IDEAS THAT WORK

interview by Dimana Trankova; photography by Stamen Manolov

Stanimir Nikolov, Managing Director of EPAM Systems Bulgaria and chairman of the Board of Directors of the Bulgarian Outsourcing Association, on the importance of investing in professionals

Stanimir Nikolov.jpg

At a speed that sometimes seems as if it belongs to a sci-fi movie, high technologies change and reshape the way we live, work, have fun, study, travel, take care of our health, consume news, and much more. They have changed the economy and businesses too, often beyond recognition. Outsourcing was born and became a major modus operandi, with significant development in the IT and BP services.

Bulgaria's attractiveness as an outsourcing destination was recognised by established international companies, which opened offices, branches and development centres in the country. EPAM Systems is one of them. The world leader in software solutions opened its Bulgarian branch in September 2014. Three years later, the company has 200 employees in the country, has worked or is working on a number of challenging projects from large-scale international clients, and continues its impressive development.

Stanimir Nikolov, Managing Director of EPAM Systems Bulgaria has extensive international experience in the BPO and ITO industry. His special interests are in financial services, telecommunications and healthcare, and he has honed his managerial skills in working on high-level positions abroad. In 2006, he returned to Bulgaria to develop the sector in the country. Mr Nikolov's expertise in shared services, business transformation, and technology and outsourcing was acknowledged by the Bulgarian Outsourcing Association (BOA). In March 2017, he was chosen to become the chairman of BOA's Boards of Directors.

What is behind EPAM System's dynamic development on the Bulgarian market?

Globally, ЕРАМ Systems has been active for more than 24 year. The company is among the leaders in development of software solutions. EPAM System's decision to open an office in Bulgaria is an answer to the high standards applied by the company towards the products it develops, and the qualification of the specialists in Bulgaria. In spite of the challenges of the Bulgarian market, we have been developing with excellent speed.

Today, about 200 software engineers are a part of EPAM Bulgaria's team, working on international projects, with a high level of difficulty, for internationally established client companies. This growth is mostly the result of our team's professionalism. We are proud with the talent and skills of our staff, and we develop them further with diverse programmes for qualification improvement, courses, and also with access to system for trainings.

What are the specifics of the work in ЕРАМ System's Bulgarian office?

ЕРАМ System's Bulgarian office stands out with its atmosphere and the enthusiasm of the people who work in it.

Besides with the standard privileges that people employed in the ITO and BPO sectors enjoy, we provide our staff with additional options like the opportunity to work in a summer office located a few meters away from the beach of Burgas, as well as accommodation in the city. The members of our team met the summer office initiative with enthusiasm. During the summer season, it helped them to combine holiday and work on a number of projects.

What other policies does EPAM implement for talent development in the company? How do you cope with the extremely competitive labour market in Bulgaria?

ЕРАМ offers a number of opportunities for improvement of professional qualification, including training, communities for professional discussions, system for knowledge sharing, seminars, conferences.

Additionally, we have a functioning platform for sharing and providing of 360-degree feedback for both the staff and the managers of the company.

Here is the birthplace of Tech Talks. It is an independent community for sharing of expert knowledge in the field of software development, founded by ЕРАМ. Tech Talks holds meetings each month, which are completely free of charge. On them, specialists share their experience, exchange knowledge and contribute for the improvement of the professionalism of Bulgarian specialists.

In August 2017, with the assistance of the Burgas Municipality, we realised the first Tech Talks Beach. The city's Maritime Garden became a forum where world famous experts in Java and JavaScript shared about their experience with the latest technologies in a fun and easily accessible way.

What is ЕРАМ System's philosophy as an employer?

The main responsibility of the company as an employer is to provide an environment where our staff can show their talent and creativity. They are the main moving power of the company and hence are our priority.

We value high the preservation of a pleasant and friendly atmosphere in the teams. We organise joint team buildings and parties, and this year we hosted a Mortal Kombat tournament for the whole IT industry in Bulgaria. Our team took the honourable third place.

What is the future of outsourcing industry in Bulgaria?

Outsourcing indisputably is among the industries with the greatest potential for development in Bulgaria, and provides excellent opportunities for professional realisation of local specialists. In the following years it will keep and increase its growth and its contribution to the local economy.

Which are the biggest challenges facing the sector in Bulgaria?

The challenges are the competitive labour market and the constant development of technologies. As a part of the long-term management of the problem, in 2017 the Computer Systems and Technologies Department at Professor Dr Asen Zlatarov University in Burgas started a master's degree programme in Information Processes. The initiative belongs to the Bulgarian Outsourcing Association, the Mayor of Burgas Dimitar Nikolov, and the university's rector, Assoc. Prof. Magdalena Mitkova.

The programme includes four modules for acquiring of knowledge and skills in the field of information technologies and training of managing teams for the outsourcing industry. The training is complex and interdisciplinary, and is targeted towards acquiring of competences connected with realisation of projects in the IT industry, business communications, management of human resources and team work. The programme is for students that will seek professional realisation in the field of the IT and outsourcing industry.

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