The Balance Point: professional development in the IT sphere hand in hand with passion for billiards

We at Strypes are firm believers that professionals best thrive in an environment where not only their career horizons are constantly evolving but also where they can successfully combine strong professional development well balanced with personal life (and hobbies/passions outside work). Such is the case of Kalin Varbanov, who has been part of the team for more than seven years now.

Throughout his years in Strypes Kalin has changed his roles a few times – he began his journey as a developer, became a Scrum Master, grew to a Team Lead role and now he is a Technical Project Manager leading two teams who work on a few projects. “The most rewarding thing as a Team Lead is to see that “your” people are happy”, says Kalin. “With my technical background and knowledge I try to assist my people in their day-to-day tasks and help them grow. We are very eager (and that is something that Strypes values a lot) to give junior talents and people without much technical experience a chance to kick off their IT career and develop as professionals.”

A full time Technical Team Lead from Monday to Friday but also a… professional billiard player, Kalin will share his billiard adventure during the EuroTour in 2022, but before that, let’s see what sparked his passion for this game!

  • Kalin, how did you get into billiards?
  • I’ve been playing for quite some time now! I remember when I was in school, my father used to bring me to different sports when one day at the local gaming hall in my hometown they brought a massive pool table that caught my attention. I was mesmerized and the owner of the gaming hall noticed that so he started giving me billiard lessons. He showed me the sports side of the game, not only the fun and social part of it. And I liked that competitiveness a lot so gradually I got better and better and started participating in different tournaments and competitions all over the country. Then, naturally I expanded the competitions and started visiting ones all over the Balkans. That’s how one coach noticed me actually and invited me together with a friend of mine on a two-week training in Sofia, and of course – we accepted.

  • How do you manage to combine your side hustle with a full-time job in Strypes?
  • It’s definitely quite overwhelming at times because both my full-time job and this sport are mentally challenging. I mean just like chess, billiards is also in the head. Of course, the physical part is also present – muscle memory is part of this sport and that’s why it needs to be practiced daily. How do I manage it? Compromises and the right environment. Here in Sofia, we’ve created a little community of busy professionals who play billiards and challenge ourselves with different tournaments and weekly leagues, so that we do not get out of the track. It’s cool when you surround yourself with like-minded people who can step into your shoes when needed.

  • Share a favorite moment at Strypes.
  • Before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, a colleague and I were discussing a summer vacation in Greece. It started as a joke but then… three days later it was all booked and we had a real blast in Greece! There are some stereotypes about the developers but it is not like that anymore and at Strypes there is no such thing as hierarchy in the way that it interferes with the personal relationships between the colleagues – we keep it professional when needed but after all it is still a very friendly and family-like type of environment and that’s the cool thing! In 2022 we organized a vacation in Greece too and although some of the colleagues are already with children and families and it was quite different than the first time, we still managed to have a great time together.

2022 was quite a year for the billiard endeavors of Kalin. It all started in Petrich in the beginning of August where he finished 97th out of 158 players. “Not a dream result but given the long pause in my training and the very tough field (the EuroTour series brings the best players in Europe in a fight for World Ranking Points), I am satisfied with my performance.”, says Kalin. “And I am very happy that Strypes supported this particular participation, because it impacted the rest of my adventure onwards.”

At the end of August he also took part in a national tournament in Varna, where he managed to fight his way to the direct elimination phase, where he lost to the tournament’s winner – the current number one in Bulgaria – Georgi Georgiev, who happens to also be Kalin’s teammate. The next stop for Kalin was Nis, Serbia, part of the Balkan Pool Tour series. The tournament was a 2-day marathon with 128 players (including some former European champions) where Kalin ranked 17th. “Georgi, my friend, paved his way to the final which ended at 3:30 AM local time… It’s an exhausting experience, especially if you need to be at work at 9:30 AM on the next day.”, remembers with a smile on his face Kalin.

“Strypes also supported me in the next stop from the Eurotour series in October – in Lashko. Unfortunately, our car broke down at one gas station just before Zagreb! Luckily enough, we met 2 people there who were also heading towards the very same tournament (we met them in Nis the previous week), so they picked us up in their car. But as I said earlier – billiards is in the head, and this whole situation and stress around it affected my performance at the tournament.”

After that, Kalin went to Thessaloniki for a third consecutive weekend tournament from another Balkan league, where he played against his friend Georgi. Kalin ranked 17th out of 101 players. The next weekend, the tournament was in Sofia – Bulgaria Open, where he finished 5th.

Then came the 5th consecutive weekend of pool and travel around Europe. A long 11 hour-trip exhausted Kalin and he managed to rank 65 out of 144 players in the field. This was the final round of the year of the Balkan Pool Tour where the Bulgarian team performed excellent

Back home, Kalin took part in a local professional-only league and then there was the final tournament of the year in Nis with a prize pool of 8000 euro!

Stay tuned for more inspirational stories from our team members! Because people matter the most to us!


Scroll to Top