Playmaker Spotlight: Boris Ovčjak, Director of Engineering

People & Culture Feb 28, 2022 6 minutes read

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    In Playmaker Spotlight, we get up-close (and sometimes personal) with one of our valuable team members whose individual contributions shouldn’t be overlooked but rather used to highlight their unique experience. Besides taking this great opportunity to share their accomplishments with the world, we also hope to provide you with insider info about our team culture and what it’s like to work at Databox.

    When we look for talent, we never know where we’ll find it. Our team members come to Databox with different backgrounds, expertise, and experiences, which helps to keep our team diverse and our skillset fresh. In this Playmaker Spotlight, we are introducing our Director of Engineering Boris Ovčjak, who started his career as a teaching assistant at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Maribor, Slovenia.

    Keep reading to see how Boris managed to transform his newly gained knowledge into a real-life IT company know-how and the challenges he faced along the way.

    Gaining valuable experience in the academic setting

    Soon after finishing his degree, Boris took on the role of a teaching assistant at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Maribor and started his PhD at the same time. Working with students, professors and partners has allowed him to develop several skills and be part of various application projects. This allowed him to bring his theoretical knowledge into real-life projects, which is a skill many candidates lack when starting their careers. 

    After almost 7 years, Boris decided he wanted to be more involved in actual product development and experience the product development process and lifecycle. He spent 4 years working for an IT company and focused on software engineering and architecture. In 2021, he joined Databox as a Software Architect and soon became an indispensable part of our Engineering team. After just one year of being heavily involved in several engineering projects across various engineering teams, he was promoted to Director of Engineering and took the lead on our new upcoming product.

    Making a leap from academia to industry was long-coming

    Choosing between industry and academia is for sure a thought many researchers, scientists, and other university experts have throughout their careers. As skill and talent go a long way in different work settings, choosing an industry position is an attractive option. Individuals that have worked in an academic setting for a while, like Boris, have gained numerous transferable skills that allow them to quickly advance in the private sector.

    Boris made a significant transition from theory to practice and from the university environment to the real-life industry field. We were curious to learn what made him take that leap and whether he had to adjust his mindset: 

    “I have to say that I always saw myself more as a practical than theoretical person. Although the experience I have gained at the university is extremely valuable, I always knew I wanted to move to the private sector someday. I wanted to be involved in real-life development projects rather than the academic work itself, so I realized I had to change the environment to make the impact that I wanted.”

    First impressions of Databox were admirable and still are

    When talking about switching work environments, Boris emphasizes that making an impact was pretty high on his list of priorities:

     “Coming to Databox was both easy and hard. I have gotten an opportunity to make an impact on an already great product with a lot of potential but step out of my comfort zone (tech-wise) to do so. I was immediately impressed with the product and most importantly, the domain itself, as I always liked working with data and how they are presented to the users. A year has just passed since and I have to say that I am really glad that I have taken the leap and grew, which allowed me to contribute to the success of the product and company as a whole.”

    The company thrives because of its people

    What we value most at Databox are our people and company culture and we are proud to say that it was our culture that was (again and again) recognized as one of the strongest points in our quarterly eNPS surveys that measures employee satisfaction. We believe it all starts with teamwork and eagerness to learn and continues with accountability and ownership of our work. One of the biggest perks for our engineers happens to be the level of tech skills and talent that our teams possess. We want to make sure every individual is challenged and able to advance their skills while growing professionally and personally, no matter their background. 

    Still, we wanted to learn what Boris finds most challenging about working at Databox:

    Databox is a really great company to work at. It’s a great environment for people who want to make a difference, be challenged, and work together to come up with the best solutions possible. And that we do, again and again. So maybe the best answer would be that the most challenging part of it all is keeping up with all the progress driven by the talented people here.”

    Accomplishing goals by building strong teams

    One of the main objectives that have been driving our efforts is investing in the strategic professional development of our Playmakers and supporting them to grow in their roles. A big part of each individuals’ career path at Databox is setting goals – not to create pressure, but to direct focus. That’s why we were curious about what are some of the biggest work goals Boris is working towards right now.

    “The biggest goal that we as a team have right now is finishing a new product and thinking about scalability to bring this to the millions of businesses worldwide.” He also points out the way he believes we can achieve this is to “ build on expanding an already strong team and setting up an environment where everyone feels accepted, valued, can learn from each other and grow individually and as a team.”

    Achieving exponential growth in the future

    When designing our plans for the future of Databox, Boris and his contributions are a big part of that.

    “I am positive we have the knowledge and potential to build an amazing company and are on the right path with the right mindset to make this happen.” When talking about success from a business point, Boris emphasized that while striving for something, we must “succeed in preserving the essence of what Databox is at the moment – its people. I always say that people make up the product, not the other way around.” 

    We couldn’t agree more. It makes us happy to see that our team members recognize the value of our people in all their diversity. Our goals at Databox will forever remain to build a strong group of amazing professionals with diverse skillsets, backgrounds, and experience. If you are interested to be one of them, check out our open positions.

    Article by
    Masa Sajko

    Brand & Culture Manager at Databox

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