From being an IT-affine math genius in Scotland to a Java developer at Schwarz IT Bulgaria
Tommy Mihaylov – The straight-A-student, who chose to build a career in Bulgaria
The term "straight-A student" usually carries mixed feelings, but in the case of our colleague Tommy Mihaylov, it shines brightly. Tommy Mihaylov graduated with honors from high school at one of Sofia's most prestigious schools - First English Language School (FELS). He then earned his degree in Computer Science with honors from one of Scotland's most prestigious universities, the University of Aberdeen, where he received an award as the best mathematics student during his studies.
IT - A rational choice
The decision to study computer science came naturally to Tommy, he says: "My strengths at school were always science and logical thinking. When looking for a possible career I could pursue, becoming a developer seemed like the perfect opportunity. My major in high school was math and computer science, which ultimately played a big role in deciding what type of college degree I wanted to pursue."
IT experience abroad
Most of the industry in Aberdeen, the city where Tommy lived, is in the petroleum business, and so both of his part-time jobs were in that field as well. As time went on, however, he began to take note of both the positives and negatives of his experience abroad. The opportunity to work in the United Kingdom, one of the most developed countries in the world, and to share experiences with leading experts in the field is one of the most important learnings for him. His work gave him the opportunity to travel to exotic places. One of his fondest memories is his stay in Malaysia: "The months I spent in Malaysia were among the most memorable in my life. I was able to learn about a completely different culture as well as grow professionally as I was faced with incredibly difficult projects that had to be coordinated internationally, between countries with huge time zone differences." Fond memories, it seems, but the fact that he was working in Scotland also deprived him of some of the additional benefits offered by the IT sector. He was denied the opportunity to telecommute and work flexible hours, which was quite a sticking point for him, who places a lot of importance on spending time with his family and loved ones.
Back to Bulgaria - Schwarz IT Bulgaria
After returning to Bulgaria, Tommy started working as a Java developer at Schwarz IT Bulgaria (then still Lidl Digital). The retail industry was completely foreign to him, but he gladly accepted the opportunity to expand his knowledge and face new challenges. His first positive experience when he joined the company remains today: "I was impressed by the general workflow in the organization and the professionalism of my colleagues," he says. After about a year, he is promoted to Senior Developer and today, together with two other colleagues, he takes on the position of Dev Lead. His work is very dynamic, as he is responsible for developing and supporting Lidl's European online store platforms, which presents him with new challenges every day.
Straight A's in the IT sector
At the end of our interview, Tommy gave two guidelines for success in the IT sector - one for employers and one for employees. He says, "To be successful in the IT industry, you need a wide range of skills. Not only the required technical skills and know-how, but also the so-called soft skills, because you have to deal with different people in the work process. The second skill required is that of presentation, which means you need to be able to communicate your ideas clearly and convincingly. Also, the ability to manage your time to handle the dynamic workload and many simultaneous tasks while constantly learning and developing new skills and technologies is an important virtue. He shares that he believes good IT employers not only show loyalty and respect to their employees, but also provide opportunities for continued professional development, flexible work schedules, and the ability to telecommute.
Tommy is confident that after seven years abroad, during which he gained a good understanding of the European IT market and the Bulgarian market, he will continue his career in his home country. He says, "The IT sector here is well developed and not inferior to the UK." In the short term, he can see himself taking on the role of software architect, while in the longer term he would like to move into the IT management sector.