Nenad Maričić - mentorship as a superpower

Nenad Maričić - mentorship as a superpower

Nenad Maričić has a long and rich history with Adacta as the first employee at its Belgrade office. He worked on some of the company’s earliest projects and has seen the culture change from a plucky start-up to a mature international company serving advanced technology enterprise solutions.

Through it all, his desire to learn stayed with him and as a mentor, he sees it as his quest to impart the love of learning onto others. We discussed the history of the company as he saw it and the importance of asking questions.

How did you start working for Adacta?

After finishing my studies, I worked at a bank for about a year before seeing an ad around 2000 that was looking for people to work in Slovenia. Most people who responded to this ad went to work for one of the largest software developers in Slovenia at the time, while two of us ended up at Adacta.

What was your first impression of the company?

It was funny. Because I was coming from another country, there was a lot of paperwork involved before I could start, which was a bit of a learning curve for everyone. However, it all turned out great in the end and I found my place here.

What was the company like back then?

The company was much smaller, so everything worked differently. There were only about 30 people working there so everyone knew each other and was having a great time. We had to do most things by ourselves, things you never even have to think about today, like installing hardware.

I started out working on TIS, which was the electronic and paper phonebook for the national phone operator. Gradually, I started working on other projects, such as online banking for Abanka and the SISBON credit rating system for the National Bank of Slovenia. These were the projects on which I cut my teeth and SISBON was actually when I was team lead for the first time.

So how did you find your way back to Serbia?

In 2003, we started working with Microsoft Serbia, which opened an office in Belgrade. We worked on the Serbian Customs Office projects and then scored another phonebook project, this time with Telekom Serbia. Finally, Adacta opened its Belgrade office in 2003, where I was the first and only employee. For a couple of years, I divided my time between Slovenia and Serbia and in 2005 began working full time in Serbia.

What was your role in the Serbian office?

I was responsible for everything. I worked on back-office matters, I was handling the reception desk, I was even looking for business opportunities and we closed some smaller deals. All this changed in 2010 when we began working on AdInsure and everything started moving faster.

Initially, we worked on the Triglav Zagreb implementation project and then continued with Triglav Belgrade in 2011, which was a very successful project. Afterwards, we worked in Skopje and on many other projects across Serbia. The year 2013 marked the start of a new period of growth – as AdInsure grew faster so did we.

How many people are in the Belgrade office today?

There are around 46 of us today, so we are a large office.

How have things changed over the years?

When you have a small number of people, everything is easier. You know everyone and always knows exactly who to ask when you encounter a problem. The relationships are closer and more casual. For example, when I lived in Ljubljana, we always went out for drinks on Friday afternoons. Just like friends.

When the company grows, it makes it harder to know everyone. You get more focused on your work. I don’t know everyone in the Ljubljana office anymore because I am not there as often. We now have procedures for when you want to do something and you can’t just skip a step or two to make everything faster. But that’s normal.

What is your job title today, after all these experiences?

I am not a big fan of titles, however I am a Technical Lead for a part of AdInsure Studio and I lead a part of development. I work as an architect on the front end and some parts of the back-end.

When did you realize you want to work with technology?

When I first saw Spectrum and Commodore, I immediately knew I wanted to work with them. I began by playing games and then tried to write my own. After that, I essentially never stopped.

What keeps you motivated?

Learning new things excites me. Programming is such a large area that you can always find something new to try out if you want to. Working on AdInsure is excellent because you get to learn about things from the business side, which keeps it fresh and exciting.

You are also known as a mentor in your office. How do you approach that role?

I love working with people I can learn from so we can grow together. This is easy when people are young and enthusiastic. In my view mentorship comes down to me simply guiding people who work towards their goal independently. Sometimes, I tell them things could be done differently but it’s about having a dialogue. I could be wrong and they may have better ideas. The point is to get to a solution together.

I believe that if you let people work with code independently, they will gain experience and learn from their mistakes sooner. I don’t believe in telling people what to do step by step.

Do you ever have people pushing back?

No. People who come to work in Adacta are great and ready to learn. They are happy to receive advice. I have never been in a situation where a person I worked with complained. I even like it when people have their point of view, and the debate gets a bit more heated. The important thing is we come to the same conclusion.

What’s the best career advice you would give to people starting out?

I always tell people to ask questions. There’s no shame in asking a question. I noticed that some new employees coming to Adacta believe asking questions will be to their disadvantage. They are fresh out of college and they think they have to know everything. Realistically though they have still a lot to learn. The smart thing is to ask for help when you hit a problem you can’t solve on your own.

What would you tell any future talent who would love to join Adacta?

If you love what you are doing, you will succeed. Above all, Adacta has a great atmosphere and people who are eager to help. The company lets you try things on your own and ask questions. You will get to learn and if you want to learn and progress, Adacta is the place for you.

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