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News June 26, 2023

After Hours Recap: Blurring the Lines Between Corporate Salary and Startup Culture

In a world where employees increasingly seek the vibrancy of startup culture alongside the security of a corporate salary, the question persists – can one truly have both? On June 14, 2023 we hosted a thought-provoking discussion on this very topic. The event, part of the After Hours series co-organized with The Recursive, took place at WorkBetter, a co-working space known for fostering innovation.

Four esteemed panelists, all leaders in the tech industry, offered their perspectives on this intricate issue, each bringing a unique blend of experience and insights to the table. The panel consisted of Georgi Petrov, Co-Founder of SMSBump and NitroPack; Georgi Dimitrov, R&D Manager at VMware; Miroslav Gechev, an intrapreneur, entrepreneur, and tech engineer; and Gergana Srebkova-Kiranova, Chief People Officer at EnduroSat.

Evolving Employee Priorities

Gergana Srebkova-Kiranova highlighted a noticeable shift in employee priorities. Professionals are increasingly drawn to companies based on their mission, vision, and societal impact, rather than traditional employee benefits. “Professionals should join a product company that solves a problem and can scale very quickly,” she noted. This statement underscores the necessity for companies to adapt their culture and practices to keep pace with these changing preferences. 

To this end, Gergana suggests that corporations should strive to emulate the rapid scalability and problem-solving focus commonly found in successful startups. In this evolving landscape, a compelling company vision can be just as, if not more, enticing as a high salary.

The Importance of Growth

Georgi Petrov, a successful entrepreneur with a track record of nurturing high-growth companies, provided an interesting counterpoint. Regardless of whether a company is a startup or a corporation, Petrov emphasized the importance of growth. “Professionals should join a company that is growing,” he posited. 

This approach gives professionals the opportunity to expand their skills and capabilities alongside the company itself. Petrov’s insights highlight the dynamic nature of today’s workforce, where professionals are often attracted to opportunities that promise personal and career growth, regardless of the size or maturity of the organization.

Employee Engagement in Startups vs Corporations

Miroslav Gechev, with his unique experience of transitioning startups into corporate structures, compared employee engagement rates between the two settings. “In my experience, startup employees are used to having a task that they need to complete and this can impact the whole business, they want to see the bigger picture. With corporations, this isn’t the case most of the time,” he explained. 

This disparity in engagement, according to Gechev, could be mitigated by corporations fostering a shared sense of responsibility and ownership with their employees. By doing so, they can emulate the fulfilling environment of startups where every task and decision can directly affect the success of the company.

The Impact of Work

Georgi Dimitrov, bringing insights from his roles in the corporate and startup worlds, echoed a similar sentiment. “That’s how we as human beings can get the sense of accomplishment, and this is tightly bounded to the impact we aim to achieve,” he observed. His viewpoint highlighted the universal desire of professionals to see the results of their efforts, a crucial factor in fostering engagement and satisfaction. 

Dimitrov’s insights suggest that both startups and corporations should strive to create an environment where employees can easily see the impact of their work. This connection not only drives engagement but also strengthens the alignment between individual and organizational goals.

The event also included an audience Q&A session and a networking segment, which allowed attendees to further engage with the panelists in an informal setting. Although the audience questions were noted to be more personal, they nonetheless added a unique layer of depth to the conversation.

The panel discussion not only illuminated various facets of the topic but also highlighted a critical issue that many IT professionals in Bulgaria, and indeed around the world, grapples with in their career development. By fostering an open exchange of ideas and experiences, the event provided a comprehensive understanding of this multifaceted topic.

Following a summer break, the After Hours series will return in September with another thought-provoking event titled “From Pizza To Cardio: Staying Sane In A Dynamic Workplace”. The focus will be on how employers can foster a culture of lifelong learning and what the best practices for upskilling and reskilling are. 

Stay tuned as we continue to unravel the complexities of the IT talent growth landscape!