Blue jeans, Converse shoes and a guitar in his hands. Not quite the typical attributes for an IT guy, you would say, until you meet Nick Stropsa, whose passions for playing guitar and engineering are in his DNA for as long as he remembers. Although starting his professional trajectory in Endava more than a decade ago, Nick managed to both stay in touch with his creative self and develop a fully-fledged musical career path in parallel.
Tell us about your professional experience in Endava.
It has been a quite eclectic path for me. Holding Oracle DBA skills from a previous job, I started out at Endava with a deployment engineer role, responsible for support in projects delivering in a CI/CD environment, in the Managed Services department. That was an exciting time, as I got to work directly with clients from sports and digital media industries. No name dropping, but I got to do DB management and fix environmental issues for some sports tycoons, that left me with some comic stories to tell afterwards.
Three to four years of dynamic activity followed in a practice lead role, overviewing my own team of five DBA Engineers and undertaking numerous clients’ trips to UK.
In 2014 I got promoted to a Managed Services Technical Group Leader position, being responsible for the close up monitoring on all Managed Services Operations in Chisinau - DBA + MBA Microsoft Business Applications, NUS - Networking and Security. It was a prolific period for me, when tough situations were surpassed without friction, backed by a wonderful team and the in-depth processes understanding that comes with the experience. As one of Steve Jobs’ nuggets of wisdom says: to be a good manager and leader you have to pass through various company stages and have a good understanding of the underlying processes.
I had the chance of having a steady and consequent career flow, and it naturally evolved to my next professional milestone, a role in which I find myself up to this moment.
Tell us about this new career step.
You have always got to push that edge especially when you are in the tech industry that moves at a blistering pace. That is why, in 2016 - when a new discipline has been created in Endava - Applications Management - I embraced a new role for me and the company.
Being appointed Service Delivery Manager for the newly minted practice of Applications Management’s Business Intelligence and Data Base Unit, I was responsible for the design, transition and continuous management of the services for Endava’s clients.
Overseeing the biggest account in Applications Management, my daily job is revolving around working with the teams - understanding their constraints and offering them support. Daily stand-ups, scrum of scrums are all part of the process.
My role stands at the intersection of delivering technical excellence, while maintaining a streamlined communication flow with clients to better suit their needs. It’s about channelling the efforts of all the team members to make this magic happen.
How does your music projects chime in?
The first time I played a musical instrument - and it was my father's’ guitar - happened when I was three years old, and as cliché as it may sound, but it was love at first sight.
Although it took me a detour of seven years of studying accordion in an academic setting, I returned to professionally learning to play guitar at 15, and I didn’t give it up ever since, even when gravitating towards a career in IT.
The passion and hard work I put into it payed off, as I had fantastic musical experiences, collaborating with different local bands like Select-X, ZdobsiZdub, Scroom, Whynona Ryderz, BingaGroove, Tharmis&Simrat Orchestra and solo musicians, like Dara, Natalia Barbu, Cris Sly and Marcel Rosca. Together with Whynona Riderz, we have come to represent our country at local and international music festivals, like Eurosonic EBBA 2001 in Holland, Global Battle of the Bands 2015 in Oslo and the local selection for Eurovision, in 2007. Recently, I embarked on the project of leading a local orchestra, and I am very excited about the perspectives.
Was it challenging for you to find your own voice both in music and IT and balance these two worlds?
Although quite eclectic in my music tastes, the rock, funk and lately the jazz vibes are the ones I instinctively gravitate to. Music is the sanctuary where my extrovert-self escapes from time to time to recharge my creative pot.
Sometimes I don’t have to go as more far away as our Endava office, where guitar sounds fill in perfectly the after 6PM, almost empty open space. Music and IT are so interlinked to me, there is the routine part, the aha and the glory moments, the ups and downs of the creative process that enables both sides.
The AHA moment was realizing that I could apply some of the Agile practices that I use daily with my team at work to secure a more efficient collaboration within my current musical project.
Having this exchange between the two worlds, drawing inspiration from the tech world, putting it to work in music and vice versa is simply amazing.
What is fuelling your passion to work at Endava?
Definitely the brilliant people who work by my side and the easy going and friendly environment.
Managing the biggest account in Applications Management - ITG comes with different challenges and having the support, the positive outreach and cohesiveness of the team means a lot.