- You lived in Australia and moved back to Macedonia. What was your motivation to make the move?
Well, to complete the picture I was born and lived in Macedonia till the age of 18, then I moved to Australia. Education in a broader sense was the motivation behind the initial move out of Macedonia. After 15 years leaving not just in Australia, but around the globe I decided to move back to my beautiful town of Ohrid. At a time, this move was not permanent, I do not like the concept of setting rules and being their slave. As Sir Winston Churchill once said: “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”
I had almost equal time spend in and abroad and definitely was not one of my easiest decisions to make. It all started with the seed that was planted in my heart by one of my mentors. We were on a plane going to see a potential client. I was going through my notes and putting down some last minute points when he, while enjoying his drink asked: “What would you miss or regret for not doing it if this plane goes down?” This was a question that completely threw me out of current “problems” and set the benchmark for future endeavors. “I come from a small place on the other side of the planet” I said “would love to have spent more time with my family and people I grow up with”. The old gentlemen look right in my eyes and respond “You do not have to wait for the plane to go down!” and continue to enjoy his drink. That can be considered as one of the defining moments that changed my life, not just for the move back but for every perception from that point onwards. Concerning the move, what was left was just logistics.
- What is your professional background?
I began my career in ICT at University of Wollongong, where I was studying, as a technical support trainee and teacher to high school students. After graduating with a computer science degree, specialized in secure distributed systems, I partnered with couple of my uni friends and we start up a small web development company. We were first company in the region introducing cost effective solutions to small businesses. Idea was to bring everyone on the net, not just large corporations. And before getting a full grip of the business, we were managing main nightlife portal in the region. That project actually paid for most of my tuitions fees J. Within this period something that is worth wile mentioning is developing and managing the website for the Macedonian Radio Hertz, probably the first Macedonian radio that was set to broadcast live on the internet 24 hours per day. Remember this were the days before YouTube boom and developing live broadcast was a mission.
I started doing research for Hatch on introducing mobile devices to the work force during final year of university. However, my affair with Hatch officially started one year later when I got asked to make my research reality. It is a great bond that is still going. Over the past thirteen years we had many joint ventures (from mining industries to Formula 1), spread the business across the continents and even we were approached by universities to teach our methodology to newcomers. I travelled a lot, get to work with some of the brightest minds in the industry, never failed a project, was able to afford all my imaginations and moved up on the corporate latter from heading a small software engineering team in Australia to the position of a Global Manager. Within this period, I also obtained my Master degree on Information Technology Management.
As mentioned previously constant change is dominant ingredient for success, so I incline to constantly extend my knowledge pool. I’m back at university doing another course and pushing the limits of currently established platforms and conspiring of what is next.
- Tell us a bit about Hatch.
Hatch has over six decades of business and technical experience in the mining, energy, and infrastructure sectors. Employs around 9,000 staff in over 150 countries around the globe.
It is best if we look at Hatch through the timeline perspective and passed eras.
In the early years, Hatch was a consulting and multidiscipline engineering company that carefully and deliberately built very strong reputation for its in-depth knowledge of pyrometallurgy and its unique capabilities and experience in subway tunneling.
The second era was characterized by the decision to provide a complete engineering, procurement, project management and construction management (EPCM) capability.
In the third era, which began in the early 1990s it was recognized that key clients were consolidating and globalizing their operations. To continue to grow and serve our clients Hatch developed a presence in other minerals reach area in the world.
In this new era, we see a world of opportunities. To revolutionize how our clients mine. To make cities and utilities smarter. And industries cleaner and more efficient. With new ideas that challenge the status quo and technologies and innovations to create a better world.
- What kind of work do you do for Hatch?
I headed the development of HATCH Asset Management Toolkit application suite. Innovative asset management solutions that maximize availability and peak performance at minimal cost while managing the risk. Toolkit services include: asset strategy development, problem solving management, integrated inspection management, condition monitoring and critical spares assessments. Besides those standard tools that we constantly maintain and upgrade we also develop completely custom applications for a specifics engineering tasks that our clients require. In simple words my team acts as a software engineering SWAT team, wherever is a need we fly in, work with the local IT and produce results. Workload related ranges from architecting simple one function application to full corporate direction advice or consultation.
I have created many teams over the world but the one I would like to mention here and am very proud of is my team in Ohrid from where I operate for the past five years.
Recently, I have also been involved with the Innovation and Technology team mainly focusing on developing cost effective web and mobile solutions.
- Where do you see good potential in Macedonia and how do you think we can develop it further?
Macedonia is perfectly positioned, speaking from geographical perspective, and that is definitely one of the key advantages for the country.
I see a great potential in our people, we do have that resilient Macedonian gene, we just need to put it in a good use. I believe the next Silicon Valley would be positioned over the ex-Yugoslavian region including our country and we need to get ready. Over the past years we had a lot of small start-ups particularly in the ITC industry, going further would be diversifying and not concentrating in one niche.
- What will it take to develop this potential?
Selling mind is not an easy or straightforward task. We need to work hard and make sure we have something to sell to start with. Education would play major role within this process. We also have to amend our mindset and tune it to can-do attitude rather than finding excuses for not doing it. Furthermore, networking with Macedonian professionals around the globe would help get others closer to the idea, any idea, and what needs to be improved and worked on. Finally, our government should take charge and provide environment where research, development, innovation and commercialization would take place and will follow international rules and standards.
- What kind of change do you want to see in Macedonia that should be implemented very soon?
As mentioned above, I believe it should all start with the shift in the mindset so we would be able to digest what is coming. This is easily said than done but if we all work on it, and I mean everyone on the vertical, we have a good chance of achieving it in a shorter period.
From personal perspective, I would like to see people everywhere around the country not ghost towns and centralization. Additionally, taking better care about our irreplaceable natural resources as well as our heritage would be high up on my list.
- You recently spoke at the Forum for investors and entrepreneurs from the diaspora. What are your impressions and takeaways from the event?
Events like this are crucial for our future and I am completely in their support. Getting Macedonian investors and entrepreneurs in one room to speak and discuss from personal experience has to be beneficial for all. Face to face time with people that went through the journey should provide in-depth information for the new comers and check the pulse on the existing ones.
Its always a pleasure to see Macedonian success stories coming from diaspora to invest back in their country of origin.
- What motivates you in life?
List here can be quite long from both types: extrinsic and intrinsic. As I get older I tend to lean more and more towards intrinsic ones – based on the idea that the activity itself is the reward.
Currently my main drivers are my immediate family, urge to learn more and be better at whatever I’m doing and to reach an awareness of death, as Steve Jobs noted “A true understanding that your time is limited.”.