“What is the secret behind Meghan Markle’s healthy hair?” is the question which the singer Konstrakta attempted to answer in her hit song “In corpore sano”. However, the real burning question for us is “What is the secret behind success at work?”. The answer lies with the employees at the company Levi9, affectionately nicknamed “Niners” who have happily spent the past decade developing and growing alongside their company.

But let’s start at the beginning.

In the year 2005, the Levi9 comet conquered the IT skies.

The company Levi9, headquartered in Amsterdam, took off on their first flight in April 2005, with their first employees in Novi Sad. Their name was inspired by the incredible comet Shoemaker-Levy9 which struck the surface of Jupiter in 1994. From the very beginning, the Niners have had a single, clear mission – be like that comet and create a powerful positive impact with the help of technology.

During their voyage on that charted course and their 18 years of existence, the company has increased both its capacities and ambitions several times over, but it is the same values and the positive #empowerement culture that keep them together after all these years. Although anniversaries in double digits are not common in the IT industry, a group of around 50 employees celebrates over a decade of work at this company and proudly states that they now have the answer to the question “What is the secret behind success at work?

Over 10 years of work at the same IT company – how (sur)realistic is that?

“Fifteen years is a long time, especially in the IT industry. Honestly, I have never felt the need to change companies because, as a Niner, I have always had the opportunity to gain new experiences and be in the company of interesting and smart people. Every project we undertake involves a new challenge and, usually, a new team to work with. Adding to that new and different technologies, all sorts of colorful clients and our business domains, it’s clear that our work environment is always fresh and dynamic,” says Miroslav Radujkov on his experience working at Levi9 as a Java Tech Lead and team leader.

Miroslav Radujkov, Java Tech Lead, Levi9
Miroslav Radujkov, Java Tech Lead, Levi9

Svetlana Zakić, a member of the leadership team in Belgrade, said that she was also surprised by how long she has stayed with the same company. She began working at Levi9 back when the company had only around 60 employees in Serbia. The plan was to stay there for only a limited period of time, but she has remained with them to this day, when the company has over 700 Niners and two Development Centers.

“At the start of my career, the plan was that I would move on to new challenges in 3-5 years, after I’ve gained some knowledge and work experience. However, as the company grew, so did I along with it. From my beginnings as a Junior Project Manager in 2008 in Novi Sad, I’ve advanced to the position of Delivery Director at our offices in Belgrade in 2018. Levi9 is definitely a company that knows the secret of successful business, recognizes talent and potential in people and creates an environment where each individual is able to grow and flourish.” To this, she also adds that despite the passing years and the growth it has been through, the company still maintains and nurtures the same values and culture of team-spirit.

Svetlana Zakić, Delivery director, Levi9
Svetlana Zakić, Delivery director, Levi9

Milić Vuletić, the Cyber Security Lead, has also recently celebrated his 10th year of working at Levi9. According to him, the most important thing in his life are the people around him and he believes that the secret to his professional success lies with them.

“The colleagues I work with every day are on the same wavelength as me, so I know I can rely on them. It’s important for me to feel that my team and I are doing something good and worthwhile.”

Milić Vuletić, Cyber Security Lead, Levi9
Milić Vuletić, Cyber Security Lead, Levi9

Projects, technologies, culture – what is the “X-factor” for professional satisfaction?

Jelena Kutlača Milošević, the Delivery manager in charge of the Delivery management team at the Levi9 group in Novi Sad will soon celebrate a full 18 years of work at this company. She told us that it’s difficult for her to set apart any single thing as her main motivation.

“It’s the combination of everything that goes into this work environment. I enjoy projects that are challenging, both technically and from a business perspective, but I also enjoy learning new things. We have had plenty of challenges in the past, and at the same time the company has always promoted acquiring new knowledge and applying it in our projects.”

Jelena Kutlača Milošević, Delivery manager, Levi9
Jelena Kutlača Milošević, Delivery manager, Levi9

Working with a purpose and in line with one’s personal beliefs is of imperative value in the market today. The projects that the Niners take on assist their clients to define their products, deliver them, go through digital transformations and advance their processes and production. The clients themselves frequently express their high regard for their services. From a business perspective, this provides an insight in the way that the products they work on directly impact countless end users. According to Miroslav Radujkov, this is precisely what the business “X-factor” really is.

“Seven and a half million people from a country in Southeast Asia will have the opportunity to register thanks to the system we are working on, which is one of the crucial first steps towards fulfilling their civil rights, such as issuing personal documents, registering with the healthcare system and many others. Such applications are important systemic ways for children in all parts of the world to fulfill their rights as prescribed by the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Levi9 teams are a part of that process and I couldn’t be more proud of that.” says Miroslav regarding his experience on the project he is working on.

Social awareness and engagement in socially-beneficial projects in both individuals and companies is what Svetlana Zakić highlights as one of the most important factors of her professional satisfaction.

“Social responsibility starts with family support and health care. In this regard, Levi9 supports its employees through quality work-life balance and various benefit packages. Then, through a series of educational activities, internships, university lectures, organizing meetups and, since last year, the Levi9 conference in collaboration with NURDOR which also had a humanitarian character, we give back to the community and support its development. In addition to the above, Levi9 also organizes an internal charity auction and various donations with the goal of supporting the local community,” Svetlana says.

Advice from the future

The Niners also reveal what messages they would send their past selves from 10 or more years ago. We believe that some of this advice might be useful to you as well, Reader:

“Be braver, and consider if you want to accept every single bit of feedback.” – Jelena

“Follow your instinct. Make plans, but understand that plans are there to be changed.” – Svetlana

“Don’t skip a single Happy Hour, football game or round of drinks after work because it will get harder to find time for them over the years as you take on more responsibilities.”  – Miroslav

“This could be exactly what you’re looking for – give it a chance and then evaluate.” – Milić

To end with, the Niners send a unified message: Sometimes the projects we work on – and more importantly, the people we work with – are more important than our constant need for change or something new. That’s why you should always check if the “new” you’re looking for has been with you all along.

Originally published at blog.joberty.com.