Read the stories of those who drive CETIN Bulgaria.

A day in the shoes of... DevOps Expert who knows Japanese, loves colorful ducks and saves turtles

CETIN is a technology company engaged in building telecommunications infrastructure and information security solutions. For them, technology is the backbone of existence. The company's goal is to always be one step ahead in the ever-changing environment of the technological world to keep their customers happy. 
They select outstanding leaders and innovators as partners. And they have realized the most important thing an employer can learn about the work process - that a company is nothing without an exceptionally skilled, motivated and talented group of people, or put another way - the employees, the colleagues. 
This is why CETIN knows that "without their dedication we could not provide seamless services to our customers". 

One of these dedicated worker bees buzzing in CETIN's technology hive is Petya. Her official position is Business Applications DevOps Expert. She has been with the company for nine years - since before she graduated from university. 

We talk to her at CETIN's headquarters in the Sofia Business Park about what it means to be a Business Applications DevOps Expert, why this profession is not for everyone, the Japanese language she studied for five full years in high school, rubber flower ducks as workplace decorations and saving the turtles in the Business Park. 

Petya, what exactly does it mean to be a Business Applications DevOps Expert? 

You're not the first person to ask me that. It happens that even people I work with don't understand exactly what I do. 

A colleague sitting next to me kept asking me the same thing. 

I, amazed, answered her every time, "Well, how can you not know, when we are next to each other every day?" Finally, I got tired of explaining and told her, "We do everything. Absolutely everything. We can build anything from scratch." 
This is not a very comprehensive answer... 

OK, I explain in more detail. In the world of IT technology, DevOps Expert probably has nothing to do with what we do here. Our main goal is to do internal applications. While the job of most of our colleagues is to satisfy customer desires, the goal of my department is to make our colleagues feel good while working for customers. Our customers are our colleagues. 

We develop apps, automations, alarms for colleagues at Yettel so they can do their jobs better with end users. We work directly with and for them. We deal with internal notifications and the production of reports for the internal network and for internal use. 

We also deal with monitoring of the whole network - colleagues approach us and we work in close partnership with vendors (hardware suppliers) to fix this problem - whether they need to upgrade something on the chain or tweak settings depends on the situation. 
Okay, it's starting to become clear to me. What are you working on right now? 

We're currently developing a new app. When we get a customer complaint about a problem on the network, the call center escalates the complaint to the people who take care of the network (the so-called back office - workers who don't deal directly with customers). 

And we, in turn, collect these customer complaints in one place, put them on a map with coordinates, and from there on we can keep track of which cell serves a given area and find out if there is a problem with the cell. 

I'm also working on an international project, on a group level. The parent company is in the Czech Republic, and we have offices in Hungary and Serbia. Colleagues from all four countries are working together on the project, and I am the Tech stream leader for Bulgaria, i.e. I manage the process in our country. The aim of the project is automation of alarm systems. 

Sounds dynamic. Do you have room for improvisation? 

The work is not monotonous at all. We do different things every day. And when I said we do everything, we really do everything - from doing the job of a Linux/Windows administrator, to stepping into the shoes of a programmer, database administrator or "reporting" specialist... Our job requires us to make important decisions as well. 

For example, when there's a problem with a new application we've just released and it gives a problem. We have to decide how long we can afford to have that application down while we work on fixing the problem. This also comes down to us as system engineers. 

Every day is totally different. I'm trying to get some order in, but in all these years I haven't succeeded yet. 

The other aspect of our job is to create applications that, if we can, not only make things easier for our colleagues, but also generally shorten the time it takes to get something done. Something that normally takes three or four days to be ready in 15 minutes. 
My first project was to streamline the process for determining overtime. At that time, there was still no centralised system for entering the extra hours. And my colleagues and I created such an application. First, it was a great challenge, second - we made HR's job much easier. 

Before, they had to write the work orders and payroll manually and it took them half a month, but we automated it. 

You graduated in Business Informatics at the UNWE. How adequate is your education and does it help you in your daily work? 

At the university, the program was more oriented towards the part of leading and presenting projects, not ones that you prepare yourself. It was more business oriented than technical. 

