• Tell us something about yourself.
My name is Dimitar Siljanovski and I can describe myself as a manager in the IT sector who wants to explore and work with projects related to the development of Web Applications. In my 15 years of experience I have worked with domestic as well as with companies from abroad. In the last 5 years I have commuted back and forth between Munich and Skopje. The various experiences I had throughout the years has provided me with the opportunity to bring a fresh perspective to the Macedonian IT scene. New technologies are my obsession, especially Cloud Computing, Machine Learning, and Block-Chain architecture, and their exploration and usage towards the development of new web applications and services.
• Tell us briefly about your company?
Intertek, a company that operates in Macedonia and cooperates with German Global Savings Group, was founded in March 2015. At the beginning, the company aimed at building a team that will be part of the Munich team. However, we noticed that the distributed teams work great, so besides teams for classic development, we assigned distributed teams that work fully for the needs of Global Savings Group GmbH. Currently, we have 40 employees, and by the end of this year we have envisioned to have another 20 employees. What is characteristic for Intertek is that besides the classical outsource development, the company offers preparation of an overall project and implementation of all processes current in the IT world. This is rarely offered by companies in our country. My goal is to convey my knowledge and experience and motivate other companies to offer complete services to their customers, all in order to stay competitive to the market.
• Why Macedonia?
Macedonia, as part of the Western Balkans, has many benefits for investment in the IT area:
1. The no need for Schengen visa provides an opportunity for frequent and easy travel to IT professionals from Macedonia to Western European countries;
2. Wizzair’s numerous cheap flights allow a frequent meeting of IT professionals from Macedonia with their colleagues and clients from Europe;
3. IT professionals can easily get a visa for America, so traveling to that part of the world is also easy;
4. The English language is at a high level in Macedonia. People have ease in communicating and there is almost no IT professional for whom English is foreign;
5. My connection with Macedonia and the network of people I have here were a major precondition to opening a company here.
• It is known that Macedonian education still focuses on theory instead on practice.
What would be needed to be studied or changed, so young people who now graduate can have a favorable opportunity to be employed by a company like yours? In order to create cadres that will be ready to start working right after finishing a university in Macedonia, there are few things that need to be changed:
1. The ability of the student to work and earn while studying (20 hours per week). The concept of “working student” is very common in Germany. In Munich we got the best company cadres exactly from this type of students. We were working with them for 3 or 4 years during their studies, so after finishing their studies, they joined our company with almost 4 years of experience and understanding for the business model. In Macedonia, there is no legal way for a student to study full-time and be legally employed. I can speak from personal experience that those who are forced to work and study, because of lack of finances, are faced with huge challenges. Their employers must also be very flexible and violate the laws, just so they can allow this opportunity to the young people. Working and studying in the same time is illegal in Macedonia, presenting a big handicap for students, faculty and companies. The practice in many industries has proven to be equal or even more important than theory, so a solution model must be found, so these two aspects are merged into our education.
2. The programs taught in our IT faculties are developed 10 or more years ago. These programs must be upgraded according to the market technologies. The course materials are from 2007 or older, which indicates that something has to be changed in the way of studying.
3. The majors that are offered are very general and students who complete them do not have a specific direction and expertise. It takes 1 to 2 years for graduates to be fully trained so they can become competent in the labor market. The theoretical preparation is insufficient for the business. The business requires practice with the latest technologies.
This is a big topic, and I think I could list many more reasons, but I think that if there is an improvement on these three mentioned points, we will all benefit from it.
• According to you, what can Macedonia offer to the world market, and what the Macedonian market should still develop?
The quality of the Macedonian IT professionals is on a high level. The way of thinking and the ease of accepting new challenges and technologies is competitive with the western European standards and needs. Macedonia can offer intelligent and educated staff that speak and use English language on an enviable level. With training, the same cadres can easily meet the needs of European and American IT services market. There should be an additional staff education for new market demands, such as Artificial Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Date Analysts, Business Analysts, System Administrators, Product Managers, UX Experts, etc. As I explained previously, our faculties produce many generic cadres who must be directed and trained in specific areas. In Macedonia, there is a lack of ecosystem aimed towards development of the abovementioned personnel. Still, this can be achieved through putting into reality some of the following examples:
o Organization of knowledge sharing meetings (example: Meetups)
o Motivation of employees to share their knowledge with employees from other companies through visiting meetings
o Creating IT round tables for managers, CTOs or software architects
o Formation of multiple associations of IT firms (not just MASIT)
o Active cooperation and support of faculties
o Constant communication with the government to enable the environment for this ecosystem
o Organization and support of conferences by IT companies
• Do you have any suggestions for those who want to invest in the IT sector in Macedonia?
I already shared some of the reasons why I believe Macedonia is attractive investment destination in the question “Why in Macedonia”. We have a competent staff and we can answer most of the requirements from any potential customers.
We are small country and that is reflected in the IT sector, but that does not prevent us from delivering teams for large clients that work on meaningful IT solutions.
Investing in Macedonia offers several advantages than investing in the west European countries in terms of:
• Flexibility of work contracts
• Low and simple taxes
• Easy legal and financial regulation in dealing with services (compared to Germany)
• Availability of professional staff as per requirements
• Relatively small professional competition
• Easily accessible communication with faculties for possible collaborations
• A centralized labor market in one to two cities
• Lower operating costs
• Less expensive workforce