Meshi Yona 0:00
Talk to as many people as you can try to get an advice from them. Listen, maybe to this post podcast as well, to hear different stories, different paths that people took in their life, and get as much as information as you can. To really understand what interests you what you're passionate about to create your own path.

Tim Bourguignon 0:25
Hello, and welcome to developer's journey, the podcast, bringing you the making of stories of successful software developers, to help you on your upcoming journey. I'm your host Tim Bourguignon. On this episode 244. I receive Meshi Jona. Meshi is a software development team leader with a background in cybersecurity. She currently works for a startup called Jit. She started her career in the Unit8200 of the IDF. That's the Israeli Defense Forces, where she spent four years in various positions, including leading a tech department of 16 soldiers. After her service, she started working as a cyber analyst, and then as a software engineer. Last but not least, she's an active volunteer in the Israeli high tech industry, working specially to promote women in technology. Meshi a warm welcome to DevJourney.

Meshi Yona 1:21
Hey, Tim, thank you for having me.

Tim Bourguignon 1:24
Oh, it's my pleasure. But before we come to your story, I want to thank the terrific listeners who support the show every month, you are keeping the DevJourney lights up. If you would like to join this fine crew, and help me spend more time on finding phenomenal guests then editing audio tracks, please go to our website, and click on the "Support Me on Patreon" button. Even the smallest contributions are giant steps toward a sustainable dev journey... journey! Thank you. And now back to today's guest. Meshi, as you know, the show exists to help listeners understand what used to really look like and imagine how to share the own future. So as is usual on the show, let's go back to your beginnings. Where would you place the start of your DevJourney?

Meshi Yona 2:14
Okay, so it's not that clear to me where my DevJourney started. I think it's a combination of events that happened to me. And decision. I mean, that brought me to this point where I'm leading software development team, I can say for sure that one of the main things that influenced me to become a developer was that I worked with software developers. And because of that I got it got me interested in programming. In high school, I didn't have computer science as a major so I wasn't really exposed to programming at a young age. But one of the main events that influenced me was joining the 8200 unit in the intelligence corpse of the Israeli Defense Force. So just to make make it clear, in Israel, it's it is mandatory to serving the army. Women must serve for two years and men for three years. And I extended my army service by two more years. So a total of four years. And 8200 unit is the unit responsible for collecting signal intelligence. It's basically a central collection unit of the Israeli of the intelligent corpse. So as I said, I spent four years in this unit in various positions. I started as cyber system operator, I thought about the right name for this position. Basically, I was responsible for operating systems responsible for collecting data intelligence, and quickly I became a cyber team lead of the cyber system operator team. And it was my first experience as a manager as a team lead. So I learned I was responsible for, you know, the operations of the team, monitoring the performance of the team and identify area areas where we can improve, provide technical guidance, collaborating with other teams in the organization. That's basically it. And after a year and a half, working in this team, I went I started officer training and officer training in divided to the training divided to three parts. The first one is Pre training. The second one is the general military training. The third one is the intelligent cops training. And in total, it's six month masses of training. And after Officer Corps, I came back to my original base, my original department. And I lead this department, this tech department that included a total of 16 soldiers separated into three technical teams. And, again, I was managing the overall performance of an effectiveness of the department. I know setting goals and two for the department, the tech responsible for the process of the progress of tech projects, and just ensuring that they were completed on time. Also providing leadership and guidance to the tech teams, and setting expensive expectations. And my last, after a here and few months, in this, in this job, I switched to another more professional job as a cyber research officer. And I was responsible for conducting research and development on cybersecurity data from virus viruses of virus different sources. And like building a clear picture of for some intelligence questions we wanted to answer back at this time at that time. And, you know, during the whole time I was serving in the army in the 8200 unit, I worked with developers I saw I saw software development. So I saw code, and I interest got interested in coding. And I think that's what, you know, made me think of, maybe I will go and study computer science, maybe this is something that interests me. And now I start reading and got curious about this field. And after I finished my army service, I, I didn't want to go to the university, where right after the army, I wanted to explore more, and try other things that I love, like, like, data I love I want I loved being an analyst. Part of the cyber Research Officer job was some kind of cyber analyst. So I really wanted to continue explore this field, but also, you know, the back of my mind, I thought about maybe go and study computer science,

Tim Bourguignon 8:22
we'd like to to to come back to two points. The first one, I always will be the last one first. You said when you started a cyber research officer, you described it as a more professional job. Yeah, what do you mean, but I wasn't.

Meshi Yona 8:33
Because I wasn't a leader. I had no soldiers. I wasn't a commander. I wasn't a manager. I was just it was a professional job. It means that I didn't I have no people to to operate like to be responsible for.

