„IQ gets you hired. But EQ gets you promoted” – an interview with Bartłomiej Królicki, General Manager of the Cyclad International.
Cyclad: What was your beginning in the IT industry?
BK: During my first year at the Silesian University of Technology I worked in the University’s Computer Centre in Gliwice. The first task which I had to do was the test launch of Microsoft Exchange e-mail server for users. In the year 2000, the entire academic email was based on UNIX’S solutions and the MS environment was a great challenge for me. Less than a year later, I developed my skills in direction interesting to me – the computer networks. The Computer Centre gave great development opportunities, for example: designing, managing and developing of the largest computer network in the region with about 70 000 users (the academic network in several Silesian cities). There was also the opportunity to participate in many national projects such as coauthoring the Polish National Educational Network – PIONIER, which was the first national academic network with its own optical fibres, the optical multiplexing DWDM and the 10 Gigabit Ethernet technology. Currently, intensive work continues to build the system of 100 GE and in the future 400 GE, so in retrospect (about 12 years have passed) the solution is not outdated. On the contrary, it allows for expansion of the system in terms of current needs (without a necessity to remake the whole system).
Cyclad: Was it worthwhile to jump into the deep end?
BK: Indeed, I was able to quickly gain a lot of interesting professional experience. After a few years of intensive development, I felt the need to share my experience and I started conducting Cisco’s courses in the Regional Academy Cisco at the Silesian University of Technology, as a certified Cisco Instructor. In addition, I was interested mainly in the Linux operating systems and all aspects of network security. I started to use my experience gained in the first few years of my work in IT also as a proofreader and editor of Polish translations of trade publications in the Helion publisher. I ended this stage of career with the scientific publication (also as a co-author) at the “Internet Wroclaw 2006” conference. It concerned the way of development of a regional network on the basis of the Silesian Academic Computer Network.
Cyclad: How do you rate your beginning in retrospect?
BK: My beginning was mainly related to technical development. Gaining new skills in the scope of conducting IT projects was much easier for me due to these experiences. Later, I was also interested in the management of the programs or transformations.
Cyclad: Did you find time for some entertainment?
BK: Of course! As a “self-respecting” student of computer science, I was a big fan of Quake which broke records of popularity at that time. I do not even want to count how many years I devoted to “improve” my skills in this area – the answer might scare me.
Cyclad: How much has the IT industry has changed in Poland from the time when you started? What do you think?
BK: We can consider the days in which there were no cell phones as as a prehistory, the Internet was a luxury and possessing one e-mail account for the entire company was a sign of modernity. However, we have to remember that the IT market is the youngest and the fastest growing sector in the country at the same time. During the last few years, we have noticed different trends – the increase in sales of software and services, the decline in the sector of computer equipment, the specialization of particular companies. However, the Polish IT market is insatiable all the time. Currently, the market is conquered by the startups, young companies which offer very advanced technology. It is also important to note that Poland is one of the leading locations on the global map of business services, where more than 210 000 people in nearly 1000 service centers have found job. Close to my heart Cracow is known as the most attractive European city for investment in the outsourcing sector and it places in the top ten at the global level.
Cyclad: Does such a dynamic business development have an impact on the greater opportunities in this industry?
BK: When the IT service centers such as Microsoft, HP, Google, Oracle, IBM or SAP opened in Poland, even the largest Polish academic centers were not able to provide sufficient staff. We have the same problem even nowadays. Currently, the reports show that the labour market in the EU lacks 275 000 workers with technical skills in spite of the popularity of studies in the field of computer science and possibility of the international apprenticeship. It gives great opportunities for development. The close cooperation between universities and business is very important to establish programs providing mutual benefits, such as: acquisition of new business partners, markets or recipients of the technology. Moreover, universities have to take the expectations of enterprises regarding the competence and qualifications of the future employees into account in the education process. This is the reason why I am a member of the Program – Business Council in one of the Silesian universities. It is worth remembering that in the long term the consultations of science and business lead also to the innovation and development of industries which are based on new technologies.
Cyclad: Do you think that finding appropriate specialists could be the biggest problem of the industry?
