up my mind
When I started, there was only one development team. But within a few months, it expanded and I became a team lead responsible for setting up a whole new team. I had to recruit people, conduct interviews and manage a team of three full-time developers – which was a new challenge for me. I also gained responsibilities in many projects – but I guess that has more to do with my professional abilities rather than my title.
I think I’ve always been improving my theoretical and practical skills as a programmer, but my biggest challenge was to manage other people. You have to know them, understand them, know the right time to say something. At Webbing I learned, and I continue to learn, how to communicate with people in other departments as well as my team. I want us all to feel that we are succeeding. We had a leadership course for mid-level managers that opened up my mind. It made me aware that there’s another side to being a manager. Now I have a better understanding of my role and the tools to help me navigate the challenges that come with it that I think will stick with me.
Programming is my… hobby
I really like to create stuff. It doesn’t necessarily have to be programming, although I think that programming is the most interesting and the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. I want to be the one that creates, and the more people use the things that I create, the better I feel. That’s what brings me satisfaction.
When I’m home on vacation, I buy wood and do carpentry – an epoxy lamp, a table, or something like that.
I play a bit of piano and guitar, it keeps me alive and motivates me. I used to play in a band when I was younger, about 10 years ago. It was a metal band, a very heavy one. I guess it’s not for everyone, but I loved it, and the musicians that played with me were amazing. I also collect vinyl records. I have about 70 so far, the last one I bought was Black Pumas – they’re very good.
Programming is also my hobby. I mean it’s my job, but every once in a while I like trying something new just for fun, like once I built an app for someone’s birthday.
They say the happiest people in the world are the ones that do what they love for a living. Well, I can say that’s true in my case.
Webbing’s good vibe
I like the people at work. In my two years at Webbing, I still haven’t found a single person I couldn’t learn from. It’s always interesting to talk about something that people love doing, their hobbies or work. Their professional methods can be very interesting too. When I first came here, they asked me what the most important thing for me in a new job was. I said it was meeting nice people. The people we work with affect what we do during the day and even after we go home – for it depends on them if we want to get up in the morning and go to work. So even though I love doing what I do, if there weren’t any nice people here, I wouldn’t run here in the morning.
What is also important for me is there’s no stress at work. Even when you need to meet your due dates, there’s no stress, it’s a good vibe. The other thing is the ability to evolve. Not only can we use very advanced technologies in our work, even if they’re expensive, but we also have a budget for personal development to allow employees to explore, educate themselves and become experts in their field.
I love the tournaments and happy hours that we have, when we get to get out from behind our desks and spend time together, or hanging out with team members from abroad when they come to visit. It’s fun to get to know each other, forget for a minute about work, play ping-pong or air hockey. This year I won the air-hockey championship, I enjoyed every game and was really surprised because I won it for the second time in a row. Now I have two cups and I can’t wait for the next tournament.
If someone asked me to describe my work at Webbing in three words, they would be “creative”, “motivating”, and “innovative”. And I would add another, it’s “courageous” – to evolve so much in a short time one must have courage. And Webbing sure does.