At one of this year’s HR conferences held in Serbia, your presentation on the pleasures of the business was declared the best. With years of work behind you, what values do you put in first in your work?
Sonja: We do our business following our five values, which we all hold dear to our heart in our day to day work. Being results driven, we aim to deliver results on time, having in mind the best interest of our client and Levi9. In that process, we are proactive and adaptive, keeping our communication open and transparent.
We are open to one another and our clients, aiming to establish long-term relationships and lasting cooperation. Business is sometimes tough, but we try to have fun throughout the process – also one of our values.
To summarize, we are results driven, proactive, open and transparent, loyal, and fun to work with and for.
In addition to the expertise that is crucial for the work that you do, how much creativity does the job of a Talent Manager require?
Sonja: We try to be one hundred and ten percent devoted to whatever we do. Being the best version of ourselves and trying to outdo our previous year`s success are our main challanges. There is allways room for improvement, even if it`s only in details. Sometimes, details are those that make the biggest difference.
We never do the same thing twice before thinking it through and trying to be better.
How important is the workspace for the teams working in it?
Sonja: Our company has existed for 13 years, and since the first years of work, when the company employed 15 professionals, we have developed into an organisation currently employing 500 people.
In line with the growth of company, we have needed to expand our capacities too. The needs to adjust the workspace and to change and harmonize concepts and ways of organizing grew as well.
The image of a good team is certainly its adaptiveness to different conditions, but it is on us, Levi9 Talent Partners, to constantly follow, obey and value information given to us by our colleagues and associates. Following what they say, we have designed our office and conference spaces, as well as open spaces, so the organization of work on a project can be modified according to the preferences and dynamics of a group gathered for a common project at some point.
Your company is very active, externaly and internally: the performances of Levi9 are notable at professional conferences and fairs. Very often, there is information in the media about the gatherings that you organise for your own employees.
Sonja: Our employees are very interested in self-improvement and upgrading their skills – these facts are the result of the talks that we conduct with them regurarly.
Awareness of this need has motivated us to invent different programmes that would meet such desires.
How often do you organize internal conferences, workshops and hackathons?
Sonja: The dynamic is intense, such activities are organised successively throughout the year. I would like to mention especially two internal conferences: Lead9 and Arch9.
Lead9 is a management training program custimized to fit the needs of our department and delivery managers. The foundation of the program is personality assessment aimed at helping them truly understand themselves and others, and at inspiring them to make a positive difference in everything they do.
Lead9 is Levi9 global project, where all our managers from all delivery centers come together to share ideas and work on their managerial skills. Beside the inspiration that comes as a result of such gatherings, both hard and soft skills trainings are something that participants go through.
More than one hundred and fifty managers have already participated in the program and we are currently having the fourth generation of managers onboard.
Arch9 is a conference that we organize every year, four times in a row now. We gather our technical leaders, making space for them to meet, to exchange experiences and innovative ideas, to explore possibilities, to compare results and evaluate them. Our clients’ software architects are also invited to present their best practices and solutions, all this to make sure our people are constantly up to date with the trends in a dynamic market, which IT definitely is.
What is it that motivates you the most in Levi9?
Sofija: In the working environment where we spend most of the day, I refer to relations within individual teams, as well as the relationships of different teams between themselves and that they are, primarily, healthy. This is also true for the culture we nurture, and for the working atmosphere, which is positive and supportive.
Sonja: The people. I work with some of the most amazing people I have had the opportunity to meet. They are always willing to help, devote their time and attention to others. With the support and mutual understanding, we always find the best solution for every issue we encounter. I feel free to share all my ideas freely knowing all the way that innovations are always welcome.
Working in Levi9 means direct contact with numerous clients from abroad. The company itself is a multinational based in the Netherlands, with development centers operating in three countries: Serbia, Romania, and Ukraine. It’s a great quality, but it has to be challenging at the same time?
Sofija: We’re all continually learning from each other. The opportunity to communicate on a daily level with colleagues who live is in different environments is an exceptional opportunity for learning.
A talent manager`s job in a multinational company must be complex?
Which part of the job is the most demanding and responsible: recruitment, selection, or individual work with colleagues?
Sonja: They are all equally challenging because you need to do them in a sequence – you first need to find them, then select the best ones and to help them develop in their career. If you do not choose the right people to work with, all other steps will be that more difficult. And if you fail to develop them, they will not be satisfied. Therefore, you need to complete the whole sequence, with an eye for quality and attention.
Levi9 Office in Belgrade started with a small number of employees; two years later, the office became a Development Centre which employed more than 100 people. How big does an HR team need to be to support such growth, and, what skills should it have to make this development sustainable?
Sofija: Our journey has been quite an adventure. I joined our Belgrade office more than two years ago, when it had around 15 employees. Since than, we welcomed our 100th employee this spring, and now the number is even bigger. I would stress the importance of having enthusiastic team members with the right set of skills, rather than the size of the team. We have also had great support from colleagues from Novi Sad, who have unselfishly shared their experience and best practices with us. Setting up a constructive culture was of crucial importance, therefore we have led the process of Belgrade Office growth together with some of our most experienced managers.
Your part of the job is tracking personal development of employees and their professional and personal progress. How do you do that?
Sofija: We work closely together with our managers and employees – in direct contact we create personal development plans, which contain relevant goals both for the individual, and for the company. That plan is later followed throughout the year and it is a dynamic one. This means that if the opportunities change and business takes a direction different from what is anticipated, we need to adapt and change our plans. This is due to the dynamic working environment and the fast pace of the IT industry.
To sum up, our Talent managers and partners work hard on keeping Levi9 at the top of the most attractive employees on the IT scene. A regular part of our job is also organizing events for internal and external audiences, such as meet-ups, hackathons, conferences, team building activities and charity events. When shaping them, it is important to always be a pioneer with ideas worth sharing. Especially rewarding is the appreciation both from people from the IT scene and our employees when these activities are done in a right and inspiring way.