Blagoj Jovanov has been a Senior Software Engineer at Netcetera for around ten years. Now he is a tech lead, part of the Netcetera recruitment team, a well-known mentor, and an international conference speaker!
Check out his insights on his career journey at Netcetera and how the story unfolds in the interview below.
Your way to Netcetera…
My journey with Netcetera started 8 years ago. Back then, I was at university, doing my Master’s studies and working as a laboratory assistant. I only had my master thesis left to do when I met a classmate from my faculty who had started working at Netcetera and mentioned that I would be a good fit there. After working for almost 3 years at the university, I felt the need for a change and to be closer to real-world projects, experiencing the way software is made from development to production. So I applied, and I got a job offer.
Back then, there were around 120 employees in Macedonia; now, we are more than 400 people.
What about your personal and professional growth?
In the beginning, it was hard to cope with the fact that most of the things I was taught at university were obsolete, and the requirements of the business and the technology stack posed a steep learning curve. But I stood up to the challenge and, during the years, gained valuable experience in every aspect of software engineering. I started as a junior software engineer, and now I am the tech lead of a team of 10+ people, part of the recruitment team, a mentor for new tech leads, and an international conference speaker. I am grateful that I had the chance to work with great professionals who selflessly supported me and were open to any questions I had. On the personal side, my memories are filled with many events: Seminars, parties, project dinners, and various other team-building activities on-site or traveling somewhere else. Lots of fun 😊
What drives your passion for giving talks?
Knowledge is a thing that grows when it is shared. I was especially active in math and physics competitions during high school and wanted to share some of that knowledge comprehensively. Also, at university, I had lectures on various subjects. There are two sides of me as a presenter: the funny one and the “trying to be funny” one. The inspiration for humorous presentations was sparked at one of the seminars we had locally in Macedonia, where colleagues had talks which were meant to be funny, and I enjoyed that a lot. These seminars were held over the weekend, and who wants to hear more tech stuff after a whole working week, right? So in the next seminar, I made a debut with very positive feedback from the audience. Since then, I developed a style where the slides from a presentation make sense only together with the talk itself; otherwise, they are just a bunch of images and memes. I feel strongly that one of the hardest things is to make people laugh, and in this stressful modern life, a good laugh is more than welcome. So as long as I have inspiration, I will continue with my presentations. The other aspect, the ‘trying to be funny” one, is to have a technical presentation with some jokes in between where applicable. This is also far from easy, especially when presenting in front of an unknown audience. However, this has proved to work so far and indicates that I could continue in that direction. The motivation for doing these presentations is receiving affirmation, both self and company-wise, networking possibilities, and last but not least, traveling opportunities since Wanderlust is one of my weaknesses.
You have a constant marathon of conferences, any takeaways?
I have to mention that most of this is possible thanks to Netcetera and the company benefits which enable me to take participation in such events. The company supports my professional growth, and I find it very valuable personally and in my career.
As a speaker, anyone who has applied to speak at worldwide conferences can confirm that every chance you get is hard-deserved. You may be well renowned in your own company, but the world is entirely next level. Honestly, I didn’t have high hopes at the beginning, but I was surprised when I had three acceptances this summer, two of which were in the USA.
At the first one, I held a talk on RxJS operators. It had three parallel tracks and a small audience since it was held in hybrid (both in-person and virtual). It was an excellent opportunity to get in touch with people and learn more about businesses and the challenges they face in everyday work, both professionally and personally.
The second one was huge, with around 1600 attendees and 15 parallel tracks. There I held a talk on Angular Elements. This was the first conference I have been to where you received feedback from the attendees, which is highly appreciated and valuable for future improvements. 😊
I have an upcoming presentation in Lisbon at a particular conference, where the main focus is an unconventional project. There I will have the chance to share my experience on a Netcetera project from a few years ago. We were doing video transcoding up to the point of reverse-engineering proprietary video formats from CCTV cameras. FUN!
What are you “dying” to do next?
So far, I have had mainly technical talks, but soft skills and leadership talks are becoming increasingly popular as part of tech conferences and dedicated ones. I want to share my thoughts and vision on these topics and will try to pursue this goal next.
When there is a will, there is a way.
I look forward to many more talks, travels, and good experiences to reminisce on in the future.