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3 Positions in 5 Years, and Still Looking Ahead
When Peter started in Innovatrics five years ago, he was convinced that he wouldn’t be able to develop that much in such a small company whether in the context of career development or cooperation on different projects. However, the company has grown and so did the opportunities. “Being a mobile developer at the beginning, I had to absorb technological skills. As a team leader, on the other hand, I had to learn a lot about people management and assume more responsibility for the technological solution as well. And now, I am very pleased with my current position because I can see how our products are used in practice and where their development needs to go in order to achieve customer satisfaction,” Peter says.
A couple of years ago, Innovatrics decided to look for people in Brno since they couldn’t find qualified candidates in Slovakia. Having studied there, were you one of them?
The paradox is that I wasn’t. After university, I came back to Bratislava to look for work. I sent my CV to a recruitment agency, wherein I received multiple offers. Even though my CV was in fact in the development stage, I was already rushed by headhunters and wasn’t able to get out of it. From all the offers I received, it was Innovatrics which in fact caught my attention. I had already examined the recognition of vehicle registration numbers in real time for my master’s thesis which was supposed to help search for cars, for example, in a database of stolen vehicles. This has quite helped me in Innovatrics as well since image recognition is a significant part of the company’s activities. As a freelancer, I was already programming apps during my studies.”
What is the difference between working with a team of colleagues and freelancing?
“There is a system of work and cooperation when multiple people work on one project, simultaneously assembling the puzzle so it all fits together. When people do it on their own, they think that it is the best they can do and leave it as it is. But when they have technological feedback, they improve themselves and the product at the same time.”
The possibility to consult with others makes a difference. Have you ever had such an opportunity?
“At a time when I wasn’t familiar with a lot of technologies, my colleagues spent their time on helping and informing me, which pushed me further. Later on, I needed to know consultation in terms of the solution’s architecture. There have always been people within the company to whom I could go and consult with .”
In tech, it’s rather important to network with people and attend conferences. How do you decide which ones to join?
“We can choose any conference that catches our attention. I went to Droidcon in Berlin and London, where I had the opportunity to talk with top-notch experts within my domain. It’s attended by Google developers and product managers. There is a big difference between watching new releases on a video and attending a workshop where you can try out all of them in person.”
You started as a mobile developer in Innovatrics. What exactly were your responsibilities?
“The development of mobile apps for Android. I worked on the app, BioScriber Mobile for the biometric registration of people. A person gets their photo taken and leaves their fingerprints on the basis of which a registration is created. It’s used when issuing ID’s, passports, or election registration.”
You held this position for approximately two years.
“Shortly after I began working for Innovatrics, my superior left for Uruguay where he continues to work for Innovatrics. I was left alone in Bratislava with this task, the entire app was my responsibility. We had to hire another person. We already started to look into the components for apps which we could sell to companies. As we grew, a mobile team emerged, and I ended up being the leader.
Did you have the opportunity to take a training course so you could lead a team?
“As a team leader, I had a training course in The Seven Habits. It was an intense training focused on communication skills, time management, priority recognition, etc., which lasted for several days. However, I also underwent a training where we had simulations of real and escalated situations in order to learn how to solve them. It was good that we had it right before the annual evaluation interviews where we assess the work of people within our team. I was able to better prepare myself for these interviews. I learned how to give constructive feedback in a way that comes across positively.”
As a team leader, how did you rack your brain to always come up with the best solution?
Every time we had to develop a new component, we faced a unique challenge in terms of how to stay on top of it, ensuring it was useful for customers. The biggest challenge was our project in Guinea, where I was in charge of the mobile part as the leader of the team working on election registration. It was up to us to program an app according to the specification that voter registration would run as planned. It was necessary to install our solution to thousands of devices, and we only had a relatively small amount of time. It was a very demanding project in terms of technology as well as time. In addition, it was also the largest team I’ve ever led. Although I’ve programmed a lot as well, I had to redistribute tasks and discuss with people.”
What do you enjoy more – programming or management?
“I still enjoy programming and creating solutions. In the near future, I wouldn’t like to move towards a full management position. I still want to come up with solutions.”
However, you’ve recently moved to another position – Integration Consultant.
“I received this offer after I had finished the project in Guinea. During that period, I couldn’t devote time to my mobile team, which was involved in other projects. The deputy team leader gradually assumed my responsibilities for the rest of the team and the development of other things. Also, there was a need for an integration team for a long time. When they put these two things together at the company, they offered me a new position. And I was very much interested in it. There is a difference between just programming a solution and going to the customer and understanding how they use it, what issues they encounter, what doesn’t work, and so on.”
Do you also acquire knowledge for developers so they know how to move forward with the project?
“Yes, I do. And it’s very valuable because we get information directly from customers. Before, we had a process that worked along the lines of providing the product, and then clients would write support tickets if they had issues. However, that’s a rather slow process. It’s not only much more comfortable and quicker to solve their issues, but we now receive much better feedback on our products. Thanks to that, we can easily improve them.”
Comparing all three positions you’ve held, which one was the most interesting? What did you enjoy the most? What did you learn in each?
“Even though it was a smaller company, I still had to learn a lot and absorb a ton of information at the beginning. As a team leader, I had to learn a lot about people management and assume more responsibility for the overall technological solution. And now, I am very happy with my current position because I can see how our products are used in practice and where the development needs to go in order for our customers to be satisfied with them.”
Is there more for you with Innovatrics?
“We will see. I initially had a feeling that it’s a small company, and that there wouldn’t be room for career development. Already in my third position, I’ve worked on multiple interesting projects. But honestly, I don’t really think about it nowadays because the new position is fresh and I’m still enjoying it. Having said that, it’s likely that I’ll want to be less involved in programming and navigate more towards product management.
As far as I know, you like traveling. Do you still find it interesting to go to different countries?
“Yes, there is an expectation that I’ll travel to the customer. I always tried to save up for a month-long trip during my university studies to go to China, Japan, or some other exotic country. Back then, I had a lot of time but little money. Now, funds aren’t a big issue, but on the other hand, there isn’t as much time as before :). From this standpoint, the new position is terrific. I hope that during some business trips, I’ll manage to stay longer in the particular country and get to know it. During the first project in a new position in the Philippines, I managed to make time which was great, because afterwards, the corona crisis came and the possibility to travel has been significantly limited.”
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