People and Culture

Reaching the peak: One employee’s Hong Kong ascent

A woman standing on a mountain top during her time working abroad
5 minutes to read

  • How does working abroad open doors for you professionally?

  • Find out how we are able to support our employees expand their horizons as a global company.

  • Read about Tijana Krstajic, a lead project manager's journey in Hong Kong.

At Zühlke, we foster collaboration on a global scale. And as we expand, one of our strategic goals is to promote closer integration across countries and continents by supporting our people to travel and work in Zühlke offices all over the world so an international career and working abroad is often possible and offers our people a great opportunity.

In October 2019, Tijana Krstajic, a Project Manager, left Zühlke Serbia to spend a year working in our Hong Kong office, where she supported the delivery of a virtual banking app for one of our clients...

Hong Kong is one of the world’s largest and most vibrant hubs of business, finance, culture and beauty – whose dramatic skyline contrasts against the peninsula’s surrounding peaks and vast country parks.

So it’s no wonder that when Tijana Krstajic had the chance to work in our Hong Kong office, she jumped at the opportunity to work abroad – not only to discover an exciting corner of the world, but also to experience the dynamic start-up culture of one of Zühlke’s newest offices and the customer’s fintech startup.

When Tijana arrived, she worked as a IT Operations Consultant for our client's virtual bank. Working internationally opens up many opportunities, the situation soon changed for her and she was promoted to acting Head of IT Operations.

“One of the things I enjoyed most about this project was the process of making continual optimisations to improve outcomes over time,” she says.

With long-term success in mind, Tijana ensured the project followed some guiding principles such as ‘drinking your own champagne’. “We took a rigorous approach to quality control, continually testing its real-world use in order to build confidence in its capabilities and surface opportunities for improvements – both in its features and its performance,” Tijana continued.

Another principle was to ‘take responsibility for what you create’, ensuring developers maintained features and functionality long after initial delivery. Tijana spent a lot of time getting teams to adopt this mindset shift and organising processes and procedures around it.

They organised the project into 18 teams with technology at the core of the project. Almost everything revolved around the risks and operations. There were roughly 200 developers working on the project and it was Tijana’s responsibility to coordinate them in critical situations, such as IT incidents.

International careers in Asia

The atmosphere was welcoming, culturally diverse and entrepreneurial – both inside and outside of work. Her colleagues were kind, helping her navigate the city. Many of them were from all over Asia, from Taiwan and Thailand to Vietnam.

“I feel like I know much more about different parts of Asia now, and I made some great friends there. I'm still in touch with them today,” she says.

At first, she experienced a culture shock. Everything from the smell of the air to the food was so different to anything she’d experienced in Serbia.

“I had no idea that you could spend your entire day inside a shopping mall,” she says.

 “After work, when I went for a walk, my colleague would look at me with alarm and say ‘why are you going outside, it’s 33 degrees and 90% humidity?!’”

For Tijana, the cuisine was one of the best aspects of Hong Kong. She loved trying authentic Cantonese and Sichuanese cuisine. And one evening, a colleague even took her to a traditional restaurant to sample local delicacies. She tried everything from wonton noodles to sweet egg buns.

From inside, the city is a concrete jungle – densely populated and full of towering skyscrapers. But Hong Kong is also surrounded by mountains and impressive vistas – hiking is one of the best things to do there. Direct trains from the city centre reach the trails in only thirty minutes.

On weekends, Tijana’s colleagues took her to admire the green forested hills and picturesque sea views of places like Lantau and sunset peaks. And sometimes she’d visit the beaches, which were often empty.

“It was a total cultural immersion,” she says.

While Zühlke’s Hong Kong office is home to many international cultures, everything has one thing in common – the same friendly, collaborative atmosphere that permeates all of Zühlke’s locations. We are proud of our open and honest feedback culture, much like the one Tijana experienced in Serbia.

What to consider when working abroad

But what advice would she give to colleagues wanting to work at Zühlke Hong Kong?

“Be open and leave your preconceptions at home – because it’s nothing like you imagine. It’s wonderful and everything is so convenient,” she says.

When the app finally launched, Tijana’s colleagues called her from Hong Kong to thank her and celebrate the news. The experience clearly left an indelible impression on Tijana, with her appetite for travel ignited, she now plans to spend another year working at Zühlke Singapore.

All our fifteen locations offer excellent ways to broaden your horizons and learn about new cultures. What’s more, they help foster inclusion, self-reliance and even greater ingenuity in the workplace.

Do you want an exciting new challenge in one of our fifteen locations?

Good news, we’re hiring!

Contact person for Serbia

Tijana Krstajic

Lead Project Manager

Tijana Krstajic is an experienced Project Manager, a certified Scrum Master, focusing on Scrum and Agile frameworks, Service Management and Operational Process Design. She is passionate about working with teams and bringing forward new practices and collaboration capabilities.

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