Aliaksandar Chahouski became the hero of the 16th edition of the ItStarts podcast. He got information and communication education and worked in a telecommunications company, spent 7 years in IT and then quit to become the organizer of the luxurious “Classical music near the Town Hall”.
Information & communication education and a dead horse
I don’t remember who I wanted to become in childhood. But I remember that all the guys dreamed of becoming astronauts, and I did not understand why they should do this at all, this was impractical. I did not have any special guidelines, I did not think about the profession until the senior classes. When it was necessary to act, I was given recommendations by my surroundings who were close to my family. In modern terms, they were my coaches discussing what was good and promising and what was wrong.
As a result, I entered BSU at the Faculty of Philosophy and Economics, which split up two years later. I stayed at the Faculty of Philosophy and Social Sciences at the Department of Information and Communication. My diploma work was on HR, but until recently I did not know what I would like to do: work with staff or build a career in advertising and marketing. It so happened that I went into advertising, then into product management, then again into advertising, and then found myself in the role of director of an IT company.
During my studies, I wanted to earn a bit to have my own money. I decided to get a job as a night cleaner in McDonald’s. It was in 1999, and they did not call me back.
I was a normal, decent, and educated young man, but did not go through the third stage of the interview at McDonald’s.
In my life, I do a lot of art like dancing and a cello class music school. But I hanged the cello up immediately after graduation.
In senior courses, I got into BelCel, which no longer exists. Remember those brick phones that started mobile communications in Belarus? At first, I was an errand advertising boy there, but when the 26-year-old Artem Orange became the general director, actions began, and everything began to change. Because of these changes, I had a plan for growth and it turned out that we had formed a “product development department”. I was engaged in products in the mobile industry there, we launched platforms that allowed you to call some number, and a beautiful female voice will tell you the weather forecast, horoscope or exchange rates.
It was obvious that this would all die. They tried to revive this dead horse in one way or another. Maybe that was the reason to leave, I did not see any prospects. Then for some time, I worked at an advertising agency, and then there were one-off projects for different companies.
I even spent six months on maternity leave.
Entered IT and stayed for 7 years
In 2005, a company from Novosibirsk was looking for a local director in Belarus because they wanted to open a branch here. They found me, made a company, and I became the director. Initially, I worked alone, then we got an accountant, and gradually grew. The company earned its capital through outsourcing and then created its product. We supplied hardware and software systems for mobile operators.
Previously to learn how much money is there on your mobile account, you had to call the number where the cyber woman would tell you how much money left, and we implemented the instant balance request service via *100#.
One such simple service unloads the whole network very much. Productivity was 3 thousand messages per second.
Then there was Pryshpilny Mabilny. We were the pioneers of the USSD showcase selling mobile content. But technology was rapidly advancing, and I had already completely tired of it. Moreover, at the same moment, I studied at the MBA in Vilnius and realized that I was fed up with this work. Incidentally, the training was half paid for by the company from which I subsequently left. They also made a good discount on education.
I’m rather a project manager than an IT specialist. Of course, I operate with some technical terms at a basic level, so that I could speak normally at meetings. I had no problems with the implementation of any projects.
I managed a branch of an IT company without any IT background. I am a humanitarian in the pure state.
My developers received the same salaries as marketers in an advertising agency. Their earnings are comparable. Then growth began due to tax benefits. This is possible in any field because organizations spend a lot of money on paying official salaries.
Burnout and quitting IT
I was at my boiling point and lost motivation. I understood that I had to sell a dead horse. I had to move what is doomed to failure. On the other hand, I revisited all that I had in private and professional life. I met a huge number of cool people as part of my MBA studies. It seems as if you were born again, you start to look at life differently.
I was in Prague and accidentally entered the Basilica of St. George, where the chamber orchestra played Mozart. I just sat down and flew off somewhere. The people around me cried tears of happiness. Then I came home and my mother asked me to take my guitar and cello. I took it all, shook off the dust from the cello and began to practice.
If at the time of professional burnout a person in IT raised some capital, then I call this filling 2-3 layers of the Maslow pyramid. And when these layers are full, then change the field you work in, do art, travel. Time is running out, life is long but not endless. At that time, I decided that I would do what I love.
