At Netcetera, we strive for personal and professional development. These interviews are a way of bringing Netceterians closer to all of you out there, our future fellow colleagues. This round includes two of our colleagues, Bojana Popovska and Dejan Mladenovski, senior engineers, from the Skopje office, sharing their personal views on their professional experience.
Entry to Senior software engineer - how was your career journey in Netcetera?
Dejan: It all began about 5 years ago when I first applied at Netcetera. Before joining I was a student in my final year of studies, and working for about 3 years as a .NET engineer, thus built up my knowledge around. NET.
I knew that most of the projects in Netcetera were Java-based, but even so, I decided to apply for a Software engineer position in Skopje. I was very excited when I got the callback.
I started as an entry-level Software engineer and joined a small team working on a web app for managing events for a big ticketing company. It was one of the most challenging things that period, learning a new technology, and at the same time be involved in the whole process from analysis, estimation, customer communication, deployment, from start to finish. It has been a great experience and I am very grateful to my colleagues at Netcetera, especially team members that helped me learn quickly. After a year, we finished the project and I moved on to another, more challenging one.
The next projects - some of which I still work on are in the online payment ecosystem and are very exciting because all of them are mission-critical applications, require 100% availability, and need to perform as best as possible. Working on such projects has allowed me to improve my skills, not only as a developer but as a solution architect as well. Starting as a developer on customer integration projects, I have worked my way up, and currently, I am working as a Senior Software Engineer and Product Architect for the Netcetera 3DS Acquiring Products
Bojana: Unlike Dejan, my journey with Netcetera has been ongoing for a longer time. I have joined the company back in 2011, right after I graduated. I know that 10 years seem like a very long time, but to be honest, it does not feel that long :)
What is interesting is like Dejan, the job I applied for and started back then is very different from the job I have now. I feel like I’ve grown alongside the company. On the one hand, there is personal career growth, of course, I started as a Junior Software engineer, and worked my way up to a Tech Lead position. On the other hand, Netcetera has grown quite a lot during the last decade - in size, but also in the type of challenges we are now capable of tackling.
When I think ten years back, the technology of choice was predominately Java, with small teams working with mobile technologies just emerging. Now, we are a much more diverse workforce, both when it comes to technologies and projects, but also when it comes to skill sets and roles. I’ve witnessed a lot of emerging technologies, and how we have been successful in building expertise and teams that work with them. To name just a couple, the AR studio and the ML teams are good examples of things we do on the cutting edge.
Which were the most challenging projects that made a difference in the work-life afterward?
Bojana: I like to think of myself as the person that goes where the challenge is. For me, it meant working in various teams, on various challenges in different domains across the years. Whenever I felt like I have reached the end of my growth path in a given setup, I was presented with a bigger challenge.
I have worked in quite a few domains - from payment systems to digital publishing, and with a plethora of technologies, from Java to React, Angular, Vue.JS, React Native, Node JS, etc... Some projects were backend heavy, some were frontend only, some were full-stack. On some of them, I contributed as a developer, on others, I took on a tech lead role. And then, of course, there are the challenges you can tackle outside of project work - being a mentor and team leader, educating emerging tech leads, supporting with technical interviews, presentations, code fu challenges.. the list goes on and on...
Dejan: It's difficult to choose, most customers have challenging requirements especially when developing a product that is hosted at the customer’s side. But, it has its rewards. I have learned a lot about creating a standard application and can work on different infrastructures, with different requirements and specifications. Also, what made a difference is working with multiple teams. As the portfolio and our products grew, so did the teams.
Working on these projects allowed me to travel and meet with potential and existing customers. Since our customers are worldwide, I had the chance to travel to Germany, Switzerland, Israel, the USA, etc. To be able to visit our customers and hear their very positive feedback gives me more confidence and motivation to continue improving and growing.
In one sentence, how would you describe Netcetera?
Dejan: Netcetera is not a company of software engineers and managers. Netcetera is a place where baristas, magicians, beer makers, bikers, musicians, paragliders, pilots, and gamers work… who happen to be IT experts as well.
Bojana: Uh... I have a lot to say, but will try to narrow it down: Netcetera is a company that allows you to have it all - both a challenge that will help you learn and grow and an environment that will allow you to have a good work/life balance.
What’s it like to be a mentor in Netcetera?
Bojana: To me, being a mentor in Netcetera has been a very rewarding experience. Having the ability to make an impact on someone's career is an important and challenging job, and it pays off when you see the career growth that people experience with your support. I have had the opportunity to work with people at various stages in their careers. Since no two people are the same, no two mentorship experiences are the same either. The key thing is to identify what your mentee needs from you the most. In some cases, it is technical skills you help them develop by doing pair programming and code reviews. Other times, it is more of a knowledge exchange experience, where you discuss the project and technology-related topics, such as architecture. And sometimes, your role is more of a coach, you just bring advice and guidance to someone when they are embarking on a new challenge.
When the culture around you nurtures a growth mindset, you learn from your mentee as much as they learn from you. If I made a list of skills I have learned as a mentor, on the top of the list there would be: being patient, listening actively, expressing yourself more clearly and straightforwardly, practicing empathy… In short, I am very grateful to have had the opportunity.
Dejan: I agree with Bojana that being a mentor is not only what you can teach other team members, it is also an experience where you can learn as well. I have been a mentor to many colleagues, and everyone with a different position in Netcetera. It's about guiding and supporting your team in their personal and professional growth, at the same time, it allows me to grow as well and share my journey.