Iustin Balta Cojocaru Stan, Senior Software Test Engineer

There are a lot a diverse people with different mentalities that are always keen on helping and provide feedback and this coupled with the progressive mindset of the managers makes you  feel like sky is just a step towards limitless skull improvement.

What attracted you to working at Secret Escapes?
To find what is the “Secret” behind Secret Escapes (found it out .. not telling). This and also the huge opportunity to learn more about my trade and improve on it with the full backup of the such a diverse and open minded company. And oh boy did it pay out. There are a lot a diverse people with different mentalities that are always keen on helping and provide feedback and this coupled with the progressive mindset of the managers makes you  feel like sky is just a step towards limitless skull improvement


What did you want to be when you were younger?
A painter.. and I did try to achieve that but I was striving for perfection so much that I became my worst critic. That made me join the “Critics” side (aka the dark side of art). This turned out to be my best choice since being a QA is … in essence .. criticising other peoples work based on documentation and/or requirements. And apparently I am very good at it.


What was your first week at Secret Escapes like?
A bit stiff with the after taste of “corporation” but after the first 2 days of getting setup and socialising with the rest of the tech team, that faded away and was replaced by a the family vibe that is still going strong and makes you feel like you belong.Of course there is the stress of achieving goals (for me was and still is setting up the QA for the tech team) this was never imposed by the team (I stressed myself out). The entire team is very understanding and willing to help you achieve that goal in any way possible.


How did you find the recruitment process at Secret Escapes?
I would say that was the most hectic part. It started with using an app that allowed me to be in touch (video and message-wise) with the secret escapes team which was fine but I was also in a conversation with the Secret escapes recruiter and the dedicated application agent at the same time which were not using the app but were calling me directly. At a point I lost a bit track. The rest of the process was smooth as butter, with fast responses and feedback.


What makes Secret Escapes different to where you have worked before?
The dedication and camaraderie. Secret Escapes is a family and much more than that. They will accept you with open arms and never give up on you, they will never let you down, never turn around or desert you. There is always something happening be it work related or a social event that you can join and feel as part of. You will never get bored.


What has been your favourite holiday destination and why?
Real mind churning question since there are so many awesome place but by by a small margin I would have to say the road tripe I took on “Cinque terre” – which is a string of 5 old cities dotted along the western cost of Italy. It has it all, small coastal road, buildings on big rocks,  delicious sea food and surreal views. You will drive above the clouds and at some points bellow the sea level, from huge 6 lanes highways to 1 lane narrower than your car meant for 2 vehicles and from clean straights of road to almost 45˚ ramps and slopes on serpentine mountain roads. You name it they got it.

Abigail Tresadern, Management Accountant

I've always associated Secret Escapes with offering the dreamiest of travel opportunities, then once I was able to take a glimpse of the office environment and culture, my thoughts soon escalated to - 'I NEED to work here!'

 

What attracted you to working at Secret Escapes?
I’ve always associated Secret Escapes with offering the dreamiest of travel opportunities, then once I was able to take a glimpse of the office environment and culture, my thoughts soon escalated to – ‘I NEED to work here!’

 

What did you want to be when you were younger?
I would love to say I’ve wanted to be an accountant my whole life but it’s just not believable, is it?! I’m going to go with the more realistic option of Zookeeper.

 

What was your first week at Secret Escapes like?
A complete whirlwind of introductions and knowledge which now seems like a distant memory, but the friendliness and welcoming feeling from the team is what I remember most.

 

How did you find the recruitment process at Secret Escapes?
This was my first experience partaking in a video interview which seemed daunting at first, however, I knew it was my first chance to give Secret Escapes an insight to me as a person and therefore decided to embrace the opportunity (fortunately this clearly worked in my favour)! Overall I found the process refreshingly modern, from the video interview via an app to booking my interview slot as a ‘trip’, I felt the process to be smooth and swift whilst always keeping on travel theme – very clever!

 

What makes Secret Escapes different to where you have worked before?
I’m approaching my 4th month at Secret Escapes which is a relatively short period of time in comparison with the knowledge and experience I have gained. I find myself confidently speaking up with new ideas and initiatives because I know they will be encouraged and not disregarded and look forward to presenting new projects to my team because I’ll always receive positive recognition for my hard work. All of these things make Secret Escapes a completely different workplace, and the one that I’ve always been looking for!

 

What has been your favourite holiday destination and why?
Thailand is a destination which holds the most memories for me. Whether it was spending NYE at the craziest full moon party or a long awaited emotional reunion with my travelling sister, Thailand will always be a destination close to my heart.

