Insights / HTEC Culture / HTEC Features: Sabin Pilipautanu on Harmonizing Business Goals and People Growth


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HTEC Features: Sabin Pilipautanu on Harmonizing Business Goals and People Growth

HTEC’s employee No. 1 in Romania, our Director of Delivery Operations for Romania Sabin Pilipautanu is a venerated veteran of the country’s software engineering community. Along with our incredibly dedicated Talent Acquisition team in Romania, he has spearheaded our expansion efforts, steadily building a team projected to become a formidable part of our organization. 

Through his professional work, Sabin has distinguished himself both as an engineer and a people leader. His career has spanned everything from hands-on software development, process management, and delivery responsibilities, to people management and their career development. With such a broad and accomplished background, we were curious to learn how Sabin got his start in the industry and what were the key moments that shaped the course of his career.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Sabin states that he has been drawn to natural sciences from a very young age. Growing up in the small town of Vatra Dornei, Sabin emphasizes that he was fortunate to have teachers who nurtured and guided his early interests.

“Many other kids worked hard on math and physics because it was expected of them and they were pressured to do well. I was always attracted to mathematics and physics and I was learning out of pleasure, not because I felt forced to do it. In high school, I was in a class specializing in math and physics and it was one of the best classes in the region with excellent teachers. I took part in many school competitions, and I kept my passion for this field of study.”

Finishing high school, Sabin moved to the regional university hub of Cluj-Napoca, where he studied Automation and Computer Science at the Technical University. And while he enjoyed his university studies, he was eager to gain practical working experience.

“In my third year of studies, I was employed by one of the biggest telecommunication and internet providers in Romania. It was the early 2000s, the golden age of internet clubs. I was placed in charge of the support function for one of the clubs, and I had the opportunity to work with great professionals there. I was learning a lot, about processes, about networking, about customer relationships. The roots of many things I did later can be found in that first job.”

Sabin also identifies the roots of his career in quality assurance in certain aspects of his early work. After all, technical support is all about troubleshooting and ensuring that the system runs smoothly. In fact, it won’t be long before his first work in the role of an official QA Automation Engineer.

“In the early 2000s, the IT industry was not very big in Cluj. There was no big international presence yet, only a few small or young Romanian companies. Still, it was easy to see where things were headed, and I was eager to be a part of it. I thought that it was very important for me to join a company that is growing, a company that has potential to grow. As my university studies were more focused on the hardware side than on software, I felt that QA was my best entry point. I had a dedication to quality in everything I did and having a role in QA allowed me to put that passion into practice. Of course, most of the work I didn’t learn in school, but by working side by side in engineering teams and surrounded by more experienced QA engineers.”

The responsibilities of the new role spanned QA automation and programming in C#, PHP, and Python. Sabin was quick to learn the ropes of his new profession. Over the course of the next three years, his grasp of the craft grew strong enough to be rewarded with an opportunity to lead a team of his own. It was this opportunity that exposed him to another significant aspect of his future work, the people aspect.

“In 2008, I joined a US startup, a product company that had offices in Cluj, and I was responsible for the entire QA department, leading the quality and automation efforts for the web product we were developing. It was a small company, but they needed organized and experienced engineers to put in place processes and practices that would take the QA department to the next level. That’s when I got the chance to lead a team. My work was primarily focused on the technical aspects, leading the processes and the development of a framework, but, by default, I was also working with people, and discovering that I enjoyed it.”

A year later, another opportunity came Sabin’s way, one which he now considers the turning point of his career. He had joined a fast-growing global product development company, which soon after was acquired by another global company. This quickly exposed Sabin to growing responsibilities, accompanied by opportunities to grow, learn, and discover new passions that will guide his future career trajectory.

“Starting as a QA Engineering Lead, I followed an ascendant trend in the company up to the Director level, leading the Delivery Operations function for Romania and, more recently, for all of Europe. During my 12-year tenure in the company, I was fortunate to work with many inspirational leaders, both in the company and on the client side. Many of the people I worked with are now recognized as industry leaders, not just in Romania but on a global stage. I am forever grateful for all the education I received there, all the opportunities I was given, and all the professionals I’ve had the pleasure of working with.”

Sabin emphasizes that throughout various roles he occupied within the company, his responsibilities were not limited to the technical side of leadership, but also to the people and their career development. With his background firmly rooted in the technical aspects of his work, we were curious to learn whether he was instinctively drawn to people management and their career growth or did this passion come about with time.

