Attracted by the unique combination of engineering and the passion for solving complex business challenges that HTEC Group nourishes, Miroslav Virijevic recently joined the company as its new CFO. He has known the company’s founders from their early days and was aware of their initial business steps when they started in the Technology Incubator in Belgrade. Drawn by their vision, success, and growth during these trying times, Miroslav decided to jump on board in October 2020.
Miroslav has spent the last 12 years in investment banking, meeting incredible people who stand behind some of the most notable companies in the region and the world. But what drew him towards HTEC was the high level of entrepreneurial spirit embedded in the company’s culture and the drive for success and technology excellence.
What he finds fascinating is that some of the key management members have been in the company since the mere beginning—for more than ten years. “They are all still sharing that spirit and passion for the business—I find that remarkable.”
His regular working activities can generally be split into two categories—the overall daily finance activities and the growth part related to the monitoring and analysis of business opportunities. These daily activities include monitoring and analysis of financial performance—tracking of the company’s cash position, profitability, various KPIs affecting the company’s performance, and financial decisions. The growth segment, which actually takes most of his time, relates to evaluating prospective business and expansion opportunities. “The company is in the mode of rapid organic growth and development, that is supported by intensified M&A activities, which take a lot of effort to evaluate, discuss, negotiate and communicate with investors and sellers.”
Miroslav arrived at HTEC during one of the most challenging but crucial moments. The official integration with Execom had just started, and the one with Konstrukt followed quickly after. “The integration with the company of 200 engineers was quite challenging, and I am really proud to say I was involved in the process from the start. Then, the acquisition of Konstrukt, which we completed in January, was also exciting because we got some new amazing people on board, and we are planning our growth together.”
Privately, Miroslav is an avid reader without any specific preference when it comes to genre. He loves the works of physicist Richard Feynman, mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot or essayist Nassim Taleb, and other modern thinkers and philosophers. Still, he is also a fan of stoic philosophy and classic literature—” I like those classic works from which you can extract knowledge and pick up ideas that survived centuries. Of course, I like modern authors as well, some business books, etc., but I like to stick to some long-standing values and ideas, especially in finance. I enjoy reading about things related to value investing and authors like Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett, Ben Graham, Seth Klarman—so all of them are good reads for me as a finance professional. Technology did change businesses and accelerated innovation, but the underlying principles for understanding and evaluating them remained the same.”
Miroslav would suggest HTEC to anyone who has an engineering nerve inside them because this is where all the challenges are. “If you want to be a better engineer, for sure, you will become better by working on the projects that HTEC is currently working on—together with people that are responsible for their execution.” For him personally, the international aspect of the business should be very attractive to anyone considering work at HTEC, in any department. For example, he is currently working on investments into technology companies that are reshaping entire global industries, but also M&A opportunities with some prominent technology companies. “This internationalization of business and global outreach to the most tech advanced companies of our age is what brings new opportunities from both the engineering and the business standpoint.”
What motivates Miroslav is his simple life motto—“Just make another step!” As a mechanical engineer, he started his career in finance without a formal degree in this domain, but he was curious to learn more about it and advance. “Whatever idea or concept I want to grasp, I need to understand it to detail so that I’m able to comprehend it fully in all aspects. Only then can I make the next step.”
As a fan of chess, Miroslav says that most people, when making analogies talk about only one of the two distinct chess philosophies—the First Mover Advantage. Namely, the person to play first is the winner in some 55% of the cases, which means the white player always has a bit of the advantage. This analogy is often used in business when people expect that by doing something first, they will utilize the benefits of their early moves. However, Miroslav is more inclined towards the philosophy of the Endgame Strategy and Capablanca’s approach to the game, which focuses and navigates the game towards the end part of the game, where the winning happens. „Effectively, the one who stays last is actually the winner.“ Miroslav says that he shares this view in life, and not only in business.
Over the years, he has realized that not everything can be taught, but everything can be learned. As most of us are exposed to similar education and resources, what differentiates those who succeed from those who do not, is their inner, genuine curiosity and the will to dedicate the time, effort, interest, and passion to what they are dealing with. “The crucial things that can differentiate you as an individual or a professional can’t be taught by someone. So I believe that everything can be learned but can’t be taught so easily.”