Our Meet the Hiring Manager series allows you to get to know the people who grow teams at VMware Bulgaria. You will learn about our hiring manager’s career paths and what they look for in candidates during the interview experience. Meet Kalin Kanev, Sr. R&D Manager at VMware Bulgaria. Kalin and his team are hiring for several positions that will help lead the work on VMware Cloud on AWS, jointly developed by AWS (Amazon Web Services) and VMware. VMware Cloud on AWS delivers a highly scalable, secure, and innovative service that allows organizations to seamlessly migrate and extend their on-premises VMware vSphere-based environments to the AWS Cloud. Read on and get to know Kalin!
VMware Careers: Tell us about your career journey to date?
Kalin Kanev: I started off in communication systems specializing in Audio/Video communications graduating with a thesis on MultiFocus image fusion. This is back in the day when mobile photography was taking baby steps. I advanced my way by leading the Autofocus development team for the Nokia N73 and N95. It was both a privilege and a significant challenge (I’m proud that both devices were honored with TIPA ( mobile imaging awards, winning mobile devices of the year!)
Leading people was something I enjoyed so I decided to move to management. I joined the online gaming industry to work on establishing a development team in Sofia. The challenge was two-fold since it involved building a team in Bulgaria from scratch and migrating the product out of another office. Five years (and lots of sweat) later the team was well established, the product was successfully running tens of thousands concurrent users (a big thing without the modern cloud infrastructure we have today).
Building an entire organization gave me a valuable skill set that I decided to utilize to give my own startup a go. Mobile payments were a trend undergoing regulation across Europe, so there was opportunity everywhere. Our mobile POS solution was launched but a second too late and it failed to gain enough market share. We tried to pivot toward a restaurant management solution modifying our product and…we failed again.
With my appetite for adventures satiated, I went back to the corporate world. This time I managed a Mobile and Web surveillance solution at Milestone Systems. My teams were among the first to explore public/private clouds deployment and we developed a hybrid solution both supporting and allowing video to flow bidirectionally.
After (about) three years in that role, I moved to VMware to work on VMware Cloud on AWS to establish the team in Sofia (almost) from the ground up. Our product was preparing for Initial Availability and was just getting demonstrated to a few key customers. What truly motivated me was the product vision. It enables enterprises to perform a seamless workload migration from on-prem data centers to AWS without any application changes (a pretty daunting task otherwise). Currently, I’m in charge of all VMC Core platform development teams in Sofia – control plane, infrastructure, basic service fabric, Day 0 operations, some Day 2 operations like Customer notification, and Cloud Capacity Platform. Sofia team is central to our global presence strategy and currently replicates most core competencies we have built in our office in Palo Alto.
VMware Careers: How is VMware different from any other tech company you have worked for?
Kalin Kanev: The technology is superb and solves critical problems for the customer. Thus, it is easy to see the true impact of your effort. My teammates and I believe in the technology and its benefits: we’ve all seen what it can do for customers especially now during the COVID-19 global pandemic. We enable organizations to resume their operations in a remote mode and doing at an unprecedented speed – some customers were able to migrate over a weekend! It is simply fantastic to have such a great impact – think about the jobs saved and the health risk reduced to a bare minimum. To achieve that we have embraced an extremely open culture, one that allows information flow, prevents knowledge “siloing” and makes everyone regardless of rank approachable and available. I have to say that I’m quite proud of our team culture!
VMware Careers: What has been the biggest lesson you have learned as you moved upwards in your career?
Kalin Kanev: You must be open to a lifetime of learning. Many of the technologies that exist today were not available when I was graduating. However, keeping your skillset up to date is imperative if you would like to stay relevant in the fast-changing world that we live in today. Invest in relationships. Relationships allow you to increase your impact through influence. Leaders who can inspire even outside their direct area of responsibility are the ones making the biggest impact. Have integrity and a good set of moral values that serve as a compass to you for every decision. This is what makes a leader authentic and relatable.
VMware Careers: Your team is hiring. Can you tell us more about your organization’s charter?
Kalin Kanev: VMware is a well-known leader in virtualization solutions. What VMC team does is enable our customers to enroll an entire SDDC (Software-Defined Data Center) in a couple of hours enjoying all cloud elasticity benefits. For those who want to understand at a deeper level: VMware Cloud on AWS is an integrated cloud offering jointly developed by Amazon Web Services (AWS) and VMware. It allows users to run a highly scalable and secure service by migrating and extending their on-premises VMware vSphere-based environments to the AWS Cloud running on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2). Focusing in on the current activities in Sofia – My team’s charter includes building and delivering Infrastructures such as Kubernetes (K8s), customer onboarding, and Day 0 operations, some of the Day 2 operations like Customer Notifications and Cloud Capacity Platform (forecasting, purchasing, hosts inventory management). With respect to the technology enablers, we mostly work on Java-based services that are run as containers on K8s.
VMware Careers: If someone reading this was coming to interview with you tomorrow for a role in your organization, what interview tips would you give them?
Kalin Kanev: We believe in the core engineering skillset and good computer science fundamentals, so our interviews are structured around that. Unlike many companies, we are not looking for deep knowledge in a specific platform like Java for instance. We believe that a good engineer that is willing to take up the toolset we use will be successful no matter their background. Candidates should be able to tell us about their current projects and articulate properly design decisions, trade-offs, and why those were made. We also appreciate candidates who spend some time learning about our products before the interview and start a meaningful dialogue with interviewers to better understand our needs.
Could you see yourself working on a team with a leader like Kalin? Check out the open roles in his organization?