Photographer: Dilian Markow MakeUp: Lora Slavova
Success is not only in the accumulated capital, but in the satisfaction with success and in the united team
Eng. Botusharov, congratulations on your award „IT&Telecom Industry Business Leader 2022“! ITA Group Bulgaria is a leading IT/Telecom system integrator. For how many years has it been operating in Bulgaria?
Thank you on my behalf and on behalf of the entire team of ITA Group Bulgaria for the award. For us, it is proof that success is due to perseverance, long days and night of work and the constant desire and striving for self-improvement of each team member since the company existed. ITA Group Bulgaria is a group of several companies, the first and main of which is ITA Engineering Ltd. and was founded 33 years ago in the long gone year of 1990. It is currently the biggest company in the group and still employs people who have been part of it since it was founded.
What successes have you achieved since the beginning of the company’s activities?
Initially, ITA Engineering was established as a design company in the field of low-voltage systems, but in the conditions of free market economy it almost immediately began to transform as a system integrator due to the need for complete implementation of the projects of its clients. In this way the company manages to guarantee the quality, reliability and maintenance of the designed and built systems, which for these 33 years are many and different in nature. No matter how incredible it sounds, there are still locations where the old equipment operates even after so many years.
As for successes, I think that one of the good examples is what I said – there are still people who started with us in 1990 and continue their professional path in the company, defining it as part of their family. The company is completely private, financially independent, which allows us to offer our customers individual solutions tailored to their specific needs, independent of the equipment suppliers. This is the main role of the system integrator.
However, if we talk about successes in the form of implemented projects, we are definitely proud of our participation in the design and construction of the Sofia Metropolitan. This is a socially oriented project that ranks Sofia among the world’s major capitals, reducing pollution and congestion in the city. Our company has designed, built and delivered the low-voltage systems (IT/Telecom) for all metro stations of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd metro diameters built so far.
Another interesting project is the establishment of the National System for Early Warning and Notification (NSEWN) of the population. With its social orientation, it aims to prevent the loss of human life through timely notification with sirens. This system is especially important in conditions of war, which is evident from what is happening in Ukraine. The maintenance and constant operation of such a large-scale system is a responsible job and I am glad that Bulgaria is one of the countries in the EU with the most modern system of its kind.
The last completed major project is the establishment of the National TOLL System, where our company was an official subcontractor of the Austrian company KAPSCH. Our obligation was to build the entire infrastructure at the local level, which takes care of proper law enforcement in order to increase the collection of money in the state budget and thus allow better maintenance of the road network. The project was a challenge due to the short deadlines for implementation, a number of administrative problems and others, but, nevertheless, our team managed to cope and complete the implementation on time.
What opportunities do you offer to your customers?
There is no small or big project for us. We are especially happy when over the years small companies have benefited from our services and, developing over time, have become our large customers.
We offer our customers turnkey solutions according to their current needs and budget, tailored, after an in-depth analysis, to their expected growth and development plan, so that each solution has the opportunity to seamlessly upgrade without the need for a complete replacement.
You support many start-up businesses. How do you choose the companies to lend a hand to?
It is true that in recent years we have been selecting and investing in companies of different nature, and our main goal is on the one hand to support entrepreneurship and on the other hand to diversify the group’s portfolio. I will list only some of the latest successful investments, such as the online store platform ‘CloudCart’, the insurance broker ‘Life Partners’, master franchise for Bulgaria of ‘Mail Boxes Etc.’, the call center ‘Call Cell’ and others.
Is it difficult to organize a good team and how does it differ from other countries where ITA Group operates?
In fact, organizing a good team in Bulgaria and abroad is equally difficult. It is a myth that there are enough good specialists in Bulgaria; on the contrary, there is a serious shortage and that is why we work hard with a number of educational institutions, trying to help build young and experienced professionals and leaders who can adequately enter the labor market. We work with different schools and universities under different programs, but we most actively participate in the initiatives of Junior Achievement Bulgaria, we also successfully collaborate with ‘A.S. Popov’ Vocational School of Audio, Video and Telecommunications.
