6 weeks after she began working at Wix, we talked with our new head of the Technical Writers Guild, Laura Kedem, about making a career change at 58, starting a new job during a pandemic and the new things she learned since joining
After 20 years in the tech industry, Wix’s brand new Technical Writers group lead, Laura Kedem, didn’t think that she’d start a new job again. But then she was approached by Wix. “At first, I wasn’t interested at all”, she laughs. “I liked the job I was doing. I was there for many years, grew within the role and felt comfortable in it”, she explains. “On the other hand, what Wix was offering seemed like a challenge and that caught my attention. I decided to meet the Wix people and there was something about them that really ignited my curiosity. When I understood that I was too deep inside my comfort zone and that working at Wix can challenge me again, I made my decision”.
Before moving into technical writing, Laura was involved in projects that mixed education and technology in various ways, such as producing videos for children with hearing impairment or building a database for educators on CD-ROMs before the internet. She gained experience in technical writing when she worked at a pharmaceutical company and wrote guides on how to operate machines that produce medicines. After the move to tech, she mostly managed technical writers who wrote for end users. At Wix, she’s busy building the Technical Writers Guild.
What are your biggest challenges in this new role?
“First, you need to understand the organizational philosophy and the ways it helps you do things. The next challenge is getting all the technical writers together - there are about 20 of us at Wix - and to lead them as a team and then grow it. We believe that we’ll expand quite a lot in the upcoming year.
“Another challenge is that the Technical Writer role is a bit different from what it’s like in other places, where it is mostly focused on user guides. At Wix, it’s focused around writing APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) for our own developers and for third-party-developers who build on Wix’s platform. On top of that, technical writing is also about writing user guides explaining how to use tools, how to maintain them, how to backup data and integrate things with one another. It’s a whole world of understanding who your user is and then helping them use your product”.
What makes you excited about the role?
“First of all, there’s the excitement of starting something new. I was hired to build the Technical Writers Guild. There are already technical writers at Wix and they know which way we need to go, so my job is to lead, not to start everything from scratch.
“For me it’s exciting to learn new things and to meet new people. I’ve been in this field for many years and I can tell you that the people who do technical writing at Wix aren’t the kind of people I’ve gotten used to. I think it’s mostly because of the product itself and the fact that ‘our’ user is a developer, which requires something different from us as writers. Our technical writers need to understand the development side much better. It’s not something I was familiar with”.
What sets Wix apart from other companies?
“I’ve been here only 6 weeks, but I’m really impressed with the culture here and with how deep the investment in employees is, and so is communication. You’re told what everyone does and how that’s connected to the big picture. That’s something that’s sometimes lacking in other companies. And then there’s the product itself which is really exciting. Only after I joined I understood how deeply we affect so many people’s lives, and that’s rewarding”.
What was it like to start a new job during the pandemic?
“It was a very unique experience. I’ve been to the office only two or three times, but I didn’t feel that it was holding me back from getting to know the company and its values. I think that what we refer to here as ‘The Wix Way’, has a lot to do with communication. On my first day of onboarding I read about Wix’s values and what we don’t tolerate here, and I loved it!
“There’s a real open door policy and in all my meetings I felt that people were interested, engaged and very willing to help and teach. It also means that at the end of the day, everybody here delivers and helps reach our goals as quickly and efficiently as possible”.
So what did you learn about Wix so far?
“I’ve learned a lot about Wix’s product and its impact, especially during this past year. I understood how it became a tool for anyone who wants to develop a business or a web presence. I’ve learned that Wix is very open to new ideas and that the organizational structure is very open too - it feels non-hierarchical and non-institutionalized. Wha that means is that if you want to do things, you’re encouraged to take the initiative and to open all the doors. There isn’t only one path to reach your goals. Finally, I’m excited about women here! There are lots of women at Wix, and it’s noticeable”.
Any tips for people about to start working at Wix?
“I think that the best advice is not to be afraid of things you don’t know. I came here without knowing much about web development and the specific technologies around it, and I feel that you get a lot of time to learn. During the onboarding process you get a chance to ask questions and make mistakes, and no one expects you to know everything from day one. It’s great”.
Laura says that it was important for her to make sure Wix’s recruiters knew how old she was before she joined. “During the hiring process I made sure to say a few times that I was 58”, she smiles. “So far I don’t feel old, but some of my kids’ friends work here. When I get the weekly email about the people at Wix who had a new baby, or when I see that young parents are invited to attend meetings in which they’re taught how to sleep better at night, I’m reminded that I work at a place in which the average age is mid 30s. But the truth is that I feel connected to people here. I think that people are what they bring with them, and that has nothing to do with age”.