Zaven Ter-Stepanyan of CodeRiders: How We Plan to Rebuild in the Post-Covid Economy

CR_final_logo_dark
CodeRiders
  • Date Published
  • Categories Blog
  • Reading Time 11-Minute Read

Learn about these short and simple ways to overcome post-pandemic crisis by Zaven, director of business development at CodeRiders software outsourcing firm.

“Fortunately, our business has not suffered because of the Covid pandemic, as we were able to quickly switch to remote work. This example showed us that it is very important to have the possibility of mobility, necessary equipment, and appropriate software. We plan to enlarge our team, by adding new skilled professionals to it and expand our presence in the software development community. Our experience shows that our long-term planning was done correctly, and we will keep growing following our initial strategy and vision.” – Zaven Ter-Stepanyan, Director of Business Development at CodeRiders Software Outsourcing Company.

CodeRiders’ Director of Business development Zaven Ter-Stepanyan sat down for an in-detail interview with Charlie Katz from Authority Magazine to unwrap the methods of rebuilding the post-COVID economy. He shares his personal and the company’s success stories of overcoming COVID-19 crisis without major pitfalls and talks about the plans to ensure secure and stable business relationships in the post-COVID reality. We republish Zaven’s interview on CodeRiders’ blog.

Before starting the interview, let’s give short background information about Authority Magazine and Zaven Ter-Stepanyan.

 

About Authority Magazine:

Authority Magazine is aimed at sharing interesting “thought leadership interview series” featuring people who are authorities in tech, pop culture, business, wellness, social impact. It draws out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

 

About Zaven Ter-Stepanyan:

Zaven has a background in intercultural communication, hospitality, and customer service, audit and coaching. Zaven is responsible for company culture, partnerships, and business strategy planning at CodeRiders. He truly believes that strong company culture and exceptional service are what any company needs first.

In his free time, Zaven enjoys playing the guitar, listening to music, reading, and playing with his cat.

He loves to travel and meet people from other countries and easily becomes interested in their cultures.

 

Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

 

“I started my career in the hospitality industry, following my education, and was lucky enough to have worked with the best professionals in the field at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. After 3 years of living and working in Moscow, I decided to relocate back to Armenia, and at that point, my friends who were running a web development school in Yerevan offered me to join them. The idea was to create a competitive software development house, based on the best students who graduated from CodeRiders Web Development School. I loved the idea, though I didn’t even know where to start — as software development was something I just heard about from my friends and from articles I read occasionally about some new technologies and startups.

Luckily, my family and friends supported me in my decision to relocate and switch my occupation. I wouldn’t say it was easy, but hard work always pays off and my friends helped me a lot to make the switch smoother. Now we have a wonderful team capable of turning any idea into reality, motivated to become one of the most recognizable, and trusted companies in the field.”

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?

 

“When we were first starting, we worked almost 24 hours. Our office has become our home, we stayed very late, even used to sleep at the office, worked very hard, and didn’t give much importance to having proper rest.

So, one day we were working on a PDF generating tool and found a bug. During hours we were debugging, checking the software — but there was no result. We re-wrote the whole functionality, but still saw the same picture and became frustrated. So we decided to take a coffee break, to give a small rest to our brains, and after that, we found out that we were refreshing the downloaded PDF document itself, instead of refreshing the browser page. That was very funny and we were so happy that we found the mistake.

That was a great lesson for us — when you are exhausted, it is best to have rest. It is better to spend an hour working with a fresh mind, instead of working hours while needing proper rest.”

 

Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to, that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?

 

“I have been lucky enough to have worked with great leaders and with not-so-good ones — this gives a clear understanding of ‘dos and don’ts’ while managing a team, creating company culture, empowering people, and treating them respectfully. This helped me a lot, especially after my career shift, when I became responsible for more people and business in general.

Of course, books have a similar influence and give more flexibility, as with books you can interact with a person you would never have a chance to work with or even meet.

Specifically, I would like to mention 2 books that have helped me understand some very important nuances in running a technology business and business in general, interacting with people, prioritizing the right things, decision-making, and taking responsibility. Those are ‘How Google Works’ by Eric Schmidt, ex-CEO at Google and Jonathan Rosenberg, former SVP at Google, and ‘Hit Refresh’ by Satya Nadella, CEO at Microsoft. These books are a must-read for people who really care about the work environment they are creating, who believe that strong company culture and exceptional service is what a successful business needs first.”