Tim Bourguignon 8:51
Okay. And that segues perfectly to my other question, which was, if I might count if my if the numbers are correct, you are manager at 19 have a team and an office here at 21.

Meshi Yona 9:05
Almost 20. Yeah.

Tim Bourguignon 9:07
And responsible for 16 persons.

Meshi Yona 9:10
Yeah, I finished officer officer training code the officer training after? Yeah, I was when I was training. And I know it's huge. You know, serving in this unit was one of the best experiences of my life. It's the amount of respect and responsibility you get at such a young age is a real maturing experience growing experience. You quickly become this younger adult who has a huge effect in many aspects you never thought you'd have on, you know, people lives people. Security. It's It's really amazing. I I Yeah, I loved every minute of my service. But after four years, you know, the military system is, is a bit strict. And I wanted to try something new. I loved the impact I felt that I have. But I wanted to explore new new things. And I think this, you will hear me say it again. And again, I like to explore new things I like to try, I think that this is the best way to understand what you are passionate about what interests you by trying new things. So I think that this is my main message. But I already said it,

Tim Bourguignon 10:50
trying new things. I'm sorry, I got you were you were starting to describe how we you wanted to explore more you are interested in data and how you chose what to do after your service.

Meshi Yona 11:02
Yeah. So after I finished my army service, I started to interview to like some companies, I looked for a job. And I interviewed in a company called called Cloud lock, that a year after was acquired by Cisco. So it was a cloud security company that basically protected personal data of people saved in the cloud. So I was, like I said, I was interested. I loved I was fascinated by cloud security, but by cybersecurity, sorry, and everything related to the to cybersecurity. So I knew I wanted to do something related to that. So I started as a as an analyst, cyber analyst, I was the first one in the team. So I basically started the team. And after we recruited more people, I became the team lane. And while working there, I, you know, as an analyst, I had some of my work while was manual work. So I thought this is an opportunity to try the other thing I liked, which is programming. It's, so I decided I will learn Python, Python. So I learned Python, and started writing scripts that helped me automated manual work that I had to do on a daily basis. And this was the first time where I really wrote code. And I really liked it. And, you know, it saved me a lot of time. And it's increased the efficiency and productivity of my team, mine and my team. And then I started thinking about, maybe I should go and study computer science. And it wasn't an easy decision for me to do. Because, you know, today, there are so many amazing platforms, where you can learn software development, you can learn how to program your amazing online courses and resources that offer more flexibility than universities programs. And as you can often study at your own pace and on your own schedule. So, I, I thought about maybe I shouldn't do it by myself, but I think after thinking about it, I really wanted the framework that the university provide. And I want this I wanted this family to support me and so I, I managed to combine the two to the combine the two, I mean, still working and and start the degree at the University. So I kept working at CloudLock slash Cisco. It was Cisco back then. And I worked like one or two days, days a week and managed to continue continuing my degree and my job. And you know, after three years at Cisco slash CloudLock, I end during In my second year of, of computer science degree, I decided I wanted a new adventure. And I switched position I interviewed to Wix. And I know Wix is not a cybersecurity company, but I wanted. This was a back end developer position. So I wanted a real training as a developer, from now on from scratch from the basics. And that's what Wix offers. And I think it was the best place to really start from the bottom, I learned so much while working there about new technologies programming principle, I was developing and working on high scaled systems, I gain experience in creating efficient and reliable solution for different kinds of applications. I programmed mainly in Scala, but also in other programming languages, like JavaScript and TypeScript. I was working with both SQL and no SQL databases and have I gain a deeper understanding of how to optimize the performance of complex complex systems. And really, I I learned so much while working there, and but after three years, working as a back end developer at Wix, I, you know, the, the cyber security, curiosity, one and told me, I need to look for my next step. And I wanted to go back and working at a small startup company, I didn't say, But Cloud doc was his small startup company. And so I looked for my I really picked a specifically pick the places I wanted to interview for, and jet was one of them. And then I started working in Egypt. And now I'm leading a team of developers there. And so I wanted to tell to talk about jitter bit, so I joined it right after working at Wix. And Ajit, we develop an open dev sack ops orchestration platform that allows modern engineering teams to own the application security, while increasing their dev velocity without the need of for domain expertise. So today, there are many security tools in the market, and the problem companies are facing is which tools to integrate in their dev SEC ops tool chain. And it's a lot of efforts to integrate them. And each tool has its own, you know, each tool has its own interface execution model, and, you know, output schema. And the experience is usually outside of the developer workflow. And in my experience, as a software developer, when we detect security issues, we do it too late, and which eventually decrease velocity. So security usually is is not part is not an integral part of the developer workflow, workflow. And I think it's a problem because we actually write the code that possibly contains a vulnerability. So that's why I joined gte. And GTE really simplify this process by making everything in one place and part of the developers native environment with continuous security, like CI CD, so continuous security, CS. And really, it's, it's, you know, now I'm leading a team of developers there, which is an amazing experience. And, and so different than being a developer. But

