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Introducing the EPAM team, leading digital transformation from Georgia

By Entrepreneur-ის გუნდი

You're reading Entrepreneur Georgia, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Since 1993, EPAM has leveraged its advanced software engineering heritage to become the foremost global digital transformation services provider – leading the industry in digital and physical product development and digital platform engineering services.

Through its innovative strategy, integrated advisory, consulting and design capabilities, and unique 'Engineering DNA,' EPAM's globally deployed hybrid teams help make the future real for clients and communities around the world. They are powering better enterprise, education, and health platforms that connect people, optimize experiences, and improve people's lives. In 2021, EPAM was added to the S&P 500 and included in the Forbes Global 2000 Companies list.

Selected by Newsweek as a 2021 and 2022 Most Loved Workplace, EPAM's global multi-disciplinary teams serve customers in more than 50 countries across six continents. As a recognized leader, EPAM is listed among the top 15 companies in Information Technology Services on the Fortune 1000 and ranked four times as the leading IT services company on Fortune's 100 Fastest Growing Companies list.

EPAM appeared on the Georgian market in 2020. Since then, it has united thousands of tech professionals connected by a passion for technology. Their dynamic and inclusive culture positively impacts communities, customers, and employees. EPAM's multi-national teams contribute to numerous cutting-edge projects, deliver the most creative solutions, and have an opportunity to learn and grow in Georgia.

Entrepreneur Georgia spoke to EPAM's team in Georgia, who are leading digital transformation by undertaking a range of exciting projects in the local market and worldwide.

Givi Sartania - Head of EPAM Georgia

Givi Sartania - a seasoned professional with 18 years of experience in IT. Currently, Head of EPAM in Georgia. A thirst for innovation and growth has always driven him, and in 2014, he co-founded a software development company with three friends. Over six years, their company grew to a team of 85 professionals who successfully delivered over 200 projects for clients on the local and international markets. Their vision was to put Georgia on the global software engineering map and showcase the country's potential in the field.

"We have been closely following EPAM since 2014. Their business model and operations were a great example for our development. In late 2019, I had the opportunity to meet with Arkadiy Dobkin, the CEO and President of EPAM, informally, in Tbilisi. Despite having limited time, our 20-minute conversation proved to be highly productive. Further meetings made it clear that EPAM's values and vision aligned closely with our own. In late 2020, we were approached with an offer to join forces and develop software engineering in Georgia together, which we accepted with great pleasure. We have been working together ever since," states Givi.

When speaking with Entrepreneur, Givi points out that EPAM's extensive experience, company's scale, and substantial client portfolio set them apart in the local market. By working with some of the world's leading companies, EPAM's team members have had unparalleled professional growth and development opportunities.

"It's important that the visibility of Georgia to large corporations has increased since then. We have already welcomed representatives from quite a few world renowned companies in Georgia, and we plan to continue this initiative in the future," he notes.

EPAM serves various customers from all over the world, ranging from medium to large corporations. Most of their clients are based in North America, but they also successfully collaborate with large corporations in Europe and Asia. EPAM's customer list includes many industries, among them automotive, insurance, telecommunications, education, healthcare, and hospitality.

Before entering the Georgian market, in collaboration with StrategEast and GITA, EPAM trained professionals in various technical fields. Since 2020, EPAM's training center has offered free courses in 10 different fields, focusing on in-demand technologies. The company has been actively recruiting specialists from the beginning, many of whom are graduates of EPAM's training programs.

The organizational structure of the company is a matrix. Individuals work across teams on various projects within their scope and report to different group leaders This encourages sharing experiences, where employees can get involved with a long-term project or rotate within the company by joining short-term initiatives and projects.

Project teams are multi-functional and multicultural, usually uniting professionals from four or five countries. This creates an additional exciting opportunity for exchanging experiences.

Givi believes that while Georgia has many talented professionals in the IT field, there is still significant room for growth and improvement. It is becoming increasingly essential for the country to establish its presence in the global market and for large foreign companies to take an interest in Georgia's IT field. Givi emphasizes that as the interest in the industry grows, more significant investments must be made in education. He believes that by prioritizing education and professional development, Georgia can continue to foster a skilled workforce and become a more competitive player in the global IT industry.

