People make a difference. And this is true at HTEC.
For Stefan Mrsic, Senior Engineering Lead at HTEC Group, this means opportunities, challenges, rewards, continuous learning, and professional development — a chance to find your own career path and thrive. Driven by HTEC’s growth mindset and a mission to build solutions that will make a difference, Stefan joined HTEC with the ambition to use his accumulated knowledge and tech skill to make a change and bring out the best in people. And this is how the story of this thriving collaboration begins.
From working as a software developer in a small local company in Nis to becoming a thought leader and a senior Engineering Lead at HTEC, Stefan’s dedication and enthusiasm know no boundaries. We caught up with him to find out more about why he decided to dive into the world of tech and join HTEC’s vision!
Passion and Technology
From an early age, Stefan knew he would do something related to computer sciences and tech. He has always been fascinated with the world of tech as it allows him to explore his passions, generate ideas, engage in creative end-to-end experiences, and solve complex problems.
“…it was a clear-cut decision for me. I knew I wanted to do it to get into something related to computer sciences and tech when I was in primary school…I knew that the faculty, the college I would go to, would be something related to computer sciences or tech or whatever. And given that the Faculty of Electronic Engineering in Nis was quite a big institution back then, this was a logical next step for me. I attended software engineering, and the rest just unfolded afterward.”
Stefan points out that formal education helps you gain the necessary knowledge and broaden your field of interest and expertise. However, he also explains that having an engineering mindset is a must if you really want to move the boundaries in the world of tech.
“I think that going through engineering academia broadens your knowledge, your depth of field. It can help you figure out what’s out there and how each path you take impacts both yourself and your colleagues around you. But I think that you have to have that engineering drive and mindset.”
Entering the World of IT
Stefan’s first job was an excellent start as it brought him a wealth of knowledge that served him well in his future career.
“Well, the first company I started working with was Thing of Chance. I was a junior Java developer, and I have to say that that first job really meant a lot to me because while I was there, for close to 2 years, I gained a tremendous amount of both knowledge and experience. After just a couple of months there, some senior people left, including my mentor and me. So we had to take over a lot of responsibility and a lot of work that was in production. And I think that was an excellent start to my career because I was lucky enough to learn so many things in such a short period.”
Joining the HTEC’s Vision
Exciting and innovative projects and the inspirational atmosphere and approach to project delivery drove Stefan to join HTEC on their journey to create powerful solutions that will make a difference across industries.
“The second company I joined was probably one of the most well-known IT companies in Nis at that time. But things change rapidly. And even though I got a chance to be a part of an excellent organization, I wasn’t really satisfied with the domain I was working on. A friend of mine who was working at HTEC at the time said: “Hey, we have a position here. You will fit excellently. Come, let’s talk.” So, I talked with Darko, and that was in 2014.”
Stefan explains that there are two main reasons why he decided to join HTEC in the first place — an opportunity to work on innovative projects that will make a change and an opportunity to grow continuously.
“HTEC Group was actually the third company I joined. At the time, HTEC wasn’t that well known. I decided to join HTEC for two reasons: A — I wanted to do different things and approach projects differently. This is what HTEC offered back then and still does, which I found pretty exciting. We had to go above and beyond with existing clients. But the atmosphere after those first couple of months and the attitude of everyone in the company, from engineers to managers to Alex, that’s something that I was immediately hooked on. And I saw that this was a place where it’s nice to be right now. And B — putting the extra effort and giving it all you got to help build that company will eventually add up, and you will get recognition and be a valued member of the company and not just another employee. At the time, there were around 80 people in the entire HTEC. And I know that this attitude did not change until this day when the company is 900 people strong and growing.”
Driving the HTEC’s Growth
Stefan is responsible for many things inside the company, from client management and people management to ensuring everyone is given equal opportunities to grow. Still, most of all, laser-focused on helping people find the right place that will allow them to advance in their careers.
“My main responsibilities right now include delivery management, account management, client management, and people management with none of the four taking precedence — maybe people management because, without our people and our engineers, we’re just a brand and stories. But people make the difference. So on a day-to-day basis, it means actively communicating with clients on their current needs, trying to broaden the conversations, and helping Business Development and sales acquire new leads. Also, I help with the delivery, trying to make sure that projects are properly staffed with the right amount of people and the right seniority of people so that everyone gets a chance to both excel and learn. But let’s say we’re trying to pick the right person for the job. We don’t want to put people in an overwhelming situation that it’s not reasonable for them to handle. And the final but the most important part is to make sure we have a well-structured team we can communicate with regularly. It’s essential that they understand what they’re doing and have fun along the way while enjoying the growth opportunities they have.”
