MaxBill is, first and foremost, a team of talented professionals, who are bound together by the desire to develop cutting-edge solutions that will impact the world around them. It is not a faceless company. Therefore, we would very much like to acquaint you with the leaders of MaxBill, people who come up with ideas, find the best tools to implement them, and guide others.
Let’s start with a key person, who oversees the development of our product — Val Morozov, a Vice President of Product Management at MaxBill. He has been with a company for over eighteen years through many moments of its transformation and took part in shaping our billing and CRM solution to the way it looks now.
Let’s start with a little bit about your background. What did you do before joining MaxBill?
I was a senior developer working on numerous projects, covering the full product lifecycle from learning the requirements and designing to the implementation and post-support. It was the end of the ‘90s, so the technical background was C, Assembler, a bit of web – very primitive for these days, HTML level – and, of course, Delphi.
Did you like it? Or maybe wanted to switch to something more challenging?
I very much liked it and it was quite challenging. By the time I moved to MaxBill, I had five years of implementing projects to production, being in a close loop with the end-users. I overlooked the full cycle from the conception of the idea, through design, to development, including experimenting to find the right technology fit for the users. It was my responsibility to find the right technical solution; though, I had to be familiar with the wide range of frameworks and tools that can be used. It was exciting to be able to immediately see the results of the job done, especially because this wasn’t the common practice at the end of the ’90s, when everybody mostly did only their part of the job following predefined methodologies like RUP.
So what’s the story of you coming to MaxBill? Could you tell us a little bit about why and how you’ve made the switch?
It was pure chance. I was not considering leaving my then-current job, as I was quite happy with my role. My friend, who was a team lead at MaxBill at the time, challenged me to come to an interview and see how good my skills are. I had two Interviews, both were inspiring, especially the one with Rost Bitterlikh. During the interview, he excused himself a few times to answer an urgent call from the development team, as project delivery preparation was at its final stage. I saw first hand that there’s a whole new level of challenges at MaxBill. Maybe that was one of the reasons I took the job here – because of the impact scale at which MaxBill gives and takes.
Is it what drives you the most? The challenges and adrenalin?
I wouldn’t say so, no. I prefer doing things in a quiet, proper way. What drives me is the ability to be in the center of something innovative, global, which has an impact on people. Being a part of the company that is on the edge of technology but at the same time, not a startup, which you never know how it will end. Somewhat a more regulated environment, where you actually know your business and can accumulate the knowledge of the customer business industry over the years, not to start from scratch every few months or so. Have your decisions making a difference in the final outcome, the need to be able to build something every day, which will have an impact on the value that we deliver to the world – that’s my main driving force.
What makes MaxBill special to you?
It has a family-like culture that you would normally find only in smaller companies. Thanks to the wise oversight of the late General Manager Gregory Beliavsky, who set clear boundaries but never restricted the creative potential of the employees, the environment in MaxBill helps each member of the team feel comfortable and be able to reach their full potential. Loyalty, partnership, openness, no hidden games are the level of culture that is not easy to maintain. It has to be carefully cultivated, and it’s one of the biggest achievements of the company – the ability to contain this environment for many years.
Are there still parts of your job that you consider challenging, even after all these years?
Since joining MaxBill in 2002, I’ve held many positions here and still haven’t seen it all. I’ve worked as a Senior Developer, Project and Team Leader, Project Manager and Director, Product Manager; had been in R&D, support and even pre-sales roles, validating business cases via proof of concepts. It is always interesting because I understand the value I’ve brought to the company by filling the particular position and, at the same time, grow personally and professionally.
In my current position as a Vice President of Product Management, I have a lot of areas to cover, and the most tricky part is to focus. Even though the previous assignments helped me to master many needed skills, at the moment, it still requires a lot of attention, prioritization and self-assessment to find the time and lead to what is really valuable and needed. Because there’s just so much that is interesting and can be done.
How do you decide between all of the options?
I do not have to. One of my job goals is to build a team of product owners. To do so, I prefer not to complete every interesting task by myself, but rather teach someone or even delegate. It’s the only way to scale to achieve bigger results.
What do you do in your spare time to unwind after such demanding work?
I always read books when I commute. When at home I spend as much time as I can with my loved ones, my wife Olena and two sons – Eduard and Miroslav.
Do any of your hobbies influence your work and if yes, how?
Yes. Some of the most helpful insights for work I get when I’m not actually working. For example, I came up with one of the important solution concepts while climbing on the east summit of the highest stratovolcano in Eurasia – Mount Elbrus. While mountaineering one has to spend a few weeks at a high altitude before climbing to the top. It is done to give the human body a chance to adjust to a severe environment. It was during this time when all the pieces of the puzzle fell in together. The solution design idea was at the back of my mind for many weeks, but only when I was completely distracted, detached from the operational routine, it could form properly.
Since then, I try to exercise this method of problem-solving as often as possible. Seeing what is going on from a distance helps me to find the right approach. I think it is necessary for anyone, involved in planning and strategizing, to periodically get away from all kinds of noise around us and try not to think of anything. Then, the mind will turn into the right mode to make the best conclusions.
What is the most fun part of MaxBill’s life for you?
Our team building events in forests and at the seaside are pretty fun, especially those when we gather from all the offices in one place for a few days.
What was the most special moment with your colleagues?
Probably my first day at work. It was March of 2002. I got a 500-page file with the assignment to find a place where I can print it and then actually learn all of it. It was the MaxBill Implementation manual. I still remember this volume. Thank heavens, we don’t use these anymore.
Do you have any tips or a special message for MaxBill newcomers?
Yes, we are very lucky to have you on the team. It does not matter if you’ve just joined, we already see you as a partner. There are so many ways how you can contribute to our success. There’s no longer a separation to only a specific role and tasks—tester, a developer, a designer, etc. Our roles are vaguer now. I would like to encourage people to, first of all, see their individual strengths, talents and desires.
We thank Val for this very inspiring and insightful interview and invite you to stay tuned for more success stories. By knowing each other’s journey, we learn to understand the world and people around us better, which is key for growing personally and professionally.