Tihomir has been part of Sirma Solutions for more than 16 years. Starting as a software developer, his career path at Sirma lead him to the desired of each programmer position, a CTO. Passionate F1 (Formula 1) fan, strategic thinker, super positive and communicative colleague, he has a lot to share with us.
How many years have you been at Sirma, and what was your first role here?
It is an exciting story. Everything started 16 years ago; it was around Christmas when I decided to change my job in order to further develop myself. My idea was to move from a company that develops software for internal use to a company specializing in software development. So, I sent my CV to a few companies who had vacancies available for software developers.
Soon after, I was invited for an interview at Sirma’s office. The meeting took place in a conference room in front of one of the founders of Sirma(at that time, I was not aware who he was) and his team. Briefly, they shared information about the company and their fields of expertise, then I told them what I was passionate about, and it quickly became clear that it was not my position. A week later, I accepted an offer from another company. Later, in the middle of my probationary period at my new company, I received a phone call from Sirma’s HR. He politely apologized for bothering me, but he had an excellent offer for me. Sirma had opened a new position in a new division. I accepted the offer without any doubts, because Sirma was one of the best companies to work for, even at that time. I started as a software developer the following Monday and on Tuesday I had a birthday. Even though I was a completely new employee, they surprised me with a special gift. That kind of personal approach deeply touched me!
What has been your motivation to work as a software developer for all these years?
I have been asked this question many times – by friends and often by my wife. The answer is pretty simple Sirma allows me to do what I love - to solve problems and optimize people’s daily work. At Sirma I can tailor software solutions, which address our clients’ needs in the best possible way, saving them time and money and making their employees’ work easier. The direct contact I have with the clients allows me to immediately see the value of my work. I feel satisfied when I make even the slightest improvement for our customers. For example, when I automate a complex business process, which usually takes days of error-prone manual work, with one or two clicks, this is worth all the sleepless nights.
What kind of projects are part of your portfolio?
Throughout my years at Sirma I have been working on different projects. While some of them were very short, others were not. The most extended project took us around 5 years to finish.
My first project was for software embedded in a cutting plotter, to control the cutting process which we were debugging with an oscilloscope. We have also worked with big companies from the US – from recovery planning software for HP to online education (far before the pandemic) in universities. One of the most challenging projects I have worked on was the creation of an event management system. Businesses are usually active on workdays from 9 to 5. However, this timetable does not apply to events and our clients were online 24/7. This proved to be the challenge of this project, but we managed to handle it perfectly. The team with which I worked was also quite interesting - it was distributed between Connecticut, London, Sofia, Kiev and Sidney.
After working with our US clients, I switched to public procurement projects. In Bulgaria, I worked with clients such as BDZ Cargo, BULATSA, and various ministries and municipalities. We also had some projects on a European level. For example, with EUROCONTROL and The Financial Mechanism Office (FMO) of The EEA and Norway Grants, which manages some 2.8 billion EUR of funding, provided by Donor States (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) to 15 Beneficiary States in Eastern and Southern Europe.
What is the most exciting project you have been working on?
The next one. For me, this has always been the case. New projects bring new challenges, new business domains to learn, new people, and new processes. I am excited when I start something new. Sometimes I cannot even sleep until I find a way through it.
People leave their current jobs because they get bored with what they do. I am grateful to Sirma for giving us the opportunity to work on so many different projects.
What are you passionate about in the technology space?
Software development itself is my passion. For me it is a type of art. You start with an empty project, as artists start on a blank piece of paper, and you create something valuable for your clients. Artists have different movements and styles to express themselves, while developers have different technologies to use. I started my very first project 30 years ago. As time passed, I experienced how many technologies worked as they came and went in the field. What remains are the people - the good professionals with their experience.
What is your algorithm for a successful Chief Technology Officer?
Now’s the time to think think think. When you have a problem, think think think. Look at every clue like the Super Sleuths do. And just think think think.
These are lyrics from a children‘s song, called “My Friends Tigger & Pooh”. My kids were watching it one day and once I heard the lyrics, their meaning stuck in my head.
The job of a software developer is to think. Learning a programming language is easy, but you need to start thinking to become a good developer. I am always telling my team - think, ask questions, find the root cause, do not just do something because someone says so. Put yourself in the end user’s shoes and start thinking like them. Understand what they do, how they do it, why they do it and then you will be able to understand what they really need. Then it is easy.