Interviews 6 minutes read

I am in the business of building people | Interview with Ivan Dabic

The global COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed our experiences―as customers, employees, citizens, humans― and our attitudes and behaviors are changing as a result. Today’s CEOs are faced with competing challenges and uncharted waters as they continue to navigate the impacts of #corona.

At the end of 2020. we had a special talk with Ivan Dabic, CEO of BlueGrid and OrangeCloud regarding the most popular topic this year, but also about his leadership style and all the business lessons he learned.

Ivan is also an investor in small startups with a focus on security, renewable energy sources, and self-sustainable business mechanisms.

How are you?

Ivan: Never better! Working hard playing hard :)

Why are you working in this industry?

Ivan: It is collateral, so to speak. My mission is to positively impact the world around me, to contribute to the lives of the people I work with, eventually, I will feel successful when my work starts bringing a positive effect on the planet.

IT industry is simply something that I found myself enjoying and being good at, thus, decided to monetize the love for technology. However, on a grand scale, IT is a powerful tool for the greater good, not the goal itself. So, to answer your question, I am in this industry because I love it and I can use it to positively impact my community.

How would you describe your leadership style?

Ivan: Affiliative, for sure. We have come a long way from the apartment-based gig to the operation that we have today but, the people were always the main drive for most of the decisions I have made. Running a service-focused company you must realize that your employees are the company value and product - you are in the business of building people! If they flourish, the company will too.

What did you learn from previous business failures?

Ivan: Wow, that is the one-million-dollar question.

  • Lawyers! Before you start a business, you must have legal support. Whether it is a full-time lawyer or agency, you need it from the get-go and you need them to be committed to you! They need to understand your business model to support you properly.
  • That is probably the highlight, there are hiccups on a weekly basis so you can always learn something without crashing and burning your business to the “failure” stage but, rather pick up the signs on a downfall and learn from it as you go. For example:

If you are building a product work on it WITH customers, do not assume things. Ask your clients for feedback, do not be afraid to receive bad feedback. Apply the “Customer Development Process” (google it) in your product development.

  • Make and then deploy decisions - any decision is better than no decision! Any decision is worth nothing without deployment.

What serves as a guiding principle in your life and how does that guiding principle integrate with BlueGrid vision, mission, and values?

Ivan: I would say that integrity as a value serves as a postulate value that I am relying on personally and professionally. This is the value I am trying to integrate into every aspect of BlueGrid.io and OrangeCloud brands. This is the value we were using as a guideline to create teams, the value by which we were accepting customers in our portfolio. So, to summarize, I would say that our profile resides on integrity as a core value and guiding principle core value.

What is the most difficult thing about being a CEO?

Ivan: Well, two things really. For one, predicting the future 😁 I have mentioned in one of the articles earlier that this is my “superpower” ha-ha! But, really, this is the tough part. As a CEO, you must plan long term and invest yourself accordingly. We are currently living through game-changing years where a lot of businesses will have to adapt to remote work setup, a lot of businesses will die…

You cannot really predict a lot of things, you can plan but, you cannot plan for everything so, aside from the ability to predict CEO must be able to bring rapid decisions to adapt to the newly created environment for the company to survive.

What has been your greatest career disappointment? What did you learn from it?

Ivan: That would probably be the level of politics in business. As someone who is a tech person with clear process-oriented thinking and logical thought process, politics did not land lightly on me. People would think that running a business is a matter of will and knowledge about the area your business is in. It is not that simple 😁 What did I learn from it? Well, it is a work in progress 😁

What do you think are the biggest challenges the tech industry will face in the next couple of years?

Ivan: Everything starts with the great dis(t)ruption of 2020 - COVID-19 and it all comes down to “security”!

Infrastructure security for sure. During the lockdown, and through to June, the number of remote jobs doubled and continued to rise due to companies in the tech industry taking advantage of the possibility to organize work this way and offer work from home as a benefit.

Now, we need to start planning for appropriate reactions to zero-day exploits, attacks on the home equipment, etc. The first thing to do is to acknowledge that the old approach to applying security measures at work is inadequate. Then conclude that number of VPN companies will rise during 2021. 😉

IoT cultivation - It’s a relatively affordable-to-fund tech area and it’s growing in funding each month. What will be the challenge is to cultivate the IoT-space and integrate it with the rest of the sensitive infrastructure, like the medical piece of the market.

Medical industry evolution - COVID has forced us to run to the corner of the ring and when the bell hits we need to have better-prepared responses. Whether it’s an AI-driven cluster that would monitor and alert of potential threats like the one we have now. Or by better information flow from and between medical institutions and people. I strongly believe there are areas of medical IoT that yet to emerge and dominate the startup ring. We’ve seen, unfortunately, few cases where medical institutions were the victims of ransom malware, this will continue to be the challenge in the near future.

3 things you learned this year through the world pandemic situation?

Ivan:

  1. The world economy is a collection of expensive bubbles
  2. There is no such thing as job security (not really new but, something that is worth repeating)
  3. Remote doesn’t work for everyone, it can impose some serious challenges when running a business with a remote setup

In the end, what is your ‘midnight’ business wish?

Ivan: Never had a midnight business wish, let’s try with “More trees to grow and fewer fires to put down”! Oh, and, let there be no more butterfly keyboards in the world like the ones Apple used in their MacBooks for the past few years! Please.

You can connect with Ivan here.