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The path of career development in the IT industry – from the Programmer to the CEO

5 May 2021

The following article is unique to me because I need to describe my own experiences and conclusions drawn from them. By reviewing my professional life, I also make a summary of what has happened in it so far. This is even more interesting and difficult too because I recently turned 40 and I realize more and more that I will not be younger ;-).

Youthful dreams

Starting this story, I will not go back to kindergarten or talk about my first computer. I will only mention that, before I started working, I studied Computer Science at the Silesian University of Technology in Gliwice. Being in the second or third year of studies (so I was twenty or twenty one), I was convinced that I would start my own company right after graduation. I will make a lot of money and I will retire at the age of 30, focusing on enjoying life.

As you can probably guess, this plan didn’t work out. When I think about it now, two things strike me. First of all, my naivety that I can earn big money so quickly, without any reasonable idea how to do it. Second, I treated thirty-year-olds as old people who may already be retiring. 

My first job

Nevertheless, my career turned out differently. In the fifth year of my studies, I started looking for a job and found it in the Katowice-based Esaprojekt company. It was a small company with several business lines. One of them was the creation of dedicated software on the client’s request. Nobody called it that back then, but you can say that it was a software development company at the time. 

This is where I took my first steps as a programmer, made my first bugs and participated in the first implementations. While working in this position, I quickly realized that apart from technical skills, the so-called soft skills were very useful to me. First of all, communication, as well as the ability to ask questions. There is no way to write any IT solution without discussing it with the client and asking for details.

My career path quickly turned towards an analyst and designer rather than a strictly programmer. And after a few years, I became a project manager. 

I liked this role very much. It allowed me to look at what I have been doing so far from a slightly different perspective – more from a business point of view. It turned out that the project is a success not only when the client is satisfied, but also when my company  managed to earn money on it. Then I discovered that each project is a separate business venture. It has its own budget, resources, timeframe, contract that regulates many elements, that after completing the programming work, you still need to maintain applications, etc.

Of course, running IT projects is not easy. And let’s face it, I also made a lot of mistakes here. However, it made me learn a lot and I must admit in retrospection that it was a very valuable lesson.

However, after a few years of being a project manager, I felt tired and a kind of burnout. Without going into details, it is quite a stressful job. It was caught in the middle (In Poland we say I was between the hammer and the anvil). On the one hand, the client, on the other, the team I managed, and somewhere along the way, the interest of the company in which I worked, and each of these parties had different goals and ideas on how to achieve them.

Luckily at that moment a vacancy appeared in the sales department and I received a proposal to take care of this part of running the business. I thought briefly enough and accepted it with pleasure. Being a PM, I always thought the sales people were actually doing nothing. Sometimes they find a project that they bring to the company too hastily and then we in the production department have to deal with it and, killing ourselves, tighten the budget and close it in order to meet the deadline by doing overtime.

I really liked working in the sales department. Of course, it was naive to think that nothing was being done there. There was a lot of work, but it suited me. The results of the actions were visible quite quickly. And if something failed and a lead was lost, a new one quickly appeared and I got another chance to “win” it.

In addition, the customers I spoke to rarely came across salespeople with the same technical knowledge and the ability to talk as I do. Often, at the meetings, I immediately carried out an initial requirements analysis and was able to estimate quickly the workload and the cost of implementation. It was easy to make a good impression and it paid off.

After the next few years of work, I had skills from a very wide range of activities. I was able to find a client and manage a team implementing the project, and if necessary, I would also code a few lines of the source code. For some time now, the thought of starting my own company was sprouting in my head.

Evertop

And finally in 2014, together with two partners – Łukasz Przepióra and Michał Siudyka, we established the Evertop company. We had already done some projects together on a smaller or larger scale, but we officially started our activity in February 2014 by registering a limited liability company, of which I became the CEO.

At the beginning, the scale of our company’s operations was small. We only employed several people, and ​​our office was limited to two rooms. From year to year, however, we grew both in terms of the number of the person on board and the amount of rented office space, and also we increased the revenue of our company. 

After seven years now, we employ over 50 people and occupy approximately 400 m2 in a modern office building in Chorzów. Despite the pandemic and crisis, we managed to end 2020 with a record income of around PLN 6 million. So there are reasons to be pleased. 

Being an owner and managing a company, however, is a completely different matter than working for someone else. Responsibility and motivation are much greater. It is certainly

valuable that you do what you like. You are your own boss and you don’t have to explain yourself if you come to work half an hour later.

Another thing is that I often worked in the evenings and during the weekends. I even write this article when the clock comes almost to midnight. 

Conclusions and summary

Since it got so late, it is probably time for a few conclusions that come to my mind now based on my experiences and observations.

  1. If you want to be successful and move forward, you cannot be afraid of challenges, you just have to accept and face them. 
  2. Learn to delegate tasks and trust employees. You can’t do everything yourself, even if you are the best in it. Done is better than perfect.
  3. You should take care of your employees. Especially in a company like ours, people are the most valuable resource. Without them, we would not be able to implement a single project, and thus, earn any money. 
  4. It is worth surrounding yourself by people smarter than you and listening to what they have to say. Thanks to this, you do not have to know everything.

 

And with this optimistic accent I’m going to the end of the article. Thank you for reading to this place. If you have your thoughts or want to ask about something, let me know, I will be happy to discuss it.

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Maciej Kotok
Maciej Kotok
CEO Technical person converted to an entrepreneur. Previously a programmer, designer, analyst and project manager. Now a CEO at Evertop. Coffee during the day. Whiskey and wine in the evening.
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