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7 Questions on Leadership with Ivan Dabic


Name: Ivan Dabic


Title: Co-founder & CEO


Organisation: BlueGrid.io


I started my professional career as a cybersecurity demonstrator at a college in Belgrade/Serbia, then I continued my personal development as a freelancer, to eventually enter the world of cloud by leading a technical support team for a global CDN company. This role led to me starting my first business in consulting which grew to an operation of 50 people with backend and frontend developers, systems engineers, network engineers, SREs... Eventually, I had the luck to meet some extraordinary people along the way who helped create BlueGrid.io as a new way of providing service to clients primarily in the cloud, cybersecurity, fintech, and e-commerce industries. I am a strong believer in the following principles that help me foster leaders in our company and help the company itself give unique experiences to our clients: Long-term thinking, Underpromise & Overdeliver, DMAIC, Client Focus, Simplify Everything.


Personal life: I love basketball, and was a big fan of bulls in 90s, racing is my second biggest sport I enjoy to the core :) I have no pets as goodbyes with them are not my strong suit :) If I wasn't in tech, I'd probably be an architectural engineer. Every man needs a stronghold in their life, my mother was in my childhood and my wife is my stronghold now. We are partners in life and work :)


Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!


I hope Ivan's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Cheers,

Jonno White



1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?


Transitioning from engineer to business owner. Priorities change and the bigger picture becomes the guideline for every action the company takes. Everyone has their own journey, mine was defined by the growing technology space in which I found the best use of my skill set to be a business developer, rather than an engineer. This was, by far, the most challenging thing to overcome. Mistakes were made every day, luckily, I had a mentor who helped me understand my role and my next few steps ahead.


2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?


It was a natural course of events that led from someone who was responsible for the team to becoming a business owner. An opportunity presented for me to convert an employer to a client, and with the right people beside me this opportunity was taken and it was the moment when my role had to be redefined - from someone executing the vision to someone defining the vision.


3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?


I am striving towards a "multiple days in a single day" strategy - the first part of my day starts with catching up with latest emails and messages; then I prioritize them according to their urgent/important matrix; then I go to the office and meet the team, we have a pretty casual non-work obsessed conversations, it's a part of my day that is reserved from work friends; after that the set of meetings (calendar defined or otherwise scheduled) take place and for next few hours I am focused on urgent things I previously prioritized; after office hours are reserved for a personal time until later in the day when I catch up with low priority tasks and meetings I postponed to handle them in a piece from my home office. The rest of the day is off time :)


4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?


I have quite a few, but I want to bring up one that I learned a few years ago from a mentor of mine, and it stuck with me ever since.


It basically says something like "Making plan B is planning for failure".


This is so true! Sure, you have to know what happens if the plan fails, but, here's the kicker; You should train yourself and work on yourself so that you can be able to react accordingly when the plan goes sideways. If you worked on yourself, trained yourself, tested and tested throughout your career you are now capable of handling failure if it happens.

If you make your plan B in case plan A goes off, you will know you have the safety net, and just by knowing the safety net is there you won't focus enough on plan A. Your plan A is doomed right there.


5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?


1. "High output management" by Andrew S. Grove


One that recently landed on my desk was "Working Backwards" by Colin Bryar and Bill Carr. It's an interesting amazon journey.


6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?


Listen to your elders haha! Jokes on the side, I think that one piece of advice I'd first share with anyone stepping into leadership shoes is "Find a mentor!". Leadership is not just about results, it's about people, it's not just about people, it's about customers, it's not just about customers it's about you... A leader needs a mechanism to understand the big picture, understand how employees operate, what's expected from customers, and how your personal management improves you as a person and as a leader. Mentor, someone who went through all of this can be a great asset!


7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?


I interviewed a young man who applied for a tech support position a long time ago. I asked him about his 5-year plans and his answer was undoubtedly: "I see myself in your position".

Shocking as it may sound I loved the answer! He got the job and this person is now a partner in the company we built together with other equally amazing people, among which is my wife and brother :)


Note that, I would love to name all of the people who were (and are) a part of this incredible journey we created together, but if I start doing that it's going to be a very very long list :) I hope that my answers were sufficient to paint the picture :)

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