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Aiming high – The Taulia Leadership Program

Martin Atanasov, Director of Engineering and one of the participants of the inaugural Taulia Leadership Program, explains what he learned during the course in today’s Q&A.

Back in 2019, we launched The Taulia Leadership Program (TLP), giving five high-potential leaders within Taulia the opportunity to develop their managerial skills and gain a broader insight into the company.

The successful participants took part in team-building activities at Taulia’s San Francisco office, attended high impact leadership training at Berkeley, and benefited from a series of remote leadership sessions. They also had the opportunity to gain first-hand experience of different roles within Taulia.

Martin Atanasov, Director of Engineering and one of the participants of the inaugural Taulia Leadership Program, explains what he learned during the course in today’s Q&A.

Can you tell us about your career journey at Taulia?

I joined Taulia six years ago – I was interviewed personally by the CTO, and I really felt that it was a place where people are valued. I started off as a senior engineer, but I was interested in leading a team. Right now, my title is Director of Engineering, and I take care of multiple engineering teams.

Why did you decide to apply for the Taulia Leadership Program (TLP)?

Ever since I took on a managerial position, I’ve been interested in learning about different styles of leadership. I have experienced in the past the difference a good leader can make, compared to a not-so-good one. It’s the difference between having a team of unhappy, unsettled people working way below their capacity, and having a team of happy, productive people who feel they are part of a team. So I saw the Taulia Leadership Program as a great opportunity to further enhance my leadership skills.

In terms of leadership, who or what inspires you?

It’s hard to pinpoint a single source of inspiration. I’m always curious and open to different styles and different views, and I read a lot of blogs and watch webinars on the subject. I’m particularly a fan of Eastern philosophies and mindfulness in general – I believe that leadership in general should start within yourself, and you should have good knowledge of what’s going on with you in order to better understand other people.

What did you gain during the program?

It was less about gaining particular skills, and more about the general experience and confirming the importance of leadership. Being part of this program really exposed me to that – not just the course at Berkeley, but also being part of the TLP and the group. It was a great experience and we shared a lot with each other.

Initially the program included a training course on impactful leadership. Then throughout the year we had several other objectives as a team, such as attending a customer meeting to get a better understanding of how our business is conducted. My role doesn’t include exposure to customers, so it was good to see how people benefit from our offering. 

The main thing for me was being part of the process, seeing how we conduct business with genuine care – and seeing how being honest and open with our customers really builds strong connections.

We also had to do a stretch goal, which was open to interpretation. The one that I focused on was a handbook for future leaders within the company. That involved gathering all the information and understanding of leadership that we as a group had gained, to help other new leaders ramp up faster.

What have you taken away from the program?

Going through the TLP really enhanced my confidence that what we do is correct. Probably the essence of it is about being friends with teammates and caring about them – which of course comes with pros and cons. If things go well, everything is fine and you’re working with your friends. Of course, there can be some challenges if you have to give negative feedback to people you care about – but that’s a trade off that I would make any day.

What was the most significant or memorable moment of the program for you?

Probably the final recap of the year and the realization of how much we had got out of the program – as well as receiving confirmation that we’d been on the right track in the first place. 

What would your advice be for colleagues who are part of the TLP now?

I’ve actually already spoken to them! I advised them to enter that journey without any specific expectations, and to be open to whatever happens to them. That’s the best way to truly see things from a new perspective.

Finally, what would you say to colleagues who are considering applying for the TLP in the future?

I would say: you can either have doubts for eternity, or you can give it a try!

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