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Overcoming Imposter Syndrome at Treasure Data

Tyler is a software engineer at Treasure Data working on their Data Clean Room product. He talks about how Treasure Data supports their team’s learning and growth, and how they invest in the quality and performance of their services.

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Tyler Welsh

Tyler was studying computer science when he had the chance to do an internship in Japan through his university, and he fell in love with day-to-day life here. In 2016, after graduating, Tyler moved to Tokyo. He worked as an English teacher for the first couple of years, then at a couple of tech companies, before becoming a software engineer at Treasure Data in 2022.

I made sure I came here with an actual plan, my initial goal was to teach English while studying Japanese and brushing up on my programming skills.

Treasure Data is an enterprise Customer Data Platform (CDP) that helps companies unify and query their customer data, allowing them to gain insights and deliver connected customer experiences that drive efficient growth. Tyler is currently working as a backend Ruby on Rails developer on the Data Clean Room, a service which aims to leverage vast amounts of advertising data from Yahoo! and LINE and use it to gain deeper customer insight.

Tyler said, “It’s a very big project with a lot of different teams working together. It’s not just about making it easier to work with the data, but also, privacy and security are very, very big concerns. So the whole thing with the Data Clean Room is cleaning the data. We don’t actually see any of the data, we have these datasets that are pointing to all this different data and we magically combine them together.”

While Treasure Data does have large, global teams with members from America, Canada and the UK, Tyler’s team is on the smaller side with all members based in Japan. Aside from him the team consists of a team manager and a senior developer. The small size gives them a lot of flexibility in how they work; for example, they started with daily stand ups but have now moved to just one main meeting a week. Despite the magnitude and importance of the project, Tyler said, “I don’t feel overwhelmed at all. It’s very well managed. We’ve never had to crunch. Our manager will talk to product, and product will talk to the customers, it’s all very developer focused.”

Me and the senior dev have had full direction in how we build the app. We have a process to make sure everything we’re implementing is okay and passes all the requirements and tests.

It’s not just about new features, Treasure Data invests heavily in the code quality of their entire code base, with maintenance time specifically scheduled in. Tyler said, “Being a CDP, performance is very important, so people do go back and try to do performance enhancements and refactorings. There’s plenty of drive and initiative in the company to do cleanup work. Specifically for my team, we keep track of what we need to refactor, and in our quarterly schedule we’re given a percentage of our time to do improvements.”

Before joining Treasure Data, Tyler was the backend tech lead at a fintech start up, and felt it was time to look for a new challenge. He said, “I had only worked in Ruby on Rails for two years, and I felt I’d learnt what I could from those around me. There was a lot I still wanted to learn. So that’s where I went back to TokyoDev. I signed up to the monthly newsletters, saw Treasure Data was listing quite a few openings and applied.”

I was honestly very intimidated, there are a lot of smart people here. Personally that was the most difficult challenge, getting over that imposter syndrome

Treasure Data has been the type of environment that Tyler had been looking for. They are very committed to supporting employee learning and growth. He said, “The company allows us to take the time and money we need to enroll in courses and attend conferences. My manager specifically says ‘Hey, this quarter you can take this many hours to study what you want.’ There’s a ‘How everyone is using the education budget?’ page as well, people will list things like ‘I bought this book’, ‘I did this course’, and whenever anyone gets a new certificate, there’s an announcement. People use it for language studies too.”

Tyler said, “Being here has been a good opportunity. I’ve learned so much from the people around me in the past year. I think I’m finally feeling more comfortable aiming for that senior role soon.”

There are plenty of opportunities to grow or evolve your career within Treasure Data. Tyler said, “There’s people who’ve worked here for seven, nine years, who just love it and keep working here. You can go anywhere from developer, senior, principal, manager, team lead, CTO. Like, I recently worked with the site reliability team, learning how to use Kubernetes to deploy and maintain our services, and it was so fun I’ve been thinking about going the route of infrastructure and site reliability.”

The steps to get promoted are 100% clear. You can review the rubric and talk to your manager anytime. It isn’t like, “Can I please be promoted?” and then you wait and see, but more like “You want a promotion? Do this and this, show proof you’re up to it.”

Tyler has been impressed by open culture and communication at Treasure Data. He said, “The company is very transparent. I’ve been able to speak my mind about different things. No problem. My Manager 100% listens to me. And I don’t feel separated from top management. Despite now being a larger company, there’s still that culture. We can schedule one-on-ones with any other employee whenever we need.”

To help their wider team connect with each other, Treasure Data hosts a variety of regular events, from outdoor activities, to engineering curriculum sessions where the team can share learnings and achievements, to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) events. These are frequently suggested or driven by employees, with HR supporting them as needed. Tyler said, “Just this week we had a Hanami event. Last month the American office had a strawberry jam making event. Our company also has a very strong commitment to DEIB. We have a very open and diverse community that often organizes events like Black History Month events, LGBTQ+ events, weekly lunch events, etc.”

My team is so small, when I first joined I felt very isolated. But then as time went by and we started going back to the office more and more, it has been very nice to go to events, meet all the other people, and learn from them.

Treasure Data also invests in their employees’ health and wellbeing, providing them with various forms of leave and opportunities to speak up if they need help. Tyler said, “Just this month there was an email for a stress check. We also have mental health days off. We have normal days off, then sick leave, then mental health, then volunteer days, then floating days for random things, it’s all properly segregated.”

Tyler really appreciates the working environment and team at Treasure Data, and encourages other engineers to join the company. He said, “Honestly, the most fun I’ve had at Treasure Data has been the culture and the people and the learning. But I have no complaints about the day-to-day job either. You’re properly compensated for your time and skills, I have Japanese 401k matching. Plus the education budget. It’s just a great chance to learn and grow, on your own terms and have an impact.”

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