Slava Koltovich

Position: Chief executive of EastBanc Technologies, a software development company based in the District.

Slava Koltovich was born and raised in Russia at a time when home computers were not common. But while at school, he fell in love with computers at first touch. Koltovich studied math in college and began his career as a software developer. He managed projects, including the technology used to collect data from various countries participating in the Kyoto Protocol, a multinational agreement on greenhouse gas emissions. He eventually moved to the United States and started at EastBanc Technologies, where he now leads the company.

What did you have to do to make sure the Kyoto Protocol project was successful?

In software development, we always work with really talented people. It’s an industry built on talent—people with very good education, powerful brains, etc. My role is to support, and sometimes direct, but never constrain. That’s what I think I did properly. I had a range of very good software developers, and I helped them to do what they were assigned. I can say that the software is still working, and there have been no changes since I have left. It was very successful.

How have you grown most as a leader?

I understand business a lot better now. Being a software developer or project manager, you’re mostly focused on delivering some result that is specified for you by your customer or manager. Being in a management position, you have to be the person who thinks through different trends, ideas and specifics of where the company should go. My approach for management hasn’t changed. We work with talented people. My role is to let them do what they can do best. I’m there to help and remove impediments from their path. With empowerment, we can achieve much more.

What is your leadership style?

From one perspective, supportive. From the other perspective, demanding. I do believe that we have professionals, and they can figure out what to do. But I also believe that for the team to perform properly, we all have to do what we have to do. It should be done on time and according to agreements.

You worked in software development for a number of years. What makes a software company successful?

From my perspective, the most important asset is people. Not every software development company recognizes this. If you look at EastBanc Technologies, our turnover is less than 2 to 3 percent per year, which is not the case for most software companies. Usually people come, work for one or two years, and leave. And management doesn’t care about it because it’s a normal practice. I don’t think a successful software company can be built on such a foundation.

What are some tactics you implement to encourage that kind of retention?

We usually take only interesting projects so that people here are excited about the work they’re doing. It’s not just about salary or benefits. Also, it’s the way we hire. We very rarely hire people from the street. Ninety-nine percent of people here were hired by referral.

Which business books are you reading?

“The Startup Owner’s Manual: The Step-By-Step Guide for Building a Great Company” by Steve Blank.

— Interview with Vanessa Small