Interview with Julia “Yuli” Payul, Project Lead at WebCreek
The female talent in technology companies always has a different rhythm–even more so when it has to do with someone who arrived to the American continent nearly by accident. Come with me to learn the fascinating story of a Ukranian in the middle of the world, where some dots have been connected for Julia Payul. They trace the shape of a journey, the start of inner discovery.
Rafa: Tell me, how did you first hear about WebCreek?
Julia Payul: Oh, the truth is that it’s a funny story.
I was thinking to go live in Colombia. But I had a Ukrainian passport and needed a visa to enter Colombia. It cost $130, which was a lot of money. The citizenship for Ecuador cost only $150, so I thought, “well, why invest in a temporary visa of just one month, when I can be Ecuadorian and travel to Colombia whenever I want? That was the first time that I was going to Colombia, and I took the decision seriously to become an Ecuadorian citizen, due to its convenience. So I started to prepare: I went to my favorite café and, looking through Facebook, found Russian posts about information technology companies that were looking for quality control profiles and similar positions, technical writers, blah, blah, blah.
I had been working in this area since 2006, and by 2013 I was living full-time in Ecuador; so, basically, I have been working in technology since then. I set out to look at what options the labor market offered, and I discovered that I loved the environment here. It wasn’t anything stressful, at least not in IT.
So I contacted Vera (who speaks fluent Russian, at least not Russian from Google), and she sent me a greeting, “Hi friends, how are you?” –or something like that. I wasn’t spending my time looking for work; rather, I was getting my papers ready to go to Colombia. But Vera did an interview with me when I was living in Ecuador; I had already been in IT for 14 years. Vera asked me to send my CV, and I thought, “Okay, I’m not looking for work, but I want to try my luck in this fancy interview for a fancy IT company.”
I went through a week of tests, after which they offered me the position and I decided to accept it, even though I would receive citizenship within 2 weeks. I decided to accept the job for 3 months–”A little extra money is never bad,” I thought– and, look at me, I’m still here since 2017. For all that I desired to go to Colombia and, well, it’s an inside joke I have with Vera, that it’s her fault for having changed my life (laughs).
Rafa: Great, let’s see, so to get the whole idea, what did you do before joining WebCreek?
Julia Payul: Together with my ex-husband, I had and managed a hotel. During this time, I loved doing photography. I always loved working freelance, and I also gave classes in makeup art– something simple and chill, and at once creative. So, the hotel, photography, makeup, and occasional translations– that’s pretty much what I did.
Rafa: Yep, gotcha. Now, you told me this in a previous chat, but to get it in the full interview, tell me a bit about you position at WebCreek.
Julia Payul: About my current position, I’d say that I am Project Lead and Business Analyst. I do a variety of tasks here at WebCreek; my experience in IT before coming to Ecuador was very extensive. I could easily work in whatever position, but I specialized in administration and analysis. That’s how I came to the position that I currently hold.
Rafa: Okay, and how did you start your tech and digital career?
Julia Payul: Oh well, this is another funny story.
I should admit that various things in my life have happened by accident. I graduated from university with a degree in aerospace engineering, and a speciality in technical translation. During my last year, right when I was about to get my degree, a friend was working for an offshore IT company from the US. The company was just then looking for talent in human resources. They started to recruit people, above all, those who managed English. That’s when my friend told me, “This could be interesting to you.”
And suddenly, I was working in this area. Although it wasn’t my plan, mostly working before graduating, but work for this company was nice. And then, they offered me a position for talent recruiting; there were about 10 candidates in IT, or something like that. But I had other peers that worked in programming and other digital processing-related areas. One of these turned out to be my friend, and I said to myself, “Hey, Julia, you speak English and you understand all this IT stuff, why not try this job?” He told me that they were looking for a technical writer and I convinced myself to apply: “Why not?”, I thought. I was about to get my degree and although I deserved a break, I also felt that it was a good opportunity. So I started to work in that from 2006 until now.
Rafa: Great. The next question I have is a bit complex: why do you especially like Cuban music? I found a post of yours that says: “Timba is the superior phase of salsa,” according to Isaac Delgado. So, are you a “salsera”?
Julia Payul: Oh, yes, that’s another interesting story! And it’s actually linked to IT.
When I started to work as a technical writer, and I was there for just one week, I didn’t know what my coworkers really did. I had recently graduated and was living in a completely new environment. My coworkers from the tech area had a welcome party for me or something like that. And the project lead where I went to work was taking salsa classes. He was like a programming god or something, and I didn’t feel ready to converse with him, but they all had a special tradition: every time that we met with him, they looked up Youtube music and everyone started to dance, “ey, uhu, yeah!”
And suddenly, this tech leader grabbed me–I wasn’t expecting it, I was concentrated on my tasks. But he pulled me out to dance and told me, “Hey, do you know how to dance salsa?” I told him that “No, truthfully, but you’re the boss so I can’t say no.” (laughs). Then, he invited me to take dance classes with him, and the next day I was signed up and doing something outside of just work. That happened also in 2006, and I’ve danced ever since. Listening to all kinds of music, I’ve realized that that was what moved and drove me, and being surrounded by Cubans, I started to discover that environment. After a year, I had my own school, teaching other girls and practicing specifically Cuban dance. And, somehow, all my travels and vacations have dealt with Cuba. It’s one of my biggest passions in life: to dance, enjoy music, and salsa, in particular.
Rafa: Good. Now, why do you believe that “common sense isn’t so common.”? It’s a phrase that I found in your Facebook profile.
