From intern at Infobip to Engineering Department Director of Croatia’s first unicorn - Netokracija CEE

From intern at Infobip to Engineering Department Director of Croatia’s first unicorn

Anja Hula begun her career at Infobip as an intern. Year over year she showed great progress as an engineer and a leader. Today she is responsible for the collegues and products of whole Data Department. We believe that Anja's story will inspire all who are already building a career in IT or just starting out...

From an early age, Anja Hula showed a penchant for computer science and mathematics; she solved these subjects at school with ease, and what she liked most was that they didn’t require much studying – it was enough to understand the problem and how to solve it, and she felt that the greatest benefit was in the immediate practical application of acquired knowledge.

As she approached enrolment at university, Anja faced a dilemma: to study mathematics at the Faculty of Science (PMF) or enrol at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing (FER):

I was thinking in the direction of what I would do after college and where I might have more options and employment opportunities, so I opted for FER.

Fortunately, the decision proved to be spot on, given that IT jobs today are some of the most sought after in the world.

“Formal education has given me the breadth and confidence to know how to learn something new”

Anja points out – although very useful, a university degree isn’t crucial – the most important thing is the desire to learn, proactivity and reasoning logic. Jan Stojkovic

Anja says that she has always been a goal-oriented type of person, and in addition to learning, she used her student days to gain professional experience as an intern at Infobip:

It all started when I applied for an internship at Infobip in my 4th year of university. There was an option at FER that year of a summer internship through which we could contact companies and apply. As I am from Pula, where Infobip’s office was located at the time, it was a logical choice for me.

After graduating from university in 2013, Anja was offered a permanent position as a Software Engineer, which she accepted without hesitation. Thanks to her proactivity, as well as her continued improvement of her technical knowledge, after three years she advanced to Team Leader, where she oversaw the engineers and was responsible for delivery and the satisfaction of the people in the team:

Around this time I began developing an interest in leadership so I spent more and more time researching the topic. The position of Team Leader allowed me to continue my technical progress and gave me an insight into how coordinating and organizing a team affects the delivery of complex products.

In addition to the above, leadership skills improved the quality of her work and led to higher output, which generated the realization of the company’s more complex business goals, progress on products they offer, customer satisfaction, and ultimately the satisfaction of the entire team led by Anja.

“The point came where I had to decide whether to stop programming and focus exclusively on leadership.”

As she progressed, Anja took on the responsibility of leading several teams and different domains in the role of Engineering Manager, which was also her first major step towards leadership – she had to make the decision to stop programming and continue her development in the direction of leading people. She admits the decision was not an easy one, but she realized she could contribute more with her skills.

As we mentioned in the introduction, Anja is currently employed in the position of Engineering Director in which she is responsible for the people and products in the Data Department.

This role is more influential and decides on the strategy and development of the department itself. As the Engineering Director, I lead the Engineering Managers with whom I set the goals we want to achieve throughout the year, together with the Product Management department.

Formal education has given me breadth and the certainty that if I don’t know something – I know how to learn and where to find the information. However, most of it was new to me and I needed to get along and learn quickly.

Learning through other people

Throughout her career and professional development, Anja has taken every opportunity to learn something new. She has learned from mentors, older colleagues, seniors, architects and other leaders.

Office discussions you can start every day with colleagues and learning from them is something fantastic, and I practice it daily.

I also remember when my first team leader bought the book “Clean Code” by Robert C. Martin (“Uncle Bob”) and brought it to work. The whole team lined up and we all read it. That book was so good for us that we even quoted passages when reviewing the code before production.

This book helped her in her way of thinking and writing legible code at the start of her career, and she recommends it to anyone who is just getting into programming.

Since she’s sailed into management waters, Anja looks forward to seeing the people she herself has mentored grow in their careers and have a positive impact on the organization, from engineers to managers. In addition, the role of mentor is also important because it shortens the path to success, she adds – you don’t need years to go through the same situations and mistakes they made.