The education and courses I have taken as additional qualifications have formed 15% of my knowledge. The rest of it I've gained from communicating with colleagues who you learn from on the job as well. It's one thing at university, it's completely different in practice. Like anywhere - you also have to steal your craft from more experienced colleagues. 

That's why we're constantly trying to evolve - technology is moving scarily fast and the products we use are changing. No one is born scientific. It's about having the incentive to learn something new every day, to tinker. You have to be super persistent. 

Doesn't seem like a job for everyone... 

Not a job for everyone. You have to be one. Constantly wanting to do something new, to learn. To be able to optimize a process, no matter what field, you have to know how the process goes. To understand it, talk to the people who use it, and from there see not only the problems, but exactly how they could be solved. To optimize yourself to be able to optimize the process. 

The trends are such that everyone wants to learn programming. But if you're only doing it because you're going to make a lot of money, you might as well do it for three or four or five years. To do it for quality and for longer, you have to be that kind of person because the work is specific. 
Are ducks mandatory? 

Oh, yes. No way without them. They're mandatory on my desk. 
You've been here nine years, but how did you end up at CETIN? 

A friend who still works at Yettel mentioned to me that the company, at that time it was still Globul, offered internship programmes. I immediately applied because these programmes give you a great start in your career. They called me in for an interview. I passed successfully and they hired me. 

At the beginning I started doing databases - very low level programming. After I passed the internship program, they offered me to continue with a fellowship program. At the interview, however, I was offered a job directly in the department where I interned. After six months, I moved to that department, where I still am. 
I understand you've also won awards... 

Yes, I have won the company innovation award twice. I'll tell you about one. I got it for the company's car sharing app. We have a certain number of cars that are used by all employees. 

We made a system to make their use more orderly. In it, everyone can reserve a car if they need it for today, for tomorrow, for the weekend even. For work purposes, of course. That way, at any moment, any employee can open the system and see whether a car is available or not. 
9 years in the same place - aren't you sick of it? 

No. The only thing that someone might consider a minus is coming to the same place for so long. But for me it isn't. And from here on, we just go with the pros. Colleagues are very important, and we're like family. We share our personal lives, we visit each other; I, for example, know when a colleague's child has a birthday or is having an exam at school. 

We're a very close-knit team, which helps you a lot with your work. 

Another thing I like is that HR here manages to hire people who fit the team. That's the most important thing for me. It's hard to work if you don't get along with the people around you. 

The team is really important. And from what I understand, you guys get along pretty well... 

We are four people and the boss. I'd rather work from the office than from home. I like being here. During the pandemic, I only had two or three weeks of home office. Then we were here, of course, with the necessary precautions. 

I enjoy being here with the team. We have coffee with them in the morning, then we go out for lunch together. If it's a very busy day, we blow off steam by doing a jigsaw puzzle. And every Friday we get together after work for a drink. 
Sometimes we also rescue turtles from the pond in the Business Park. Personally, I've gotten out of my car to move them out of the way because sometimes they come out of the water and start crossing the road. They probably want to go to the other side "for coffee" too. 
Some companies organise various initiatives outside working hours. Is this the case with you? 

Oh, yes. With Yettel we do sports days twice a year "on exchange". We organise competitions between colleagues - table tennis, volleyball, basketball. One time they invite us, the other time we return the gesture. 

Soon, CETIN will bring together the best from its offices in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Serbia for a sort of impromptu Olympics. It will be held in a sports complex outside Prague and there will be athletics, swimming, shooting - everything. Before that we had internal competitions and the best qualified for this mini Olympics. 
Outside the office, how do you chill? 

With friends - we get together and play board games. I love Bulgarian history games where you have to arrange historical events in chronological order. I love everything Marvel and DC: comics, movies. 

I studied Japanese for five years in high school. Folding origami is my favorite. I also love their comics and animations. 

Japan - different culture, different people. Are you planning to visit it? 

Absolutely, it's just going to be a bit further. 

We've already talked about programming and monitoring not being for everyone. But what's the best thing about your job? 

The best thing is that when you do something, you can see the result almost immediately. You've written some code and you can immediately see what it looks like, what you can improve, how it works. There are professions where the result of your efforts comes at a much later stage, whereas with us it comes almost immediately. The most important thing is that you like it and want to develop constantly. 

And I have never stopped wanting it.