Openness and Transparency as the Main Drivers
Stefan explains that one of the most significant upsides of HTEC is that you can openly talk about your ideas, suggestions, or problems you are facing with anyone, no matter whether you are a junior development program or a member of a leadership team.
“Even though our company is becoming more structured, that direct communication culture remained the same as it was back in 2014 when we shared our opinions, ideas, asked for feedback, and received feedback. Those things haven’t changed. But it’s that open communication that makes HTEC HTEC. And that’s easy to do when there are 20 people in the company. But when there are close to a thousand people, that’s a challenge and a secret sauce of HTEC. And that helps people feel valued and appreciated. That helps people know that their efforts will be acknowledged, that they really have a chance to accelerate their careers as much as they can and want to.”
Openness and transparency mean a lot to Stefan. As a team leader, he likes to put himself in other people’s shoes and understand their needs and concerns so that he could do his best to help them and remove the blockades they are facing. This is his mantra.
“I strongly believe that it’s important to be a part of an open and transparent culture. We face tons of challenges daily, but it’s ok to say that you are having problems and that you need someone’s help. I like to put myself in other people’s shoes, really understand the problems they face, and think about their needs. No dishonesty, no putting it in layers and layers. Be honest.”
Growing with HTEC
Stefan’s personal growth has been quite a journey. He started as a mid-level Java developer. Then he rose through the ranks, took more responsibilities, organized small teams, took up a project manager role, and is now a full-time project manager.
“So, this is the story we keep telling our people. You can be whatever you want to be. You can do whatever you want with your career here. I’m one of the examples. And if I wanted to join the tech excellence office, I could have chosen this path as well. I was given full support and a lot of the tools I needed. I also got a fair amount of understanding for the things I didn’t do well and honest feedback. But the feedback was bidirectional, which was also good. As for my future responsibilities, given that I currently lead five, potentially six projects down the road, my focus is to strengthen the team. I have to build new engineering leads to help people grow. And to help them progress in their ideal career path. And if they don’t seem to be a good fit there, help them switch and adapt. But mainly, our goal is to have excellent delivery at scale that we haven’t done before. So it’s really all about helping people grow and build a strong leadership team, constantly making sure that everyone keeps their focus on delivery account management and, most importantly, people management, because otherwise we’ll just disappear into a nameless corporation or people won’t feel appreciated.”
Stefan explains that here at HTEC, you build your own career through the current opportunities and the opportunities that are about to arise. Here we’re encouraging people to be not only technical leaders but also people leaders.
“You have to help them think of the business impact, plan their product roadmap and consider the technical complexity this brings. Adapt and try to be flexible, deliver on the technology expectations, maintain that, reduce the technical depth and grow.”
There’s really so much you can do, and it’s hard to come across so many opportunities anywhere in the region because most companies either have a single product they work on, or they do outsourcing, and that’s it. And here, you can really make an impact, and your voice can be heard, and your effort, enthusiasm, and willingness to go the extra mile and delight, not just deliver, will really be appreciated quickly. And I think that’s the biggest value of HTEC alongside our interpersonal culture where we are more oriented towards the clients.
He points out that the client-focused approach is one of the biggest HTEC differentiators.
“Since I spent some time working abroad, with vendors, big companies, I realized that it’s really hard to find solid product and engineering services at scale. While in most cases you get half-baked teams, you also get half-baked delivery. On the other hand, the HTEC committed team views the client’s product as our own. And if they succeed, we succeed. If they fail, we fail. And that’s the attitude that we bring to our clients.“
Why Join HTEC
Amazing growth opportunities, the ability to work with the most disruptive companies in the world on innovative projects that make a change. These, according to Stefan, are the biggest HTEC’s strengths that allow you to grow immensely and acquire deep tech knowledge.
“I would say career growth opportunities at HTEC are not so easy to find anywhere on the market. And I’m not just talking about technical career growth. I mean, here, you can work with Fortune 500 companies on par with CTOs who have left Amazon, Google, the major players, and industry leaders. And it really doesn’t get better than that. This requires you to sit down and think through it, deliver on it, be on top of your game, be on top of tech accelerators.“
Curious to find out who’s next in our HTEC Features series? Stay tuned!