Archil Varshanidze - Head of .NET Practice

Archil Varshanidze is the head of the .NET department at EPAM in Georgia. He is responsible for the development of .NET expertise and the professional growth of team members. Currently, his team unites more than 100 .NET professionals working on various projects for EPAM's customers.

Archil has a diverse background in Tech, having co-founded a software company with Givi, and held various leadership roles such as CTO and COO. Throughout his career, he has gained extensive experience as a programmer, team leader, architect, and project manager, contributing to almost every aspect of software development at different stages of his career.

Seeing a great opportunity for career development, Archil joined the EPAM Georgia team right at the get-go. He was interested in working with large international client accounts and having hands-on experience working in a tech company with refined business processes.

"I gladly joined the EPAM team. And the reality met my expectations - in EPAM, regardless of experience, there are many opportunities for career development. On the one hand, there are various projects where you can get involved in a role that fits you best and show experience. And on the other, there are internal training courses for professionals of any level to learn something new and valuable. For me personally, the most interesting part of my job is the scale of the projects and each step that goes into their successful completion", Archil notes.

Managing a large team comes with great responsibility and significant managerial challenges, and it requires effort and commitment from Archil. However, he says witnessing the progress of his team members and how they gain more knowledge and deepen their expertise is distinctly motivating for him.

The experience of working in EPAM's multicultural environment allowed Archil to make close contact with people of different cultures and backgrounds.

"Many countries with EPAM presence have more experience in the field, so working with them is of utmost pleasure. The fact that our corporate culture encourages us to work as one, no matter where we operate, further contributes to the synergy of the teams. Despite the short presence of EPAM in Georgia, we already take part in all global initiatives. As soon as you become an EPAMer, you get a chance to be involved in the projects of such global client accounts that you could not even have imagined before," Archil said.

EPAM cares about the career development of its employees. Along with technical skills, you can improve soft and managerial skills, and polish your language knowledge within one ecosystem. The diversity of projects allows you to broaden your expertise. Professionals of any level and expertise can find their spot and do what they are genuinely passionate about.

"At EPAM, you can pursue what you love doing the most, while continuing to learn and improve. We have positions for professionals with various technical experiences: For someone who wants to continue their career in management but also wishes to harness their TECH skills – the roles of engineering manager or delivery manager are a perfect fit. If you are interested in management but wish to grow in the technical direction, you may be interested in the profession of Solution Architect. And those who want to further master code creation can follow the career path of Advanced Software Engineer", Archil notes.

Anna Karelina - Head of People, EPAM Georgia

Anna Karelina is the Head of the People Department in EPAM Georgia. She has ten years' experience in people management. She started her career as a junior specialist in the HR Business Partner team and later moved to the People Partners team. Throughout her career working with various departments, she has gained extensive experience and a deep understanding of people management on many levels.

"When I learned that EPAM in Georgia had a vacancy for the position of Head of People, I considered it a great opportunity for my career development. At that time, EPAM in the country was in the early stage of development, and it was a chance for me to bring all the best people management practices in EPAM globally to a new location", Anna says.

Speaking to Entrepreneur, Anna notes that many things distinguish EPAM on the market; first of all, 30 years of experience and heritage in all fields, from engineering and technology to consulting and design and people management.

"All these years, we have never stopped growing. Every year we stay on top of the trends and bring innovation into every aspect of our work", she notes.

Each process at EPAM is designed to meet the needs of employees, so they get the best experience in professional and personal development. Digital products in EPAM are integrated with people processes. All internal people management platforms are developed by EPAMers for EPAMers, having first-hand experience with these products, which is one of the key factors that makes them so effective.

"For example, we created the Telescope AI platform that effectively assesses, proactively manages, and successfully motivates employee performance by analyzing real-time data to balance workloads, skill sets, and growth opportunities while facing digital disruption. It ensures client delivery in record time by seamlessly pivoting and quickly responding to digitally disruptive projects based on actionable AI-driven insights. It meets business-critical digital transformation objectives using comprehensive productivity metrics to steer projects with tighter cycle times, fewer resources, and broader requirements", says Anna.

