Back To Bulgaria: The Story Of Lyuben Ivanov

Lyuben Ivanov: sometimes going abroad is a way to reconsider career development in Bulgaria

Lyuben Ivanov first started his IT career in Bulgaria in 2006. During the time he is of the type of youth that are brimming with energy and curiosity and out to expand their horizons, with this being the reason for him to decide to study and hone his skills in the Netherlands. During the period not only did he deepen his knowledge, but also came to the important decision that his place is back in his home country of Bulgaria. His family, friends, the beautiful scenery and last but not least – the good career development prospects for IT specialists back in Bulgaria.

Today he’s working as a Senior Digital Architect in Schwarz IT Bulgaria, and as such we have the opportunity to share his adventures on the path back home.

First steps in IT

„I made my first real steps towards an IT career back in 11th grade. A friend of mine, who studied at the electronics technical school, invited me to sign up for a Java programming course, which I kindly accepted, following the saying “appetite comes with feasting” “– he shares, “my drive towards programming was growing with each passing course and I was likely the only person to finish his homework on time. In time everything developed by its natural course, but I still keep the certificate I received from that course.”

Lyuben graduated information technology in NBU and started work as a junior developer, albeit not long after deciding to continue his tuition abroad.

Education and work in the Netherlands

Lyuben attained his master’s degree in “Information and computer technologies in business” from the Leiden university, a degree which provides him a broader view of IT systems as a whole as well as insight in to finance and economics, fields deemed by him as mandatory for anyone who wants to grow in a professional aspect, regardless of the field he is in. He claims - “The IT systems, for the most part, generate added value, without a need for a strict business model to follow, but it is that very link between business and IT that makes a software product successful.”

During his tuition he worked as a developer for an American company, whose work focused on developing ERP and middleware systems. He is part of the team responsible for the middleware platform, having the opportunity to work in the office alongside 500 other programmers, most of which with serious experience, which he can rely on for both gaining a better understanding for the technical aspects and truly comprehending the responsibility required for the work conducted. He shares – “ I believe the most important lesson I learned during my stay at the company was that of work prioritization, but I am also grateful for the opportunity to grow in a multicultural team. 


A restart in Bulgaria and start in Schwarz IT

After nearly 3 years spent in the Netherlands, Lyuben started to research the IT labor market in Bulgaria, finding that it does provide good prospects for career development. “I returned at the start of 2013 and started work at Javelin, a company with a focus on e-commerce solutions.” – he shares, “I went through a few different products until one day I got a phone call from Martin, a colleague I had worked with in Javelin, sharing with me that Lidl Digital would be opening a development center in Bulgaria. Given the information provided I ultimately decided that that would be a wonderful career development opportunity for me.

Lyuben has a concept for the IT requirements of the retail business sector, but remains impressed by the scale, different requirements and the high degree of integration of then Lidl Digital’s and now SITBG’s projects. “I definitely didn’t expect such a large and well-oiled machine of a system, especially with so many cultures and technologies involved. Schwarz IT is a well-rounded company, one where you can always find new challenges, in the good sense of course” – he shares regarding the company.  

Nowadays his work at Schwarz IT is focused on creating the architecture for different software systems and the links between them. As of now he is mainly responsible for the API management system of Schwarz IT as well as the digital transformation of the software on to cloud solutions. He states that what keeps him interested in continuing work for the company is everyone’s overall professionalism – “There are wonderful colleagues, which not only have a thorough understanding of their field of expertise but are also aware of how to be great friends. We tend to often go out and see each other outside of workdays, which by itself speaks volumes regarding the team spirit.”


A look towards the Bulgarian IT sector

Lyuben’s opinion about the IT sector in Bulgaria is that the companies, comprising the sector, ought to work in three main directions – firstly, maintaining the IT communities, where best practices and experience can be shared; another prospect to look towards is attracting foreign talent, which would provide fresh new ideas and points of view; and finally he suggests a look towards overall development of the personnel, and not just the programmers, but also business analysts, product managers, vocational process specialists and just about all others. His main recommendations towards the juniors, which are just taking their first steps in the IT field are to have patience, not ever stop studying, to be unafraid of leaving their comfort zone and especially, given the current context, to learn how to say “no”, but most importantly - to figure out how to “recharge their batteries” and not work themselves to а burnout.


In 10 years’ time

Lyuben is a man who loves taking on responsibility and would like to hold the responsibility for “a large part of the strategic tech decisions, which aid the business development process as a whole, regardless of which business it is”.