Alex Cruden, Internal Communications Executive

I’d wanted to work in a tech environment for a while, after working in lots of quite traditional, rigid workplaces. I saw the advert for this job, checked out the Secret Escapes careers page and was really taken by the friendly, relaxed atmosphere that I saw. It seemed like a place that would be really rewarding to work in, and the specifics of the job ad felt like they were written for me.

What did you want to be when you were younger?
A primary school teacher. I had a great teacher in year 3 who was loads of fun and I wanted to be like him. But as I got older, I realised that it might not be as fun as he made it look, and I kind of lost interest. I also wanted to be a novelist, which is still achievable, I suppose!

What attracted you to working at Secret Escapes?
I’d wanted to work in a tech environment for a while, after working in lots of quite traditional, rigid workplaces. I saw the advert for this job, checked out the Secret Escapes careers page and was really taken by the friendly, relaxed atmosphere that I saw. It seemed like a place that would be really rewarding to work in, and the specifics of the job ad felt like they were written for me.

What was your first week at Secret Escapes like?
It was great! Everyone was so welcoming and encouraging. There was a heck of a lot of information to take in about the structure of the business and how it all works, but everyone was very supportive and reassured me that they didn’t expect me to remember everything instantly. We had lunches together and a couple of beers at the end of the week, which gave me a chance to get to know my team a bit better.

How did you find the recruitment process at Secret Escapes?
I had to do a video interview, which was quite daunting, but actually not too bad in the end. Then a couple of face-to-face interviews, in which I initially felt nervous but was made to feel very comfortable and welcome. The team were quick to get back to me at each stage, so there wasn’t much anxious waiting.

What makes Secret Escapes different to where you have worked before?
I feel really supported and trusted with the work I’m doing, which motivates me to do even better work. I already feel like my ideas and input are valued and that I actually want to be here. Plus the benefits are unlike anywhere else I’ve experienced – lots of free food, a fridge full of fizzy drinks and a quiet space with bean bags make the office a nice place to be.

What has been your favourite holiday destination and why?
Oh man, don’t make me choose! I had a really wonderful time in Iceland last year. The scenery is like another planet, and it felt like a million miles away from the craziness of London. Aside from the Golden Circle – which is so, so beautiful – my two big recommendations are the Blue Lagoon (pricey, but well worth it) and a free walking tour of Reykjavik. We didn’t see the northern lights, unfortunately, but that didn’t take away from the trip.

Lana Yatsyuk, Agile Delivery Manager

I think it is my personal passion for travel, tech and e-commerce as well as a strong connection to the travel industry. As well culture, people and an agile environment matter! What could be better than working in technology in the travel industry, alongside likeminded people?

What did you want to be when you were younger?
It took me some time to figure out what I want to do. Before graduating from University, I needed to make a choice between the creative and business sides of my personality. I tried my hand at photography and make-up while studying business and management, and I worked for a tour
operating company. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be in the business world. I think I have finally managed to find that balance, being an Agile Delivery Manager and having travel and portrait photography as a hobby.

What attracted you to working at Secret Escapes? 
Lots of things! I think it is my personal passion for travel, tech and e-commerce as well as a strong connection to the travel industry. As well culture, people and an agile environment matter! What could be better than working in technology in the travel industry, alongside likeminded people?

What was your first week at Secret Escapes like? 
It has been busy; full of events and opportunities to meet new people! There has been a lot of new information. I have been involved in the process from the day 1 – lots of meetings within our vibrant Technology department and time to observe how things work here.

How did you find the recruitment process at Secret Escapes? 
Luckily it wasn’t overly complicated; I made an application via the website, and someone from the Talent team contacted to me and we arranged a phone interview. After that I had a second phone interview with the CTO, and then a final stage face to face interview. I really enjoyed the last stage,
it was a mix of conversation and scenario-based questions and at the end I met one of the development teams.

What makes Secret Escapes different to where you have worked before?
It is all about culture, people and environment. The company induction is probably the best I have ever had! It was fun and super useful for a new starter.

What has been your favourite holiday destination and why?
It is difficult to pick one! Well, Milos island. It is a true hidden Mediterranean gem. I love the combination of blue and white; snow-white Rocks of Sarakiniko beach plus the endless blue of sea and sky, I can spend hours there! The diversity of landscapes is unbelievable! Along with sun, food, ancient sites and a copy of Venus de Milo – which was originally found on the island and is now displayed in Louvre Museum in Paris, this is a great destination.

 

Luna Pagano

I really like Secret Escapes’ business model and how it’s different to OTAs. I’m so interested in this specific region - I love the Caribbean! The video about ‘working at secret escapes’ was also super inspiring and it looked like a great place to work.

What did you want to be when you were younger?

When I was younger I really wanted to be a Veterinarian!

What attracted you to working at Secret Escapes? 

