Next up is our Group Head of Integrity, Ilija Gospodinov. From his home base in Skopje, North Macedonia, Ilija and his team take care that Endava is the best company it can be from an integrity perspective – for our people, our clients, and our communities. And while he does that, he might be taking notes with a vintage fountain pen…
Welcome, Ilija, glad you could join us. What has brought you into the tech industry and the area of ethics and integrity?
Well, the last 21 years have been quite the journey. I’ve been professionally engaged within the tech industry from the beginning, starting as a tech support engineer for an internet provider. It’s very interesting that my job at that time included wireless broadband and Linux routing. Through several positions in process management, project management, auditing, and compliance, I believe that reinventing myself has been the only constant. Ethics and integrity are notions that I personally feel very strongly about, so seeing an opportunity and showing initiative has again opened a new and exciting chapter for me.
What has been the biggest innovation since you have been working in the industry?
In the past two decades, I’d say that having unlimited access to high-speed broadband and the internet has been the innovation that's been life-changing for our generation. Practically anywhere and anytime, for work or leisure, we’ve been able to take a new turn in our civilisation’s path that just wasn’t possible before. Going from faxes, newsgroups, and plain text messaging to being able to communicate, share, and help each other in a global, ultra-connected world has been a great privilege to see with my own eyes.
And what is the biggest challenge or opportunity you are seeing and what should businesses be doing to prepare for this?
Personally, I see the Covid pandemic as the hardest transformational event of our time. This is evident in each layer of our lives. Within our organisations, we needed to move to a home-based or hybrid working mode very quickly, so I see this as very challenging to the ways we share and communicate. Being there for each other, sharing our values and maintaining our culture in a remote environment is difficult but gratifying at the same time. Of course, the opportunity revolves around reimagining our ways of working while supporting ourselves to stay healthy and be the best we can be. This comes back full circle to the technology, the tools, and the organisational culture that makes this possible.
What is the Endava project you are most proud of and why?
I always say that I’m humbled by the projects and the teams that I’ve been part of. It’s been very satisfying to have established our Compliance function and see it grow into an Integrity team with a widening scope and number of people. It’s really great to see how our efforts to raise awareness on ethics issues have tangible results and that we are making a difference while keeping our people and Endava safe.
On the flip side, what is the project or technology that challenged you the most and where you had some setbacks? What did you learn from this?
There’s physically challenging, and then there’s intellectually challenging projects. I’m glad to say I’ve had both, and it’s proven to be beneficial to my growth both as a person and a professional. Our Quality Management project pushed me to my limits, as it needed strong off-site coordination and on-site presence, so I needed to do heavy travelling for two years. On the other hand, this deeper understanding of our organisation was critical to proceed with subsequent projects where we needed to cover new ground of the utmost importance to our people and Endava as a business.
Now, we’d like to move on to some more personal questions. If you were not working as Group Head of Integrity at Endava, what would you be doing instead?
Several things come to mind, including owning a wine-tasting establishment. Continuing to teach contemporary political sciences at university was also a strong contender 20 years ago.
What was something you thought would be easy until you tried it?
Maintaining a collection of vinyl records and vintage fountain pens… I know, right?
If you could go back in time and visit any historic period, where – or rather when – would you go?
The European Belle Époque or ‘La Belle Époque’, which was characterised by optimism, economic prosperity as well as technological, scientific, and cultural innovations. A period where the arts markedly flourished, with numerous masterpieces of literature, music, theatre, and the visual arts gaining extensive recognition.
What topic could you give a 20-minute presentation on without any preparation?
Growing yourself through the growth of others and raising teenage daughters in the 21st century
Would you be brave enough to share one of your guilty pleasures with us?
Writing almost exclusively with fountain pens and listening to old jazz records late in the evening.
Who would be your 5 famous dinner party guests – real or fictional?
Data, Seven of Nine, The Doctor, T’Pol and Jadzia Dax. A Trekkie could argue this is a list of 6 guests, and I’d welcome that conversation.
Finally, would you share a favourite quote with us to send our readers off with some inspiration?
In the province of the mind, there are no limits.
Thank you, Ilija, for all these fun insights and for sharing your experience with us. Stay tuned for more insights into the work and life of Endavans in the next part of our Meet the SME series!