At EPAM, employee engagement is crucial, as they drive innovation and change. EPAM, in each location, implements people processes that ensure a smooth work experience every step of the way.

The company's people processes and internal policies are built on unified data analysis. Data is collected both automatically from systems and from employee feedback. One way to communicate with the team is through surveys and feedback forms. Overall, this process is transparent and accessible to every company employee.

"As we are represented in more than 50 countries, gathering individual feedback is a significant task. But with the help of our internal systems, which focus on the needs of employees, we can stay on top of all important events, even in the most challenging situations. For example, a great way to follow up on everyone's well-being is through special widgets in our internal system that ask about our employee's mood, security status, and any need for help", Anna notes.

Naino Kashibadze & Ana Karelina

Another way to keep a close connection with employees is through special job roles, like Resource Manager (RM). RMs help to orient their team members on the path of professional development within the company. They are involved in the recruitment process, team adaptation, and career path selection. They introduce an employee to the corporate culture and share experiences and feedback with them.

"I am happy to have the opportunity to work with the best people team, the EPAM Georgia Leadership Team, and all of the EPAMers in Georgia. We have done an excellent job creating a team of highly skilled professionals", Anna tells us.

Naino Kashibadze - Communications Manager, EPAM Georgia

Naino Kashibadze is a communications manager at EPAM in Georgia. She has 13 years of experience in marketing, communications, and advertising. Naino worked both in local and international companies in Georgia. A particular curiosity brought her to the IT field; she first worked as a project manager in a Georgian software development company. Later, she took on the role of marketing director in the same company.

Naino joined the EPAM Georgia team in 2020 to take on new career challenges. She notes that her previous experiences were less comprehensive and dynamic than those she has now, working at EPAM.

Naino works with a team responsible for eight countries- Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Latvia, and Uzbekistan. The team shares valuable professional and cultural experiences, knowledge, and best practices daily. Naino says that this broadens her horizons and enriches her views immensely.

"The appearance of EPAM in Georgia opened up new horizons and career opportunities for me. I took this step forward with an open mind and willingness to grow. Our company structure does not have a standard organizational hierarchy. Therefore, people from any role or team and at any level can communicate directly with each other. In addition, here, I have met people that have my back every step of the way. It is a great motivation for me when everyone contributes to achieving the same goal, and I see the result of collective work. Regardless of the scale, I can see the contributions of each team member to the development of the IT field in Georgia", Naino says.

Along with the growth of the IT market, EPAM contributes to the development of the location by implementing several ESG (Environmental, social, and corporate governance) projects. Currently, their main focus is the development of STEM programs and education among youngsters through supporting local learning initiatives.

"In 2022, we partnered with Ilia State University to establish robotics clubs in 10 public schools. We contribute to such an important events as the National Teacher Award. Within the framework of the Millennium Innovation Awards, we rewarded a team of young STEM enthusiasts, more details to be disclosed later on", Naino says.

The EPAM training center also actively contributes to developing the local IT market. Every year, hundreds of beginners take training courses in various directions of IT. After their successful completion, they join the Georgian IT workforce with an opportunity to find employment in the field.

Speaking to Entrepreneur, Naino notes that sharing knowledge and experience plays a significant role in EPAM's culture. One of the best examples of this are the Tech communities created by EPAM employees, which allows professionals to meet and network with people in the same field, share experiences, and make valuable local and global connections.

The experience of working in a large-scale company turned out to be one of the most interesting and, at the same time, is one full of challenges for her.

"In the first few months, I was quite overwhelmed - a lot of things were happening around me, I was interested in all of them, and it was difficult for me to stay focused. Despite the support of my colleagues, it took me a year to fully submerge in all the processes and become familiar with all the initiatives and projects happening in the company. Now I share this experience with new employees, and I always advise them to give themselves time, especially if they don't have prior experience of working in a large-scale company ", Naino notes.

