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Bica: people are the key to success (Interview)

In today’s dynamic times, it’s more important than ever to share knowledge and experience and support each other.

Therefore, we’re excited to launch our new “Expert Tips” series, where leading experts from our community will share their know-how in key areas like HR consulting, Taxes and Legal, and others.

We’ll start with an insightful interview with Kiril Kaykov - Partner, Service Delivery Operations at the HR consultancy, and a strategic Campus X member and partner Bica. Let’s dive right in.

Team members of Bica posing together for a group photo.

1. Tell us a bit about Bica?

Bica is an HR consulting partner with a focus on Hiring, Growing, and Retaining IT teams, as well as building R&D centers from scratch. The company's mission is to identify and connect top talent with product companies of every size and stage - from high-growth startups to big companies.

We‘re also offering other relevant HR solutions that help companies run their HR, Administration, and Marketing processes more effectively in order to grow more sustainable and to become an employer of choice.

2. How and why was Bica launched?

Bica was launched in 2015 by three co-founders - Andrey, Momchil, and me (Kiril).

The main idea was to not only provide HR services to product innovators but also to help them feel secure and get the results they want while sustaining and keeping the essence of their culture, values, and goals.

Right now, 100+ people work at Bica, and most employees are highly skilled engineers, product people working on cool stuff like Digital Entertainment, Cloud services, IoT, Security, and others. And we keep growing.

3. What challenges do you solve for your clients and how do you stand out from the competition?

We help product scale-ups’ Chief Information Officers (CIOs) with building or multiplying their teams. As an HR partner, we support our clients every step on the way of this challenging journey.

Unlike our competitors, we don't microwave existing solutions. We build new ones, tailored to each client’s values, work ethic, and product strategy.

For example, many companies that are actively hiring need an immediate and sustainable solution to attract the right talent. In such cases, companies normally use the services of external HR companies. But this is not an effective long-term solution, focused on helping them retain new hires. Moreover, it’s not optimal when it comes to encouraging internal referrals and building employer brand awareness.

Bringing “A players” onboard is not that simple.

It requires a competitive hiring process and a remuneration package that meets the needs of YOUR people as opposed to the general market trends, as well as strong onboarding and an individual succession plan (clear guidelines of what’s required of the employees to develop their career in the desired direction). Last but not least, it’s vital how people relate to your company’s values, which is also reflected in their performance.

What we do differently at Bica? We apply our personalized approach and provide a flexible model where companies can work with an experienced HR professional or a whole small team of HRs on a temporary basis (like SAAS). These professionals join the company’s internal teams while being fully aligned with their unique needs and values. They provide essential expertise on how to manage their hiring processes, implement essential HR practices and tools while helping them build their own employee retention programs. They turn into ambassadors of the companies’ brands. And when the job is done, the team walks away, which also eliminates the need to hire internal HRs and increase headcount.

Bica team members discussing a project in a Campus X meeting room.

4. Tell us a bit about yourself and your role at the company. What inspires and challenges you daily?

As one of the co-founders of Bica, I am taking care of the operations and HR service delivery as well as managing the core HR and Marketing team which is the foundation of our fast-growing development. Together, we work on shaping our clients' product success by solving numerous people and process-related challenges on a daily basis.

Moreover, helping people develop professionally is a major inspiration.

For many, starting a new job search may seem like a daunting task. Beyond the emotional impact, they ask themselves questions like: What do I want to do? What do I need to do? Where do I start?

In the day-to-day crunch of work and deadlines, most people do not have the time, energy, or expertise to manage their careers as effectively as they could. My team and I have a direct impact on their journey. And it’s what continuously drives us forward. We guide people through all these personal milestones. We educate them on how to manage their careers better and most importantly how to join a company with values compatible with their own.

Our ultimate goal is to make both people and companies happy.

As a background I have 10+ years of experience in Human capital, Coaching and HR Consulting, working for companies like Lee Hetch Harrison & Adecco Group. During my participation in the establishment of many locally significant R&D centers with 100+ employees each, I have learned that there is no such thing as an “unsuitable” company or candidate - everyone is a perfect fit as long as there is a cultural match.

5. What are some of the key prerequisites to growing and retaining successful IT teams?

Contrary to popular belief, digital transformation is less about technology and more about people.

You can pretty much buy any technology but your ability to adapt depends on developing the next generation of skills. That is, closing the gap between talent’s supply and demand and future-proofing your own and others’ potential. Here’re three tips on how to do that:

  1. Put people first - the creative aspect of innovation is entirely dependent on your people.

  2. Focus on both soft skills and hard skills - we select people with high learnability (people with a curious mind) and match their interests to in-demand skills while understanding that those hard skills may soon become outdated - so the key is that their curiosity remains intact. Technical competence is temporary, but intellectual curiosity must be permanent.

  3. Giving and receiving honest feedback - teamwork requires constant and transparent communication. It’s not enough to wait until the end of the year, for example, to share feedback on someone’s performance.

6. Based on your experience building R&D centers from scratch, what would you advise international companies who are setting up their first office in Bulgaria?

First, you should establish a working company structure, methodology, and clear individual career path, as well as build sustainable leadership.

Having predefined processes will ultimately contribute to the overall ease of operation.

Next, you must prepare your internal talent continuously to share knowledge and constructive feedback among all other teammates and managers. Thus, you will create a team resource that will be ready to guide and train junior and mid talent.

Exchange of knowledge is crucial and stimulating such initiatives can only strengthen your team.

I also believe in the power of referrals - that’s how our business has been operating from day one. By incentivizing an internal referral program, the new hires’ retention will almost certainly improve. The formula is: 50% of all hires should come from internal references.

Another important step is transferring your core values to the new team. You must be agile enough to communicate your culture and adapt to the local mindset and requirements. And lastly, rely more on the local product thinking as a resource, rather than only the delivery capacity.

7. What's the impact of COVID-19 on recruiting and HR processes? What are the main challenges and opportunities?

As Winston Churchill once said, “We should never waste a good crisis”.

Perhaps this is the biggest gift of the current situation, that it provides us with the opportunity to rethink how we hire and grow talent.

This pandemic has exposed the vulnerabilities of many companies whose competitive advantage is solely based on the ownership of physical assets - airlines, automotive, cruise lines, etc. While other manufacturers have been able to quickly shift to producing medical supplies, masks, etc. and adjust to the situation.

The same is true when it comes to HR. Now, companies invest more in adaptability, which reflects on an organization's ability to innovate, experiment, and quickly take advantage of new opportunities. Strong leadership can cultivate a company’s culture by helping people stay focused on the most important initiatives, despite the continuously changing conditions presented by the pandemic.

Bica team members collaborating in a Campus X meeting room..

8. Why did you decide to join Campus X? How could your expertise help and empower our community even further?

We believe that the success of individual product companies is a direct consequence of the close collaboration, mutual trust, and support in the entire tech ecosystem in Bulgaria.

This is one of the main reasons why Bica was launched - to further empower the community and to create an environment, where talent and tech companies thrive. This is and will continue to be our mission within the Campus X community.

To support our community, Bica offers regular open office hours with free consultations for Campus X members (available every Tuesday and Thursday).

Want to join Campus X’s thriving ecosystem? Learn more and try us for free.


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