Tim Bourguignon 19:40
just just coming back to to the change from from being a cyber analyst or cyber security expert, where you were really, on top of your game, probably having spent four years in the Army doing this drinking from a firehose, and then having done that professionally, how did it feel going, I'm making air quotes back to, to first base, coming back to to being a newbie, learning the ropes having a lot to learn, but being being new in all this, how did it feel? How did you handle the situation?

Meshi Yona 20:19
Tim, this is the perfect question, I must say. I, I already said that I want I like trying try new things, new things. So it was, it wasn't an easy decision, like I said, to go and stop my life and, you know, go to the university, it will, I knew it will have an effect on on, on my, my job my full time job. And I could do it in not in university and do it by myself and continue working in the cybersecurity field. And I try this new thing, it's called programming altogether. But I felt that I need to give this to give this opportunity to give this, try a real chance. And to really put my everything in, in this degree and in this new position, I really want to give it a really try. And to really start from the bottom to see if that's what I really like. I can always go back to cybersecurity and work as a cybersecurity analyst and sabut cybersecurity researcher. But I felt like I need to give it a try. And to really learn the basics and the the basic principle of programming. And, you know, I, I think it was a good decision because now I'm, I'm leading a team of developers and I love it. And I think I proved to myself that I need to, I always need to try and give a real chance to new things that I'm interested in. Even if the small if it's the small things, I don't know. I need to give it a try. And even if it means that I will start from the bottom, I can always go back. But I think in every in each try in each new experience, you learn so much about yourself even the the sorry, my even Yeah, even the the degree in university, the studying in university. I could choose not to go to the university and study by myself. But I think this experience taught me so much about myself about my ability to do to combine, you know, to do things altogether, you know, working and studying, and I think they are studying in university wasn't that easy? It was it was hard. It took them a lot of time away from my, my, a lot of time of my week. My I got stuck. It's took a lot of time out of my

Tim Bourguignon 23:39
days, your life your

Meshi Yona 23:42
time. Yeah, I took a lot of time of my daily work. And it's, but I did it. And I think this experience really made me understand my, my, what can I do and my abilities? And yeah, it was a great experience to do them to do the degree and the studying and working together. And that's

Tim Bourguignon 24:15
awesome. While you are describing this, I'm amazed at the the analytical way with which you go at it really saying okay, what's the risk? What can I gain from that? What's the worst that can happen? If this happens then so what I will do X and Y, is this the way you've always worked or is this something that was brought in and pushed in your head by the army or is the way you've you've always been

Meshi Yona 24:43
I think it's the combination of them both I think in the army you do you know I switched so many jobs in the army and had like three different positions. So I think I maybe I get I trained to do To to make it look so easy. I think. Yeah, I think it's, I think it's my character to love and try new things. And so I, I think that the Army gave me the, the framework to do that. And then after the army, I, no, you know, I had a great company I worked for and I, I knew I love research and data and cybersecurity, but I also love I, I felt like, programming is something that I'm interested in, and I want to give it a try. So I did it. And yeah, I think it's some something that is part of my character.

Tim Bourguignon 25:54
Yeah, you make it sound natural. That's okay. So I cut you when you were starting to talk about jet and saying you wanted to come back to twist startup, smaller context, you wanted to come back to cybersecurity. But still with this, this, this card in your hand of being a developer, and maybe taking this older card you had experienced a bit earlier of being a manager. So how old are your older three, come together?

Meshi Yona 26:23
So I started a g8 as a software developer, and then think six months after I became the team lean. I think I, you know, I had the ability of, I had the skills of managing people, I did it in two different position in the army, and then after the army, but I think managing engineering team, the team and leading an engineering team is different than everything I ever did. Also, I think i Because, you know, I had, during my working experience, I had many different types of managers, and engineering managers, and I think the ones that I really admired are, well, were the ones that were professionals. And I wanted to be this, I wanted to start a job as a developer to really be the most professional developer I could be. And then after I will gain enough confidence to be to feel like I can lead people and guide people. Ajit, then I will switch and become a become a team lead. So I think, because in engineering in software development, there is this, this is an endless field, you have so much to learn and to know. And you never know, know, enough. So there is so much to learn all the time. And so I wanted to feel confident enough that I can be that person that the person that can guide the team, the car that can guide them professionally. So when I thought that I'm ready, so I, I did it. And it's really a great experience. Again, I'm learning so much from being an engineering manager.