"EPAM stands out on the Georgian market. There are few companies of the same scale and capabilities globally. We have nearly 60,000 employees on six continents, several thousand here in Georgia. This huge network of professionals opens up many possibilities and is at the reach of our fingertips from home in Georgia. We could not have imagined this would have happened a few years ago," Naino adds.

Valery Sukhan - Head of Mobile Practice

Valery Sukhan is the head of the mobile department in EPAM Georgia and ensures the development of that department.

Iulia Meladze & Valery Sukhan

Valery took his first steps in the technical field while working at NPO Integral, where he was a CNC programmer, quality engineer, and manager of the photolithography department. Valery joined the EPAM team in 2011, motivated by the rapid development of the IT field and great opportunities for professional growth. Initially, he was a student at EPAM Lab, an internship program within the EPAM training center; over the years, he became an experienced professional, from QA engineer and team leader to leading the entire mobile department.

Last year, Valery received an offer to take on the role of head of the mobile department in Georgia, and officially joined the EPAM Georgia team. Today, he leads mobile departments in Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan.

"Since I already had experience in mentoring and lecturing, this was a great opportunity to share my knowledge with local professionals. Also, I got a clear vision of how we can develop IT in the region and make Georgia the focal point of this development", Valery says.

Valery highlights that EPAM provided numerous opportunities for him to develop his skills over the course of his career, and it continues to do so to this day. He can change his career direction and learn in real-time in a real business environment, whilst sharing his experience with the professionals around him.

"Here in Georgia, I see even more opportunities to share the knowledge and experience that I've been cultivating over the years. The Georgian IT market is developing quickly, and I feel I can contribute to the development of the country's IT field. My goal and motivation are to help local talents grow at EPAM by implementing EPAM's global best practices", Valery notes.

Speaking about the potential of the Georgian IT and mobile sector, Valery says the industry in Georgia has huge potential for growth and development.

"I think the size of the Georgian market cannot be determined only by the number of graduates of technical universities. Young people in Georgia speak English at an advanced level, which allows them to learn quickly through external training. In addition, mobile applications are prevalent in Georgia, and the IT industry benefits from favorable tax and legislative systems. All these factors indicate that Georgia's IT and mobile sector has great potential for development, and I am glad to be a part of this development. It's also worth mentioning that the IT industry, like any industry, revolves around people, and the people in Georgia are truly remarkable", Valery says.

Iulia Meladze - Scrum Master, EPAM Georgia

Iulia Meladze holds the position of Scrum Master in EPAM Georgia. She has 15 years of experience working in local companies. During this time, she worked in almost all available roles in IT. Iulia was never afraid of new challenges and career opportunities; that's how she found her ideal profession and started working as a Scrum Master in a Georgian company.

As soon as EPAM entered the Georgian market, Iulia was interested in the opportunities it provided. She wanted to gain experience working in an international company with international clients. And soon, she joined the EPAM team in Georgia.

"My main motivation was getting involved in exciting projects and gaining new experiences. I thought I knew the scale of EPAM, but I probably only imagined 10% of what I discovered after joining the company. I had access to internal and external learning resources, a mentor who guided me, gave me career advice, and, most importantly, trusted and supported me. The company promotes the possibility of doing what motivates me. In addition, I have met people from different parts of the world who teach me something new every day. I can get involved in any initiative that interests me in the company", Iulia says.

Speaking to Entrepreneur, Iulia mentions that EPAM gave her several exciting experiences. She has collaborated with companies that are pioneers of the Agile structure. Within the framework of a specific project, she attended several advanced training sessions.

Now, she shares her experience and knowledge with people interested in Scrum and Agile through a community she created and manages with her colleagues - "Agile Community."

"The purpose of creating the community was the need for a platform to exchange experiences with our peers. Initially, this community was created for EPAMers in Georgia. However, within a few months, we had gone beyond the scope of our country and EPAM. Now, there are 1000 members! We actively and regularly meet during our community events, exchange knowledge through articles, and participate in educational programs", she says.

Community activities, educational initiatives and ESG (Environmental, social, and corporate governance) programs at EPAM contribute to transforming whole industries, tech markets, and professional and civil communities all over the world.

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