Of course, the same problem exists in other markets, which is why it is difficult to keep young and well-educated employees in Bulgaria. Regardless of their education and experience, to become part of our team, each new employee goes through a number of courses and trainings. In recent years, it has often happened that an already trained employee decides to relocate abroad, and the main factor for this decision is not the level of pay, but the better general living conditions in the countries of Western Europe.
What are the trends in the IT industry and communications?
Trends in the IT industry are driven by market needs. The time spent in isolation and home office during the pandemic with COVID-19 accelerated the digitalization process in both public and private organizations. More and more services are available online and stored in ‘the cloud’, and our dependence on portable devices will increase with the possibilities for faster, better and unlimited access to the network. This, of course, has a number of advantages, but one of the main ones is that it gives us the freedom to be mobile, to work from the beach, in the mountains or where we feel best and most creative.
How does ITA Group manage to stand out from its competitors here and abroad?
Our main advantages are that almost 100% of the services we offer to our customers are delivered with our own resources. This allows us to guarantee and control the quality of service. Our goal is to upgrade and increase the quality with each subsequent project. We constantly analyze the mistakes and shortcomings in order to improve the processes in the company.
What are the company’s goals and your personal goals as a business leader in the coming years?
Currently, in addition to Bulgaria, the company operates in Romania, Serbia, Macedonia, Austria and Germany. Our goal is to expand our market share both in Bulgaria and abroad by offering new, innovative solutions that save time and money for our customers.
In this sense, my personal goals are to constantly improve the working environment of our employees, to motivate them to give their best and be more and more proud to be part of the team of ITA Group Bulgaria.
As a visionary, what do you think are the challenges for the economy and IT industry, as well as your personal ones?
Unfortunately, the situation around the war in Ukraine, the residual effect and uncertainty of how the COVID-19 pandemic will develop in the future, the unstable political situation, the inflation and rising prices in any area will invariably be a challenge for all of us, but we must not forget that this in turn provides new opportunities and new niches for development. IT companies will have the opportunity to accelerate the processes of digitalization for customers from all industries through optimization and automation. This is just one example that will reduce production and operating costs.
For me, achieving harmony in personal and professional life continues to be the most serious challenge.
What is your style of work? What are the principles you follow in the management of the company?
I don’t like to give definitions about myself, but I can share with you what is really important to me and what I learned from my father, who is also an example for me as a person and a manager.
The first and foremost belief for me is that I believe in the principle of ‘Lead by example’ or in other words you can’t expect anything from your team that you wouldn’t do yourself. Whenever we have a case, a new project with unknown technology or another challenge, I and other colleagues from the company’s management stand side by side with the specialists from the different teams so that we can all make the most adequate decisions in order to complete the projects without problems.
I definitely believe that despite the need for a hierarchical structure in any organization, managers must know their team well, and in turn team members should be able to communicate freely with the management. My door is open to every employee of the company. My colleagues and I are ready to listen to anyone who has an idea, remark or comment. This helps us adjust the clocks and understand the needs of employees, because, after all, employees are the most valuable asset for a company.
What is success for you?
Success for me is not measured by the accumulated capital, but by the satisfaction with quality and successfully completed projects, by the fact that all members of our team are healthy, happy and come to work with a smile and desire. When this is a fact, it invariably leads to good financial results. And when something doesn’t go as planned, success lies in being united and being able as a team to take action, draw conclusions, and not repeat it in the future.
Do you have time to rest and where do you like to travel?
Rest is important so that we can ‘recharge’ with positive thoughts and emotions, which makes us more creative and calm, so I try to find time for short but frequent breaks. I love the mountains and the sea, but I feel best during sailing with a yacht, which during the summer season is a priority for me and my family in every free moment. We sail mainly in the Aegean Sea because it is close and offers a number of opportunities.