Meet the Hiring Manager

Meet the Hiring Manager: Iliya Uzunov, Manager R&D, Cloud Management Business Unit

Our Meet the Hiring Manager series allows you to get to know the people who grow teams at VMware. You’ll learn about our hiring managers’ career paths and what they look for in candidates during the interview process. This week we’d like you to meet Iliya Uzunov, R&D Manager, Cloud Management Business Unit.

What is unique about the team you are leading?

The culture of curiosity, respect, and creativity we have built together helps us focus on stellar execution, as that makes the difference for the business.

My team works on central services within VMware’s Automation Portfolio. It is composed of UI, Backend and Full-stack professionals.

Our main goal is to do better than we did the year before. As simple as that. Our healthy obsession with continuously building and improving our skills is unique to the team I lead. Software development does take up a substantial chunk of our daily dynamics, but we always find time for another training, knowledge-sharing session, innovation, and quality time for building relationships.

One recent challenge made me realize again what a phenomenal group of people we have. On a late Thursday afternoon, a critical vulnerability was discovered in an open-source logging library widely used across the IT industry. Every modern company in the world was affected by it and time was of the essence. What we have done – internally, we formed several working groups, identified the impact, and agreed upon each team’s actions and responsibilities. Within a few hours, our cloud product was free from the vulnerability, and the on-prem patches came right after. There was zero stress; everybody was laser-focused and worked extremely hard to mitigate the issue. An issue that took many days for other companies to discover and then mitigate was quickly resolved in our products thanks to the effective team spirit that we have built.

We all work on exciting features and projects and want to build the next big thing. However, I find these rare inevitable and urgent circumstances the most precious ones to rediscover and appreciate the community I’m in.

What is your team’s tech stack?

The technologies we use are common across the industry – an OOP language (Java + Spring in our case), infrastructure management (Linux, Docker & Kubernetes), scripting tools (Python & Bash), and cloud services (primarily AWS ones).

We highly value team collaboration skills, solid expertise in one OOP language, and a good grasp of testing + infrastructure practices. That is perfectly enough to get you on our team!

If you can use one to three words to describe your team, what would they be?

Execution, Curiosity, Creativity

Share some interesting details about your colleagues

My colleagues like investing time in innovation and shaping new talents in our Talent Boost academy. Here are just some of the statistics from last year:

  • Two engineers participated in VMware’s Talent Boost Academy
  • Three engineers participated in VMware’s Hiring Campaign
  • Everyone suggested a patent idea
  • The team brainstormed more than 15 ideas for the internship

The best part of participating in such initiatives is that we can showcase our ideas on VMware’s global conferences, which are held annually in US and Europe – VMworld, Research And Development Innovation Offsite (RADIO), VMware User Group (VMUG) to name a few.

The team spending time together outside of the office.

Tell us about your career journey to date?

Throughout my career, I have had the chance to work on really cool hardware and software projects. Hardware and IoT, in particular, are a passion of mine, so now and then, when I have the chance, I am scratching a plan for the next home automation project. 

On a personal side, during weekends, I’m focused on a private project – developing a smart property management system that would allow around 200 households to share bills efficiently, and use the common spaces and the parking spots in our residential area. The solution consists of open-source Python-based software, ESP8266-based hardware (Wi-Fi modules and relays), IP cameras, license-plate recognition software, and a smartphone application.

As for my career, early on I was involved with project management and, afterward, team management. I absolutely love the opportunity to guide smart people toward success.

How is VMware different from any other tech company you have previously worked for?

VMware is a great company and, without a doubt, the best place to work in Bulgaria. Many people assume that since it is quite big – 35000+ employees worldwide and 1700+ in Bulgaria – it is tough to progress, and one gets lost in the big sea of products and solutions.

The fact is that every business unit is working on a given product from our portfolio and there is lots of room for innovation, career progression and recognition.

What motivates me is that everyone I talk with is friendly, intelligent, and proactive. Those three ingredients have led to the formation of VMware’s great culture, where like-minded people surround you. If you ever build a company, seek for these skills when hiring and you will be heading to greatness.

What has been the biggest lesson you have learned as you moved upwards in your career?

That is the biggest duty of ours to grow our team. So many people (including myself not so long ago) think management is only about projects, deadlines, and results. However, nurturing the right culture, really getting to know everyone, crafting specific goals, guiding and motivating the engineers to reach them and developing their skills is the most difficult and at the same time, the most rewarding activity of the management profession.

If someone reading this was coming to interview with you tomorrow, what interview tips would you give them?

Think about your experience– be ready to share non-confidential details, what projects you were in and the challenges you faced. What would you have done differently if you were in the same situation again?

Asking questions is not a sign of incompetence – in fact, this is one of the criteria we use to recognize senior talent. However, instead of rushing into coding/answering a technical question straight away, it is a good idea to think about whether you have gathered all requirements.

While we interview you, you interview us! Ask questions to learn more about what we do, how we do and our mindset. We want to be the best match for your professional aspirations, and you are also hiring us for this job.

Be positive – the first impression is crucial, and one can never go wrong showing genuine excitement and happiness.


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