Meet Dimitar Kostov, Director R&D. His team is one of the core teams designing and developing VMware’s headline datacenter management product – VMware Cloud Foundation with the mission to make clouds ubiquitous, easy to build and operate so workloads can run anywhere, in a public or private cloud. Dimitar’s team is hiring all levels of engineers from architects and senior to junior and is looking for an additional Senior Manager to scale the operations in Sofia.
Tell us about your career journey to date?
I was born before the internet, when Terabyte was an unimaginable amount of storage. I graduated from the Sofia University’s Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics before CS and IT was cool, so the first small company we established with a couple of friends, MultiSoft, barely survived, until we got acquired by our largest customer – a construction company. Our top product then was an in-house ERP. I was writing tons of code then. Good times!
Then the outsourcing boom came and I joined a small company called WizCom, which then became Sciant, the largest outsourcing company in Bulgaria back then. I learned real software development, the value of architecture and process from one of our most coveted customers – а Formula 1 team. Тhis changed the way I evaluate software engineers and software forever. I also learned business and became managing partner at the company, travelled the world for business development. I enjoyed this a lot, but we were building someone else’s products.
Next I went to SAP, to learn how products are made on world scale. I was running the lifecycle management team for SAP NetWeaver. I got infected with lean and agile and this is now part of how I think. It was an impressive experience and I got a lot of friends, but I had the itch to do something new. We co-founded one of the companies with best culture in Bulgaria – Methodia and this was my first stint as CEO. This time I was literally responsible for people and finances and a great school on leveraging everything I learned so far to build something from ground up, with finite resources and fewer people. We became a VMware customer and I got wow-ed by the impact this company has on the world. These folks knew how to do things at scale, for the future and I wanted to learn from that, so here I am!
How is VMware different to any other tech company you have worked for?
I joined VMware from the startup that I was running. What really struck me since then is that this big multinational corporation actually maintains a startup culture within! Hard to imagine, but this is what I experience – from introducing new products and technologies, to rethinking even the most core concepts. Hey, Containers are now first-class citizens, together with the Virtual Machines, the VM in the VMware! Few did such deep pivots! And there is an ecosystem, that is wide open to new ideas and nurtures innovation. This allows the company to re-invent itself over and over and stay on the leading edge. And because this is all done by people, there are many people to learn from and you have direct access to them! How cool is that!
What has been the biggest lesson you have learned as you moved upwards in your career?
Good question! I’ll limit myself to four:
Number one, by far, is invest in people and never give up on people! A great team can accomplish anything and it will be also fun in the process, and it will be good for everyone in the team, including you, as you grow together. My team has people with amazing skills in many areas, way better than me in these areas. Fuelling their growth grows the team’s capabilities, sets example for the more junior and also helps me learn from them quite a bit too. A key for all this is to build an open culture, where information flows freely and people have no concerns sharing and exchanging.
Next, always learn new things. Go out of your comfort zone, this will give you new horizons and new ways of doing things.
Next, think long-term. Define the target, where you want to take the things to. This will allow you to take decisions easier and also to see the broader perspective, especially when something goes awry on a given day. I have a favorite Arab proverb: If you don’t know where you’re going, you will get exactly there.
To make this real I got my fourth key lesson – patience. One of my mentors explained it as seeding: plant the idea, water it, feed it and in time it will grow. You cannot force it, you have to be patient. Good things always surface. It may take years, I have a number of examples, but they do, so stick with it.
Your team is hiring. Can you tell us more about your organization’s charter?
Our mission is to make the clouds ubiquitous – that is any company can build and operate a cloud to run their workloads in their datacenters and in the public clouds. For this the infrastructure and its control plane need to be abstracted. VMware Cloud Foundation is extending the Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) paradigm towards the SDDC Anywhere.
My team drives the Workload Domain Management and Automation area of the product. Think of a workload domain as an AWS or Azure availability zone, with all the automation, resources and services. Our goal is to make the Workload Domains easy to consume and better integrated in the infrastructure and the business. Java, software-defined networking and declarative infrastructure as code is what we do on daily basis.
A unique thing – we are in direct contact with a number of our largest customers, household names, that operate infrastructures comparable to the infrastructure of an entire country. Some of them are our design partners, providing us with unique access and insight into their operations and challenges, so we can base our decisions on what happens in the real world. We learn and discover new things every day!
If someone is coming to interview with you tomorrow for a role in your org, what tips would you give them?
Be your authentic self, don’t give up on questions, don’t underestimate questions, think and show your thinking. Be ready to speak about what software you’ve done so far and what you have learned in the process – design, concepts, right and wrong decisions. Remind yourself about the teams and the people you worked with – this may come useful 😉 We are techies passionate about technology and software, what are the things that make you tick?
Check out the open positions at Dimitar’s team:
Software Engineer – Opportunity to work remotely
Lead/Staff Software Engineer, Architect – Opportunity for Working Remotely