There are many activities in our company with the intention to foster our interest in new technologies. Still, it seems that individual curiosity is the most efficient driver. Sharing this attribute it came quite natural to Bojan Kovacevic, Milos Mijuskovic and Miriam Rakic from Vip mobile in Serbia to work together on Artificial Intelligence. In this story, they share their insights on the power of perfect teamwork, facing challenges and the attraction of new technologies. Enjoy!
By now you briefly got to know our team players, Bojan Kovacevic, Head of Radio Network, Access and Transport Network, Software Engineer Milos Mijuskovic, IT Services Expert, Software Engineer Miriam Rakic, GIS and Solution Development Principal, Data Scientist, but there is more to tell!
What are the essential factors for successful teamwork?
Milos: Trust, good communication, cohesiveness, a right balance of homogeneity among the members and groupthinking.
Bojan: Treating each other with respect, being willing to commit to the project, having similar expectations.
Team members should inspire, motivate and help each other, but still be responsible in playing their own role.
What did you learn about the other two in this project?
Milos: They are the kind of people you want to surround yourself with. I just have huge respect for both of them. They are great engineers and more importantly amazing people.
Bojan: That we complement each other really well in both skillset and mindset. Miriam always tries to get a clear and complete picture while Milos excels at generating ideas.
Miriam: First of all, both Bojan and Milos are really exceptional people. They are true experts in their everyday job but their talents, knowledge and interest are impressively vast.
What were the biggest challenges? How did you overcome them?
Milos: There were lots of challenges in different phases of the development while we were building the tool. I guess they would be: creating a strong, stable and robust business logic and making the whole system more modular, easier to change, and scalable. However, these kinds of challenges are fun and we were always very eager to tackle them head-on.
Try again, fail again, fail better.
somehow shared motto
Bojan: In the beginning, it was very difficult to find an actual use case to work on. It had to be a real pain point but at the same time something that we could actually solve and on top of that use all those exiting technologies properly. We also wanted to build something that facilitates our colleagues’ daily work.
Miriam: The request for scheduling customer service emails looked pretty simple to me at the beginning, but it turned out to be quite challenge (and also fun) to take into account every detail in designing software architecture and logic from scratch. Time is also a challenge, not only lack of it in general, but lack of continuity in work, especially when you do something for the first time in a completely new area of expertise. The real challenge is to make yourself better. Or to understand the limitations and to be sure that you did the best you can.
Your best memory of the project?
Milos: I personally enjoyed all the “breakthrough” moments we had while facing some enormous problems that were holding us down along the way. That moment when you press “Start” and everything just works as it should – it’s gold.
Bojan: The launch – it was sort of a baptism of fire since Murphy’s law dictated. After initial confusion, it turned out that our tool can help in sorting that mess. It was a bumpy launch but since then we have been sailing smoothly.
Miriam: I really enjoyed the brainstorming sessions with the guys. Also, I remember the first satisfying machine learning classification of emails, I had doubts that I can do it, and I was like: OMG, this thing really works!
Any advice to colleagues who either need help or want to start a likewise career?
Milos: Go for it! I think that we as a company would benefit greatly from more people taking on this kind of initiative. And we have really smart people all across A1 too. My top three bits of advice would be: 1) Start small and fail fast. Rework and try again. 2) If you have a cool idea, create a prototype. 3) Have fun!
Bojan: Listen who in the company is talking about similar topics – those are your future teammates. Listen and participate in discussions about the challenges in the company – you will try to solve them. But never assume that you know better how to solve someone else’s problem, rather listen to them and try to understand first.
Major advice would be to listen, listen and always listen.
Miriam: If you need help, ask for it, even if you are not used to ask for help. Take a step back from everyday routine and think about better and faster ways to deal with it and talk to people. I consider myself lucky to be talking with Bojan about Natural Language Processing and so became part of this team. It was fun and I have been truly enjoying working with Bojan and Milos on this project.
One more thing, the Team of Three definitely agrees on: An A1 company-wide rollout of their baby would be very cool. A challenge would be to implement it in other industries as well since processing email complaints are an important topic for lot of corporations. If you have any leads – let them know ;-).