The desire to constantly move forward and overcome any challenges is what unites all Innovecsers. We talked to Vlad Kopanko, VP Delivery Account Management, about starting a career at Innovecs, responsibilities then and now, and learned what qualities helped him achieve his goal.
— You used to work as an Engagement Manager. What were your responsibilities then?
— In essence, an Engagement Manager is an account manager for a client within a delivery organization. For the most part, this is true for service organizations. Key responsibilities include assisting the client in achieving maximum results in their projects, products, IT innovations, or strategies via the provision of internal services of the provider company. The Engagement Manager also provides support in solving current or anticipated strategic problems. This includes, in particular, the planning of future projects and their implementation.
Simply put, my job was to eliminate all kinds of “pain” for the client, form commercial and technical proposals together with the internal team, manage various contracts and transfer them to the Delivery Manager for further implementation. For me, the main thing in the profession of Engagement Manager is to build good business relationships with clients.
— Today, you are VP. How have your responsibilities changed with your new position?
— You are given more responsibilities, and as a result, demands, expectations, and accountability also grow. If you are an Engagement or Delivery Manager who seeks to lead a business or manage a vertical — whether delivery or operations — the result of your activities is achieving measurable goals. They are not empirical — we are talking about cost optimization, margins, and constant planned and projected growth.
Good performance in your current position means that you can handle your responsibilities at a high level in less time. Achieving certain results, having a portfolio of projects or accounts, and constant growth as a specialist are the reasons to take the next logical step: becoming a department leader.
The vertical within the service organization is a business within a business with all the relevant features. If in the previous position you could influence the processes or adjust them at any time, in the current job it will not work due to the lack of time. That is, the workloads are incomparable. Controlling everything yourself will be impossible, in this case, one should consider other managerial features and skills, such as delegation, team selection; establishing processes with people who are not subordinate to you but affect the outcome of your work.
— How do you establish seamless interaction between different departments? What do you need for this?
— Everything is simple and complicated at the same time. It seems that you just need to be able to communicate. Yet, due to our human nature, we do not use this tool the way we should. As a manager, you must have a clear communication culture that changes through the generations. One of the main tasks of the manager is to correctly form a communication strategy both internally (with subordinates, teams, and cross-functional departments) and externally (with clients).
Many times I have been convinced of the following: misunderstanding inevitably leads to sabotage or complete loss of interest. To prevent this, there must be proper transparent communication. We need to get people interested, show what we do and why we do it, as well as shed light on all the benefits. It is crucial to remember that the teammates you work with are as smart and erudite as you are. In some cases, they may be superior. There will be no possibility to hide something or throw your duties on them. Regardless of the role and title, honesty with everyone is a key aspect of a leadership position.
I would also like to note the correct setting of expectations. No one will guess what you want. Guessing is always subjective. The inability to clearly communicate own views to a subordinate leads to the wrong results at the wrong time. Judging from my experience, the manager is to blame in 90% of cases. The same applies to distrust in communication.
— What managerial techniques and/or methodologies do you use in your work?
— We all use Agile, and a SMART management tool. Personally, I like the Eisenhower matrix, and I started using it a long time ago intuitively — assessing tasks based on their urgency and importance.
— What is your overall impression of Innovecs’ corporate culture?
— Corporate culture is an ongoing process. It grows and develops. I have been working at Innovecs for seven years and I have something to compare with. During this period, the company has made a significant leap in this direction. Over the years, the company’s management has come to the need for transparent communication, where all employees are on the same page.
I believe that Innovecs’ corporate culture is at a fairly high level. It is good that you can always give honest feedback and then see the improvement of any process. This is probably the reflection of transparent communication within the company. Healthy interaction and open dialogue help to make a difference together and achieve the set goals.
— What do you like most about a managerial position? In other words, what is the most attractive part about VP Delivery?
— In my opinion, the main “product” of a manager or a leader is managerial decisions. It is good if they are effective and bear fruit. I like setting interesting ambitious goals and then seeing outcomes. Here is an example. If you look at Elon Musk as a leader, he is constantly achieving his goals. His tweets about buying Twitter and statements about Coca-Cola can be viewed as fun.
However, I will not be surprised if he will do everything he says at the end of the day. There is no reason to doubt his words. Such leaders cannot fail to inspire. Apathy, difficulties, feelings of fatigue — no one is safe from these things. But when you have such personalities and their achievements in front of your eyes, you understand that your challenges are not that critical, but are in fact quite solvable.
— What advice would you give to an engineer who wants to go up the career ladder? What hard and soft skills does one need to develop?
— I have an example of how a person who worked in the field of logistics after a while became a Solution Architect at Microsoft. That is, someone who was not previously engaged in technology and engineering, was able to make a dramatic turn in her career and reach certain heights. Back in the day, you had to have a wide range of knowledge in many areas to be an expert. Today’s world is differentiated, and you just need to be a good specialist in a certain niche. In other words, you do not have to write code to be an architect.
All the top-notch experts in the tech field have business-oriented soft skills to some extent. Again, I emphasize the importance of communication skills as a paramount characteristic. The technological component obviously plays a significant role. The availability of information, training, experts, and courses is so great that with certain investments, you can acquire this body of knowledge in a very short time. It all depends on you personally.
— What courses and certifications should one take to grow as an engineering leader?
— Certifications are vital, they systematize knowledge and work approaches. When setting a high bar, a certificate is simply necessary. This is indirect, and sometimes a direct confirmation of your knowledge and skills — other than your own words, the market validates them as well. Again, I know the cases where the availability of a large number of certificates bordered on fairly average results in practice.
Today there are many cloud certifications that may be of interest to future professionals. I would like to highlight QA and cybersecurity certifications. As for managerial certifications, the list is pretty long ranging from PMI to Agile methodology and other frameworks. It all depends on the specific position and plans for the further development of one’s career.
Did you like Vlad’s story? Do you want to start or change your career path with Innovecs? Find out about the possibilities here.