Why I work for Agoda, from the Bangkok to the Tel Aviv officeBy Aviad Klein - Published on May 28. 2019
Sometime in February 2012, my wife and I were honeymooning in Thailand. We were on the Bangkok Skytrain when I spotted a “farang” (the Thai word for a foreigner, typically a Caucasian person) in smart casual clothes and a laptop bag hopping on the train. I pictured him working in some hi-tech office just like I did at the time back at home in Tel Aviv. At that part of our trip, I had a serious crush on Bangkok. It seemed so futuristic and trendy on one hand, yet so raw and traditional on the other—I was fascinated.
“Over my dead body,” was my wife’s reply to me when I asked if she would like that we lived there for a few years.
Fast forward to 7 years later in April 2019, we are celebrating our first anniversary of coming back to Tel Aviv from Thailand. After spending almost 4.5 years living in Bangkok, having our ups and downs, meeting incredible people, travelling, surviving a monkey bite, and having a baby – we came back home.
My wife, in case you worried, did not perish in the process.
What makes a family with a 6-month-old first-born daughter move to a different country, where they don’t know anyone, the temperatures are scorching all year round, they don’t speak the language and the food is not (at first at least) their “cup of tea”? Looking back at our time over there, I guess the answer to that is twofold: there was definitely a sense of adventure and opportunity that Thailand offered at that time. And then there’s a great company like Agoda that makes you want to stick around and do your best at your job.
So, what is it about Agoda that makes it such a great workplace?
First, people. The people that I get to work with, both managers and colleagues, are super smart. If you’re interested in some real and hard feedback on your business ideas and features that you plan for your e-commerce website, a quick chat with the Product and Business Owners at Agoda will probably set you straight. That kind of brain power and talent draws in more talent, I’ve seen Agoda transform a few times with large recruiting waves where quality was not reduced for the sake of quantity. You collaborate with proven experts from world leading companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon; rub shoulders with graduates from the world’s best schools like Wharton, INSEAD and MIT.
Second, culture. Agoda is, pretty much, the most data and merit driven workplace I’ve ever had the privilege to work at. Everyone from senior management to your colleagues is speaking numbers and thinks about hypothesis and experimentation. We test everything. And invest a lot in doing so properly. Impact is the main focus at Agoda, and there’s a lot of freedom to do crazy things. As a Data Scientist I had the privilege of running a multitude of experiments that affected to user experience of millions of people. With a flat organization hierarchy, and a culture of ownership, things move fast and big decisions are carried out very quickly.
Third, it’s in Bangkok! Living in the “Big Mango” or “City of Angels” definitely has its magic. Imagine: Living just a few hours flight away from Japan, Singapore, the Philippines and Thailand’s beaches. Imagine: meeting people from all over the world. I had the privilege to work with experts from Egypt, Iran and Syria, countries that as an Israeli I might never visit. All these make the hard work you’ll put in at Agoda worthwhile and help to keep a great work life balance.
Lastly, FOOD! It’s cheap and it’s awesome. Bangkok has it all, and not just Thai food. Since it attracts expats from all around the world, you can find amazing Italian by Italians, French made by French expats, German, Indian, Korean, Japanese and American eateries that’ll blow your taste buds off. Thailand houses one of the world’s most exciting cuisines. Sweet, spicy, tangy, salty, fresh and fermented all in one plate. I’ll still miss “pad kaprao kai dao” (a stir-fried Thai basil dish with fried egg) very much, Tel Aviv’s eateries just can’t make it quite the same…
These days, I lead the Agoda office in Tel Aviv. As a family, being back here means we’re doing our own dishes, but it also means being closer to our family and friends. Tel Aviv has a great life to offer, and my wife and daughters are flourishing in their old/new lives. My work is still super exciting and the quality of people is going up. Managing the distance from the main hub back in Thailand is challenging, but the team is getting the hang of it. I feel pretty lucky to work for a company that can accommodate such changes and values its employees.
If you’re considering a move, there’s no promise of success, but if you are willing to go out of your comfort zone, Agoda is the best place to work in Thailand, and arguably competing for the top in all of Asia.
So come join us, whether it’s for a job at the Agoda Bangkok office or with me in Tel Aviv, visit careersatagoda.com to apply!
Aviad Klein is a Data Science Manager at Agoda. After four and a half years in Bangkok, Aviad now leads the team at the Tel Aviv office. You can follow him on Linkedin here.