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Impressions from Belgrade – Part 2

12 May 2014
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Reading time: 3 minutes

After living in Belgrade for more than half a year, it is time for a second review. And it happened quite a lot since my last report three months ago!

People

Not only did we grow to more than 10 people within that six months, we also managed to find a General Manager. Aleksandar started in March and enriches the local management with his domestic knowledge and his large experience in both technical topics and entrepreneurship. We divided our responsibilities as CEO/COO at the moment, before he will take over the Serbian affiliate next year completely. We harmonize perfectly and it is great fun to work together – a perfect management setup for the next phase.

But even more important than the management staff, we have an amazing team with a great spirit and dedicated engineers. I think it is worth to mention that our female quota currently is 20 %. Recruiting is an ongoing process and we get really good response to our job ads and other HR marketing activities. Beside our main hiring channels we already managed to get new colleagues by personal recommendation – which is extremely valuable not only in relative small HR markets such as Belgrade’s IT sector.

Party

A highlight back in February was the official opening party of the Belgrade office. After being operational for more than three months, we finally celebrated the opening and our first successes. Due to heavy delays of the Air Serbia flight from Zurich I had to rearrange the planned program significantly on very short notice. But doing business in Serbia for more than three months and considering my career in the Swiss Army, this did not discomfit me at all. 😉 With Aleksandar’s support we managed to not only having efficient meetings and additional workshops but also an entertaining social program with a city tour, aperitif in our premises (with external guests) and a joint dinner.

Belgrade Fortress

Guided city tour through Belgrade – here at the Belgrade Fortress.

Projects

So far, we successfully completed distributed projects with all of the four other Zühlke countries. Even though there are significant differences between our national affiliates, it is a joy to experience our common understanding while speaking the same language from the very beginning. One already known fact was proven true once more: Despite all modern communication channels, nothing beats face to face meetings! Therefore we have frequent travel activities in both directions and enjoy the personal communication in daily business.

Professional Scrum Developer Course

In the second week of March we enjoyed another highlight: Professional Scrum Developer (PSD) course with Daniel Tobler. We not only covered the PSD stuff but used an additional day to also simulate geographical distribution during the practical parts. To get an even more international experience we invited participants from other Zühlke locations as well.

PSD course

Ongoing work during the practical course parts with simulated geographical distribution.

The course was great fun and we could test lots of tools and practices how to work efficiently in a distributed setup. Even the class room part was distributed with one Belgrade engineer joining from at home as he had broken his leg. Last but not least we all succeeded in the online assessment two weeks after course end and are now certified “Professional Scrum Developers I“.

Personal

Outside business hours I try to preserve my fitness level with regular running. That is why I decided to participate in the Belgrade Marathon in late April. Despite my reduced training due to long business days, I felt quite good but underestimated the weather conditions (sun and the infamous Belgrade wind). Thus I finished not as close to three hours as desired, but was pretty amazed about my fast assimilation: I was ranked as a Serb after living here for six months only. 🙂

I am looking forward to more exciting months to come and to continue our successful Serbian adventure!

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