A Day in the Life of: Dan Nicolae, Delivery Manager (DEV COO)

Behind every successful Anais project is a team of experts, working together to deliver the best possible solution for our clients. We pride ourselves on building teams with diverse backgrounds, complementary skills and an agile spirit.

In this new series, you’ll learn more about the individuals that make up the Anais team as they share a day in their life.

First up, Dan Nicolae, Delivery Manager (DEV COO) in our Bucharest, Romania office.

How did you get into this industry ?

I’ve been passionate about IT (both hardware and software) since high school when I used to help my neighborhood school with the necessary activities for running Software Programming labs and seminaries.

While studying at Politehnica (Telecommunications Faculty in Bucharest) I started my career with Technical Support, Sales and Business Analyst roles. These jobs have been very helpful for my early career, both for technical development and for improving my communication & negotiation skills.

The Project Manager role suited me like a glove, as I enjoy being the one coordinating teams and projects while being in front of the customer, taking responsibility for delivering quality on time and within budget.

What does a delivery manager (DEV COO) do?

Anais is a digital agency with an agile spirit, therefore I’m not ‘playing’ just one role nor it can be defined as a standard one in the market. It’s a combination of a Delivery Manager, COO, PM and General Manager of the Anais Romania office.

Amongst my responsibilities, I can include:

  • Designing and implementing DEV business strategies, plans and procedures
  • Setting comprehensive goals for performance and growth
  • Establishing policies that promote company culture and vision
  • Overseeing daily operations of the company and the work of the team leaders & members
  • Leading employees to encourage maximum performance and dedication
  • Evaluating performance by analyzing and interpreting data and metrics
  • Managing relationships with partners/vendors
  • Assisting in project delivery (with PM, BA, QA roles)
  • Resource allocation & revenue optimization
  • Being the single point of contact, should any issue arise (DEV related)
  • Recruitment 
  • Office management & admin tasks (together with HR & Finance)

What does a day in the life of a delivery manager (DEV COO) look like?

Since I’m not a morning person, my day usually starts at 9am with a small breakfast or some fruits. While I can be very precise on the starting time, I cannot tell for sure when it ends as there are always tasks to be done.

We are testing a 4.5-day working week (meaning that we work more during Mo-Th, but less on Friday). If we have good results in terms of motivation and work-life balance without disturbing the business, we may adopt a 4-day work week, a big trend in 2022.

One of my key activities each day is to make sure that the team has everything they need. I don’t like to micro-manage and prefer to empower others to achieve their maximum potential (failure is ok, as long as we learn from it).

Here is a breakdown of how I spend my time:

  • Projects (40%)
  • Management & Governance (40%)
  • Resource allocation and revenue optimization (15%)
  • Recruiting & Administrative (5%)

What hard and soft skills are necessary to succeed as a delivery manager (DEV COO)?

A technical background in IT will always help you when managing risks and complex projects (but it’s not a must have). 

Meanwhile, being trained and having solid experience as a Project Manager, Team Leader and understanding all business functions (like HR, Finance, Marketing, etc.) is of great help.

The key soft skills to have are:

  • Communication & Leadership
  • Attention to detail
  • Time Management
  • Problem-solving

What are some of your biggest challenges as a delivery manager (DEV COO)?

  1. Fierce competition for talent + skills gap: there is a huge gap in the skills the work demands and the skills job applicants have. Our education system still needs to be revamped. And that affects all the industries that seek highly skilled employees.
  2. Retention of employees: software companies recruit and train people but in the end, they witness their resignation once they are experienced enough in the job.
  3. Growing cybersecurity and data privacy threats
  4. Cloud Strategy and DEVOPS expertise

Which Anais project are you the most proud of?

While I like being involved in big projects (more than 1M$) and innovative ones (like creating blockchain apps for Sony), I’m happiest when I see:

  • Excellent retention rate for the team plus technical & seniority growth
  • Great customer feedback and good project profitability
  • Complex strategies and plans ‘coming to life’

How do you switch off / relax when you’re not at work?

I’m one of the guys who will never get bored. Although I usually sleep less than 6 hours per night, the day is always too short.

I’m passionate about almost everything related to cars, motorcycles, airplanes…cycling, video games (e.g. Fifa, Call of Duty, Forza).

Sports (football, tennis, squash, handball …you name it).

One of the ways I easily express my creativity is through photography. Memories that last forever, which can make you relive any valuable experience, place, sensation at any given moment. A photo lets us use our imagination and transform our feelings, moods, and ideas into something palpable no matter what passions and professional backgrounds we have.

I also love traveling. My 2022 and 2023 resolutions are to go out and explore as much as possible.

Which resources do you read/watch/listen to stay on top of your game?

I participate in online trainings and conferences as much as possible and look for BA & PM-related certification opportunities. For the moment, I’m analyzing the benefits of an MBA program to strengthen my strategy, business & financial skills.

Books are also a very good source of information to stay up-to-date and improve your skills. The latest books I read are: The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman and The Lean Startup by Eric Ries.

What advice do you wish you had received before starting at Anais?

I was used to working in more corporate style environment with more defined roles and responsibilities. Anais Digital is quite different, I experienced a lot of the Lean Methodology, how to build an MVP solution and being efficient while ‘wearing multiple hats’/having many roles.

Learning as early as possible in your career about startups and how to grow a business would give anyone a great advantage, should they want to follow this career path.

Interested in joining Dan and the Anais team? Check out our current job openings in Brussels and Romania.

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