Stamen Kotchkov, Software AG: Be curious and develop your skills


Stamen Kotchkov, Software AG: Be curious and develop your skills

With over 25 years of technical and management experience in the IT sector in Bulgaria, Stamen Kotchkov is among the people who know the industry inside out. 

Today, he is a Vice President of Cloud Platform Engineering at our partners Software AG, where he leads the teams developing the platform that enables and optimizes the day-to-day tasks of the company's Cloud Ops engineers.

photo of stamen kotchkov from software ag, a telerik academy alpha partner

He is also a member of the Advisory board of BASSCOM. As such, he is actively participating in developing the IT industry in the country and the region. 

A mission we can relate to as for more than 12 years now, Telerik Academy has been helping people jumpstart or accelerate their careers in the software industry, thus changing their lives and helping our partners and the sector grow.

To learn more about the critical role of the junior talent in this process, we sat and talked with Stamen. 

Keep reading, and you'll discover the most important skills junior talent must possess, what differentiates our Master Juniors, and what it's like to start your IT career at one of Software AG's local teams.

Thank you for your time! We want to start with a little more detail about the primary responsibilities of the Software AG office in Bulgaria.

Thank you for having me! The Software AG office in Bulgaria is almost 16 years now and currently has nearly 300 employees. 

The teams here, including the Cloud Platform Engineering unit, are part of key global departments, such as Research & Development (the teams that develop and support the company’s products), IT (including Global Information Services, Cloud Service Operations, Security & Compliance), Professional Services (our consultants), Global Marketing, etc.

You said the local office has nearly 300 employees - do you have plans to keep expanding the team?

It hasn’t stopped developing since its founding in 2006 when the offices consisted of only 5 people. In the last two years, it has undergone significant growth: we have not only expanded the well-established R&D teams but also built entirely new teams in our IT organization. 

The company’s approach is to establish global teams, which is an excellent opportunity for our Bulgarian colleagues to work on multinational and worldwide projects. I expect the development and expansion of our location to continue in various areas and our office to remain a strategic R&D and IT hub for Software AG.

photo of the software ag's office, a telerik academy partner

Such expansion needs more talent. What skills are you looking for in a junior Telerik Academy software developer?

Software AG has been partnering with Telerik Academy for many years now, and one of the main reasons is that our company is an excellent place for software developers to start their career. 

We have a tradition of investing in talented and motivated people, and our teams are open to sharing knowledge and to mentor young colleagues. Therefore, we are looking for proactive people eager to learn and collaborate with others to achieve results together. 

Of course, technical knowledge is important, but the mindset and attitude make the difference. What makes a great impression is when candidates show personal projects they’ve been working on. This is evidence of their passion and dedication to their own professional development. We take pride in that some of our people started as juniors or interns and developed through the years until they now manage teams of their own.

What does your recruitment and onboarding process include?

The recruitment process starts with a CV screening, and if we find the person’s profile a potential fit, the candidate will receive a call from a recruiter for a short talk. This is being followed by an invitation for an interview.

For the first interview, the candidate can come to the office and meet in person or do an online talk (whatever fits best for the person). During the interview, they will meet the hiring manager and HR representative and receive general questions about their background and motivation to apply for the role. We'll arrange a second interview if they go further in the process. Its purpose is to deepen the perception of the candidate's technical competencies.

Of course, after the interviews, we give the candidate feedback if we have a common ground on what we expect from each other, and if the answer is “yes” for both sides, then the candidate becomes our colleague. All new hires are welcomed on their first day for an administrative onboarding from the HR, IT and Admin team. Next, they meet their manager and mentor. After that, they start their thorough job onboarding process, during which their mentor/work buddy introduces them to everything they need to know for their role.

What are the projects that the junior talent can work on?

The office in Bulgaria has many different teams that work on various products and platforms, and they each have a specific spirit. But the active involvement of the junior colleagues is common for all the teams. Even our interns are taking on real operational tasks and are involved in the company’s products just as a regular or a senior colleague would be.

Every junior team member has a mentor - usually a senior developer from the same team- who guides them and answers all their questions. Usually, the first couple of months is dedicated to the overall familiarization with the team and the product itself. Our approach is to delegate tasks with increasing complexity so our new colleagues don’t feel much pressure from day one.

photo of the software ag's office, a telerik academy partner

Is Software AG's culture different compared to other companies in the industry – and if so, how?

The company has a long history, being established in 1969 in Germany. Ever since, we’ve worked ceaselessly to create a company culture which integrates inclusiveness, integrity, and inventiveness. 

Our foundation is our people, products, and passion for what we do. At Software AG, we are committed to providing an environment of mutual respect and fairness where equal employment opportunities are available to all applicants and employees. But what makes our culture different is that we are big enough to scale and small enough to care. 

In our office in Bulgaria, you can feel a great atmosphere and team spirit, which gives you a cozy and welcoming family-style approach. At the same time, we can offer opportunities to work on important worldwide projects that significantly impact millions of people around the globe.

Why did you choose to partner with Telerik Academy? What differentiates the Academy’s junior talent?

We have chosen to partner with Telerik Academy because it is one of the major educational and pre-qualification hubs helping the local IT industry fulfil the increasing demand for IT talents, particularly software developers. 

Telerik Academy differentiates itself with historically long experience into pre-qualifying talents for our industry and is well known for its successful education curriculums in this field.

What would you advise people who are now starting to learn to code?

I’d give the following advice - technology is just a means to a purpose. Be prepared to change the technology and learn a new one whenever the purpose requires it. 

Don’t limit yourselves with labels such as “I’m an X-language developer”. If you are now learning a specific language, development environment, and technology, then be ready to jump on a different one, which will better fulfil the customer requirements. 

Be constantly curious! Relentlessly develop your brain and skills. The modern economy in all its aspects is very dynamic and challenging. It requires flexible and open-minded talents who are ready to learn and develop throughout life.

Are you looking to jumpstart your career in IT? Find out more about our Telerik Academy Alpha programs. Are you a company seeking Master Junior talent? Then go through our business page or contact us directly.

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