Tim Bourguignon 28:45
I'm, I'm cheating. I have your LinkedIn open on the side. You spend nine months as a software engineer at Wix and then decided okay, that now now is enough. How did you realize that or now is enough? Now you gained enough confidence to to be a professional and lead people. How did you know this was the time?

Meshi Yona 29:05
I felt I think that, you know, I had I had experience three years as a back end developer at Wix. So I knew I was I can say ready to be a team lead engineering team lead but you know, GT is a new experience, a new product, a new system. And I really wanted to a new framework we work in we work in serverless framework and it was new for me. So new language everything so I wanted to be to feel like I'm ready for this new next step. I wanted to get to know the system better and get to know the framework and everything. There then better and then when I I felt like you know I had my manager and we discussed it and we build like some kind of plan If you gave me like, a huge project that I Tech, I was responsible for end to end. And after I felt like, Yeah, I think there is no place in the system that I'm so insecure about, then I thought that, okay, I think that I'm ready to do it. And I can really guide people in this small and amazing company.

Tim Bourguignon 30:37
Now, I want to throw you a curveball. If we're looking to the future, how do you think your next jump is going to be? Because you've been a team lead quite a few times, it's the second time now or third time now? Do you think you will need to come back with air quotes to learning how the system work and confidence and then view team lead again? Or will you have to jump in and be a team lead without having this confidence and have to find it some other way?

Meshi Yona 31:08
Yeah, so why it's such a good question, really, um, I think I know that I want to do managing position in like, I want to really be part of building an engineering team from scratch. And I will not have the time to really know the system, like I had here in jet and really know every detail detail. And will have the time for, you know, basic training and everything, I think. But I think that in this was my first position as an engineering manager. So I wanted to do it, well. I wanted to really focus on leading the people in the best professional way. And I can see that I have them managing skills that I need in order to do it without the time to really knows every detail details that I need to in order to be the professional, the most professional manager. So I think the next step is to, like I said, be a part of building engineering teams from scratch. And, you know, finally do something on my own, I still don't know what it will be, but I think I will figure it out. On the way. I also want to, this is another area of field that I'm interested in, and I want to explore, and I will and I want to be more involved in involved in product manager management and maybe do something more customer facing. I think, you know, as an analyst, as an analyst and team lead in cloud lock, I build risk assessment to customers and present it to them. And you know, to hear that direct feedback from the customers is really amazing to see the impact you have the direct impact we have on them. And as a developer, you see it much, much less so I really want to us know, go back to something more customer facing and try trait as well. And because I really want to be part of to really hear the, you know, the first like, wow, this is amazing. The first reaction when you show show them the product that fit fix their problem, that answer is older. Older wishes. This is something that I also want to do.

Tim Bourguignon 34:07
Yeah, that sounds like like a sweet spot in between all the skills that you have some development skills, management skills, some organizational skills, maybe some some leadership and motivational piece, but also the analytical data driven cetera that seems to revolve around around something.

Meshi Yona 34:26
So I like to try everything. Yeah.

Tim Bourguignon 34:28
So here's a question that is not completely clear, but I try to make it clear. I see an opposition between two ways of thinking. The one is the traditional army top down approach where the commander say something or the officer say something and the Echelon below it, just react on that then does what they're supposed to do. And there's the other way, the other approach of having very liberated, not liberated is not the right word, autonomous units really working behind a goal, and being entirely free to do whatever they want or whatever is in their power to fulfill that mission. When I think about the first one, so the top down command and control approach, it's very much opposed to what we see in software in the software world nowadays, where we have this agile approach, where teams is empowered and encouraged to talk to customers, and really do whatever is whatever they can do to fulfill the mission. But that would be exactly the the second role. And I wonder where your experience lays, in your experience in unity to Unreal and how you evolved after that. Was it more of a command and control way? Was it already a trial there? And how did you bridge the gap between your experience then, and your experience now.

Meshi Yona 35:48
So you know, it's still an army. So of course, it was the top down control. But at the age of 20, when I was the manager of a tech department, I was the manager. So I needed to decide how I'm going to make sure that the department functions well. So I needed to decide if I want to let them to delegate and give the my team leads their ability to decide by their own or I want to do it top down like the entire army works. So I think I had the ability to decide and to do it. So I think I combine these two approaches. Yeah. So I had my commander, my officer that worked in a certain way of give me goals, and I decided that I will give the team leader the responsibility to work on the plan of how we are reaching out these goals. So it's a combination of these two approaches.