Julia Payul: Right, and well, although I try to tolerant it, it’s challenging to live in a different country, with a different perspective. And it’s not just that, it’s about people that think differently. For example, this about common sense: supposedly, it should generally exist, for the whole world, in a grand sense. But it’s not that way. From my perspective, people develop common sense according to their place of origin. Traveling this continent and around South America, getting to know people from many different countries, I’ve proven it to myself. In my daily life, I’m extremely rational– except when I dance salsa. But in coming here, I realized that it isn’t so easy to predict people’s reactions, given that common sense isn’t really as common as we think. And this saying–you know Maritza, right?
Rafa: Yes, one of our team members in Quito.
Julia: Well, her grandfather used to say it. And she told it to me, just when we were talking about how different we all are. Of course, it made a lot of sense to me. No one should take things as given, especially if you come from a different country. It’s food to know it, remember it, and have it present in your mind.
Rafa: I agree. And now, How could the trend to “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” apply in our company? What do you think?
Julia Payul: It’s a topic that has been interesting to me for the last year and a half. I’ve talked with my Russian teammates, about why we consume and about the topic of being conscious about it. Many times we consume simply because we buy stuff, but that’s not what makes you happy. And, let’s say, when you spend money and buy dresses, this is momentary happiness. Then, it disappears. True happiness doesn’t lie in buying things. From there is born the concept of reuse and recycle, trying to stop plastic contamination. It’s alarming how many resources are consumed daily. Not just here in Quito, Ecuador, but in all of South America. If we try to go in this direction of being conscious, we can considerably reduce consumption. I’ve seen so much plastic waste everywhere, and it’s something that’s impacted me. After my trip to Cuba, I discovered that the streets there “shine.” And it’s because I looked for and couldn’t find trash. That’s how I realized that this has to do with culture, conscious, and education among the people. That’s why I believe that things can change. And we should be responsible for everything that the industry and the market sells us.
Rafa: Thanks for answering. And about your trips, I’ve seen that write a lot. How did you learn, or what’s your inspiration? Do you have a favorite writer?
Julia Payul: Since elementary school, I’ve loved writing. My dream job was to be a writer– to write and write and write (laughs). And that’s how I’d spend my time: 8 hours a day in front of my laptop writing, although not always about things that I loved. And, well, my trips have inspired me, especially the most recent one that I took a few months ago. I decided to write about whatever crossed my mind; to write and travel is similar processes that I love. I do it to share with all the friends that I’ve made here in Ecuador, but also to the ones that I maintain in Ukraine, who I miss and who miss me, and with whom I want to share what I see. I want to expand their horizons like it’s happened to me as I’ve traveled the world. So, in writing about my journeys, I try to share my experiences with my people in Ukraine and talk to them from this common sense that–as we see–isn’t so common.
Rafa: What does it mean to you to have a pet? What would it mean to you if you could only have a robot or Artificial Intelligence as a company?
Julia Payul: Oh no, please, I have a different opinion about this! Artificial Intelligence is all good and well, but the truth is that it’s normally about some pragmatic use. For example, I go to Google looking for answers, and it’s obviously something I can’t otherwise find for myself. But in reality, I like having emotions–emotionally communicating, especially– and artificial intelligence doesn’t allow this. It’s artificial, come on. Not like what you can see in a cat’s eyes, or how when it purrs and circles around your knees– that’s what’s really important.
Rafa: Are you in agreement with this sentence: “You can take a gal out of her country, but you can’t take a country out of a gal.”? Tell me a bit more about your case, in particular.
Julia: Oh, just a few weeks ago, I realized that I’ve integrated really well into the Latino community, even well before moving to Ecuador. I have a group of some friends: 6 of us, 3 from Ukraine and 3 from South America, all moved here for different reasons and with husbands here on this continent. And chatting as women, we realized that there are many things here that we don’t totally understand– again returning to the topic of common sense. Well, many things make sense to us, but not to everyone here. So we say to ourselves, “Why, dammit?? Why is it like this?!” For example, for someone who hasn’t lived in South America, it would be difficult to understand the concept of “tomorrow,” when you have a meeting. For example, at 3 pm, and the other person arrives at 3:30 pm, without letting you know. I don’t understand why, if we agreed upon a certain time. And, well, at least let me know if you’re going to be late; because in my country if you’re late, it means a lack of respect. When I get together with my Slavic friends, I realize that it’s not just me. That’s how we are, and maybe they think we’re strange because of it.
Rafa: As you know, in my other interviews, I normally ask a random question. Especially for you, I’ve prepared this one: If WebCreek were a dance or Latin rhythm, which would it be and why?
Julia: Oh, just these days, Facebook reminded me about a post from a few years ago, maybe 3 or 4. When I was going in a taxi that had the radio turned on, suddenly a song played that was “techno-cumbia-tango and rock.” And it was an incredible and strange mix of all these genres, that I couldn’t decide if I loved or hated it. And, well, I think that WebCreek could be something like that. It’s totally new, and I can invoke new emotions and experiences. Mm, yes, something challenging and with new perspectives. It’s something that generates new things, and this is what happened with the techno-cumbia.
Rafa: Very good, Julia. Thanks very much for this interview. Is there anything else that you’d like to share with young readers of this interview?
Julia: Mmm, I guess that for someone young, what I’d like to say is that the most important to live in South America is to get outside the box. Don’t assume that the world functions how you’ve always imagined; it’s best to experience and discover that there’s much more out there waiting for you.
That’s how I got to know Julia a bit more, “Yuli,” as she’s lovingly called. And I could back up my initial impressions of working in a multicultural company at WebCreek. Here, every voice and opinion is important, and thanks to this interview series, we show the outside world what makes us unique: a stimulating rhythm that comes from inside, and which connects the dots.