“There is always someone in the office who makes me smile”
Interview with one of the winners of The Kiwi of the Quarter competition, Klára Lounová
Every Quarter, we run a competition called ‘Kiwi of the Quarter’ which is our way of recognizing the achievements and contributions made by our dedicated employees. Our Test Engineer in the Booking Backend team, Klára Lounová won 2nd place for Q4 2020 and received her travel voucher. Klára loves to travel. Due to the pandemic, the situation allows only for local trips, but it still counts. We chatted with her to learn what this prize means to her.
Hey Klara, congratulations on winning second place in the Kiwi of the Quarter competition! It’s a big recognition! What does this prize mean to you?
Thank you! Well, the nomination came as a big surprise. On the list of nominees, there were people that I work closely with, who are very inspiring and dedicated to their job. So to be honest, I felt a bit pressured, it was just nice to see my work being recognized. We testers work a lot in the background and sometimes it might feel that our work is invisible to the broader audience. It felt great when people approached me afterwards with really kind words of support. This meant more to me than the number of votes, and has certainly motivated me.
What were your main achievements that brought about this award?
Because of the nature of the projects I work on, I need to cooperate a lot with people outside my core team. I am also helping with some management tasks on our projects, which is kinda outside my regular responsibilities. I always try to seize every opportunity that comes my way. I think that was one of the reasons. It shows that if someone wants to develop and learn some new skills, there is space for it at Kiwi.com.
How difficult was it to achieve all of that and not lose your motivation during this difficult time?
Working on disruption processing, we were very aware of what was happening from the very beginning back when only Wuhan was affected. I myself experienced being left stuck at the airport in Tenerife with uncertainty as to whether or not I would get back home. It was the weekend when the borders within Europe completely closed and there were hundreds of people stranded at the airport without any information at all. Even though I have a lot of experience with communicating with airlines, this was very stressful. Luckily, we got home with only one day delay, and secured one of the last flights operating to mainland Europe for some time.
Back at work, we needed to find a solution for minimizing missed disruptions, so our customers would be informed about the status of their flights and could get home. For several weeks I was managing the ruleset for flight emergencies. That meant incorporating new restrictions announced by airlines and countries into our tools and making sure that customers with affected itineraries were informed. In addition to this, the Kiwi.com Guarantee product was reworked twice within the year. I was asked to help with the coordination of the development of a new product which was a great challenge and outside the realm of my usual responsibilities. Many of us were working long hours and we all tried our best to deliver solutions in the shortest time frame possible.
What do you like most about your job?
I would have to say the people. Even on the toughest days, there is always someone who makes me smile and I am grateful that we can still, time to time, come to the office during these difficult times. I also like the fact that I continue moving forward and learning new things at Kiwi.com. That is thanks to the people around me who actually take the time and patience to pass on some of their skills.
Tell us briefly about your career journey at Kiwi.com?
I started in Kiwi.com over four years ago as a Booking Agent and transitioned to Booking Backend in June 2019. I often say that the transition was like starting in a new company because switching from Customer Support to the world of IT was a huge challenge. My journey wasn’t straightforward! I applied for a few different positions and got rejected with the same words “it is not your time yet”. I started to study and do online courses at my own pace. Luckily, it paid off and I am happy where I am right now.
What lessons have you learned along the way?
Kiwi.com was my first real job after I finished university.I needed to change my mindset a lot. While at the university, everyone is mostly responsible for their individual work. This does not apply here. I am working on product development and the lines of where my responsibilities end are very blurred. All achievements are the work of the team as well as the failures, which are usually set as examples of what could be done better next time. Considering this, I think that open communication is the key to everything. Also when I started in Engineering, I was given the advice “Anytime you are unsure or struggling, just ask for help”. It might sound trivial, but I really needed to hear this.
What does traveling mean for you?
I always wanted to explore the world and believe it or not the atlas was my favorite book since I was a child. I still remember how excited I was when I started as a booking agent. I was trying not to see simply the reservations but the stories behind them as well. For instance, I was booking flight tickets for four ladies in their sixties travelling from Europe to the Philippines. I was imagining what a trip it must be for them and wishing I was this adventurous with my own friends. My view has switched slightly since then as I don’t only see individual stories anymore. I have more insight into our business needs and how the travel industry operates in general. I still enjoy it all the same.
What is the most beautiful place you have visited so far?
Even though it is hard to choose one, there is one place that is very special to me. It is West Cork, a region in south-western Ireland. I was lucky enough to spend almost a year living there by the wild Atlantic Ocean. I adored the rugged coastal scenery and beautiful countryside. The people there are so very friendly and cherish their traditional culture. I just fell in love with Ireland and the love still lasts even eight years on.
And now, the most important question, do you know where you will use your Kiwi of the Quarter voucher?
I would love to know that myself. I have many plans, some of them are very down to earth while others are rather wild dreams at the moment. I guess I will need to wait and see in a couple of months what the situation will allow.
Interested in joining Kiwi.com and improving your leadership skills with us? Check our open positions!