People & Culture

Playmaker Spotlight: Nikos Ntirlis, Community Development Manager

In this Spotlight, we want to introduce you to the man of many talents, former Olympian, chess master, published author, and a fantastic leader, Nikos Ntirlis.

Masa Sajko Masa Sajko on August 26, 2022 • 6 minute read

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 experiences. 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.


At Databox, we’re a genuinely colourful bunch of individuals with different experiences and diverse backgrounds. If you’d ask a question on any given topic in one of our Slack channels, we bet you’ll get tons of advice from people who, at one point in their life, either trained, taught, wrote about it in the past or personally practised it. We’re not talking just about the technical stuff and work-related skills. Think culinary, wellness, finance, and even board games. And the true beauty of it all starts to be seen when we share this knowledge with our teammates. An absolute treasure trove! 

In this Spotlight, we want to introduce you to one of those Playmakers – the man of many talents, former Olympian, chess master, published author, and a fantastic leader, Nikos Ntirlis.

From Chess Olympiad to Databox

Although Nikos, born and raised in continental Greece, mastered in Computer Engineering and Informatics Department, his first career moves were actually in the world of chess. As a coach and book author, he traveled the world – editing unpublished works, writing, lecturing, and even coaching a few national teams (at seriously huge events such as “Chess Olympiads”). After a few years, he returned to his academic foundations and, as he likes to point out, “started looking for jobs in his favourite country in the world (Slovenia!)“. Today Nikos lives and works in Maribor as our Community Development Manager at Databox.

A rare scene of Nikos wearing a suit (overlooking the best chess players from Denmark)

What serves in chess serves in life and business

When he joined Databox in 2019, he started as a part of our (back then) small Customer Support Team, which is now a well-organized Customer Support/Business Development team. These were the early days when he manually enabled trial requests and answered most of the 30-40 chats we had daily. He likes to remember those times as a creative and exciting period, mainly because we didn’t have a lot of documented processes. So in every meeting, something new had to be figured out

Going through our Slack posts mentioning him, you can immediately appreciate his impact on the team and new ways of servicing our users. He’s one of those people who help you think “out of the box” and heavily influenced us to start introducing more proactive work instead of the traditional reactive. Those who work with him like to say he has a unique ability to see the next move (much like in chess) and always helps us identify areas we can improve. And often takes it upon himself to implement those improvements. 

For him, some of the personal challenges he likes to remember during this time are mainly associated with improving customer and employee experience, such as:

  • Reducing the chat response time from a few hours to less than a minute
  • Introducing and developing the Build-a-Board free set-up service (which was later expanded to create our Data Source services), and 
  • Managing the onboarding of 50+ our new Playmakers before our Training Specialist Emily completely took over and made it into a well-oiled machine.

Over the past years, we’ve watched him develop his strategic mindset and challenge himself repeatedly. And he’s always willing to bring everyone along on this journey, helping them grow professionally and personally. Talking about a true role model in our values. 

So, as his team grew and other teams evolved towards the structure we have today, his role naturally evolved – growing from a team lead to accepting the challenge to lead a team that is doing something entirely different, The Community Development team. 

But when we asked him about his most significant accomplishments since his start at Databox 3 years ago, he rarely mentioned the steep progression in his career path. Instead, in the spirit of a true Playmaker and leader, he emphasises the importance of teamwork and sharing credits.

Effective communication is key to any successful relationship.

Today he leads a relatively new team of Community Development built on the idea of social networking and sharing learnings we glean from our business, partners, customers and even prospective customers. Contrary to the established strategies of investing money in social ads and sending out non-personalized messages to prospects, this team sets to do things differently – listen first, engage, aggregate insights and share what we’re learning.

Once you comprehend this philosophy, it’s also much easier to understand where Nikos is coming from when he talks about the most significant lessons he learned on his journey – working with customers, onboarding new team members, and now leading his team:

“The biggest thing I learned since I joined Databox is the importance of communication, especially empathetic communication. It doesn’t matter if you are a manager, a Customer Support team member or an Engineer. In any position, you have to work with people, collaborate, help them achieve their goals and develop partnerships to help you accomplish them. I know it sounds like a cliché, but communicating clearly with others and understanding their point of view is the most basic and important skill any professional should strive to become better at.


Communication at levels, from active listening and contextualising to reading the nonverbal signs and responding, is something we believe is a cornerstone competency of those who work with people – not just the customers. Working in a global team with 140+ individuals from 17 locations, primarily virtual, we need the skills to convey our thoughts, ideas, and expectations. 

Perhaps this is also why one of the newer initiatives, “Podcast Discussions”, led by Nikos, is aimed at training our team’s writing skills. They meet weekly on Zoom, comb through the podcast’s topics, and extract the main lessons. They often debate different insights and perspectives and refine their writing for the readers.

If you’re curious to learn more about this team and their approach, follow Nikos and the team (Emese, Rachael, and Nikola) on LinkedIn.

A look into the future

One of our favourite questions we love to ask in Spotlights is how our Playmakers see their future. Naturally, we wanted to know what is Nikos’s wish for the next ten years with the company. His wish might sound simple for some, but if you know him, you know he means it.

“I want to meet everyone in person! We have some amazing individuals with great experiences, stories, and knowledge. We communicate daily, stress over helping others and laugh at each others’ jokes. And I wish to meet all of them in person one day to hear them enjoying their personal and professional journey as much as I do.“


How could anyone not love this guy? 😉 

About the author
Masa Sajko
Masa Sajko Brand & Culture Manager at Databox
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