By the way, there is always an option to become a taxi driver.
Entrepreneur in the field of classical music
I generally call myself an impresario, it is a music and theater producer. I like this Italian term. So in 2015-16 I was engaged in the project “Classical music at the Town Hall”, being the art producer. Now I am engaged in musical and theater projects in the field of classical music. Sometimes this is some kind of collaboration with the Bolshoi Theater of Belarus or with the Philharmonic. This includes the management of artists.
My aim is to promote talented, outstanding Belarusian artists both domestically and abroad.
I can’t imagine myself the messiah in the field of classical music in Belarus, because I’m not the only one doing this. There was such a Russian composer Myaskovsky, and he used to collect garbage in the parks. I understand that this is therapy, that society needs it, and I imagine myself Miaskovsky, removing poop from society with the help of my work.
“Modern IT specialists resemble each other”
Savings ended pretty quickly. I used to spend money thoughtlessly, then I learned frugality. Thanks to this, capital has now begun to collect.
I didn’t think to return to IT. I discovered a long time ago that I would like to be a doctor. In fact, I am a kind of the music therapist, the doctor of human souls. Now I’m reading about several projects. One of them, Deep Dee, is medical and associated with the retina. This is cool, it motivates! If I had nothing and I would be in search, then I would try to join the guys with some benefit to them. I am sure that technologies shall serve for good.
We combine technology and music. There are online broadcasts, musicians use iPads with Bluetooth flip.
Modern IT specialists differ from the old ones in that they are somehow similar to each other. They are repeaters, a kind of Ku Klux Klan.
They are similar in their rest, travels, values and goals in life. Then there were different people, education and areas were different. Now they wear hoodies and visit bars, drink and speak English terms. I have friends in IT who are different from everyone else. And that’s cool, because we can compete for Beethoven, and it’s great. We can discuss the latest works of Nietzsche or something else separate from IT.
How to manage people who do not go on stage without black socks
In addition to standard employees like an accountant, I have a mobile team. We are doing a big festival with a big team, where everyone knows their responsibilities. There is a classic pause in the projects in January-February, when we are planning a warm season with the team. We have prescribed strategies and steps. There is no difference in management in my company and IT.
Musicians and actors are people of such a delicate nature. Sometimes 5 minutes before going on stage something that you don’t expect at all can happen. Creative team management is the most complex management.
My pianist played Chopin’s most complicated program and forgot black socks. He almost cried and did not want to go on stage. What should I do? I say that I got dark blue ones, they will not be visible so I offered him to take my socks. We almost asked passers-by on the street about socks. This is some kind of really incredible story with an artist and it should be so, and if there is none, then this is not an artist.
Top musicians and soloists earn good money. But those who accompany them in the orchestra earn less. They are so-called cannon fodder. The salary of an artist of a symphony orchestra is about $ 300 per month at best. With the extra income, they somehow eath $ 600-700 even though they went all their lives to this profession. A soloist (violinist, flutist or vocalist) can get at least $ 500 for performance.
If we are talking about Anna Netrebko, then even Philip Kirkorov has never dreamed of such earnings.
“Spend 5 years in IT to earn money and quit to another field”
Modern children are not very simple. They immediately want to get in a music video as soon as they watch it on their phones. I’m all for people making music. Musicians never have Alzheimer’s disease because their brains are constantly busy. My son is now studying on the pipe and watching how coolly some trumpeters play, so he also wants to. I tell him that he needs 2-3 years to play like that. You need to force yourself to do this.
Therefore, those who want to realize themselves anywhere shall force themselves to work in IT for 1-5 years raising money for their happiness. And then they can go to another area. What I do is can be considered as social entrepreneurship. It is very easy to crossbreed this with IT and make a new product at the junction. The main issue when face burnout is not to sit near a tree and cry fostering Pierrot’s syndrome. Now I feel like I belong and I love what I do. For me, sometimes it is simple to be a craftsman. I like what I have created and what I am good at, and I want to do it for the joy of myself and others.