In the third part published in February I updated you about our situation after one year of operations. Now it is time for a final wrap-up from my point of view, as I am finally leaving Belgrade.
We have doubled our headcount within a year and will soon have 30 members of staff. It takes quite a lot of effort to guarantee our “Zühlke quality” while maintaining such a high hiring pace, but looking at the current team, it is worth every minute: the atmosphere is great and we have a bunch of highly-skilled and motivated engineers.
That we really live the Zühlke culture here in Belgrade was confirmed by Gerry Zühlke, who visited us in May. It was extremely rewarding seeing his joy over the Zühlke spirit being spread that far into Eastern Europe.
In order to consolidate our structure and specifically to support further growth we are currently adapting our organisational structure and will hire additional managers – also to compensate my departure.
Last month we spent this year’s educational camp in Turkey. We agreed on a joint project and took quite a lot of hardware to Belek, including a Raspberry Pi, sensors, cables and a remote-controlled car.
The goal was to create a microservice architecture for consuming the sensors connected to the Raspberry Pi. A single page application should then collect all the information in an online cockpit. As an ultimate test after three days of development, we mounted all the hardware on the remote-controlled car and drove it around the hotel complex. It was a great feeling of success to be able to view the values in real-time, including a live stream from the webcam!
When we were not in one of our intensive working sessions we thoroughly enjoyed the amenities of the Susesi Resort. Besides the great food we enjoyed all the sports facilities, such as beach volleyball, tennis, water slides, pools – you name it.
Well, my time in Belgrade has now come to an end after almost two years. It has been a challenging but awesome time that I am very glad I have had and would not like to have missed. I have met great people, explored a beautiful country with an interesting capital and learned a lot – it has without a doubt been one of the most exciting phases of my career.
But before I left there were still a few personal things on my bucket list, one of them being a flight to Belgrade with a single engine piston plane. Luckily the weather was nice on the weekend three weeks before my last day in Serbia and so I flew with some friends in a Cessna 172 from Speck-Fehraltorf to Belgrade and back in about 11 hours of total flight time.
Besides a farewell dinner and subsequent Party, I also tried to taste all the domestic specialties once more – which meant consuming a lot of meat (e.g. Ćevapi, Pljeskavica, Sarma), Kajmak, sweets such as Bajadera and of course Rakija. The delicious food is definitely something I will miss when I am back in Switzerland. And no – chocolate and cheese cannot compensate for that in my case. 🙂
The other and more important part I will miss are the people – both our great team and the Serbian people in general. I hardly met an unfriendly Serb during my stay here and really felt welcome. And also Belgrade itself: an astonishing city with a vivid nightlife and definitely worth a visit – for instance on your next weekend trip.
But there was another big surprise which makes it even harder for me to say goodbye to this amazing team: they organised a barbecue on Saturday afternoon at Ada Ciganlija. With support from my wife they managed to keep it secret until we arrived at the barbecue place, where the whole team welcomed me with a banner. Even Jakša from the UK office, Susanna from Schlieren and Saša, our local accountant, joined as special guests. What a great surprise and joyful ending of my time in Belgrade. Kudos to the whole Zühlke Serbia team – I will definitely miss you guys.
While my time in Belgrade is over, the journey of our Serbian affiliate just started. I am happy to pass on the baton to Sasha and I am extremely confident that the success story will continue.
The local company is in a very good shape and business is going well. But it should not get boring for the Belgrade team as there remain some challenges such as office space expansion, organisational changes and of course continuous hiring to grow the team.
Thank you very much again to everyone involved! It was an awesome experience and I am looking forward to observe the future growth at a distance.