For several years now, Hypoport Sofia has been operating in the Bulgarian market and has managed to prove itself as a fast-paced and inclusive employer.
However, at the end of last year, the company went through some difficult times and experienced some unplanned changes in the management.
As a consequence, Janis Schafer, who was part of the firm as a “Managing Director,” left the company. Hypoport Sofia is extremely grateful to him for all his dedication, as he has been part of it since its inception and was actively involved in creating the successful brand it is today .
Fortunately, Marian Georgiev, who was a vital part of the team for a long time as Procurator & CFO stepped up and took over the vacant position.
We took time to sit together with the new managing team to discuss what the change means for the company and how they are preparing for the upcoming challenges.
How would you describe the past year?
Danny Hanke: Last year we had the chance to experiment in a lot of different situations and learn and grow from them. We understood better how we can contribute to the success of the group and now we have a clear path ahead of us.
One of the core achievements for us last year was the landing of two new teams here in Sofia, for Hypoport B.V. and Europace. Our colleagues from Amsterdam are central partner in shaping regulatory & technical standards for the finance markets they operate in and are working with .NET, Angular and TypeScript. Europace is one of the founding members of the group and is a leading transaction platform for mortgage finance, building finance and personal loans. They work with Java and Angular.
Our collaboration so far has been productive and successful, so we plan to grow together in the future and develop new talents.
Marian Georgiev: We went through a tough internal restructuring, and we are glad that everything finally settled. Now we’re ready for the new challenges we will face in the future.
It is a well-known fact that developers prefer working remotely. We had a 90% empty brand new and greatly furnished building, which was not used. That’s why we were looking for solutions to fill the empty floors. We are very excited that we found tenants for those spaces.
This brought some movement and joy to the people coming to the office.
We are now working on our relationship with our neighbors, and I hope that all of us feel great and are happy to visit the office.
What is important for a company to get through such times?
Marian Georgiev: Because for us the personal relationship is important, we are trying to motivate the teams to meet and have some fun time. The mix between work and joy is very important for the life balance and the overall experience at the workplace in our opinion. And I think we are succeeding- the proof is our team members, most of which have been with the company for more than a decade already. We also give people freedom to express their overall experience of the company and based on the feedback we are trying to constantly improve the environment.
Danny Hanke: The biggest challenge for us was and still is to stabilize the teams, so that we keep the manpower that we need, to push the development of our products. We believe that security and safety are key factors in having a stable team. We try to communicate as often and transparently as possible to explain to our employees our current situation and most importantly give a perspective. This is not always easy, but in our experience talking about it openly helps a lot. I think it is also important to point out that this applies to bad and good times equally!
The other important thing I would like to mention is to actively listen to your employees and their needs. We understand very well that they are not only numbers in our system. They are humans with a life outside of work and real-life problems. We always sit together and try to find the best possible solutions for everyone involved, no matter the situation.
Now that everything is in place, what is next for Hypoport Sofia?
Marian Georgiev: Our biggest goal is to make most of the Hypoport companies comfortable enough to trust us and set up teams here in Sofia. We want to show them how nice it is to have a remote team in Bulgaria. Last year we succeeded with two of the companies, but let’s not forget we also have FIO AG since 2002 with currently 40+ colleagues. So, we want to keep developing our teams, and as soon as the situation comes back to normal, we want to be ready to recruit more team members.
Danny Hanke: The global financial crisis is still there so our plans are to stabilize and not get affected by it too much. Right now, we are taking all the steps to improve our process even further, so that once the companies start looking for people again, we are ready.
Of course, continuing to grow, as Marian said, and finding the right people for the right teams is one of the main things for us this year. Our focus with each company is to build and grow stable teams that are well-integrated, can cooperate and enjoy the company’s culture. This we call “a great success story.”
How do you approach the IT market and how do you plan to make successful hires?
Marian Georgiev: Like most of the IT companies in Bulgaria, we struggled in the past with the market situation, because we weren’t able to hire as many skilled talents as we were hoping for.
Closing, especially Senior positions, is always a tough process- finding the right person at the right time for the right team.
We are carefully tracking the market situation and will onboard the teammates that match our setup and culture as soon as possible.
Danny Hanke: Even though we are still aware of the situation, we did not change the way we approach the market. Our shift in retrospective is to focus on junior talents and grow them into Senior developers. This is something we’ve done for over 20 years and is our core competence. That always works, because the junior market is solid, and due to our collaborations with universities and academies, we always have a good pool of applicants. If we look at the juniors that we hired last year, they are currently settling in their teams, growing well and fast.
We truly believe that with the right guidance and mentorship a junior developer can contribute to the success of our teams right from the start.
What are the main things you rely on when choosing your team?
Danny Hanke: What has always been important for us is the mindset. You can learn technologies, and grow in certain areas, but changing your general mindset and attitude is very hard. We, as a company, have a certain mindset – we are open, we support each other, and constantly try to grow, and this is the mindset we are looking for.
Our experience has shown that if there are different mindsets and expectations within the team, conflicts arise easily, which are hard to deal with.
The challenge is to find a good mix between mindset and technical skills to match our needs.
What do you think sets the company apart from its competitors?
Marian Georgiev: What sets us apart is the environment and the culture that we’ve created and the feeling that we’re all together no matter what.
People here know that whatever is bothering them, they can speak out and someone will listen carefully and find a solution to their problems.
This creates a flat hierarchy, which is crucial, as it creates a stress-free environment. I personally believe that stress is the biggest threat to people nowadays, so taking this seriously and working constantly on it is part of our focus.
How can potential applicants contact you?