We are concluding our series of follow-up articles from the recently held HTEC leadership gathering with an insightful talk with Bojan Šukalo, Director, Engineering & Delivery. As the leader of HTEC’s Banja Luka engineering center, Bojan had the added duty of the de facto host of the gathering, which gave him a unique perspective on the whole event.
In case you’ve missed the previous interviews in the series:
- Marko Anić, Director, Engineering & Delivery
- Goran Savić, Director of Technology | Tech Excellence Network
- Jelena Damnjanović, Division Portfolio & Operations Manager
- Bojana Noskov, Director of Legal
Having processed everything you’ve experienced during the gathering, what are your main takeaways?
There are too many impressions to count, but I would choose to emphasize two things.
The first is the sheer scale of what we have set out to do, where we are now on that journey and how far we can go. The line of sight on what should happen on this road and what could be the end results is really thrilling.
The second biggest impression is how much we have in front of us in terms of building the organization to enable it to travel further, and all the different possibilities this process creates. The work ahead of us is tremendous, but it’s a road worth taking, and the emotion that was felt throughout the conference and in every individual meeting was excitement.
You were employee No. 1 in Banja Luka, HTEC’s first engineering center outside of Serbia, and you’ve overseen its growth to its current state of 100+ engineers. What has changed for you in the two years in between, the time which coincides with HTEC’s expansion?
It has been quite a journey. Compared to where I was before HTEC, I have had tremendous growth as a professional, not just in terms of what I do and my responsibilities, but also my capabilities. I have had leadership responsibilities, but I was never involved in building the system from the ground. At the same time, everything around me has grown to a different order of magnitude. This also comes with increased responsibilities, both to our people and to our clients, but also enormous satisfaction. We are building something new, and that’s how we generate value that isn’t just a word on paper, but very tangible and concrete – in revenue, in the size and the quality of projects, in people satisfaction.
What has been the most important milestone since the start of HTEC Banja Luka?
The single most important moment for me and, I believe, for the future growth of the office, was the hiring of my first colleague in Banja Luka, Bojan Vujasin. We had already laid a lot of groundwork before that and had a clear vision of what we wanted to achieve, but it was still me alone in a co-working space. Once we had the second employee it made things much easier for me, and things were getting progressively easier with each new hire.
And what has been the biggest challenge emerging from the company’s expansion and the growth of the Banja Luka team?
The first challenge you face is communicating and demonstrating the organizational values which you need in order to get traction and alignment. This challenge is omnipresent with all growing companies, though.
An HTEC-specific challenge has been striking the right balance between ambition and stability, determining how high you shoot and what the aim is. There needs to be a balance between how far we want to go and how much change an organization can support without disrupting its operations.
On one side, there is the comfort zone where we can pay attention to every detail and pinpoint every step of the way. But if we want to grow at a certain pace, we need to cross to the other side, where there is a lot of fluidity and unknown and we then must fine-tune the processes to find the right balance. We have to keep changing, but we also need to have a certain amount of structure and stability in our work environment to enable our team members to perform. It is a balancing act, like riding a wave.
How did it feel to have the leadership gathering in your hometown?
I am very proud that we had the event in Banja Luka, where a little over two years ago it was just me. Seeing how far we have come and having the chance to share that with colleagues from different cities and different countries has given me enormous satisfaction.
And there is also a deeper message here that HTEC is not about geography. This is not something that has happened just in Banja Luka, or Skopje, or Belgrade – it happens wherever we are. All offices are treated equally, and all team members have a chance to succeed. We are living in and building our communities, and this is something that I and the entirety of our leadership take immense pride in. There is great satisfaction in the fact that we are able to build communities right where we are and keep our personal lives and social connections intact while being present in the global market at the very top of the digital industry.