Sofia, 11. April 2022
Internal transfer: from Lidl headquarters in London to the Kaufland IT Hub in Sofia, Bulgaria - the story of Alexander Spasov
Alexander Spasov: from an early age it is clear to pursue an IT career
Alexander fell in love with computers and took his first steps towards an IT career shortly after taking his first actual steps, with his father as the man behind it. The year was 1995 and Alexander was just 3 years old when he sat on his father's lap and played "Prince of Persia" on his home computer. He often accompanied his father to work at "Borika", where his father worked as an IT specialist, and had access to all kinds of disks, circuit boards and power supplies for hours. He felt like part of the team and eventually got the opportunity to work for the company for a month when he was still in eighth grade, as a kind of internship.
During his second-year studying "Tourism Economics" at UNWE in Sofia, Bulgaria, he started working as a junior system administrator, although the fact that his studies were in a completely different field did not stop him from pursuing a career in the IT sector. The following three years for Alexander revolved around his next job at "Borika", where he had the opportunity to refine and develop his skills, meet many new people and succeed in his professional tasks, which gave him a sense of confidence.
A tough start in London with a happy twist
After completing his university studies, Alexander and his girlfriend moved to London, where he was able to improve his IT skills and polish his English. What drove him and his girlfriend to London was the social diversity - a city full of different people and cultures. However, getting that first IT job proved difficult because most companies locate their IT administration and support outside of London, so neither he nor his girlfriend wanted to change cities. At the beginning of his stay in London, he faced many difficulties and after a lot of effort and commitment, he managed to get a job at Lidl headquarters.After obtaining the aforementioned position, by his own words - his experience grew by multitudes in just a year’s time. One of the biggest challenges he faced there was based in the fact that the work revolved around people of different nationalities and cultures – Somalia, Iran, India, Pakistan, Poland, Romania, Brazil and The Czech Republic amongst others, each having a different way of thinking and worldview as to the point where it took conscious active effort build a team and maintain the team solidarity.
One valuable lesson he learned during his time in London is that nothing is impossible if you have the will and the willingness to perform. Alexander says he will never forget his last day at Lidl headquarters in London. Smiling, he recounts, "My colleagues gave me a standing send-off. They were waiting for me to return from lunch and when I entered the office, they applauded. They gave a speech and presented me with a huge card filled with congratulations from all my colleagues. That's what it feels like to be part of the big Black IT family - people make you feel part of it all- and that you can't go on without them and they can't go on without you."
A happy continuation in Sofia
The decision to return to Bulgaria was not easy for Alexander, as he had to leave Lidl and thus a great team. His need to be near his family and friends was then ultimately the deciding factor in the long term. Another reason for his decision was the fact that a new company in Bulgaria was enabling his opportunities - namely Kaufland IT Hub. This was the perfect opportunity for him to continue his work for the company where he had found his place, but this time in his home country. "Thanks to my persistence and commitment, the CEO of Lidl in England offered me to join the newly established Kaufland IT Hub in Bulgaria, unfortunately there were no vacancies at that time. I worked in different companies for a year, but when they finally called, I gladly accepted without thinking about it," Alexander recalls.
What initially pleasantly surprised him was that he could hardly notice any differences between the professional processes at Lidl headquarters in London and at the Kaufland IT Hub in Sofia, Bulgaria. He recounts, "At one point, I wasn't sure if I was in England or Bulgaria. The same guidelines apply, the whole environment is really pleasant and my days fly by." He notes that he thinks the Bulgarian office is even better because there is a separate training area and a large dining area.
Alexander started as an application support specialist in the IT hub, a position that is virtually the same as the one he held at Lidl, where he was promoted based on his performance within his first year at the company. Now he works as a consultant, which expands his scope of responsibilities and opens up new opportunities for professional development.
Professional challenges with great responsibility
Alexander loves solving new problems together with his colleagues from Germany and Bulgaria. He loves exchanging ideas with them and admits that the meetings of the two teams every Thursday are his favorite sessions. He says, "The larger team is divided into two separate teams - one German and one Bulgarian, which is necessary mainly because of the heavy workload; after all, we serve Kaufland's cashiers all over Europe."
His biggest professional challenges come from the fact that in the event of a system failure, an entire Kaufland store would have to cease operations, and it would be up to him and his colleagues to determine how long it would take to return to the expected functionality of the system. According to him, what helps him in such situations is "concentration on the work, calmness and inner confidence that sooner or later everything will find a solution.
Alexander remembers the project that involved migrating the software of the Bulgarian Kaufland stores to K-POS (Kaufland Point of Sale), which was developed specifically for this task. He was the one in charge of this task and now tells us, "This project really made me grow as a person, and despite the sleepless nights, we managed to complete the task perfectly. It boosted my confidence and reminded me that working with people from different countries is quite possible, even in the toughest Covid 19 reality."
A glimpse into the future
As far as his professional future is concerned, it is clear to Alexander that he will still be part of the Schwarz IT family in 10 years' time.