The first Centric employee in Kaunas, "The beginning is the best time to implement change"

2020/05/22

When asked whether there was any fear in dropping everything and coming to nothing - a company that was just starting to shape its future image, laying out future plans and having zero employees, Centric IT Solutions Lithuania's Head of IT Mantas Lukoševičius just smiles and shakes his head, "I view such notions like "new" and "not new" company a bit differently. When I went to work at Centric, I knew that it was part of a large multinational corporation that had been operating for decades, with thousands of employees in the company's branches around the world. And I saw the opportunity of being the first employee and actively contributing to the creation of the Lithuanian branch as the biggest advantage and attraction."

Mantas' career, like that of most IT professionals, began in the university. In 2007 as a third-year student, he had already gotten a serious job as a systems administrator. The baggage of technical experience and competences, which was accumulated in 4 years, had opened wide opportunities and doors to foreign capital companies that were rapidly popping up in Lithuania at that time.

"I joined one of the three largest IT service providers in the world operating in Kaunas and was fascinated by the corporate culture. I felt that I wanted to work in a corporation and that the procedures they follow are there for a reason and act as instruments that unite the work of hundreds of thousands of people."

As further experience in several other foreign capital branches has shown, corporate rules are similar everywhere, and once you learn to work in one, you can easily adapt to others, "While working in one large financial company, I was actively involved in hiring people. Even back then, before going to meet the candidates, my direct superior would say - give priority to those who have worked in larger companies. Why? Because such an employee has gained basic experience of working in a large corporation and has adopted the best practices, contacts. By the way, speaking of contacts: Lithuania is small, so we all know each other well. There has been a joke going around for years, "Why the employees of the X company don't greet each other during lunch? Because they have already seen each other in the morning, during a job interview at the Y company," Mantas smiles.

He found his employees himself

When two years ago Mantas read about the new IT company under the name of Centric coming to Kaunas, he did not think twice. On the one hand, the job he had, seemed to have already been exhausted both in terms of positions, growth, and creativity. On the other hand, he wanted to get back to Kaunas and, most importantly, to join the company at the very beginning of its establishment.

"I am fascinated by the opportunity to start with the company at the earliest possible stage of formation - when you can apply good practices and adjust them according to your imagination. I like to influence processes, and the earlier you get involved in a team, the more influence you have. Therefore, I closely followed what businesses are developing in Kaunas. I thought, well, where could I apply my management experience, with which new company we could become an exemplary center for competence that would perform better than branches in other countries? I am always pleased to hear an evaluation from foreign heads when they say, we certainly did not make a mistake by opening our center in Lithuania," Mantas explains his motives.

It didn't matter that the new company hadn't announced the future positions and hadn't started looking for employees, Freddie Veltmaat's name - Centric's Head of Technology mentioned in an article - was enough for Mantas, who tracked Veltmaat down and asked him to elaborate on what the Dutch were planning to create in Kaunas and how he, an experienced IT professional and manager, could help.

"Like I said, I wasn’t afraid at all that this was a new company, in my eyes Centric is an experienced firm with over 4,000 employees! The experience told me that I am not risking anything, on the contrary: when an international company opens a new branch, it is a convenient time to implement changes. I find the initial pain of growth and the shaping of processes extremely interesting and most fascinating," says Mantas who not only helped organize the initial core of Centric IT Solutions Lithuania employees, but continues to actively participate in job interviews.

The technical work was replaced by facilitation

"I really like the hiring process, so I am actively involved in it - from the moment we receive a CV to our offer for the employee. I am interested in every stage. However, I have recently decided that I will no longer be participating in the technical stage. I am simply no longer as technically advanced as the engineers and architects in our team, whom I trust as well as enntrust to assess the candidates’ technical competence," Mantas says, adding that the lost skills are the price that the leaders pay for pulling back from technical work and devoting themselves to the processes of the company, employees and projects. "It is no secret that many current employees came to the company because they were encouraged and motivated by me. Perhaps that means that I am doing something right. When I hear colleagues say that I am the best manager they had so far, it is pleasant and motivates me to work. Otherwise, I would have simply remained working as an engineer, after all, it is a secure, challenging, fun, and well-paid job. Meanwhile, the manager always takes on more risks and responsibilities," says Mantas, who currently leads the team of over 50 people.

Currently, a large part of his work consists of what Mantas himself calls facilitation: hearing about the most valuable ideas from team members and making sure that they are implemented. "After all, I don't come up with all the innovations and ideas on how to improve Centric. My task is to refine which ideas are worth noting and which are worth pushing forward. Let's say that this is how the development of our flagship project Nebula was changed - with one good idea from the colleagues that received enthusiastic support from company's executives and architects. The word nebula in astronomy means the place where new stars are born, and at Centric, the Nebula project is not just that place but also the entirety of knowledge, people, and tools where new Centric stars - different types of applications - are born. These are the kind of ideas that I like to hear and take further, so they could be turned into a product."

It mostly attracts with innovative technologies

When asked what motivates colleagues to join Centric during job interviews, Mantas says that at present, Centric IT Solutions Lithuania has already earned a name and can be proud of its achievements and developed products, "It is massive ad innovative. It is often enough to only mention the technologies we work with to arouse the interest of a potential employee. Why? Because other companies simply might not be able to provide the opportunity to touch upon such technologies. And as you know, it does not matter how much you will read, learn and analyze the latest tools, you will be able to truly grasp them when you will start using the tools to implement work-related tasks." Therefore, it is not surprising that employees themselves are proud of DevOps, the achievements of the cloud - being able to stand at the forefront of this field's innovative solutions.

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