The interview was originally published in Macedonian language, and can be found on the following websites:
⋮IWConnect, is a global, multi-disciplinary, integration consultancy focused on strategy, data management, analytics, infrastructure, and growth-enablement, providing Digitally Optimized Technology Solutions (DOTS), which exists for almost 17 years in the IT market. The company was formerly known as InterWorks, and as of last month, it rebranded itself and changed its name to ⋮IWConnect. The new name as well as the logo, represent the fast growth of the company and describe their competencies, knowledge, way of doing business, and the experience ⋮IWConnect possesses, in a better way.
We decided to ask Aleksandar Memca, one of the managing partners in ⋮IWConnect about his road towards success, as well as the secret ingredients needed for the success of the biggest IT company with 100% Macedonian capital.
- Aleksandar, you started your programming career 20 years ago. Why did you decide to start a career in programming?
When we are young, we all have visions about our lives in the future and we often say: When I grow up I will become a doctor. Same as all other children, ever since I was in primary school (which was almost 35 years ago), driven by the desire to create something that didn’t exist before, I started creating/programming simple games on Commodore 64. As time passed by, that desire to create something new and something that didn’t exist, and use computers for fun, got translated into a desire to create and use programs that will enhance the jobs of the people surrounding me, my family, and my closest ones. This resulted in building various accounting programs, different automated reports, video clubs, etc. My desire to learn and constantly upgrade my knowledge, and my desire to explore, led me to create solutions for complex industry-specific problems and to place those solutions on the market and develop a business for each of them. That being said, I think that my desire and passion for programming existed since I was little, but the opportunity to create something that would make other people’s lives easier was the key momentum that strengthened my decision to start programming furthermore.
- What made you come back from USA to Macedonia and open a company here?
Macedonia is my birth country. I have lived and grown up there, and I have a lot of fond memories related to Macedonia, especially to Bitola. The desire to give a chance for development to the environment that created me is what made me come back to Macedonia and open up a company here. In 2004, in Macedonia (especially in Bitola), the market for IT professionals was not that serious or big, and at that time, my partner, and me, along with a few brave enthusiasts decided to create that market. I am glad that we, like many other serious Macedonian IT companies, have helped in the creation of an environment for talent development as well as the opportunity for employment in the IT sector.
- What is the story behind InterWorks, or now ⋮IWConnect?
The beginnings of ⋮IWConnect are connected to the personal desire to create value to the environment that helped me become who I am, together with a business interest of course. Thanks to the education system back then (I am talking about the staff that was ready to work in 2004-2005) Bitola had a serious talent pool whose skills were very well rated on the world market. In that time India and China were dominant on the world market, and we decided to create competition, or simply an alternative to the existing offers. The experience showed that we can compete on the world market very well and many times be more successful than the competition. We created a unique offering of services and knowledge that still leads us as a company, and as time passed by, we went through several transitions, so that we can focus on connectivity (connection) and digitalization. We have also shown that we know how to build impeccable professionals that are willing to gain knowledge and professional growth, and besides that lead a fulfilling life, quest for professional growth and happier life, whilst searching for knowledge and a life where the money is not always the most valuable asset.
- How did you manage to build a company from 5 to more than 170 employees, present in five different locations?
Actually, I didn’t do anything on my own, I didn’t build anything on my own, I have a serious team behind me that was built for almost two decades. The recipe for success is a lot of fantasizing and imagining that everything is possible, and then taking unconditional actions that lead us to our envisioned goals. To put it simply, that means taking great risks, sometimes blindly, due to the faith that you are working on something grand and valuable. That being said, who you work with, or your team the function you put yourself into, and in the end, the kind of company you become is very important. Today we are witnessing a great staff fluctuation. The present openness of the world market points us to that exactly. Today there is a great number of individuals who are self-employed and offer IT services everywhere in the world. That is a great opportunity for each individual. But, in order to create a community of friends with a common goal for continuous growth of their skills, through new challenges, ready to solve the problems of the biggest world-known brands, requires a huge focus and a dedication to what our vision and mission is.
Having our family values in mind, having our desire for growth through adventures and challenges of any size, as well as the great need to help each other, make us feel content in the process of creating humble wealth, and at the same time help us keep our integrity. These are shortly the ingredients my colleagues and I use daily to maintain and continue building ⋮IWConnect.
- How much does Macedonia mean to you and how do you feel when you come here? What is your favorite place in the country?
As I have said before, Macedonia is my birth country to which I am connected to with a lot of memories. Along with my family, we use every moment that we can to be here, because it feels like home. Macedonia has a lot of beautiful places that you can visit during the whole year, like my hometown Bitola, Ohrid and Skopje. If I have to pick one spot that is my favorite that would be the pick Tumbe Kafe located in Bitola. This is one of the points from where you can see the entire town, as well as a huge part of Pelagonija.
- How did you come to the idea for the re-branding of InterWorks, i.e. ⋮IWConnect?
There are many reasons for that. We are witnesses of a transitional year for all of us, and we believe this is the year for new beginnings. So, I would say that it was the perfect timing for us to go back to our beginnings, to who we were, how we have developed with time, and set the basis for something even bigger – to create a brand that will be based on our rich past, but will be focused towards the future using digitalization and connectivity. The other aspect is that we are globally unique and our unique values will be easily recognizable on a global scale. In the end, we believed that what we do daily, internally and externally, is not totally revealed with our previous brand and that is why we decided to define ourselves more precisely, i.e. describe exactly how we feel.
- What does the new name mean?
When we got the idea for re-branding and when we were looking at the suggestions, we all agreed that we have to keep something that will remind us of who we were and just add a part that will represent our current and future goals and plans. According to that, the first part of the name or ⋮IW, represents who we were and how we have started (that’s our history), and Connect is who we are now and where we are going. We are a company that builds relationships internally and we are also a company that solves problems, creates new solutions and connects/combines the same in order to enable our partners to unleash their business potential and be the best in the process of achieving their goals.
- What are your plans for the future?
I believe that our story is at its very beginning and our best years, experiences, possibilities and successes are yet to come. We have big ambitions for Macedonia and broader, and hope to become leaders in the IT segment.
- Will ⋮IWConnect move to a new building in Bitola?
The huge expansion in terms of technologies, colleagues, and solutions led us to opening offices in Prilep and Skopje in Macedonia, Amsterdam (Netherlands), Houston (Texas) and our expansion continues in those cities, as well as in Bitola. The office where we are located now, started to be a little small for us, so we bought a new building in Bitola recently. We plan to create something unique out of it, something we will all be proud of, and hopefully, my hometown Bitola, and Macedonia as well will be proud of us too.
- In the end, what makes ⋮IWConnect one of the most successful IT companies in Macedonia?
I would say that is our employees who believe in the mission ⋮IWConnect has set unconditionally, and who contribute to the goals we have determined unconditionally as well, our management team, our partners in the world, as well as the type/size of the problems we solve and the technologies we use.
We are successful because we greet challenges and we see each failure as a great lesson out of which we will learn and become better in the future.