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Insights

How the Zühlke culture of growth and development supports modern cloud skills

Milan Milanović

As cloud technologies become ever more critical to Zühlke’s customers, it was clear that Zühlke would have to raise its cloud game—and do it fast

Dr Milan Milanović saw the need and sprung into action. He’s a Team Leader and Lead Software Architect based in Belgrade, with a keen passion for cloud technologies. Milan launched a company-wide learning and development initiative.

Insight in brief

  • How Zühlke supports its developers with hands-on training and certification for cloud technologies.
  • How real-world customer demands drive the development of relevant skills for Zühlke employees.
  • How one team leader in Serbia drove an entire global cloud learning initiative.

‘We have a lot of customer projects that require cloud technologies, but it’s a chicken and egg problem. Our clients want people who know this technology, but our people can’t learn if they’re not on projects. Altough we had some people with Cloud knowledge already working on the projects, back in the summer of 2020, we started an online Topic group about Cloud technologies in order to access learning this technology in a more organized way.’

‘We collated detailed knowledge on the cloud, structured it, and started with self-learning activities. Within a couple of months, six colleagues had earned their certifications. And the group has now grown to 110 members worldwide, with more than 18 certifications (AWS Cloud Practitioner and Solutions Architect, Azure Fundamentals, Developer, and more).

How did things progress so fast?

‘We were really supported by our management,” says Milan. “They helped us make this happen. And, of course, the Zühlke approach to learning and development meant we could all dedicate time to building these new skills. Without that, we couldn’t have achieved this.’

Based on a business need

The whole initiative was driven by customer demand and business need.

‘Our business consultants are regularly in touch with customers during both the bid phase and during production. They were being asked whether our people had cloud technology certifications. We had to answer that, despite our strong range of skills, very few were certified. We all knew we had to fix that—in order to meet customer needs and to stay competitive.’

The wider Zühlke innovation strategy is critical for learning and development initiatives like this. People are encouraged to ask questions like, “How does this learning support our overall business?” and “How can we push things forward in not just one location, but in ten countries or across the whole group?”

Learning and being certified in cloud technologies is win-win for both the business and for employees. As Milan puts it, “I don’t see any drawbacks. For the company, it's important because cloud is the future and almost all greenfield projects will most likely be cloud-based. And for our developers, it's great because they improve, get more certifications, and strengthen their CVs.”

Getting hands-on training

The initial goal was just to provide practical clarity for people on how to get started; what to learn; which cloud technologies to focus on; what exams to take, and what kinds of client projects to aim for.

“When developers came and said, “OK I want to learn”, we gave them a simple overview, covering everything about how to get started. We curated it all online, organizing the landscape into different subgroups for general cloud, AWS, Azure, cloud native, etc.”

“It’s a rich resource. There are wikis and a range of study materials for various certifications. Plus guides and recommendations for books, the latest news from the cloud world, conference dates and articles.”

But that was just the start.

“After running the Topic for a while, we got people together to hear more about what they wanted. The one phrase that kept coming up was ‘hands-on’. People wanted to work with teachers, in real-time, during the working day.”

“So we created half-day and full-day workshops where people learn by doing. And, thanks to Zühlke’s approach, this is all provided by internal employees. People love that they can try something and learn from internal colleagues who they know, and feel happy to approach.”

Zühlke is all-in on cloud

“There are more things we’re doing too,” said Milan. “Lots of lunchtime ‘Cloud Talks’. for people who may be interested but still aren’t sure. Maybe later they decide to go for it.”

“As demand keeps rising, we need to push those numbers up. These are cutting-edge technologies, but they’re becoming mainstream fast.”

“Zühlke learning and development has supported us in two ways. First, it lets our colleagues spend time preparing training content and workshops. And second, it gives people the time to attend the workshops, and prepare for exams (the company  also pays for the exams).”

“This is hugely empowering. Zühlke’s culture of growth and development gives people a simple, direct way to learn new skills, add more value and accelerate their careers.”

What you can gain from the Zühlke learning and development approach

Our approach strives to create intentional learning opportunities in your everyday life.

You can benefit from a cycle of continuous personal development through:

  • Frequent coaching and ‘check-ins’ with your line manager or career coach
  • Increased opportunities to learn ‘on the project’ and advance your career
  • Hands-on, relevant training courses spread out across several sessions
  • Being able to work on innovation topics that impact directly on Zühlke’s business
  • Cross-location and international learning—which may be especially important if you’re in a smaller office
  • The option to take part in individual development programs to boost your strengths and create a bigger impact at Zühlke.

Also, find out how a six-strong team of Zühlke analysts and developers won the Ecosystem prize in the Climate Hackathon and how being a coach or a coachee is energizing and rewarding:

mmil

Milan Milanović

Lead Software Architect
Contact person for Serbia

Dr Milan Milanović has been working at Zühlke since October 2017. He has over 15 years of experience in the software industry, working in different domains and several tech stacks, including web tier technologies, .NET and Java platforms, mobile and distributed computing technologies. He holds a PhD in Computer Science and is a Microsoft Certified Developer and ScrumMaster. He is the author of numerous scientific publications in various fields of computer science, for which he has received several (international) awards. His main areas of interest include software architecture, cloud computing solutions, web and mobile solutions, agile methodology and managing software teams to deliver innovative and high-quality products.