 

Extensive research suggests that “purpose-driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?

 

“People first. This is what we knew was important for us, and it still is. We tried to build a company that would serve its employees and clients. Behind any revolutionary technology or a world-known triumph are people, and they must be respected and treated fairly. As we saw great opportunities in making lives easier, we found a purpose to operate, to work hard, as the end result would always give a sense of great satisfaction and pride. And when speaking about people, we understand that the most precious thing a person could have is time — time to spend with family, friends, reading books, listening to music, volunteering, self-educating, making the world around them a better place to live in.

So, what we could do to serve people — automate manual processes with the use of technology so that they could have more time for other activities, and this is how our company vision was born — ‘Time is precious. Automation should save it.'”

 

Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?

 

“Follow your values. It is always important, whether you are up or down, to remind yourself about the values you have adopted as a business, as a company, as a group of people, and as an individual. The core values of CodeRiders are Excellence, Genuine Care, and Team Spirit. No matter if you are having hard times or everything goes so well that you didn’t expect — doing your job with excellence, genuinely taking care of people and products, and keeping the team spirit high will make you feel you are on the right path and doing something worthy.”

 

Thank you for all that. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. For the benefit of empowering our readers, can you share with our readers a few of the personal and family-related challenges you faced during this crisis? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?

 

“My parents live in another town in Armenia and visiting them frequently has always been a challenge. During the pandemic, even when there was an opportunity to visit my hometown, I could not take that risk. Fortunately, the technology allows us to stay in touch and we started to have video calls more frequently.

Also before the crisis, I used to organize small parties at my home and spending a great time with my friends. It is still very important to me to be able to see people, share thoughts on different topics because this kind of interaction is a great tool for stress relief and a reminder about personal values. During the pandemic, especially the first 6–8 months I had no chance to meet any of my friends because of the high risk of infecting or being infected, but the need to spend time together was growing daily.

So we started to spend time together almost every day after work playing online video games we used to play in our childhood. This was the best time during the pandemic. Every day we were waiting for the evening time when everybody finishes his work to join and play together. Sometimes we just turned on our cameras, got some beer, and chilled together.

In addition, I had a lot more time to spend with my wife and we finally had that time to watch Twin Peaks by David Lynch, which gave us so much positive energy, created a new universe we lived in and made us forget everything that was happening in our world.

The greatest day of the battle against the negative feelings caused by the pandemic was September 9th — the day when I adopted a cat. I would recommend everyone, if you are ready to take the responsibility for the next 15–20 years, to adopt a pet — it will give you an infinite feeling of joy and will increase your motivation to stay strong and take care of someone who needs your help.

I think especially in the dark times people start to see what matters the most, and I was lucky to have the chance to spend time with my beloved ones even during these uncertain times.”

Can you share a few of the biggest work-related challenges you are facing during this pandemic? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?

 

“When we went remote in March 2020, we expected a lot of challenges. But in reality, we found out that remote work is super productive. All of our team members had enough time not only for daily work routine but also gained a number of new skills, tackled new technologies while working from home.

The biggest and maybe the only challenge was the lack of real communication, team-building activities, etc.

Before the pandemic, we were used to spending the major part of our day together, spend weekends in the countryside with the team, play football every Thursday, and because of the pandemic, we had to stop all these activities. Luckily, now the infection rate in Armenia has lowered a lot, and we are able to spend more time together.”

 

Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. What are a few ideas that you have used to offer support to your family and loved ones who were feeling anxious? Can you explain?

 

“Anxiety has become a real problem nowadays, and especially after such unexpected ‘shocking news’ coming all over the world. This kind of access to information may be a dream for curious people, who can surf the web to find answers to any questions they have, but for the majority of people all over the world, the constant flow of negative news may cause real health issues.

What I advise my family and friends is to accept that it has always been very tough, and humanity will always have bigger and bigger challenges to overcome. We just can take a history book, and read what was happening a hundred years ago, a thousand years ago, etc.

Our brains are constructed in a way that enables us to solve problems. If there is nothing to solve we become bored. Many have had a chance to notice that a very long holiday might become a stress for our mind because of lack of brain activity in problem-solving. Maybe that is why we are among the most intelligent creatures on our planet.”

“As a wise man said: ‘Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.'”

Continue reading the article on CodeRiders’ blog.