Jul 04, 2022
Goran Vujanović is a technical team lead in the Belgrade office who believes that employees should also be company ambassadors and spend their time thinking about how to improve company culture. He believes Adacta is the perfect size for agility and growth in an increasingly competitive global software market.
Let's start with how you got into programming?
My first contact was 25 years ago in elementary school when I coded in the BASIC programming language on the old Spectrum computer on a black and white TV set. In addition to programming, I also liked electrical engineering, and that was what got me onto the path that became my professional career later. After finishing elementary and secondary school, I enrolled at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering in Belgrade.
What was your first project you remember working on?
I coded some things in elementary school already, but the first real project I remember was in fourth year of the faculty. We were tasked with building a movie theatre website for online booking. This was the first time we worked as a team that had to organize and work together using a technology stack that was popular at the time: HTML, PHP, MySQL, etc.
Were you the project lead on that team?
Yes, I was the team lead responsible for organizing other people.
How did you find your way to Adacta?
For ten years after finishing my studies, I worked with several other companies and at that time I was working for a Greek company. That was in 2017. I was contacted by a head-hunter who advised me that I should talk with Adacta. After three interviews, we realized we were a good fit.
What is your position in Adacta, currently?
I am the technical team lead – it is a mixed role that combines people and work management with a technical aspect. I work with the people on the team and am responsible for hiring, onboarding and mentoring. I organize the work, but I also work on technical tasks, like programming, code reviews and architectural decisions. I am also responsible for improving the development process.
»I want to build a team on the foundation of key values: respect, trust and transparency. If you do, everyone on the team feels comfortable and will support each other, share knowledge and be eager to learn something new. «
How many people are on your team?
We are a large team with 13 people. A year ago, we were a much smaller team but decided we needed to expand so we hired several young people fresh from the university. We combined them with some senior resources to create a good team that’s capable of delivering.
As a team lead, what was your greatest challenge?
To establish a team. (laughter) You can’t be the team lead without a team. It’s become hard to find quality people and you need a good atmosphere to motivate people and retain them as long as possible. Last year, we expanded our team from 5 to 13 people and kept great atmosphere in the team. We have a mix of experienced people and young guys motivated to build a career in Adacta.
How does your leadership style differ from others?
I want to build a team on the foundation of key values: respect, trust and transparency. If you do, everyone on the team feels comfortable and will support each other, share knowledge and be eager to learn something new. They want to prove themselves. I don’t want to be the manager – I want to be a part of the team and put the team in the first place. When we do something good, that is the result of the work of the entire team, not just one or two individuals.
In practical terms, how do you foster this culture?
People need to talk as much as possible. During the COVID lockdowns, this was harder and it was difficult to maintain the team spirit. When you don’t have a coffee with people, it’s harder to stay in touch. I want us to be a family and when something is wrong, I want people to address it immediately.
Another important aspect is the internal sharing of knowledge, where the experienced guys share what they know and are open to help. People also need to be able to learn from their mistakes so they can progress.
How does the environment in Adacta differ from your previous employers?
I had worked in large international corporations as well as start-ups and I like that Adacta is a midsize company bringing the best from both worlds. Like a start-up, it is agile and has good atmosphere without being inflexible like a large company. On the other hand, it has established processes for building software and collaborating. You have defined roles but you can still change quickly, which is important because you have to react quickly.
» I don’t want to be the manager – I want to be a part of the team and put the team in the first place. When we do something good, that is the result of the work of the entire team, not just one or two individuals. «
What are the largest changes you had to adapt to?
COVID was a major change as we had to switch to working remotely within days. We managed to keep the team spirit, the processes and deliver everything we needed, which was the big change. Today, we are working based on the hybrid model which is very nice because sometimes it is much easier to stay at home to work on complex issues alone.
What is your favourite thing about Adacta?
It’s the people who are the most important thing. You can cope with any challenge if you have a good team of colleagues, who are not afraid to ask questions and are ready to work together. At the end, it’s easier to work on things together.
You also mentor young people. Why is this important to you?
I think the focus should be on building and developing your own talent, particularly in this competitive climate. We need to invest in the future and get young people who can then learn and work as mid-level or senior developers within a few years. It’s not easy but I see it as a way towards the future. I also really like working with young people.
You’re also something of an Adacta ambassador …
I like wearing Adacta’s t-shirt when I play sports, because it opens doors to conversations I might not have otherwise. People see it and ask me whether I know someone who works for the company. You never know, you might make new contacts that might lead to something good. I am proud of the company and I like to share that.
It’s also good branding. If you heard about the brand, you might be more inclined to send your CV when you see a job opening. I believe it’s important for a company to be present in as many places as possible.
Do you feel your efforts are improving Adacta’s brand?
I hope so. I am doing my best. I am trying to come up with new ideas for my team, for marketing, for HR … I believe everyone should be involved in some part outside their area. We should collect as many new ideas as possible and find interesting solutions. You should focus some 10 percent of your weekly work on something else – thinking about how we can improve our work and our environment.
»The most important are the people. You can cope with any challenge if you have a good team of colleagues.«
So what do you do outside of work?
I have a lot of hobbies. I like sports, particularly football, tennis and fishing. These are my passions and I also like camping, hiking and playing with my kids. I just need the time to do it. Tennis is becoming my favourite sport because it’s easy to organize since you don’t need that many people and it’s a great mix of mental and physical preparation.
So, as a tennis lover, who’s the best tennis player alive?
Novak Djoković for sure. (laughter)
What advice would you have for someone new to the industry?
Be eager to learn something new. Try to ask questions and research interesting things. Young people usually want to try everything to see what they like – development, testing, business roles. However, it is no longer enough to learn something and then stay still. Technologies are changing, the way we develop software is changing and you need to be ready to learn your entire life. If you like constant change then this is the right place for you.