“It was a journey of discovery. I came into the organization with an engineering mind, a very strict and mathematical mindset focused on practical matters. But when I got the opportunity to actually lead people, to influence their careers not just in terms of how they deliver but also how they grow, I found that very rewarding. I discovered this by accident, but at the same time it was a natural step, as I’ve always tried to base my working relationships on honesty and transparency, which becomes especially important in leadership. On the other hand, it was a constant learning experience, and I was lucky to have mentors who guided me through any challenging situations. As the company grew, I was responsible for growing team leaders, and seeing people whose career paths were entrusted to me – some of whom entered the company as juniors – seeing them grow and take those next steps in their careers was the most rewarding part of my work.”

Managing delivery on one side and people and career paths on the other are two distinct skill sets that aren’t necessarily complementary and can sometimes even pull in opposite directions. Sabin has distinguished himself in both roles, although he admits that it isn’t always easy.

“One of the biggest challenges of my work is balancing the needs of the project and the business with the needs of the people. I am a people-first type of personality, and I will always try to put the best interests of people in front of business decisions. However, I understand that one can’t exist without the other, which means that sometimes you need to make tough decisions. This is why building a culture of trust and communicating with transparency and honesty are so important. When you have that foundation, you are more comfortable making those tough decisions.”

His ever-evolving career has placed Sabin in a wide range of roles and responsibilities. They have all carried valuable lessons that have guided his journey and, over time, helped crystalize where his strengths and passions lie.

“One of the major things I learned about myself is that I love being in positions to create, improve, and facilitate building contexts and teams that are frameworks for professional growth. I have always been passionate about delivery excellence, but I have found that I am very comfortable with harmonizing the technical aspects of work with people growth. I am at my professional happiest when I am able to grow others and help them succeed while delivering high-end software solutions. Whenever I have a chance to join a team where I can excel in both of those aspects, that is where I want to be.”

Which brings us to HTEC.

Sabin’s substantial professional experience and track record have singled him out as the person to lay the foundation of the company’s ambitious expansion to Romania. While Sabin laughingly recounts how he was initially contacted while he was enjoying a family holiday, the unfortunate intrusion was followed by more substantial discussions.

“I had the chance to meet in person with a lot of people from leadership and people from the engineering and product side of the company. I was able to get more knowledge about the company, the work, and future growth plans. And what attracted me the most was not the list of clients or the list of technologies or projects, but the people and their passion. The optimism and the energy that those people have put into those conversations, their determination to build one of the greatest engineering companies in Europe and worldwide from this region have made me decide to join.”

Sabin joins HTEC as the Director of Delivery Operations for Romania, responsible for driving and overseeing the company’s operations in the country. He is leading the charge that will see the company establish offices in four major Romanian cities.

“We chose Bucharest, Iasi, Cluj, and Timisoara because of their deep engineering background and experience, their strong and powerful IT communities, as well as their strong technical universities. We will target the top 10-15% of IT professionals, giving them the opportunity to work with the most iconic business and technology leaders worldwide. While we will have physical offices in these four cities, we will not limit the opportunity only to them—it extends to people all around Romania. Moreover, we will work on creating multinational teams in order to strengthen our engineering capability and expertise and continue to create the best high-class engineering solutions with our partners.”

Sabin and our growing Romanian team have been busy building the framework to support such comprehensive plans. While they are young into their journey with HTEC, Sabin has already had the chance to experience the dynamic, forward-moving nature of his new professional surroundings.

“HTEC is a fast-moving train, I’ve seen it through my own experience in these few months since I started. I feel the energy that drives this company and keeps the growth momentum. From high tech professionals to the very dedicated people from support functions, everyone is aligned and energized to build the next unicorn from this region, one of the greatest companies in this part of the world.”

His excitement for the job at hand is tangible, but Sabin is also aware of the size of the challenge any company faces entering a new territory, even more so if the territory in question involves a highly skilled and sought-after tech community.

“Romania is not an easy market, there is a lot of competition and major companies present here. What sets HTEC apart is our unique value proposition that puts engineering and technical excellence and innovation at the core of our actions. We provide the best opportunities for the most talented engineers. It’s not only joining a high growth company but a high professional growth company. Through our internal programs and tailored career opportunities and mentorship, our people can become the best version of themselves while following an accelerated career path. That is what we bring to the table, along with collaborating with the most innovative and influential organizations across the world. One of the core principles of HTEC is ‘delight, not just deliver,’ not only excelling in high-end technologies but also innovating and placing human creativity on top of that technology. I am confident that the Romanian professional community will soon recognize the value that we bring.”

On our behalf, we are excited to have Sabin alongside us on our quest to bring unparalleled professional opportunities to Romania’s IT professionals, the same opportunities that have already built and continue to evolve more than a thousand careers across the region. HTEC is actively hiring in Romania across a broad range of engineering and non-engineering roles. To explore opportunities to grow your career with us, visit our Careers page.