People must not be afraid to do new things, says Dagmar Bínová, Big Data & Data Science Team Lead at Adastra
04. 07. 2022
Reading time: 5 minutes
"The best thing we can offer people is that they enjoy their work. That's why I try to find everyone a project that will suit them in the long term," says Jiří Balcárek, who leads a team of 50 people at Adastra as Director of Telco and Retail in the Adastra podcast. His people are involved in various projects, currently dealing with fraud detection for telco customers, for example.
Ivana Karhanová: He manages a 50-strong Telco and Retail team at Adastra. He currently handles IoT projects for customers by optimizing logistics or detecting fraud that customers may be committing. Jirka Balcárek, hi.
Jiří Balcárek: Hi, Iva.
Ivana Karhanová: What specific projects are you working on for customers?
Jiří Balcárek: The selection is quite varied, just like you said. I think it's worth mentioning fraud prediction detection for telco customers. There I think Adastra's history is very colorful. The standard that Adastra has been involved in since the early days is building data warehouses, analytics, report generation, and complex data solutions. That's probably the main thing. Then, of course, there are several projects around application development, developing solutions built on different sensors, so IoT engagement is also the subject of several current projects I'm working on in the division.
Ivana Karhanová: What does a person need to know to become a full-fledged team member?
Jiří Balcárek: It depends on how much they've done because I try to recruit newcomers to the team - even a graduate from school who doesn't have a long work history, and of course, seniors, who can then be built upon in projects and are leaders of the solutions delivered. So the level of what a person needs to know is based more on what they can offer. And it can also be about the fact that a skilled person grows very quickly into an experienced senior person who has many responsibilities. Of course, the financial valuation of these consultants corresponds to that.
Ivana Karhanová: When you hire a junior in the team, how do you work with them so that they can become independent as soon as possible?
Jiří Balcárek: Ideally, he can get involved in the project immediately, which is not always possible because we do projects that customers want. We can't plan them, of course, but when we do, it's the best way for a person to learn everything they need to know as quickly as possible. But suppose it's not possible because the project is still in the planning stage, still being prepared with the customer. In that case, we have the Junior Academy in Adastra, where there is a set of different pieces of training and exercises that the person can go through and mainly gain theoretical experience. He is then better prepared to start some real work on a project, which he always starts in the meantime. There are many of these projects, so I'm not afraid of - as we say - sitting on the bench for a long time.
Ivana Karhanová: How do you feel about the working hours, how much time you can work in the home office, and how often do you have to be in the office or with a client?
Jiří Balcárek: Again, it varies from project to project. Of course, the people I know were spending part of their working hours at home and working remotely long before the term home office became popular. For me, the person must always deliver the work to the agreed-upon quality and time. So if they are projects where a personal presence, either at the client's or our offices, is not necessary, there is no need for him to always be in the office. He saves a lot of time traveling, which he can use for work or hobbies. Ala, if it's a project where the customer downright demands that the whole team sit with him and work together with his team, then he is expected to work full time at that customer. I have projects of every kind in my portfolio, and I think you can always pick and choose.
Ivana Karhanová: What kind of boss are you?
Jiří Balcárek: The best.
Ivana Karhanová: And in practice?
Jiří Balcárek: I try to approach people in such a way that they enjoy their work. I think that's the best that can offer these people in the end. But, of course, everyone works to earn money and bring it home. But to make it work in the long run, which is my goal, they must enjoy the work. So I try to find everyone a project that will suit them in the long term. But if something happens and you need a change after a while, then, of course, we talk about making sure that it is as long as possible if you have spent some time in Adastra. Because, of course, any involvement of a new person means a cost for Adastra as a company and for the person because switching between different employers is always more difficult.
Ivana Karhanová: What nationalities do you have in your team, or what language do you speak? Czech or English?
Jiří Balcárek: Czech, Slovak. Most of the customers on the projects I work on are Czech-speaking people. Slovak is, of course, automatically accepted as well. However, on some projects, for example, you need to be good with English for IKEA. Similarly, for example, in projects at DHL, there English is required at a good communicative level. So that's probably the basis.
Ivana Karhanová: When someone needs part-time work, can you accommodate them? What is the minimum time or minimum hours that you need from people?
Jiří Balcárek: We can agree on almost anything, but to make it effective and make sense, we can ideally talk about at least half-time. I have several colleagues in my team who are part-time for various reasons. The moment that is known, then, of course, you can plan those and the work accordingly. So I don't think that's a problem. If a person can't work 100 percent, for whatever reason, as long as it's at least 50 percent, then for me, it's fine.
Ivana Karhanová: What do you tolerate, and what do you hate?
Jiří Balcárek: I hate lying. The moment it turns out that a person is making things up and not telling the truth, that's a stop for me. On the other hand, if someone has a problem with something, they should ideally come immediately - the sooner, the better - and can always solve the problem. I don't think I'm a boss who would step on people's heads and want to get the best out of them at any cost. It has to be an ideal situation for both parties, so it's important to find not a compromise but a solution that fits what's needed.
Ivana Karhanová: How much invention and independence do you expect from people?
Jiří Balcárek: It depends on the position or role they hold. For architects or experienced people who are responsible for the solution that is to be delivered or that is being devised and it has to work long term and efficiently, and its maintenance has to be easy, so for them, you need them to have ideas and come up with new ideas. But, on the other hand, there are roles where this can often be a detriment because the person has been given a task, and they are supposed to complete it to the letter as planned. And as I said at the beginning, I aim to find the ideal project and role for people so that they are satisfied in the long run.
Ivana Karhanová: How do you have it in your team with education?
Jiří Balcárek: It's very individual. It's more or less about everyone's will and desire to move on.
Ivana Karhanová: Does that mean that you leave it up to the activity of the people, or do you manage it more?
Jiří Balcárek: I'm not a proponent of having some kind of blanket training somewhere and that you have to go through a certain list of things. I rather want to hear from these people where they want to go. If they don't know, but it's clear that they want to move on, then we need to meet them and inspire them with what other colleagues can do. And based on that, put together a career plan for them and bounce from there. That should be a guide as to what that person should pursue.
Ivana Karhanová: That was Jirka Balcárek and his Telco and Retail division. Thanks for the interview.
Jiří Balcárek: Thank you.
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