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Nikola Taushanov is an Associate Director of Backend Engineering based out of Bulgaria. In this blog, he takes us through his amazing journey that begins with his love for sci-fi movies, his passion for programming, sports, philanthropy, and teaching. Nikola believes in giving back, and his motto is simple yet affirming, “Keep moving forward, no matter what.”
It all started with the inspiration I got from sci-fi movies. My childhood dream was to become an astronaut. I observed at a young age that the heroes in the movies often solved critical problems, and I fell in love with trying to solve technical challenges. While I didn’t aim to save the world, I did want to make a difference. The best way I felt I could do that was to learn programming. I wasn’t into playing video games, but I did want to understand how they work and how they were developed, along with understanding the development of websites, desktop apps, and other kinds of software.
I started learning how to program in high school and was keen on getting involved in competitive programming. Finding solutions to challenges inspired me immensely. I continued to develop my skills and started taking part in competitions. I participated in several national level competitions and won some top awards.
At university, I studied Computer Science and continued competing, this time as part of a team. My team excelled at national level competitions, and we had a lot to be proud of — but we were just three very humble boys, pleased that we had succeeded in surpassing ourselves.
The competitive programming was extremely fulfilling to me and also challenging because it’s time-framed and objective. Finding solutions under pressure, competing with myself to improve, and achieving excellence excited me, and I was proud of my accomplishments.
After graduating, I immediately began working. While never chasing any specific career goals, I was extremely passionate about my work and wanted nothing more than the opportunity to solve complex technical problems.
I wanted to explore different areas of software engineering and did internships at different companies. In one of these roles, I was exposed to machine learning and began studying this discipline further, through online as well as college courses. Eventually, I completed Masters Degree in Machine Learning.
One of my friends who was also passionate about machine learning saw a gap in electives for Deep Learning, teaching state-of-the-art algorithms. So, we decided to start an elective course on Deep Learning to try to inspire students, as we ourselves had been inspired by this topic. While we taught most of the lectures, we also invited experts from the industry in different focus areas to come and give a lecture on their specialty and show the students real world problems, hoping they might be inspired to get involved with Machine learning.
I ended up teaching the course for 4-5 years. During Covid, when universities were shut down, we taught online classes. Our intention has always been to transfer the passion and not just the knowledge.
I pursue a variety of sports, but I love extreme ones. I love to snowboard in winter and kite surf in summer, while in other seasons, I like to run, cycle and lift weights. Extreme sports are challenging and full of adrenalin, and I love the thrill and the measured risks that one can take in doing them. I love testing and pushing myself to the limits, whether in sports or software engineering.
Some of my favorite movies are the Rocky movies with Sylvester Stallone. In one, Rocky says to his son, “It ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.” That’s the mantra I try to follow. No matter what the failures, don’t play it too safe, take measured risks, you’re better to fail fast and keep moving forward. I have been working with Leanplum and now CleverTap for the last seven and a half years, and my growth here has been tremendous, both personally and professionally.
Ready to help build the future of mobile? Check out the career opportunities at CleverTap.