What particularly appeals to her in this business is the fact that there is no regular working day; every day is different and she encounters various situations, and in parallel with changing positions, the challenges have also changed – from her developer position when she faced technical challenges and problem solving on the platform to today when she solves challenges at the organizational level.

Diverse teams are more innovative and productive

Rapid technological change requires individual flexibility and the ability to adapt quickly, and in order to survive and be competitive in the labour market, anyone who wants to build a career in this fast-growing industry must also possess proactivity, a desire to learn and a logical way of thinking.

Anja points out that communication skills are becoming more and more desirable, especially for senior engineering and leadership positions.

Despite the fact that the IT industry is no longer exclusively “male”, the percentage of women in IT is still significantly lower than the percentage of men, and thus women are often exposed to prejudice once they decide to pursue a career in the technology sector.

We asked Anja if that was the case with her as well:

Never, all the colleagues I worked with were dear people from whom I both learned and progressed. Diverse teams are more innovative and productive, as research shows.

According to McKinsey’s research, companies with a higher percentage of women launched more new innovations in the market over a period of 2 years than those with a lower percentage. Innovation is what brings us the future and growth, and that’s why I’m looking forward to a change in the percentage of women in IT.

Working on the system that handles more than 20,000 client messages per second

Infobip’s engineering department currently numbers 850 people, a number that’s likely to grow. The department is in charge of developing the communication platform that Infobip provides to clients. They are developing the CpaaS (Communication Platform as a Service) platform and SaaS (Software as a Service) products through which more than 20,000 client messages pass every second.

Most of the code is written in Java and Kotlin, for the frontend they use React, and for the data pipeline they use Kafka, Clickhouse, MSSQL, PostgreSQL, Redis and Mongo.

In their daily work, they use Slack and Microsoft Teams to communicate, Atlassian Jira to monitor technical and product initiatives, and Atlassian Confluence for technical documentation, meeting notes and internal blog posts. See more about technologies in Infobip Engineering here.

A team of 20 people from different departments worked on the Engineering Handbook for a full 2 months!

A few months ago, we wrote about Infobip’s global Engineering Handbook, which is intended for all engineers who are interested in how Infobip works.

With the Engineering Handbook, we wanted to get closer to everyone who is interested in Infobip, but also to transparently show how we work, on what scale, and share our practices with the community.

The idea of creating a handbook was prompted by numerous questions from outside about the technologies they use, how they are organized, what onboarding looks like… The answers to these and many other questions can now be found in the first Croatian unicorn’s handbook.

The creation itself was exhausting and fun at the same time, considering that we all had to move away from our usual roles and put ourselves in the position of a writer.

Anja admits and adds that Ivan Brezak Brkan helped as the editor and leader of the writing workshop.

The feedback on the handbook is great, it is being read on a daily basis, from the international community of engineers to candidates who use it to inform themselves before a job interview at Infobip.

And since we’re already mentioning candidates for employment, we asked Anja what qualifications she emphasizes to future colleagues and how important formal education is at Infobip.

Formal education provides breadth, but is not a key factor influencing employment. At Infobip we have colleagues who are self-taught and very successful, so there is room for everyone. University is not crucial, the most important thing is the desire to learn, proactivity and good reasoning logic of reasoning.

Invitation to students – Infobip opens applications for a two-month global internship!

Following the concept of its well-known Engineering Internship program that has been around for several years, the news is that this summer, after a two-year break, Infobip will again provide students with the opportunity to gain practical knowledge and start a career in a global IT company. Anja has experienced the benefits of internship first hand and advises all students to take advantage of this opportunity.

The program is global this year, and includes four countries (Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovakia and Poland). The two-month paid internship will take place during July and August, through practical work on a real project with dedicated mentors. All final year undergraduate or graduate students without formal work experience can apply.

Applications for paid internships have started, and you can apply on the Infobip website.

Infobip’s Engineering Department is also accepting applications…

At the end of last year, Croatia’s first unicorn presented a unique benefit in the form of option shares that Infobip granted as part of its own ESOP program, not only to all existing employees, but also to all future ones. Therefore, if you see yourself as part of this successful team, Infobip has several open options to choose from. 🙂

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