Tim Bourguignon 37:06
One more level on top of that, since since Israel has this mandatory service, and you might not be able to answer this, because you've been in the system already. And but this very much comes from a place where I didn't have any any mandatory service. So I skipped the army altogether. And very interested in how this all work. Did you see a pattern in the way people think? Because everybody went to the army. And when they reach the age of being in a company and working, they have a different thinking pattern or different way of approaching things. That is a is that a factor?

Meshi Yona 37:45
I think what you can see in most of the people coming out of the army is that they are more mature for their age, and about thinking the way they think I think we are able to get assignments and tasks and get them done in you know, I don't know what to say how to say it in to have the responses to do or how to have the responsibility to get the assignment done, and deliver. And I think, like I said, because we are more mature, because in a young age, you get so many responsibility. And so we have the maturity to say so I think we have the maturity to be responsible enough for the assignment, we get the two. I'm trying to rephrase the sentence again, and I'm getting stuck.

Tim Bourguignon 38:52
No worries, no worries, I can take you away if you want. This is very interesting to me. Because at some point in my careers, I kind of so working in Germany, mostly, I kind of had the feeling of having children in front of me, and having developers coming out of university and being still completely green, having haven't seen nothing, haven't done nothing and everything to learn. And so I'm always interested in how different countries with different different places in the world face this problem and approach this. And the the way Israel is doing it is kind of unique. And so it's always always interesting.

Meshi Yona 39:34
Yeah, we have many developers. We have many developers at jet that finish their army service at the age of 21. And they have three years experience as a software developers and there are so mature and they are owners, the owners of their tasks and huge features in our systems and this is amazing to see how People at such a young age gain so much confidence and experience too and mature enough to be responsible for to be responsible for their their assignment in their future that their path at such a young age.

Tim Bourguignon 40:19
So So what is the advice you give them when you have somebody completely? Not green but but green as in army uniform, coming out of the army starting their career, just just first assignment or first job out of out of the army? You're their first manager? What advice do you give them?

Meshi Yona 40:40
Um, and can you repeat the question advice for?

Tim Bourguignon 40:46
What are the advice that you always gave them? What are the advice that are the

Meshi Yona 40:49
people that finished their their army service?

Tim Bourguignon 40:53
Just imagine somebody starting in your in your team, somebody completely new, it's their first job, what will be the kind of advice you would give them?

Meshi Yona 41:03
Um, I think the best advice is, even if you're starting this new position, it doesn't mean that this is the specific path you should take. You know, I started as a cybersecurity analyst, and I decided, I want to try some new things that interests me, and I did and now I'm leading an engineering team. So I think the great advice is, this is what helped me most of the time was is to explore new things. Which for me, to help me discover what interests me and what I'm passionate about. So and also to talk to as many people as you can try to get an advice from them. Listen, maybe to this past podcast as well to hear different stories, different paths that people took in their life and get as much as information as you can to really understand what interests you what you're passionate about to create your own path

Tim Bourguignon 42:27
That is very thoughtful. And that's why I do this show it's been a blast listening to your story sorry for for pushing a bit toward the army but this work in and out really interests me, so I hope that was okay.

Meshi Yona 42:45
I really believe in this product. And I think it's will be a game changer.

Tim Bourguignon 42:51
Fingers crossed. So Meshi, this is awesome. Where would he the best place to find you online and start a discussion with you?

Meshi Yona 43:11
Um, okay, so, um, you can find me in LinkedIn. And feel free to reach out. I would love to get your thoughts about this podcast even. Or we can or you can find me through my email

Tim Bourguignon 43:36
Okay, and add those both to the show notes. So listeners can just scroll down and click. Awesome. Anything to add before we call it a day?

Meshi Yona 43:46
It was a lot of fun. So thank you, Tim.

Tim Bourguignon 43:49
Awesome, likewise. And this has been another episode of developer's journey, and we'll see each other next week. Bye bye. Thanks a lot for tuning in. I hope you have enjoyed this week's episode. If you liked the show, please share rate and review. It helps more listeners discover those stories. You can find the links to all the platforms the show appears on, on our website, Creating the show every week takes a lot of time, energy, and of course money. Will you please help me continue bringing out those inspiring stories every week by pledging a small monthly donation? You'll find our patreon link at And finally, don't hesitate to reach out and tell me how this week story is shaping your future. You can find me on Twitter at @timothep or per email