Meet Tsvetan Smardanski: .NET Technology Manager and a Site Lead
He has achieved one of his goals – to build his career in his hometown Burgas and to support the academic community there. In this article, you will learn more about his professional path, and the challenges in his everyday life and career.
On your introduction
My name is Tsvetan Smаrdanski, and I have been part of Scalefocus for almost 5 years. I am currently a Technology Manager.
I have held this position for about a year and a half. One of my significant responsibilities is leading the company’s .NET department. In this team, there are professionals from Bulgaria, Turkey, and North Macedonia; we are a large group of people overall.
I have been combining this position with my role as Site Lead for our office in Burgas for almost a year.
On the typical Site Lead’s responsibilities
We ensure that the people in the office are happy and work in a calm and healthy environment. Another activity specific to the role is handling public relations and various engagements to support the local academic community
On the challenges from both roles
To say that I felt utterly comfortable from the very beginning would be an exaggeration. With curiosity and enthusiasm, I accepted the offer to be a Site lead in parallel with my Technology Manager’s responsibilities. It was certainly new to me. This was the first time I had done something like this. The responsibilities are different. It changed my way of thinking, expanding my views about people and office work. The opportunity to see processes beyond my role, to put myself in the shoes of people from different functions, and to take care of them and how the office is presented is exciting and enriching.
To summarize – I try to balance between the two positions. I like that I give and receive different things from them. It’s natural to have ups and downs along the way, but I try to maintain my focus and to contribute equally to all topics that require my attention.
On your background
If we go back in time, I’ve been part of the IT industry for 12 years. I’ve worked in different companies, and most of my experience has been built in organizations providing software services. I’ve used various technologies and languages before getting here.
I graduated from Varna University of Economics, majoring in Informatics, which is how I laid the foundations of my technical knowledge.
Meaning you found out what you wanted to do when you were still young?
In fact, yes. My high school education was also in a class with informatics at PMG Burgas.
On your career path
Before I started working at Scalefocus, I lived and worked in Varna.However, I needed a change and was looking for an opportunity to relocate to my hometown Burgas and continue my career development there. When I learned that Scalefocus was planning to open an office here, I decided to take advantage of the opportunity. As I mentioned earlier, I joined Scalefocus in July 2018. I started as a Senior Software Engineer in the .NET practice. We started with a small team. Apart from me was a Junior Developer and another Senior Developer who had relocated from Sofia. The number of colleagues in Burgas quickly multiplied, and very soon, we were no longer a small team. The .NET practice was also growing. At first, we were 5 people, then 10… until at some point, I was naturally offered to take a senior leadership position. I now have the privilege and the responsibility to lead 60 people. This is how my professional development at Scalefocus looks in numbers.
Now is the time to mention our office opening in Varna because it sets an excellent example of the proactivity that is valued and encouraged in our company.
Soon after I had joined Scalefocus and relocated from Varna to Burgas, my old colleagues got inspired and started proactively applying for roles in the company They are experienced professionals, and I’m not just saying that because we’re friends. Over time, they proved and justified the trust given to them – not only for becoming part of Scalefocus but also to be among the main reasons for setting up an office in Varna.
You can learn more about the location from Alexander Mihaylov – here.
On your workday
If I have to use one word, it would be: chaotic. Nothing goes according to plan. I come to work with the idea that I have some tasks, and by the end of the day, what turns out to be a priority is an entirely different set of things. I spend a significant part of my day in meetings and conversations with people – colleagues from my practice, and external people such as representatives of educational institutions or other institutions, for example. I also organize events. Every day is different, as I wear multiple hats at work. Each work situation requires quick thinking and reaction so that we can find optimal solutions. A challenge always arises when one needs to determine the true priorities among all tasks. For me, prioritizing tasks and giving feedback down the chain is essential.
On your team
As no person typically carries absolutely all necessary qualities to solve a given problem, it is vital for people to complement each other in a team. To know their strengths and weaknesses as individuals and to seek the assistance of others when facing challenges. To trust each other completely – to the point that no one is afraid to show vulnerability worrying that someone else would take advantage of it.
This is the foundation that leads to development.
As the head of the entire .NET practice, I work with a team of Technology Team Leads. Before I take a final decision, I pass it through the team for discussion, brainstorming, and suggestions.
On the new colleagues, you are looking for
The main criteria we focus on are technical knowledge and skills, but these are certainly only some of the factors determining whether we want to invite a person to join our team. We’ve come across people with enviable technical skill sets who have demonstrated a complete inability to thrive in a group. The successful candidate should have the desire and motivation to learn and upskill. In the world of technology, where there is something new every day, a person who does not want to invest daily in their growth and self-development, very quickly loses their competitiveness. In summary, these are the three important things I consider when looking for new people to join us: teamwork, actual skills and a strive for development.
Оn keeping up with the tech trends
In terms of my technical skills, it’s getting harder and harder. As I mentioned, other things besides technical tasks keep me busy daily. Because of this, I consciously take the time to read and watch on the subject. I am subscribed to numerous weeklies and news sources dedicated to technology or successful people management. After I learn something new, I put it into practice to reinforce the skill. I gave myself an account that frequent interviews with job candidates at all levels motivate me to stay informed on technology subjects and trends. On the management topics, I use various online sources and participate in practical trainings.
On what you want to achieve in your career and beyond
World peace 🙂
I am working to grow our .NET team and the office in Burgas. The two objectives involve a different focuses. The goal of the technology team is to be competitive in the global market, and we have a department of proven professionals who strive to overcome every challenge – from development to implementation of the smallest detail. For a team to be sustainable, it must be composed of people with different expertise. That’s why at Sclaefocus we highly encourage knowledge-sharing – more experienced colleagues pass their skills to newbies, and newbies, in turn, contribute with fresh ideas. A big chunk of our efforts is dedicated to laying the base which allows everyone to navigate easily and reach the established working practices in the team.
Regarding the goals of the Burgas office for 2023 – we want to continue growing with experienced and cool colleagues, regardless of their professional profiles. Typical for the location is the close cooperation and support for the academic community in the city, including high school students. This year we will continue actively working in this direction and contributing to the development of the local IT ecosystem.
On the educational initiative of Scalefocus Burgas
Our team representatives are in one of the schools we partner with – the so-called IT high school in the city. There we actively work with students from the 10th, 11th and 12th grades, whom weguide down the path of software development.
This summer, our colleague Georgi Karagogov mentored a group of 10th graders who were interns at Scalefocus for 3 months. They developed their own application using cutting-edge technologies and practices. The application has an enormous potential and it depends only on them what its future will be. We did our best to provide them with a real work environment. In addition to having a mentor who provided advice, they also had the needed equipment and a dedicated workspace in our office.
We intend to turn this successful initiative into a regular practice.
On your life outside of work
Computers and technology have turned from a hobby of mine to my profession. I recently found a new favourite activity that I intend to continue developing. I try to shoot photos, and sometimes it even works. The truth is that photography has fascinated me for a long time, but only recently have I started to deep dive and learn. I took some decent shots of my kids, and they sparked my interest.
Gaming is also a hobby of mine. I play everything – from Super Mario to Doom.
Also, board games. Before having my own kids, it was easier. I enjoy games where the element of luck is minimized, and strategic thinking is required. One of my favorite games is Carcassonne.
I also value the time spent with my family and the little hobbits of mine.
What would you say if you had to explain what you do to a small child or a significantly older person?
I’ve tried explaining it to my 5-year-old daughter, but I don’t think it was successful. At least she knows it’s something with computers, in a cool office with many colleagues, and it’s probably some important job. And my manager is in Sofia.