BK: Undoubtedly, the IT market in Poland is an employee’s market, not the employer’s. It is a big challenge to attract new workers from the Millennial Generation. They have highly advanced technical skills and also they are aware of their worth in the market and value independence. Young people entering the IT’s labour market have higher demands towards their employer, e.g. work with the high – tech technologies and interesting, challenging projects at the same time. The employer has to customize his offer to new employees in order to “dress” them into the procedure, identify needs and encourage them to work.
Cyclad: What do you advise people who want to develop their career in the IT industry?
BK: The critical moment is the very beginning when you have to specify your own path. The IT industry allows to work in an international environment and to do interesting projects which also have a direct impact on high salary and opportunities of development. These advantages attract young people. But we have to keep in mind that technological progress is incredibly fast and this industry requires constant work on their personal development. Moreover, these days the ability to speak at least one foreign language is taken for granted.
Cyclad: Does it mean that the specialized knowledge in the field of IT ensures success?
BK: Unfortunately, it is not quite simple. Majority of the best IT specialists are the scientific minds with high analytical competence, understanding complex algorithms with strong mathematical skills. The solid base gained while studying at the University of Technology on the fields of study connected with IT is only the beginning. Soft skills (e.g. a teamwork, a leadership in the group, an effective communication or negotiation skills) become increasingly important in connection with the international projects. It is said that “IQ gets you hired, but EQ gets you promoted”. I like the Agile approach which become so popular. It lays emphasis on cooperation with the client, assumes a high level of provider’s flexibility and as a result it delivers solution which is satisfactory for the customer. Here, decisions about the details can be postponed so you can notice a real progress in the implementation of tasks. It is more important to respond to unforeseen changes than keeping to the established project plan.
Cyclad: Which direction should young people who plan to pursue a career in the IT industry choose?
BK: I observe that the greatest needs still exist and will be existing in two main areas, these are: IT infrastructure and software. In both cases, it is quite easy to get started, e.g. in the position of “IT support” you have to take registrations from the clients (internal and external) and classify them to teams with the higher competencies. It could be the first, serious step towards dealing with the chosen technology which facilitates further learning. At this stage of career, the competence in science does not have to be the required minimum. The high level of language skills is more important when you work in the Call Center or teams responsible for monitoring infrastructure/ application of IT. We learn the technique during in-house trainings, which can last 1-3 months (it depends on the complexity of a project). Due to the trainings, we can harden our background to perform our duties properly. However, we do not get an extensive knowledge of the area of IT, it is only the beginning.
The software tester is the next level of career in the professional path connected with the software. This person should possess a strong knowledge of programming. The industry offers the highest salary and a lot of interesting projects for experienced software developers. Poland lacks specialists for application development, i.e. the backend (programming the practicality to perform operations or calculations, for example.NET, Java, C, C++, PHP) and also the frontend (programming the graphical interface, for example Angular JS).
But not only the software developers are important in IT industry. The IT administrators are also wanted. They are as valued as software developers. They deal with computer networks, databases, servers, operating systems, telephony or IT security. There is a lot of possibilities. It is also very important to “be switched on”, observe market trends, participate in the industry conferences and track the development of particular products.
Cyclad: What are you going to do when it comes to the development of your career?
BK: I have been involved with Cyclad International for 7 years. Firstly, I worked as an IT director, then as a Head of Delivery Services Centre and now I am a General Manager. Considering the dynamic development of new technologies and the rapid changes in the industry, the biggest challenge for me is implementing a development strategy of Cyclad in this reality. Currently, most of the services in the Cyclad’s portfolio are based on tasks connected with recruitment, i.e. body-leasing and recruitment of IT. Other specializations are IT services. We are planning to successively gain customers with the needs in the scope of providing IT services (programming, testing and support of IT infrastructure).We have chosen this direction two years ago and we deliver advanced programming services for international corporate customers from the Travel sector, software testing services for the American companies or the monitoring infrastructure and IT applications for European companies. The Cyclad is changing dynamically by adjusting to the needs of the market. We have expanded our range of specialisations by offering comprehensive IT services, providing end-to-end solutions. I think that continuation of this development is the greatest challenge in the role of General Manager.
In addition, one of my short-term goals is to introduce a product that will support the Polish companies (from the MSP sector) in the field of HR activities to the Cyclad’s portfolio . Based on our experience, we have created a product which facilities the management of human resources in the enterprise significantly. This solution has been running productively for one of our customers and the further development work is coming to an end. I hope that we will announce the official sale of the first product of the Cyclad soon.