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Hrvoje Zeko - A New Career Adventure


Meet Hrvoje Zeko, our employee who decided to accept a new career adventure and became the Software Program Manager in Serengeti. We talked with Hrvoje to find out more about the transition process and the challenges of his new role. 

Hrvoje, before you share with us how you became the Software Program Manager, tell us a little bit more about yourself.  

Besides being a software developer for the past 15 years, I am a passionate and avid traveler, which was sadly interrupted due to Corona. I have traveled most of Europe and visited Africa and America. One place that I thoroughly enjoyed has been the Madeira archipelago in Portugal. I am also a recreational cyclist. I cycle almost every day. I avidly cycle short distances and I continually challenge myself and I have cycled long distances as well, distances over 100 km. One of my personal goals would be to go to Nordkapp, Norway, and back riding my bike. When I am not cycling, I design and build yards and gardens. I am currently an amateur, but one day who knows - maybe I will start doing it professionally.

What year did you begin your career adventure at Serengeti? Describe to us what the transition looked like. 

I started at Serengeti in December 2017. I joined the Serengeti team as a senior developer with 10 years of experience after working at a small company where the software development side of the business relied solely on two developers. After adjusting to the new role and a brief introduction to the Serengeti team, I received my first assignment working with a German company, Geutebrück, where I was developing and leading the Serengeti team. While working with Geutebrück, we maintained their legacy system for their video surveillance system which, amongst other things, was used on the Allianz Arena in Munich, the Guiana Space Center, and the Frankfurt Airport. That was my first assignment working in a big corporation. The project lasted 8 months, after which another opportunity popped up to work on a fintech project for NETS CEE, which was previously called Mercury (MPSI).

During my first year with Mercury, I was on working with the issuing team. Every day I learned about the financial world and the way companies function. After that, I worked on implementing the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for Mercury which meant that I had to first understand and plan which systems had to comply with the European Regulation and then coordinate tasks with the Serengeti development team. Not long after we finished implementing GDPR at Mercury, I received another opportunity to lead a team of seven Serengeti programmers for a project at MPSI’s partner firm, Concardis. Some of the things we were tasked to do at Concardis was to modernize and maintain their payment systems for German small and medium-sized enterprises. 

After that, you received a promotion and became Program Manager at Serengeti! Tell us how you reacted to the offer. 

While I was working on the Concardis project, there were talks of a new Program Manager at Serengeti. Once that role opened up, I immediately accepted the offer as I felt that I needed a career change after 15 years of being a Developer. I was ready to start something new. When I accepted the offer, it was hard to imagine how my daily life would be without developing every day.

Before I took up the role, there was a transitional period spanning a month when all of my obligations as a team leader at the Concardis project were delegated amongst the other members of the team. Simultaneously, I was learning about my responsibilities as a program manager. I am happy about the challenges I face in this new role and I would like to thank the whole Serengeti team who showed me understanding and support during this transitional period.   

Can you describe to us more about what your new position entails? 

Program Management’s main focus is on communicating with people and the organization so that all business aspects for our clients run smoothly. For some of our projects, due to the nature of the job which in development is known to be specific, I need to communicate with people daily. This is to ensure that everything works harmoniously.

The biggest difference between my position now and my previous position is that everything is more centered around making sure people that are working on different projects are satisfied and that projects are going as planned. On the other hand, when I was a senior developer, my role was focused on how I was supposed to work in a team and how my work would influence the project. 

It sounds like you have adjusted well to your new position as Program Manager. Could you tell us some main skills and character traits one needs to be a good Program Manager? 

First off, it is about having a passion for your work. If your work is not enjoyable or challenging then it will be something that you do not want to handle. The most important skill that I would highlight is communication skills. They are necessary for doing my current duties. It is also key to be understanding and listening and respecting everyone’s opinions.

Everyday communication with different people means that you need to approach everyone individually and with an open mind because everyone experiences their situation differently. My main task is to be the bridge between our employees and our clients so that both sides are satisfied with the task at hand and with the results. 

When you look back at the past 5 years, specifically at Serengeti’s growth and development as a firm, what are some main takeaways for you? 

I can say that after 5 years at Serengeti, Serengeti has always tried to adjust to their employees as much as possible. Serengeti strives to enable progress and help perfect processes for their employees. Serengeti, throughout their rapid expansion the past 5 years, did not lose what most companies lose when they expand and become bigger: their connection with their employees and a sense of belonging. It can be said that the company kept its personal touch as much as it is possible in the corporate world.

Ever since I joined the Serengeti team, there has always been a sense of social cohesion. We hang out with one another outside of work, and this sense of connection with one another translates into the workplace. I always look forward to our social gatherings especially the ones that are coming up shortly. 

Do you have any advice for GETI colleagues who plan to advance in their careers? 

Work on yourself, find goals that inspire you, and educate yourself as much as you can. The company’s support for you will not disappear. From my own experience, I can say that everything is achievable and the journeys and roads that we take are not, all the same, to get there. Just believe in yourself! 

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