I really like Secret Escapes’ business model and how it’s different to OTAs. I’m so interested in this specific region – I love the Caribbean! The video about ‘working at secret escapes’ was also super inspiring and it looked like a great place to work.

What was your first week at Secret Escapes like? 

Very busy and very welcoming – I also love the fun and modern offices!

How did you find the recruitment process at Secret Escapes? 

One of the best I have ever experienced to be honest. The follow up and the patience from the team with my sometimes-late replies whilst I was traveling. Above all, the fact that I was selected even through I didn’t live in the UK at the time. Secret Escapes was willing to take a chance on me against other local candidates; very inspiring!

What makes Secret Escapes different to where you have worked before? 

In a way is very similar to my previous job, open minded culture, very lineal and not hierarchical – the main difference is that the pace is faster.

What has been your favourite holiday destination and why?

London! (now that I have moved here I need to find another one) but I love London – it’s the most magical city in the world.

Natalie Taylor, Financial Analyst

I had actually been on a few Secret Escapes holidays so when I saw the role advertised, I looked more into the company, the culture and the values, it really looked like somewhere I could envisage myself developing. On top of that, I was really impressed by the recent funding round and the company seemed like an exciting place to be.

What did you want to be when you were younger?
When I was younger I wanted to be a teacher, or a tap dancer!

What attracted you to working at Secret Escapes?
I had actually been on a few Secret Escapes holidays so when I saw the role advertised, I looked more into the company, the culture and the values, it really looked like somewhere I could envisage myself developing. On top of that, I was really impressed by the recent funding round and the company seemed like an exciting place to be.

What was your first week at Secret Escapes like?
My first week at Secret Escapes was really interesting, there was a lot to take in but my line manager made sure he checked in with me often and made sure he was going at a pace I could keep up with! Everyone made me feel welcome and it went so quick.

How did you find the recruitment process at Secret Escapes?
I actually had four interviews for my role, an initial phone interview which was quite casual, a more formal one with my direct line manager which included some Excel tests, another with his line manager and then a more informal one with another member of the team. Although this was quite a lot, it showed that Secret Escapes really care about their employees being a great fit not just in the company but in the team too. I was really impressed with how slick it was, and how helpful everyone was when I had questions etc.

What makes Secret Escapes different to where you have worked before?
My last job was working in insurance so it was a lot more corporate. At SE everyone still works really hard but it is a lot more casual – little things like wearing more casual clothes and playing music in the office makes a big difference to productivity.Aside from that, I find it really helpful to have structure in place like personal objectives, team meetings and one-to-ones. It definitely makes you feel more valued as an employee and hopefully will allow me to develop really quickly.

What has been your favourite holiday destination and why?
My favourite holiday destination has to be one of the Greek islands (although I can’t pick which one!) My parents used to take us to a different one each year and I have lots of fond memories there. The food and beaches are amazing and I can’t get enough!

Natalie Laing, HR Manager

Although everyone works very hard, we work in a relaxed, laid back environment which really encourages you to be brave with your ideas and opinions. Everyone’s feedback is welcome and you feel like you can really make a difference to people on a daily basis, which from an HR perspective is really rewarding.

What did you want to be when you were younger?
I wanted to be a million different things depending on where I was and who I was with – an air hostess, power business woman, dog groomer and checkout lady most regularly topped the list.

What attracted you to working at Secret Escapes?
The Secret Escapes values really spoke to me when I saw them. Previously, I would start a job and then adopt that company’s values, so it was inspirational for me to identify with the Secret Escapes values before I even got the job. I think that company values say a lot about who you work, for and I am delighted to see that the values are really embraced here and mean something to everyone who works at Secret Escapes. I also loved the idea of working within an HR team in an organisation with such fast growth and high potential globally. Oh, and I was an avid Secret Escapes user who LOVES holidays.

What was your first week at Secret Escapes like?

Really fast paced – this is my first time working for a tech company so I very naively didn’t realise how much actually goes into maintaining our website and making sure our deals were the best ones out there. It was really interesting, everyone was really nice and down to earth and the week flew by! (As has every week since)!

How did you find the recruitment process at Secret Escapes?
The recruitment process was great – Cheryl did a great job of looking after me throughout the process, and unusually I actually enjoyed my interviews!

What makes Secret Escapes different to where you have worked before?
Although everyone works very hard, we work in a relaxed, laid back environment which really encourages you to be brave with your ideas and opinions. Everyone’s feedback is welcome and you feel like you can really make a difference to people on a daily basis, which from an HR perspective is really rewarding.

Finally…. What has been your favourite holiday destination and why?
My favourite holiday recently was my trip to Thailand where I got engaged, however Ibiza is and always will be will be my spiritual home.

