My challenge in the last twenty days was to get to your office and take that interview. What about your challenge this year? Which project was the biggest challenge for you?
(MV) – You know we’re working on too many projects. There is no other way, if the market requires it. Now that I think about it, the biggest challenge for the whole team was to develop a fire control system designed for artillery but also for intelligence use. At one point, we had to configure hundreds of elements as well as to provide serious engineering potential to make it fully applicable and effective product. In Opticoelectron a moment can be a week, a month or a year.
Very well, I’m intrigued at first. How did you get to the idea and development of this product? I know you will not tell me the produst`s name, but at least show me the way.
(MV) – Well, actually they are sources, not ways. The first source is the state of the market at the moment and obviously the need for such a product. The second is our long-term client who thinks the time has come for this product. However, the fact is that this system is currently difficult to develop and manufacture. However, as you know in Opticoelectron, this has always been a challenge, not an excuse.
I know many customers are “tricky,” but how do you deal with such customers? Do you have your own method of working to satisfy their demands and want something to change in other ways in your communication with them?
(MV) – It is very important to be calm and reasonable in communication. You know our sphere of work is tense and we work with people from all over the world. These are different clients with different characters, requirements and knowledge. Stress is not only in work, but also in communication. That’s why I prefer to just pause in 10 seconds first. So I calm down, concentrate and I can lead the conversation in the right direction. If I hurry with the answer this will not be good either for me or for the client.
You mean that following this way of communication you eliminate a possible nervous situation?
(MV) – Exactly. There are always nervous situations, so I try to avoid them. When communicating with clients, I want to know their assignment right from the start.
Are there clients who know everything?
(MV) – Unfortunately, there are always such clients in every sphere. But here, the role of the 10 seconds silence is very important, because during that time you can solve future conflicts. The most important is swallowing your ego and concentrating on the topic. It is then extremely easy for both parties to communicate. If you put your thoughts in your mind in time, you arrange the whole project for a long time.
Opticoelectron is The Innovative Company for 2017. What did the company patent to deserve this award?
(MV) – We patent all the products we develop in the company. However, the fact is that it takes a long time before everything happens. During last year, we patented three of our developments in the field of Infrared optics, a complex system configuration of optics and electronics, and two-years-old aviator`s night vision goggles. I`m sure that you know them very well – OENAG.
I ask myself how do you know about new technologies? Do you have time, do you have your own channels to do that?
(MV) – Unfortunately, I do not have much time to watch all the technologies, but military exhibitions are a really effective way to get to know the world’s innovation in this industry. So we at Opticoelectron can keep our watches up-to-date with today’s requirements and standards, and given that we are a strong professional team, we can easily get to the essence of a product, reveal its functionality and structure that automatically provoke us to use our knowledge to improve it. On the other hand, the well-known Internet channel is also doing great work, but as I say – only when there is spare time.
So, you`re agree with the phrase that genius solutions are a simple construction?
(MV) – Yes, completely. The truth is in this sentence.
I know you’re an athlete. You love volleyball, and you play football almost every week. Does sport in any way affect your work?
(MV) – You know I played volleyball on a semi-professional level. Sports helps you unload the pressure in your everyday life. It removes stress, makes you feel somehow recharged. If the humans are like computers, sport let us shut down all systems, hard drives, free up memory, and restarts us. If I could play more than once a week, I would do it with great pleasure. There is nothing better for health than physical exercise.
You’ve been working for years on this market. I appreciate the opinion of people like you. In this connection – where is the Bulgarian military industry between the old glory and the new markets?
(MV) – Well, in the middle. That keeps it alive. But I want to say that the role of the government is very important. If it does not, this industry would very hardly exist at all. The military industry is one of the engines of the Bulgarian economy.
Tell me more specific things. I’ll help you – Optoelectron how does it work?
(MV) – You personally know that in some of our business areas we are very competitive on international markets, but we are not in others. For example, nanotechnology – here we are lagging behind, not just us as a company, but the country as a whole. This requires purchasing sensors, high-level electronics, motherboards with many elements. Why not to do it in Bulgaria? Why not to develop our own technology production?
If the big international companies and military governments are a shark, the Bulgarian business is reciprocal as a small fish around the shark that feeds on the remnants of shark`s lunch. Am I right? Your company`s CEO told me that many years ago, and it`s been stuck in my mind.
(MV) – Yes, this comparison is very good. The government must play much more important role in defending Bulgarian interests and production in the military, and not only. A company that has the protection and support of the country will be able to operate more smoothly in the markets, increase its profits and reinvest it in development. Should I continue? All this will guarantee the image of Bulgaria to Western investors, increase the standard of life of the people working in this sphere, and will get back quality specialists in Bulgaria.
I know the next fact, but because of our readers I will ask you – do you have a shortage of qualified staff?
(MV) – Unfortunately, it is not only us and not only in our sphere. I have talked to colleagues and friends from different areas of the Bulgarian economy – everywhere. This returns me to the previous answer – things will look radically different if the Bulgarian Government and business are allied, and everyone is striving to protect each other interests.
What are your short-term goals in your professional life?
(MV) – They are only two: to be healthy and fit in order to finish all the projects we are currently working on.
In this busy daily routine, do you find the right way to balance personal and work life? Is there balance at all?
(MV) – I try to set the following limit – in my personal time I can afford to talk to colleagues, clients or partners, but I avoid taking work for home. The balance is difficult to achieve, although we try not to talk and comment work at home.