In the early days of June, we had a privilege not just for HTEC, but for the industry in general. We put together an internal workshop that gathered 20 of HTEC’s Solution Architects in one place.
The level of technical know-how in one location was off the charts – with 16 years of experience on average, all acquired through critical roles on challenging projects across a vast array of technological and business domains.
Meet and greet – and learn!
HTEC’s Solution Architecture group has been in existence for a while, with its growing membership engaging in weekly experience sharing sessions and vibrant communication channels. Although they have already gathered for a team building, this time, we arranged for the group to get together and take part in a workshop.
The workshop was organized by HTEC’s Tech Excellence Office. Marija Aćimović, the Head of Technology Operations, explains that the motivation behind the workshop was twofold.
Presently, we have 20 Solution Architects at HTEC. Some of them are assigned to specific projects, while others work in a “rotating” capacity, with different assignments on strategically important projects or internal processes. They are distributed across multiple offices in Belgrade, Novi Sad, Skopje, Banja Luka, Sarajevo, and Szeged. This means that most of them rarely get a chance to interact with other Solution Architects in person in their everyday work. One goal of the workshop was the social component of getting to know one another on a deeper level as peers and building stronger professional and personal relationships. The other goal was for them to exchange knowledge and experiences through the shared work of formulating solutions for a specific problem. – Marija Aćimović, the Head of Technology Operations
The majority of projects in the industry do not require the involvement of more than one Solution Architect, which makes their professional development in terms of learning from others much more challenging. And while project experience is the most crucial factor in the continued growth of Solution Architects, it alone is not enough.
Goran Savić, HTEC’s Director of Technology | Tech Excellence Network, who also had the role of a mentor at the workshop, emphasizes both the importance and the scarcity of knowledge exchange at the highest levels of seniority.
As engineers, the more senior we are, the lonelier we get, because we become surrounded by younger colleagues. That is great, because we also tend to love teaching, but for us to support our own learning and growth, we need to have colleague engineers who are technically and experientially stronger than us in some areas. That is exactly what we are doing through this workshop and all the activities of the Tech Excellence Office – we surround ourselves with our peers who know a lot of things better than us and we learn from each other. – Goran Savić, Director of Technology | Tech Excellence Network
Theory vs. Practice
At the workshop, HTEC’s Solution Architects were split into four groups of five and tasked with proposing solutions for a challenging project scenario. The assignment was a simulation of a real-life project scenario based on the actual project experience of one of the Solution Architects, Danijel Đurić, who also served as a workshop mentor.
We were curious to learn how much the workshop solutions differed from the actual project solution.
Technology has progressed, now there are better and simpler solutions for the same problem than there were at the time I was working on this specific project. It does feel good to see different points of view. We had 20 architects, meaning there were 20 opinions. The solutions were similar, but different enough that we could see the actual point that they looked at. The results were very interesting. – Danijel Đurić, Solution Architect
Danijel also believes that it was important to root the workshop assignment in project experience rather than theory, as real-life work always produces unforeseen and unpredictable challenges that greatly influence our decision-making.
There is a big difference between just inventing and knowing that you have gone through it. Most of real-life experiences include issues that you cannot predict or account for unless you have that experience. If we invented a task, we would not have that component. That is why experience is important, the more we work, the better we are at accounting for different scenarios. – Danijel Đurić, Solution Architect
Growth never stops
The workshop itself was a whirlwind of positive vibes, professional camaraderie, and sheer brain power. The teams were intentionally formed to group together team members who had very little previous interaction. With such a rare opportunity to have the team in one place, their bonding had carried over beyond the workshop and across various social spots across Belgrade.
Judging by the impressions we have gathered from some of our most distinguished engineers, they all had an absolute blast.
It is impossible to obtain complete knowledge from any single source. To become solution architects and remain relevant in the role, we need to improvise, learn, and use many different sources. The most important source, in my opinion, is the people and the knowledge shared between them. That is exactly what happened in this workshop. It was a great opportunity to learn from others and a great privilege to be a part of such a group. – Slobodan Boljanović, Solution Architect and Tech Lead
Learning solution architecture is about acquiring experience and knowledge through different projects, technologies, and – very important – different contexts in which we apply technology. It is very specific in a way that you have to learn all the time. No matter how experienced you are, you are always lacking some knowledge or experience, which is why it’s necessary to rely on sharing and augmenting our experience with the experiences of our peers. Gatherings such as this workshop are not only a source of great excitement for me, but also of great value for all of us participating in sharing knowledge, experience, and the creative approaches to applying this knowledge and experience in concrete situations. And because all of us are different and have different flavors to our approaches, I think it was very helpful for everybody – no matter how experienced we are, we all learned a lot. – Pavle Kostić, Division Head of Technology / Solution Architect
What is the Tech Excellence Office?
Before we leave you, we feel it is necessary to explain one important aspect of HTEC’s inner workings –the Tech Excellence (TE) Office.
The TE Office is an internal mechanism, an HTEC implementation of the concept “Center of Excellence” rarely seen in other companies on the market despite their efforts to make a similar structure. We may as well call it unique. This steering committee is effectively replacing the role of a CTO. It gathers the company’s highest-ranking technological leaders broadly tasked with making strategic decisions related to the company’s technological development. One of its key responsibilities is the coordination of the Tech Excellence Network – a cross-department body made up of the company’s most distinguished engineers: Solution Architects, Application Architects for different technologies, TL Associates, Tech Leads, Senior TLs, Division Heads of Technology, Heads of Technology, Directors of Technology, VP of Technology, different tech specialists and Principal Engineers. Together, they span the entirety of the company’s technical expertise, covering the delivery structure including projects, accounts, and divisions. On top of this, they share knowledge and experience across the company, and take part in a multitude of processes.
The TE Office is just one manifestation of HTEC’s dedication to the continued professional development of our team members, regardless of their role and seniority. We deeply believe that people are our greatest value, and we see HTEC as a platform that provides exposure to invaluable experience, as well as a dedicated support system to provide all the needed guidance and resources for professional growth through all stages of their career.
If you wish to grow with us, we encourage you to reach out and make the first step at email@example.com.