Matej Vujasinović, Paid Social Executive

I think people at Secret Escapes are very carefully chosen. SE understands its values and hire individuals that show them. This means everyone here is alike, they’re open and friendly. Everyone tries to help each other because people here are not only passionate about what they do, but Secret Escapes as a company as well. Everyone understands Secret Escapes will only grow with common effort and collaboration.

What did you want to be when you were younger?
A better question would be, what didn’t I want to become when I was younger! I remember when I was around 5 years old, my parents were building a house, which would eventually become our home. I observed the works on it every day and dreamt of becoming a builder, then it was a firefighter. Once I started with high school I got into psychology and truly thought I’d become a psychotherapist!

What attracted you to working at Secret Escapes?
First, it was the role in Digital Marketing. At university, I realised psychology was very related to marketing so I naturally became interested in it. I’ve always had an analytical side to myself and the role just combined my strengths with my interests. What I saw throughout the interview also attracted me to the role – lots of entrepreneurial people from different nationalities, it’s such a great atmosphere to work in!


What was your first week at Secret Escapes like?

As my position is actually a graduate role I had a lot of insight into each part of the marketing department. I got a good overview of how the business works, who is who and who does what.

How did you find the recruitment process at Secret Escapes?
I don’t think I’ve ever had an interview where employers put so much effort into making me feel comfortable. After the first interview stage I knew I belonged here, I crossed my fingers that they would feel the same about me.

What makes Secret Escapes different to where you have worked before?
I think people at Secret Escapes are very carefully chosen. SE understands its values and hire individuals that show them. This means everyone here is alike, they’re open and friendly. Everyone tries to help each other because people here are not only passionate about what they do, but Secret Escapes as a company as well. Everyone understands Secret Escapes will only grow with common effort and collaboration.

Finally…. What has been your favourite holiday destination and why?
I’m originally from Slovenia, but now that I’ve lived in the UK for a couple of years I feel like a tourist here, I truly can’t think of a better destination for an escape. It has everything – Alps, Adriatic Sea, beautiful historic towns, lakes like Bled and Bohinj and lots of vineyards. There’s truly something for everyone there.

Joao Farinho – Commercial Product Manager (Package Holidays)

What attracted you to working at Secret Escapes? A colleague from my previous company moved to Secret Escapes a few months ago and said it was a great place to work. The role itself also sounded great!

What did you want to be when you grew up?
My first career aspiration was to be a professional footballer and play for Benfica-unfortunately my lack of skills soon ended that dream!

What attracted you to working at Secret Escapes?
A colleague from my previous company moved to Secret Escapes a few months ago and said it was a great place to work. The role itself also sounded great!

What was your first week at Secret Escapes like?

It was great week but also a very busy week! I was introduced to a lot of people and had to get to grips with new processes and procedures! Everybody was very friendly and helped in making my first week as easy as possible.

How did you find the recruitment process at Secret Escapes?
I had two interviews, the first was a little more informal, we chatted about my experience, my previous job roles and why I wanted to work at Secret Escapes. The second interview was a little more demanding and included a task for me to prepare and present back to the team. Overall the process was good!

What makes Secret Escapes different to where you have worked before?

The pace of Secret Escapes is faster! Where I worked before offers were planned to land throughout the year, here we need to have new offers every week. The work environment is great – everyone works hard but the office environment is fun and relaxed.

Finally …. What has been your favourite holiday destination and why?
I loved my holiday to Florida! I was quite surprised on how casual and friendly people were. It was my first time to America and honestly had a different idea! I love a beach holiday so this was a great destination for me, two weeks of pure relaxation and good times (and very, very warm sea water).

Josh Prendergast, Software Developer

What attracted you to working at Secret Escapes? I was looking for a position which would draw upon elements of both development and operations. And so, working within the platform team (which, amongst many things, is tasked with developing the tech team’s infrastructure and tooling) was a natural choice. The culture is also fun and relaxed.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a graphics designer. But then I got into programming (with Lua) and the rest is history.

What attracted you to working at Secret Escapes?
I was looking for a position which would draw upon elements of both development and operations. And so, working within the platform team (which, amongst many things, is tasked with developing the tech team’s infrastructure and tooling) was a natural choice. The culture is also fun and relaxed.

What was your first week at Secret Escapes like?
The first week was filled with lots of learning (process, technologies, and people’s names) as you’d expect, I’m still learning.

How did you find the recruitment process at Secret Escapes?
I went through a phone interview, take-home test, and face-to-face which took about 3 weeks from first contact to final offer. Overall, I was very pleased with the process.

What makes Secret Escapes different to where you have worked before?

Each employee has their own personal development programme and time is set aside to work on personal objectives. There’s also music playing throughout the office, which is always a plus.

Finally …. What has been your favourite holiday destination and why?

I’d say Thailand, where amongst many things I dived in a yellow submarine. I’ll be there again this year.